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Global Mobile Communications - Market Insights, Statistics and Regional Trends

This report provides important insights into the worldwide mobile communications industry and includes trends, analyses, statistics and unique regional insights for North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The report provides valuable information on the mobile communications industry including key industry statistics at a global and regional level; insights into the activities of the operators and identification of trends and opportunities. It also includes a global overview of handset, smartphone, touchscreen tablets and wearable technology. The report contains unique insights into regional developments written by BuddeComm's experienced Senior Analysts, including insights into the BRIC markets and a case study on the emerging market of Myanmar. Please note: Mobile broadband is covered in detail in a separate annual publication.

Executive Summary

The changing face of the global mobile market in 2015

Mobile services have revolutionised our world, and promise to be a key to future transformation. The global mobile broadband industry has become an incredible spectacle to observe, from the many competitors vying for position, the amazing apps streaming into the market, and the constant appearance of new devices.

Mobile penetration, however, continues to vary widely throughout the world. In Europe, nearly 80% of the population were unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014, while in Sub-Saharan Africa the figure was only 39%. But the developing regions are where we will see most growth in the years to 2020.

Mobile broadband access using the 3G and now the 4G/LTE networks has continued to expand as users continue to add tablets, modems and phones to use alternative communication methods and cloud based services. In the longer term, with the increased availability of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, the amount of mobile data downloaded is likely to at least double yearly for the next few years.

The global smartphone market has slowed from its boom years to a more modest but still significant growth. With mature markets becoming increasingly dependent on replacement purchases rather than on first-time buyers, the industry is shifting its attention to emerging countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where much of the population either does not own a mobile phone or has yet to move from feature phone to smartphone.

A major threat to the smartphone business arises from the limitations of the mobile broadband infrastructure. The mobile industry can develop all of these new applications and services, but if the infrastructure cannot handle the capacity, there will be little use for them. Developed markets are eating up new spectrum with a voracious appetite. WiFi could be a good customer access alternative; it is already used to access mobile broadband in the home, but mobile operators have problems with the idea of changing their business models to better utilise WiFi.

Driven by the growing usage of smartphones and mobile broadband services, mobile messaging continues to gain popularity throughout the world. But the scene is changing. The traditional SMS market, which peaked in 2012 and is now gradually shrinking, is being replaced by Over-The-Top (OTT) social messaging and messaging apps. This decline in traditional SMS usage is particularly evident in countries and regions where there is high smartphone and mobile broadband penetration.

In spite of some commentators spelling the death of email in favour of social media and other forms of messaging, there is yet no sign that our email boxes will lie empty anytime soon. In fact, the number of emails being sent worldwide continues to grow, and global revenues from email are forecast to almost double between 2014 and 2018. The biggest change is that almost half of all emails are being accessed from a mobile device globally.

Despite the positive future ahead for the mobile sector, it must also be acknowledged that many carriers are currently facing financial woes, with stagnating revenues, declining ARPUs and increasing competition.

Average Revenue per User (ARPU) is a key performance indicator for mobile operators and used as an important benchmark by investors and analysts. The current economic climate has driven down ARPU for operators around the world. But besides the economic downturn, there are other factors at work. Price pressures due to competition and multi-SIM users are also contributing to weaken ARPU - as is the fact that most new mobile subscribers come from lower-income segments. If we look at Average Revenue per unique Subscriber (ARPS), however, the downward trend is less pronounced, as this measure removes the effects of multi-SIM ownership.

Roaming prices are a controversial issue around the world, with customers complaining that roaming prices are too high. Many mobile users are turning to alternatives solutions such as Wi-Fi hotspots and local SIM cards. Regulators in many countries have ordered companies to lower their roaming fees and increase billing transparency, thus lessening the chance of bill-shock. However, for mobile operators, roaming remains an important source of revenue.

Customer experience has become a key issue in the overall retail market, not just in telecoms - and dissatisfied customers are no longer taking a passive approach. In search of better prices and better services, more and more mobile subscribers around the world are opting to change service providers. As a result, churn rates are on the rise. Bearing in mind that the cost of acquiring customers is expensive, reducing churn rates can offer significant savings to telcos.

