Free Market Data

Portio Reseach have just published a free downloadable PDF, which contains tons of market data on the state of mobile. It’s a taster for the whole report that they want you to buy (fair enough), but there’s loads of facts to get your mind around in the free version.

Earlier this week, I wrote about one of the Churchill Club predictions that suggested that 80% of people would carry a connected mobile device with 5 – 10 years. Their projections suggest that 2012 will see 4.9 Billion mobile subscribers, at a time when the world population is expected to be about 7 billion.

On this basis, penetration will be about 70% at the very start of the timeframe they were talking about – though not all these phones will be internet-connected at that point. So they’re certainly in the right ballpark. Having said that, right or wrong in terms of exact numbers, the point remains that the mobile and importantly, the mobile web, is going to be very important.

Another factoid of relevance to a recent post is about MMS, where I suggested that it was finally coming of age – to some scepticism in the comments. The report shows that MMS currently accounts for 14.4% of all data revenues or about $11 Billion, if I’m interpreting the data correctly, which by any standards is a nice market. OK it’s certainly dwarfed by voice revenues, but it’s a nice chunk of change if you don’t compare it too hard to where the real money is still generated.

But a final thought I had when reading about these humungously large numbers, was how very, very small mobile marketing is when compared to overall telecom revenues. By 2011, total worldwide mobile telecom revenues is expected to be $1,045 Billion. Estimates vary how much mobile advertising will be by then, but let’s take $10 Billion as a very rough estimate – to put this into perspective, digital advertising as a whole is currently worth $50 Billion and growing, so $10 billion for mobile in 3 years is likely to be generous.

So, even if all mobile advertising flows to mobile operators (which they won’t), it’ll only increase their revenues by a maximum of 1%. Which isn’t going to get much sustained senior management attention – it’s barely more than a rounding error in their financial results. Although interestingly enough, it still might be bigger than good old MMS, which has attracted a lot of investment too over the years.

Plus ca change….. it ain’t easy being a mobile operator trying to find growth opportunities in an era when margins are under pressure and many developed markets have maxed out subscriber bases. Perhaps Vodafone’s Arun Sarin was very wise to quit today – at the top. And maybe the rumours of a new career in private equity are true. After all, once you’ve done what he has, the world of the VC, arguably almost as tough as the mobile operator one, might seem to be altogether more attractive.

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