Mobile Monday Toronto: Meet the analysts recap

Last night I attended the MaRS Centre’s Mobile Monday: Meet the Analysts. In the organizers own words it was a chance to: “Gain valuable insights from notable experts as they join us for an interactive mobile panel. Learn the market and technology trends and competitive dynamics that are driving innovation across the North American and global mobile market.”

The event was moderated by Jeff Mucci and mostly consisted of predictions for the future of wireless from the point of view of tablets, finances and engineering.

First to speak was Krista Napier, an analyst for IDC. She talked about the tablet market and how it’s going to change this year. The biggest change will be the shear amount of tablets on the market. Right now the only competitors are the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but in the next few months we are going to see dozens of sub $500 android sets. Krista believes companies will need a clear message if they want to compete.

What’s interesting is whose using tablets besides consumers. The healthcare industry is adopting them. The Ottawa hospital has already started a pilot program with tablets. A lot of restaurants are also interested in them as well as executives using them to do presentations.

In the end her final message was that different people are looking for different things from their tablet. Yes, many want a media tablet to watch movies but others want something else. She mentioned executives earlier and they already trust RIM when it comes to security so they may be leaning towards the Playbook.

Up next was Michael Urlocker of GMP Securities on the finances behind the industry with a focus on applications.

This year the prices of all apps on all platforms dropped considerably, with Blackberry being hit the hardest. Their are a lot of reasons for this including the low barrier to entry, the openness and simplicity of distribution and consumers starting to wonder where the ‘value’ lies in most applications. If you can get a similar app free, why pay for one?

The most interesting insight he made in my opinion is of the sheer speed in which Android is growing. He showed a chart that measured both the original iPhone’s adoption and Android’s current growth. At this speed Android is set to obliterate the iPhone. He said that the iPhone is really an American revolution of the cellular industry, Android will be a world wide revolution.

The final presentation was by Ronald Gruia of Frost and Sullivan. He talked about the engineering side of wireless growth and the problems the industry is facing at the moment.

With the huge adoption of smartphones traffic is growing exponentially while revenue is growing pretty slowly. With video set to make up 2/3rds of all data by 2015, this has become a major problem for carriers.

There are a few solutions to this. They can buy more spectrum, which seems most likely with the possibility of a spectrum auction in the next few years. They can also upgrade to the more efficient 4G or LTE network.

What is most likely to happen is that networks will upgrade to HSPA+ (or 3.5G as he liked to call it) first then move on to 4G. This is because Canadian operators have a habit of following in the footsteps of other countries rather than being early adopters.

According to him we will see 4G networks by 2013 at the earliest.

The next Mobile Monday event will be on March 7th at the MaRS Centre.