BuddeComm's new report, Global Mobile Communications - Market Insights, Statistics and Regional Trends, provides important insights into the worldwide mobile communications industry and includes trends, analyses, statistics and unique regional insights for North America, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The report provides valuable information on the mobile communications industry including key industry statistics at a global and regional level; insights into the activities of the operators and identification of trends and opportunities. It also includes a global overview of handset, smartphone, touchscreen tablets and wearable technology. The report contains unique insights into regional developments written by BuddeComm's experienced Senior Analysts, including insights into the BRIC markets and a case study on the emerging market of Myanmar. Please note: Mobile broadband is covered in detail in a separate annual publication.

Key developments:

  • Infrastructure sharing has become increasingly popular, and carriers throughout the world are selling or leasing out their mobile towers in an attempt to monetize these assets.
  • Tower Companies or TowerCos have made a lucrative business out of buying towers and leasing tower space back to operators - at the same time developing new sites for operators to share as their networks grow. TowerCos have been particularly successful in the Americas and Africa.
  • Smartphones account for over 70% of global mobile handset shipments in 2015.
  • Although Samsung and Apple remain the leading smartphone suppliers globally, their market share is being eroded by lower-priced phones from China. Moving beyond their vast domestic market, several Chinese brands are expanding internationally, especially to India and southern Asia.
  • In 2014, Beijing-based Xiaomi became the rising star among smartphone vendors, overtaking Lenovo, Huawei, Coolpad, and even Samsung in China, to become the country's smartphone market leader.
  • Android continues to increase its share of the operating system market. Low-cost Android smartphones are expected to drive much of the smartphone growth in coming years, particularly in emerging countries such as China, India, and Brazil.
  • Wearable technology is expected to be the next large growth area for consumer electronics with smart watches, fitness trackers, augmented reality glasses and remote home monitoring devices all emerging from this new sector.
  • In March 2015, WhatsApp added mobile VoIP (MoIP) to its messaging app. WhatsApp's user base has more than tripled in only two years, topping 700 million users in 2015. Meanwhile, SMS has declined to less than 70% of global messaging revenues.
  • In February 2014, WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook for $16 billion, and Viber was acquired by Japan-based Rakuten for $900 million.
  • Succumbing to competition, Samsung's ChatON was discontinued in February 2015.
  • The migration to LTE is driving a surge in data usage, which has pushed up ARPU rates in some countries.
  • Operators who offer application-centric plans generally have higher ARPU and lower churn rates.
  • Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) continue to decrease throughout the world, reined in by regulatory intervention.
  • The European Commission is preparing regulations aimed at phasing out roaming charges in the European Union.
  • 5G will be the next development in mobile technology.

Table of Contents

1. Global Mobile Market - Insights and Statistics

  • 1.1 Global market summary
    • 1.1.1 Global mobile broadband
  • 1.2 Global mobile subscriptions
  • 1.3 Financial insights
    • 1.3.1 Global mobile capital expenditure (CAPEX)
    • 1.3.2 Software-defined networks to reduce CAPEX
    • 1.3.3 Global mobile revenue
    • 1.3.4 Can mobile operators afford a mobile-only strategy?
    • 1.3.5 Data mining - the next driver of mobile revenue
  • 1.4 Global mobile broadband statistics
    • 1.4.1 Mobile broadband connections and technology
    • 1.4.2 Mobile data traffic
  • 1.5 Leading global carriers
  • 1.6 Technology insights
    • 1.6.1 HSPA
    • 1.6.2 LTE
    • 1.6.3 WiMAX
    • 1.6.4 IMS
    • 1.6.5 5G
  • 1.7 The spectrum issue
    • 1.7.1 Spectrum issue - more to it than meets the eye
    • 1.7.2 White spaces overview and examples
  • 1.8 The changing state of the industry
    • 1.8.1 Mobile location based services (MLBS)
    • 1.8.2 HetNet architecture
    • 1.8.3 Small cell networks
    • 1.8.4 Monetising mobile towers
    • 1.8.5 Fixed Mobile Conversion
    • 1.8.6 Mobile consolidation is unavoidable
    • 1.8.7 Moving from 4G to 5G

