As Usual, Mobility Is the Star

Carl Weinschenk

There was no shortage of interesting surveys and studies during the past week. The theme – as often is the case – is the rapid growth and quickly changing nature of mobility. Indeed, the rise of mobility and the ramifications of that rise probably is the story of the decade.

Here are some highlights from the past week:

ReadWrite reported on an IDC study that generated intriguing -- and in one case unexpected -- results. It said that Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet – which will go on sale this month – bests Apple’s iPad on knowledge workers’ wish list. The firm found Apple’s iPhone is favored over Android – 33 percent to 22 percent – when participants were asked what they want their next phone to be. The survey found that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend continues to grow.

As the story points out, the real surprise is the strength of the Microsoft Surface. Clearly, one survey doesn’t crown a new king, but if it turns out to be even remotely accurate, an interesting trend could be developing. Remember, everyone takes aim at the leader – and that there are a lot of very bright people who don’t work for Apple.

The next two studies go together nicely.

IntoMobile offers a story on a wide-ranging Juniper Research study. The firm found that the number of mobile video callers will quadruple to nearly 160 million by 2017. The story suggests that the business models set to drive this still are forming. Mobile VoIP companies, according to Juniper, are teaming with third parties to create their revenue plays. The firm found LTE will push mobile VoIP, but hurt voice revenues overall; advanced IP will grow more quickly in developed markets; and legacy voice revenues will continue to decline.

Apparently, those mobile business models will be worked out without too much sweat. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) is an annual exercise in numbers that are too big to conceptualize. This year is no different. The trajectory of usage continues to rise. Cisco predicts a 13-fold increase in traffic between last year and 2017. The company says that the amount of data will reach 11.2 exabytes by the end of the study period. By 2017, the number of personal and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will be greater than the world’s population of 7.6 billion. The explosion of mobile video callers is an important part of this.

The NPD Group released a study that said 37 percent of respondents who formerly got content on PCs are now receiving it on tablets and smartphones. The top two activities that are porting over, the release says, are Web browsing and Facebook activities.

Indeed, this study is closely tied to Juniper and Cisco’s findings. Clearly, it is not a zero-sum game: People moving from their PC to mobile devices will continue to use their legacy devices. And they use them plenty. Much of the traffic going to the tablets and smartphones is additive. The PC market may have seen better days, but it still is a massive generator of data.


A study commissioned by Smith Micro found that 62 percent of the more than 700 smartphone owners surveyed use the Wi-Fi functionality built into the device. That is an increase of 9 percent since last May. Smith Micro suggests that the model is still emerging: Consumers worry about costs, usability and lack of plan options, while carriers are missing out on ways to cash in on the popularity of using Wi-Fi in this manner.

Again, the unprecedented rise in traffic will be felt in several ways, not all of which are mature and not all of which can be predicted now. Wi-Fi and cellular – each with its strengths and weaknesses – will grow more intertwined.



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