2006 Top Ten: Emerging Trends
The so-called "emerging markets" came into their own in 2006 and are sure to be on the upswing next year. Here are 10 key trends to look out for in 2007:
10. Mobile Madness
Mobile growth in developing countries will account for more than half of all new telecom subscribers worldwide. While the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) remain strong, nations like Indonesia and Nigeria are also becoming hot spots. (See Mobile Connections Pass 2.5B.) In fact, looking ahead Gartner Inc. predicts Indonesia will add more new telecom connections between 2005 and 2010 than Brazil and Russia.
9. Handset-to-Handset Combat
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has so far dominated sales of low-end handsets and in some countries boasts a massive 70 percent market share. But Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is chipping away by introducing cheap handsets of its own, and expects to pick up market share with the Motofone. Launched last month, the phone is aimed at rural users and includes features such as voice prompts in local languages, a plastic high-contrast screen that can be read in bright sunlight or poor lighting, and a battery standby life of two weeks.
8. Everything's Made in China
Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) are making their mark in developing countries, sewing up equipment deals before their Western counterparts arrive. In the past six months, Huawei has been awarded contracts in Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Morocco, Russia, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, and Uruguay. (See for example WorldCall Picks Huawei, Huawei Expands Colombia Movil, Huawei Wins Comium Deal, Huawei Builds Uruguay UMTS, Mobily Uses HSDPA, and Vivo Picks Huawei GSM.). ZTE’s wins include Russia, Vietnam, Libya, Haiti, Algeria, Armenia, and Morocco. (See ZTE Builds Russian NGN, ZTE Takes DSL to Vietnam, ZTE Builds Network, ZTE Completes HaiTel Network, ZTE Supplies ATM Mobilis, ZTE Takes CDMA450 to Armenia, and ZTE Wins in Morocco.)
But growing sales in these countries have helped put the squeeze on the vendors’ profit margins, a trend that will likely continue as overseas sales account for an increasing share of revenues. (See Huawei's Feeling the Pinch and ZTE Leans on Credit Crutch.)
7. Why Not WiMax?
WiMax has been heralded as a savior for emerging markets where there is little fixed-line infrastructure for broadband. A slew of WiMax equipment contracts were signed in 2006, and the theory will be put the test in 2007 when networks start to go live in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. (See Motorola Wins WiMax Deal, BSNL Deploys Aperto, Bulgaria Gets WiMax, Iraqtel Picks Redline for WiMax, Comstar Gets WiMax License, Navini Deployed in Ghana, and Netia Deploys Alvarion.)
6. Just Add Value
With calling rates as low as $0.02 per minute in countries like India, carriers are increasingly looking to value-added services (VAS) such as multimedia messaging, WAP, and mobile payments as a way to differentiate their services and boost revenues. (See Hutch Essar Does i-mode, Bharti Offers Windows Mobile 5.0, Reliance Offers MMS, and Airwide Upgrades Cell C.) Data services are also playing an important role as the lack of fixed-line services means that people in emerging markets are using mobile devices, not PCs, to access the Internet. That also translates to venture capital dollars for VAS startups, which are among the firms targeted by the VC funds focused on the developing world. (See OnMobile Secures $27.8M .)
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