2. Handsets and Smart Mobile Devices

  • 2.1 The future of the smartphone market
    • 2.1.1 Hardware becomes a utility platform
    • 2.1.2 Platform for innovation and industry transformation
    • 2.1.3 Breaking into new markets
    • 2.1.4 Affordable smart devices
    • 2.1.5 Enviro-friendly handsets
    • 2.1.6 Phablets and larger screens
    • 2.1.7 Who will dominate the WiFi market?
    • 2.1.8 Innovation to continue
    • 2.1.9 Look towards emerging markets for smartphone growth
  • 2.2 Global mobile handset statistics and forecasts
    • 2.2.1 Historical handset market growth
    • 2.2.2 Global handset sales and revenue
    • 2.2.3 Global leading handset suppliers
    • 2.2.4 A tough five years for Nokia
    • 2.2.5 Brief case study: Motorola
  • 2.3 Smart connected mobile devices
    • 2.3.1 Overview
    • 2.3.2 Operating system
    • 2.3.3 Smartphones
    • 2.3.4 Touchscreen tablets
  • 2.4 Safety and security issues

3. Mobile Messaging Trends

  • 3.1 Mobile messaging insights
    • 3.1.1 Smartphone and Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM)
  • 3.2 The declining SMS market
    • 3.2.1 Instant messaging beginning to overtake SMS
    • 3.2.2 Monetizing free mobile instant messaging apps
    • 3.2.3 Premium SMS (PSMS)
    • 3.2.4 Is Mobile Voice over IP (MoIP) a threat to SMS and voice revenues?
    • 3.2.5 Permission-based SMS
  • 3.3 Mobile photo-messaging and self destruction
    • 3.3.1 Operators attempt to combat OTT with Joyn
  • 3.4 Email/mobile email
    • 3.4.1 Self-destructing email
  • 3.5 Unified Communications (UC)
    • 3.5.1 Early days
    • 3.5.2 UC&C today
    • 3.5.3 Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
  • 3.6 Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)
    • 3.6.1 Store-and-forward messaging services
    • 3.6.2 Early providers
    • 3.6.3 USSD analysis
  • 3.7 Big Data and the messaging/UC segment

4. Customer Experience and Tariffs

  • 4.1 Introduction: global telecoms market
  • 4.2 Insights into global mobile churn
  • 4.3 Case study - Orange
  • 4.4 Customer experience key to the future of the retail market
  • 4.5 Insights into global mobile ARPU
  • 4.6 Insights into global mobile termination
  • 4.7 Insights into global mobile roaming
    • 4.7.1 Mobile data roaming
    • 4.7.2 European Union roaming regulations
    • 4.7.3 Roam like home
  • 4.8 The retail market needs to lift its game
    • 4.8.1 Under-investment in customer experience
    • 4.8.2 Very little service differentiation between players
    • 4.8.3 New sectors are entering the retail market
    • 4.8.4 New approach needed, not a fix of broken systems
    • 4.8.5 Cost transparency: the single most important issue in the telco market
  • 4.9 Solution: high quality data and analytics
    • 4.9.1 Data silos
  • 4.10 Contextual intelligence
    • 4.10.1 Benefits for telcos and ISPs
    • 4.10.2 Social Network Analytics
  • 4.11 Data analytic application examples
    • 4.11.1 Subscriber Data Management
  • 4.12 Business understands need for real-time processing

