The world is going mobile-first. Apple is the most profitable company in the history of humankind, and is so only because they shifted away from PCs to mobile. Starbucks says mobile is more important to the company's future than coffee beans or location. Yahoo follows Google and Facebook declaring mobile is how they intend to make their profits. NBA the basketball association now says they are 'mobile first'. From hotels to airlines to media, advertising, banking and retail, even government, healthcare and education are all mad about mobile. Mobile is obviously the thing to do.
However, once you get past the initial iSyndrome (Martin Wilson's smart observation that creating an iPhone App is not a substitute for a mobile strategy) what do you do? How many have smartphones vs 'dumbphones'? How many of the 3 Billion global 'internet users' are already on mobile? How much larger is the mobile internet user base than say, the number of people downloading smartphone apps. How much bigger is the reach of MMS than email or Facebook or Whatsapp. And exactly how huge is the reach of the only gorilla in the room, SMS text messaging? Yes you came to the right place. Lets look at the next four years in the mobile industry.
For those who don't know me, welcome to my blog. I am the most accurate forecaster of this industry, the father of many of the statistics and metrics of mobile and this blog is the largest collection of public source statistics and facts about the mobile industry. I have written 12 books for the mobile industry including the book on how this industry makes its money (yes, literally, I wrote 'the' book: m-Profits, global bestseller in 2002). I have a passion for sharing data and stats about this industry both here on this blog that has passed 5 million visitors lifetime (and still no ads! and no registration! and I will not spam you) and at my Twitter feed I have already 14,000 following me. Perhaps the biggest indicator of how I am seen is that 140 books by my peers already quote me in just 13 years from my first book. No wonder Forbes called me the most influential expert in mobile. And yes, now its a time to look at my 'big' comprehensive forecast into the next four years in this industry.
MY BIG FORECAST IS OUT
So yes, three years ago I released a major forecast that was widely references and very well received. Back then I also made a 'highlights' blog entry about major mileposts coming in the next few years. You can go read that blog if you want, I will of course return to that and revisit those forecasts from three years ago, to see how well they compared to the reality. Am I still the most accurate forecaster of this industry? (My regular readers know already...). But yes, this is now the occasion to celebrate the launch of the Tomi Ahonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018. The next four years in this magnificent industry, the fastest--growing giant industry the planet has ever seen that went from zero to 1 Trillion dollars of annual revenues in only 29 years (most other tech industries never grew to be that big, such as television, personal computers, the internet, etc). So lets take a look at some of the milestones now coming. I have divided this blog into a group of the next 4 years, by year.
MILESTONES COMING IN 2015
This year sees several big milestones we will pass. The mobile handset industry will have its first ever year selling 2 Billion mobile phones (most of them are now smartphones). No consumer tech has ever had that kind of sales levels, not TVs, not PCs, not gaming consoles, not digital cameras, not FM radios, etc. Two Billion sold per year. Thats 5 million phones sold every single day of every week, Saturdays and Sundays included, all the way through all holidays. Thats this industry!
Talking about those handsets and the older PC industry. This year sees the installed base of Android based smartphones grow past 2 Billion in use. Thats more yes than all personal computers including tablets, on all operating systems they use (mostly Windows obviously). This year sees the overall handset (dumbphone and smartphone) installed base pass the level where half are operated by touch-screen (as many 'featurephones' are also touch-screen operated like the Nokia Asha series of featurephones/dumbphones).
And if you are into the smartphone apps industry (mostly a barren desert where if you don't do games, you really won't make much money) then yes, this year we pass the level where 2 Billion people download apps to smartphones. That may seem like a big number until you understand the full mobile industry. Its far smaller than say mobile internet users or cameraphone users or MMS users or gosh, SMS text messaging users. But yeah, nice number, 2 Billion, why not. (for those not knowing the math behind apps, yes its a hopeless barren desert for anyone who isn't a game developer and game developers of course only have a 1 in 10 chance of succeeding. Large user numbers is not much money in apps).
MILESTONES COMING IN 2016
Next up: next year. By 2016 we will see more milestones. For example 3 Billion people will be using mobile search. Yeah. Today there are exactly 3 Billion internet users (and not all of them use search). But by the end of next year, just search users, on mobile, will pass the 3 Billion level. And you doubted Google's interest in mobile, haha.. Its like I teach in my workshops around the world, The Truth Is In The Pocket. At the end of next year 50% of all phones in use on the planet are smartphones.
