Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mobile carriers working to increase ARPU

There will be over 4.5 billion mobile phone users worldwide by 2013, of which over 3.5 billion will be served by 3G technology, and there will be no shortage of competition for this immense population of users. Mobile carriers have to provide enhanced and personalized services in order to reduce subscriber churn while also building average revenue per user (ARPU). Samsung, now the No. 2 mobile handset maker, is unveiling its mobile applications storefront for users of Samsung Symbian and Windows Mobile devices (an extension of the Samsung Mobile Innovator developer program) during the Mobile World Congress event in February 2009. Although this store will be open only to U.K. consumers initially, the company will expand it to other nations if the U.K. store is successful with consumers.

This development is one more significant step in the mobile app space, which has been under accelerated development since 2008 following Apple’s success. The market has included these developments:

>> September 2008: The press first reported Microsoft’s mobile app store SkyMarket, followed by rumors that Microsoft will announce it at Mobile World Congress in February 2009.

>> October 21, 2008: Research in Motion announced its Blackberry application storefront will open in March 2009; developers will get 80% of the revenue from sales.

>> October 22, 2008: The Google Android Market went live with 50+ applications; Google promises to give developers 70% of the sales, with 30% going to carriers and for billing settlement.

>> January 9, 2009: Palm announces plan to launch its WebOS App Catalog.

As the consumer app download market grows, fragmentation could become a negative factor in the mobile OS market. Will Apple leverage its App Store’s success to lock in users just as it did with its iPod+iTunes franchise? The more fragmented the market is, the more leverage Apple could gain. CONNECTIONS™ will feature multiple sessions discussing the implications of such a move in the mobile industry.

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