5. Regional Overviews

  • 5.1 North America
    • 5.1.1 USA Overview
    • 5.1.2 USA - AWS spectrum auction - 2015
  • 5.2 Latin America
    • 5.2.1 Overview
    • 5.2.2 Latin America mobile statistics
    • 5.2.3 Brazil
    • 5.2.4 Chile
    • 5.2.5 Mexico
  • 5.3 Europe
    • 5.3.1 Overview
    • 5.3.2 Industry problems to address
  • 5.4 Africa
    • 5.4.1 Overview
  • 5.5 Middle East
    • 5.5.1 Market overview
    • 5.5.2 Increasing competition
    • 5.5.3 MVNOs
    • 5.5.4 Number portability
    • 5.5.5 LTE
  • 5.6 Asia
    • 5.6.1 Market overview
    • 5.6.2 Leading mobile markets
    • 5.6.3 The developing markets
    • 5.6.4 Direction of the market
  • 5.7 Pacific Region
    • 5.7.1 Australia Overview
    • 5.7.2 New Zealand Overview
  • Table 1 - Global - subscriptions, unique subscribers and annual change - 2009 - 2015
  • Table 2 - Regional - mobile subscribers - 2009 - 2013
  • Table 3 - Global - mobile CAPEX - 2011 - 2020
  • Table 4 - Global - telecoms CAPEX - 2008 - 2015
  • Table 5 - Global mobile and mobile data revenue - 2012 - 2019
  • Table 6 - Global - mobile broadband market share by technology - 2013, 2014, 2018
  • Table 7 -Regional - mobile broadband subscriptions - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 8 -Regional - mobile broadband penetration - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 9 - Top ten OECD countries by wireless broadband subscriptions - 2012; mid 2014
  • Table 10 - Global mobile data traffic - 2000; 2011 - 2015; 2019
  • Table 11 - Regional mobile data traffic growth forecast - 2014 - 2019
  • Table 12 - Global top 20 mobile operators by connections and revenue - Mid 2014
  • Table 13 - Global top 13 mobile parent carriers by consolidated mobile subscribers - 2014
  • Table 14 - Worldwide LTE subscribers - 2011 - 2020
  • Table 15 - Worldwide LTE growth - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 16 - Global smartphone operating system market share - 2010 - 2014; 2018
  • Table 17 - Worldwide LBS subscribers - 2008 - 2014
  • Table 18 - Worldwide MLBS revenue - 2007; 2009; 2011; 2013 - 2015; 2019
  • Table 19 - Historical - regional MLBS revenue - 2009
  • Table 20 - African tower industry - 2009 - 2015
  • Table 21 - Global - mobile handset shipments - 2004 - 2015
  • Table 22 - Global - mobile handset revenue - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 23 - Share of mobile handset shipments by region - 2012 - 2015
  • Table 24 - Global - handset suppliers' market share - 2007; 2009; 2011 - 2014
  • Table 25 - Global - smart connected device shipments by price band - 2013; 2014; 2018
  • Table 26 - Global - smartphone operating system market share - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 27 - Global - smartphone shipments - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 28 - Global - smartphone share of handset market - 2009 - 2015
  • Table 29 - Global - top five smartphone vendors - shipments and growth - 2012 - 2014
  • Table 30 - Global - top five smartphone vendors - annual market share - 2012 - 2014
  • Table 31 - Global - top five smartphone vendors - Q4 market share - 2013; 2014
  • Table 32 - Global - tablet shipments - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 33 - Global - top five tablet suppliers - market share - Q2 2013; Q2 2014
  • Table 34 - Global - tablet operating system - market share - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 35 - Global - SMS traffic and revenue - 2005 - 2018
  • Table 36 - Worldwide number of email users - 2009 - 2015
  • Table 37 - Global - telecom statistics at a glance - 2013 - 2015
  • Table 38 - Orange mobile customer churn - 2003 - 2014
  • Table 39 - Orange mobile customer acquisition costs - 2007 - 2014
  • Table 40 - Global mobile ARPU and annual change - 2005 - 2015