The balance of SMS text messaging revenues reaches the tipping point, as person-to-person messaging keeps shifting to 'OTT' service providers like Whatsapp, in 2016, half of total SMS revenues worldwide will come from 'premium SMS' ie A2P and P2A (Application to Person, and vice versa) services. What do I mean? Vote for American Idol on TV, get a security code on a web service, pay for a drink on a vending machine, get an airline boarding pass, open a public pay toilet door, get a bus ticket, send a donation to a charity, make a payment, etc etc etc. Oh, and advertising of course, coupons and offers. Premium SMS. Yes, its already twice as big as 'smartphone apps' today and by 2016 premium SMS will be more than half of total SMS revenues globally. And meanwhile back to those phones, the cameraphone active user base hits 5 Billion next year. Yeah, death to the stand-alone camera business.... (BTW the only place on the planet that gives cameraphone and digital camera stats and digital photography stats is my blog, here)
MORE MILESTONES IN 2017
So lets move to 2017. What do we see there? Smartphone sales hit 2 Billion units per year. Yes. Smartphones. Two billion. And PCs only sell about 500 million per year (if tablets like the iPad are included) or 300 million (if tablets are not included). Both PC and tablet sales have stopped growing in any meaningful way, are essentially flat from now on. But smartphone sales, well, they were 1 Billion in 2013 (990 million actually). And will be double that just four years later, in 2017. What a lovely industry if numbers here double every four years haha...
What do we do with our mobiles then? Well, 2017 becomes the first year when mobile 'data' revenues exceed mobile voice revenues globally. Thats a nice shift for us and opens massive opportunities. Talking of those massive opportunities, OTT and SMS. 2017 is the year when OTT instant messaging platforms reach a total user base of 2.7 Billion. Obviously that is not Whatsapp which will be a part of that only. That number, 2.7 Billion again may sound big but in the context of mobile messaging, it really isn't. It is only the half-way point to SMS active user base in 2017 (which will be down a bit from its peak, and be 5.4 Billion active SMS text messaging users in 2017). And to be very clear, Whatsapp today is the most used OTT instant messaging platform that has 700 million users. It is only 1/8 the size of the active user base of SMS text messaging today at 5.6 Billion. Or to put it another way, if you take the total user base of the biggest OTT provider in messaging, Whatsapp, then SMS is merely 8 times larger today. By 2017, maybe SMS will by then only be about 3 or 4 times bigger...
And one more user behavior bit. Internet. Most internet users today access the internet part of the time on a PC (or tablet) and part of the time on a mobile phone (usually smartphone). By 2017, half of the total global internet user base never uses a PC, and accesses the internet only on a mobile. Can you see now why all the majors of the industry are preaching 'mobile first' strategies?
MILESTONES COMING IN 2018
So finally the last year of the Forecast period. What can we look forward to in 2018? The year brings a big milestone for WiFi, as half of all phones in use that year will support WiFi. The average sales price of smartphones falls below 200 dollars in 2018 for the first time ever (with plenty of cheap basic smartphones selling for under 50 dollars but of course also premium smartphones like the iPhones and Galaxies and Xperias will sell in the near 1,000 dollar price levels, so the average is just below 200 dollars, as far more of the cheap phones sell than the very expensive ones).
Android reaches 3 Billion active users just on smartphones (and plenty more on tablets and ultrabooks etc). And of that OS war, I predict in 2018 the market share of new smartphones sold will be Android 82%, iOS is second with 10% and Tizen third with 4%. Firefox has a tiny slice as does Blackberry. Windows if not dead is essentially dead for all practical purposes in smartphones (but Windows of course still holds a big slice of the far smaller PC market even then).
