2009 Predictions 1, 2 and 3

For those of you following MobHappy on Twitter, you’ll already have read my first three predictions, but here goes with the long form version and a little more explanation.

And if you’re not from around these parts, Carlo and my Predictions have become something of a tradition and we’re actually not bad (if you’re American, this means “very good”). Read the results of my predictions last year here and here and Carlo’s here.

Finally, before launching right in with them, leave some of your own in the comments, or on your own blog and link to the article so we can see what you think the year has in store. I’ve already incorporated some readers’ predictions that they sent me already.

1. mCommerce starts to take off (finally !)

I guess you could argue that mCommerce has already taken off for a while now – indeed a lot of AdMob’s (my day job) business model has been built on selling stuff on mobiles. But mostly mCommerce to date has been selling stuff on mobiles for mobiles, or mobile content. What I’m talking about here is using the mobile to sell goods and services that are designed to be consumed or used in the analogue world, as mobile becomes just another media channel.

This is really starting to happen already.

Good examples are Papa John’s Pizza, who recently announced that they’d sold over $1 million worth of pizza over the mobile web or BMW who sold over $45 million in winter tyres from a $60,000 investment in an MMS campaign, that Tomi Ahonen writes about here.

We’re going to see a ton of success stories in the next year like this, as mainstream marketers catch up with their more adventurous peers and start to drive transactions via mobile. The US will lead the way as they’ve firmly snatched back any lead Europe might once have had in mobile usage, but there’ll be some interesting successes in Europe too.

Since commerce drives revenue, which we all need to work harder for in these straightened times, thinking how to sell via the mobile should certainly be high on the business agenda for the next year.

2. Handset Reprise.

The succinct version here is: Tough year for Nokia. Worse for Sony Ericsson and Moto. Great for RIM and Apple. Android is the dark horse.

Poor Nokia seems beleagured on two fronts. The iPhone stole all the headlines this year, followed by Android, leaving Nokia wondering what they had done wrong. And they’re also coming head-to-head with the mighty Google in services (as well as Android). As all good generals know, it’s never a good idea to fight a war on two fronts and I hope history doesn’t prove this once again.

Android’s launch proved to be a little disappointing this year, with pundits being underwhelmed by the hardware. But the platform itself earned a lot of praise. MobHappy reader and writer at Venture Beat, Matthäus Krzykowski predicts that 40 Android devices will come out 2009. And that by June it’ll be outselling iPhone. This is pretty bullish, but if he’s in the right ballpark, Nokia should be pretty worried, as they’ll be squeezed between the multi-faceted Android, iPhone and Blackberry, all of whom will have world class handsets to compete directly against popular models in Nokia’s range.

Having said that, it’s not all doom and gloom for Nokia. They’re still easily the largest handset manufacturer and Symbian the largest platform in both sales and usage – AdMob’s new metrics (out today) show nearly 50% share for Symbian of the smartphone sector and a 32% share for Nokia of the mobile web usage. Although tellingly, the overall mobile web usage does show a decline and that’s almost all down the the success of the iPhone in stimulating mobile web use. Even so, Nokia have a formidable lead and it’s theirs to lose, but it’s still be a tough one.

As for the rest of the pack, I’d see a decline for Sony Ericsson and a disastrous year for Moto as the Razr generation flock to the iPhone, starting in earnest this Christmas.

The interesting one will be Android. Will it be a major player by this time next year? Matthäus thinks so. What about you? I’ll go with an AdMob data point and say that by the end of the year, Android will more than 5% share of page views of the billions that AdMob serves every month. To put that in perspective, Apple’s is currently 7.8%.

3. Mobile Web overtakes PC Web

In many ways, this is already the case. In lots of emerging markets the mobile web has leapfrogged the PC already, making the mobile the only digital device and de facto, the most important. Indeed, on a recent visit to the Far East, I spoke to Joshua Maa, the founder of Chinese mobile ad network, Madhouse. He told me that he has 3 Billion page requests a day from China and that the market size was over 5 Billion pages a day. Not all is quite as rosy as it seems as only a small fraction of these pages get monetised, but it does give an ideal of the scale.

So what measure am I using for my prediction? Certainly not the number of pages available to be viewed, which currently stands at around 25 billion for the indexed PC web. But this has taken at least 15 years to happen and it’ll take time for mobile to catch up. As a ballpark gut feel, I’d say maybe the mobile web has a little less than 1 billion today, but if anyone has a better idea, I’d love to know.

Neither am I using the number of mobile handsets that could access the mobile web, in comparison to the number of PCs. This milestone has passed already.

I’m predicting that more people will access the web via a mobile than via a PC. It’s hard to find proper stats on this, but if it hasn’t happened already, it’ll happen in the first quarter of 2009.

Watch this space and Twitter for more predictions from both Carlo and me.

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