  • Table 41 - USA - mobile ARPU and annual change - 2008 - 2014
  • Table 42 - Europe - mobile ARPU and annual change - 2008 - 2014
  • Table 43 - Latin America - mobile ARPU and annual change - 2008 - 2014
  • Table 44 - United Kingdom - MTRs by operator (pence per minute) - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 45 - New Zealand - Telecom and Vodafone network termination rates - 2009 - 2014
  • Table 46 - Global average Mobile Termination Rates - 2009; 2011; 2013; 2014
  • Table 47 - Examples of Mobile Termination rates by region
  • Table 48 - Global mobile roaming revenue - 2000; 2012; 2014; 2018
  • Table 49 - USA - Mobile market revenue, roaming revenue, ARPU - 2010 - 2015
  • Table 50 - North America - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2008 - 2015
  • Table 51 - LAC - mobile subscribers and penetration - 2004 - 2015
  • Table 52 - LAC - mobile subscribers and penetration by country - 2011 - 2015
  • Table 2 - Latin America Regional - mobile subscribers - 2009 - 2014
  • Table 53 - Europe - Mobile voice revenue as proportion to total - 2006 - 2015
  • Table 54 - Europe - annualised voice and data market annual growth - 2006 - 2014
  • Table 55 - Europe - mobile and fixed voice traffic (% of total) - 2005 - 2014
  • Table 56 - Europe - SIM penetration by country - 2011 - 2014
  • Table 57 - EU mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 2004 - 2015
  • Table 58 - Middle Eastern countries - mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration - 2013 - 2014
  • Table 59 - Middle Eastern countries - GDP and inflation - 2014
  • Table 60 - Mobile subscriber growth in Asia - 1990; 1995; 2000 - 2015
  • Table 61 - Top 10 mobile markets in Asia - ranked by number of subscribers - 2010 - 2014
  • Table 62 - Selected developing mobile markets in Asia - subscribers and penetration - 2014
  • Table 63 - Singapore: mobile subscribers - 2G, 3G and 4G, prepaid v. postpaid - September 2013
  • Table 64 - Singapore: mobile subscribers - 2G, 3G and 4G, prepaid v. postpaid - January 2015
  • Chart 1 - Global - subscriptions, unique subscribers and annual change - 2009 - 2014
  • Chart 2 - Global - evolution of mobile CAPEX - 2010 - 2015
  • Chart 3 - Global top 13 mobile carriers by subscribers - 2014
  • Chart 4 - Worldwide LTE subscriber forecast to 2020
  • Chart 5 - Smartphone manufacturers' annual market share - 2012; 2014Chart 6 - Smartphone manufacturers' quarterly market share - Q4 2014
  • Chart 7 - Global - SMS traffic and revenue - 2005 - 2018
  • Chart 8 - Orange mobile customer acquisition costs - 2007 - 2014
  • Chart 9 - Europe - mobile and fixed voice traffic (% of total) - 2005 - 2014
  • Exhibit 1 - Defined: HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+
  • Exhibit 2 - WiMAX Forum
  • Exhibit 3 - What is IMS?
  • Exhibit 4 - White Spaces
  • Exhibit 5 - Mobile infrastructure running out of steam
  • Exhibit 6 - Indoor Location Based Services
  • Exhibit 7 - The Power of 5G
  • Exhibit 8 - Open Handset Alliance
  • Exhibit 9 - A brief history - SMS
  • Exhibit 10 - Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM)
  • Exhibit 11 - Examples of popular Mobile Instant Messaging Apps
  • Exhibit 12 - Definition: Premium SMS
  • Exhibit 13 - Sybase 365
  • Exhibit 14 - Key benefits of USSD
  • Exhibit 15 - Carrier attributes churn to poor network coverage
  • Exhibit 16 - Mandated MTR reductions in Greece
  • Exhibit 17 - Roaming price caps in the European Union
  • Exhibit 18 - Bundling services in Europe
  • Exhibit 19 - Real-time processing
  • Exhibit 20 - Watson - cognitive computing
  • Exhibit 21 - Key characteristics of contextual intelligence in customer service
  • Exhibit 22 - USA - AWS spectrum auction - January 2015
  • Exhibit 23 - LTE launches in the Middle East
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