Thats a highlights preview of the next four years. All data in this blog may be freely quoted and used, please list the source as: TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018 and if you can, please do include a link to this blog for more info.. As I said, this is a blog to celebrate my new Forecast just out today. I will return to review the previous Forecast and the mileposts it predicted, how close we got last time. And now about the document itself. The Tomi Ahonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018 is of course a paid forecast but not one that costs thousands of dollars. As the most accurate forecaster of the industry, I could certainly price it in that kind of range like many of my peers but rather, I am perfectly happy to sell that at 99 Euros as an eBook and great value to my readers and fans. The Forecast is formatted for the smartphone screen so you can carry the pdf ebook in your pocket at all times and have the major numbers of the industry at your fingertips at all times. If you are involved in mobile, no other document is more valuable to you, than the best map to the near future and as such, a 99 Euro price is a modest price to pay so you won't be fooled again into thinking Windows Phone can get 20% market share or smartphone apps will be worth 90 Billion dollars or the other rubbish that charlatans in this industry have been peddling.
So the TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018 has 100 pages of stats and facts and numbers and charts. It makes 109 separate forecasts with 420 individual data points for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. There are also five scenarios and five annual snapshots (each with 20 main data points of the most relevant data per year). A full table of contents is visible at the website for the TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018. If you do need numbers for this industry, this is the place where to start.
TABLE OF CONTENTS for TOMIAHONEN MOBILE FORECAST 2014-2018
SIZE OF THE INDUSTRY
- Mobile subscriptions, unique subscribers, second and third subscriptions
- Handsets ('terminals') in use actual
- Mobile industry revenues including voice, messaging and VAS/non-messaging data
- Hardware revenues
- Penetration rate per capita, as unique users, and among humans alive over age 10
- Regional subscribers (for each, Total, Unique and Multiple subs) for 8 regions - North America, West Europe, East Europe, Asia-Pacific Advanced, Asia Developing, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America
- Active base users: Clock and Alarm, Camera, SMS, Advertising, Voice calls, Web Surfing, OTT IM, TV voting, News & Alerts, Search, Downloading, MMS
- New handset sales in units, smartphones in units, migration rate
- Smartphones in use & migration rate
- Installed base of handsets by ability: MMS capability, Bluetooth, Media player, Camera, Memory card slot, HTML browser, 3G, Java/Brew, WiFi, used handsets (second hand handsets), touch screen
- Average camera resulution
- Input method Touch Screen, QWERTY, hybrid and basic
HANDSET MARKET SHARES
- Market shares of new sales: All handsets, dumbphones, smartphones
- Smartphone OS Forecast Base Case and 5 scenarios (Tizen upside, Tizen death, Apple expands to lower prices, Blackberry recovery, Microsoft return)
- Regional OS market shares for 8 regions - North America, West Europe, East Europe, Asia-Pacific Advanced, Asia Developing, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America
MOBILE DATA SERVICES
- SMS users, traffic, revenues, premium SMS
- OTT Cannibalization of messaging by traffic and by users
- MMS users, revenues
- Mobile VAS (non-messaging premium data) users, revenues
- Mobile users of internet, PC users of internet, Mobile-only users, PC-only users, Both Mobile & PC users of internet
- Mobile service revenues for TV & video, mobile social networking, news & alerts, gaming, advertising
- Consumer app revenues, business app revenues
- App revenues in context of VAS and messaging revenues
- Consumer & enterprise/business subscriptions
- Consumer & enterprise/business smartphones
- Prepaid vs Postpaid customers
ANNUAL SUMMARY TABLES
- One page summaries of the most important 20 mobile stats per year for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
This is the best one-source resource for you as a guide into the future. It only costs 99.00 Euros and is available immediately as an ebook download. It is formated for the small screen, so you can carry the TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018 in your pocket, on your iPhone or Android or whatever device. It is in basic PDF format so you can also read it on your other digital devices like your PC, laptop and iPad.
If you are involved in any way in the planning and future of mobile, you need this Forecast. Note it costs a tiny fraction of most other forecasts that often sell for thousands of dollars. But you can trust this, as I have been called the most accurate forecaster of the mobile industry, and I am the father of more theories about this industry than any other expert. My 12 published books are already referenced in more than 140 books by my peers, and Forbes measured me as the most influential expert in mobile. My forecasts are regularly quoted in various global media like the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, the Economist etc, as well as over 500 press mentions in two dozen languages, and I am often seen on TV talking about mobile industry numbers.
To see more including full table of contents, please see TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2014-2018.