Is realism tempering the mobile industry's boundless boosterism? A new survey of mobile executives globally shows they expect 24% revenue growth in 2010 to $36 billion, down from the 33% increase predicted in the second quarter of 2009.
With the continued proliferation of smartphones last year, an aggressive push by Google into the mobile industry, the return of Microsoft via Windows Phone 7 and growing investment in the sector, one might expect growth projections to be on the rise. But the impact of the worldwide economic downturn continues to linger--keeping in mind that 24% growth is still bullish by almost any comparable measure.
One interesting finding in the study was that executives place increasing confidence in mobile applications as a source of future growth.
"While the industry has had to adapt to the challenges of the global economic downturn, reducing annual growth projections, there is optimism in the rise of applications, which look set to drive the industry forward as it continues towards recovery," stated Mark Harding, director of digital content at KPMG, which partners with the Mobile Entertainment Forum to produce a quarterly report on industry trends.
Specifically, mobile operators, content owners and other service providers expect apps to account for 21% of revenues for the next quarter, most of which be incremental. No wonder the biggest wireless operators globally are joining forces to launch their own one-stop-shop platform for mobile apps, taking on the likes of Apple and Google. They want a bigger piece of the action.
One aspect of apps operators surely appreciate is their dual income potential, generating revenue from direct sales as well as advertising in free apps. For an ad network like AdMob, the bulk of its business comes ad-supported apps rather than the mobile Web, thanks in large part to the iPhone and iPod touch.
And with the rollout of Windows Phone 7 devices at the end of 2010, Microsoft will want to ramp up efforts to stock its Windows for Marketplace Mobile app storefront with new titles to run on its phones. The appalooza is underway.