The wireless industry is in a period of hyper-competition—and many stakeholders believe Internet/web-based companies will soon have the upper hand, notes Deloitte in its recently released Open Mobile Survey 2012.

Seventy percent of senior wireless executives surveyed agreed with the statement that companies such as Google and Apple will dominate the mobile sector in five years. Executives surveyed were from wireless network operators, mobile device manufacturers, software applications developers and component manufacturers.

  • At least 85% of respondents also agreed with the following statements:
  • In the Open Mobile/ 4G era, services will predominantly drive new revenue opportunities rather than products/ hardware
  • Open source mobile operating systems such as Android or MeeGo will lead the mobile market by 2014
  • Carrier competitiveness in the 4G era will be dependent on making the transition from “walled gardens” to “open development ecosystems”
  • By 2014, the primary role of network operators will be to deliver data access anywhere/ anytime

“The rate at which established markets are being threatened by new entrants wielding disruptive technologies shows no sign of slowing down,” the Deloitte authors caution. “Mobile incumbents find themselves at a fork in the road: embrace the opportunities of a more democratized world or stoutly defend the business of yesterday and protect traditional revenue streams.”

The report’s advice for network operators is surprisingly middle-of-the-road. “The decision is not so black and white,” the authors write, “and more than ever, the challenge is to be effective with both strategies.”

A majority of respondents indicated that a “managed open strategy where carriers would retain prioritized control over premium assets and grant third parties access to selected core network functions” would be the “most likely route to sustained success.”

Other key findings:

  • Respondents believe mobile cloud computing and mobile payments hold the biggest potential for carrier value generation in the next three years, closely followed by increased use of machine-to-machine technologies
  • Gaming is thought to be the most lucrative paid app category five years out
  • The health care/ life sciences category is expected to be where 4G technology will have the biggest impact in stimulating mobile business model innovation, followed by consumer products/ retail and financial services/ commerce
  • About two-thirds of respondents work in organizations that either have or are planning to have an open mobile strategy


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