Emerging Markets Communications Strategies

Analyzes the issues facing existing and new players who are looking for a share of growing mobile markets in over 30 developing countries, including the developing regions of Asia and Africa.

May 20, 2010 21:05 David Kerr

sa photo dk


May you live in interesting times as the old Chinese proverb goes. Well in the information, communication and entertainment industry we certainly do. Some very interesting questions face our industry whether we look at:

  • the outcome of much delayed Indian 3G auction or
  • the battlegrounds around HSPA+ and LTE or
  • the surging Android ecosystem vs. weakening Symbian or
  • the upside potential for WebOS under it new owners
  • the potential disruption caused by mobile cloud phones and device

Every major technology advancement has lead to a massive disruption in the handset and infrastructure vendor community.

  • In 3G, Motorola’s slim myopia led to its near ruin and has provided huge growth for Samsung and a foothold in international markets for LG and SEMC.
  • On the infrastructure side 3G was expertly grasped by Huawei and ZTE leading to a new wave of M & A and a new world order which counts Nortel as a victim and seriously challenges ALU.

So how will the migration to 4G change the playing field?

  • Who will benefit most on the operator/service provider side?
  • Will Cloud Phones be disruptive in LTE?
  • Will operators find a path to realign the traffic/revenue mix with mobile broadband devices?

I would welcome your thoughts on these key questions. Also don’t forget to join our client webinar on Thursday May 27.



March 24, 2010 14:03 telliott
Around the dawn of time – that is, 2004 or so – wireless religious wars raged, and an attractive WiMAX mythology got started. WiMAX was the Rebel Alliance against the Empire, the plucky little underdog technology stickin’ it to The Man, with his closed architectures and walled gardens. This mythology had flaws. To begin with, if “rebels” Intel, Craig McCaw, and Motorola aren’t The Man, they look an awful lot like him. And we should have kept religion out of it: it’s about making money getting bits from Point A to Point B, not about setting information free or changing the world. The proximate cause of this rumination was the announcement by Packet One, the Malaysian WiMAX operator, that 2010 is “the year of WiMAX devices.” (It’s also the year of biodiversity, according to the UN, and the year of the tablet, per Nvidia.) PacketOne will launch a WiMAX embedded netbook later this year, augmenting its array of dongles and fixed modems. And it’s this, rather than Sprint’s CTIA announcement of its WiMAX smartphone, that illuminates WiMAX’s true future. That is to say, WiMAX will make more money toting ones and zeros in places like Malaysia than in places like Las Vegas. Why? Because there isn’t much of anything else in the developing world, even in relatively advanced countries like Malaysia. Dodgy DSL and overworked or soon-to-be-overworked 3G networks pressed into service for fixed access. FTTH? Fuggedaboutit. LTE? LOL. WiMAX in its present state provides reasonably robust, reasonably affordable connectivity in the 512k to 1 Mbps range - most of the time - with user-installable CPE. Sure, they’d laugh at that in Seoul, but in Mombasa you’ll get some takers. Heck, you’ll get some in Waco, Texas. And to that point, this might be a good time to note that our modest WiMAX forecasts for emerging markets, while perhaps conservative, are generally in line with one known data point: Packet One’s 140,000 subscribers as of February. Early last year we forecast about 166,000 consumer subscribers in Malaysia by year-end 2010. A couple of other operators have finally launched, so that number will be surpassed, but not by an order of magnitude. It’s still going to be a small fraction of the total wireless subscription base. In other words, a good solid business meeting a real need. But no threat to the Empire. - Tom Elliott