2008 Predictions Reviewed

I hate going over my predictions, as generally, the MO is that you ignore the things you got wrong, and hope that everybody else forgets, while elsewhere trumpeting the things you got right as a sign of your genius. But, following Russell’s lead, here goes with my review of my predictions for 2008. Keep in mind that it’s only December 12th, so a lot could change in the next 19 days.

1. Apple won’t grow organic market share by much.

Nothing like starting off with a challenge. This one sort of depends on how you look at it. Strategy Analytics says that Apple had a global market share of 2.3% in the third quarter, compared to 0.3% in Q307. So, on one hand, 2% isn’t a huge absolute gain, but it’s a pretty solid relative one. That said, Samsung gained 2.7% over the same period, and you don’t see much talk of its huge growth in the market. I’m inclined to give myself a point, based not solely on the numbers, but on my statement that “Any new models won’t appeal to a much wider crowd without adding something significantly new and cool — and just chunking in 3G isn’t enough.” Adding the App Store and GPS helped — but not as much as the big upfront price cut. Furthermore, it’s hard to find data on organic growth vs. how much of that market share growth was from new countries, and my anecdotal evidence suggests that many iPhone 3G users have upgraded from the earlier model.

2. Android won’t match the hype.

Full point here: one device, from one operator, and it’s not especially impressive to boot. I’m still very much in “wait-and-see” mode about Android.

3. Ad-supported content will continue to grow, but there will be some friction as operators figure out how to insert themselves in the experience.

I’ll take another point here. The mobile ad market has boomed in 2008, and is one of the year’s success stories. There has been some friction, but maybe less than I expected, but we’ve still seen operators doing things like installing transcoders that get around mobile content (and its advertising). I’d imagine that in 2009, this will increase, particularly as consumer spending will remain depressed, affecting ARPU.

4. The 700 MHz auction in the US will toss up an interesting license holder.

Define “interesting” — companies like Dish Network and Cox cable won licenses, and Cox says it’ll deploy its own wireless network in the areas it serves. While Google didn’t win a license, it did succeed in forcing the open-access rules onto the C-block licenses, which will (supposedly) force the winning bidder, Verizon, to follow them, which in itself is pretty significant, and interesting. I’ll generously award myself the point.

5. Smartphone sales won’t accelerate much, as existing users get fed up with poor usability, and featurephones get smarter.

Gartner says “in the third quarter of 2008, the global smartphone market reported its weakest year-on-year growth since they began tracking the industry.” That’s a point.

6. Euro 2008 and the Summer Olympics in Beijing will generate a decent amount of interest in mobile TV, but that interest won’t be sustained.

I think I got this wrong, insofar as Euro 2008 and the Olympics didn’t generate much interest in mobile TV. My overall point was that mobile TV would remain stuck in neutral, which it did. Still few users and no revenues to speak of. Half a point.

7. Handset vendors will pay more attention, both lip service and real, to environmental issues.

I don’t see any compelling evidence that this came true in 2008. No point here.

8. Embedded radios in consumer electronics will become much more commonplace.

This was actually pretty disappointing, as the Kindle largely still stands alone here. Things such as the Dash GPS unit and the Peek email device launched this year, but I’d hardly say that represents “commonplace.” Ahead of the curve here, and thus, no point.

9. Operators will wake up to the threat of IM and push e-mail to their messaging revenues.

I’m not sure how to quantify this, but my pontification that “Forward-thinking operators will take a look at this space, and realize that mobile messaging needs an overhaul, and that a holistic approach combining disparate channels (SMS, e-mail, IM, social networks and so on) is the way forward,” seems like it missed the mark. I’m hard pressed to think of any operators that really did this, beyond maybe 3 in the UK, but if you have any examples, pop up in the comments and point them out and I’ll be glad to give myself a point.

10. “Open” will dominate the discussion in 2008.

Don’t think there’s much argument here: I get the point. I’ll resist my temptation to award myself a bonus point for saying “operators will fall all over themselves trying to persuade people that they’re open. Most of this will be BS…”

So, that’s a pretty dismal 6.5/10, but hey’ that’s half a point better than 2007. I am glad that my first semester’s grades weren’t based on these predictions… but I’ll bring you my predictions for 2009 next week, giving you an entire year to wonder at how I could get them so

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