Mobile experts don’t expect Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet, set to debut later this year, to shake up the rapidly growing category dominated by the iPad and various Android-based devices. That’s among the projections from an annual survey of mobile executives, developers and analysts by research firm Chetan Sharma, looking ahead at the wireless industry in 2012 and beyond.
In two years, a Windows 8 tablet is forecast to capture only 8% of the market (in unit sales), while Apple’s iPad and Android will claim 45% and 44% each. (The iPad made up 61% of tablet sales in the third quarter, according to IDC.) Tablets overall are expected to be the principal non-phone mobile device in the upcoming year.
Among other predictions, mobile payments and mobile commerce were cited as the breakthrough mobile categories for the second year in a row. 2011 was the year to set the groundwork for growth in the mobile payments space. “Given the investment and focus, we are likely to see more movement and consumer involvement in 2012 with proximity based solutions and commerce of physical goods on mobile,” stated the Chetan Sharma report.
Mobile payment and m-commerce apps are also expected to be among the most popular types of apps this year, along with those focused on messaging, location-based services, deals and coupons and music.
When it comes to the perennial “apps versus Web” debate, the pendulum is expected to swing in favor of the mobile Web in 2012, with growing adoption of HTML5 programming language. However, hybrid models blurring the distinction between apps and the mobile Web are expected to be around for a long time. For apps, a combination of paid and ad-based revenue will continue to be the norm.
What categories will generate the most mobile data revenue this year?
Messaging, wireless access, apps and advertising are seen as the four broad areas that will account for the bulk of sales. When it comes to factors that will drive demand for 4G services, mobile video leads the way, followed by cloud computing and access.
With AT&T withdrawing its $39 billion bid to acquire T-Mobile late last year in the face of government opposition, wireless industry regulation is again expected to make headlines in 2012. Net neutrality and market competitiveness are the areas where regulators are likely to have the most impact this year, according to the survey. Microsoft and Google are tabbed as the companies that could end up making the biggest acquisitions in 2012.
Among the biggest story lines to unfold this year will be the continuing expansion of mobile data, Amazon’s entry into the mobile space, how Windows Phone-Nokia devices will sell, whether embattled BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion will survive as an independent company, and Facebook’s upcoming initial public offering and its mobile ambitions.
Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who died in October, was named as mobile person of the year for 2011. His passing was also noted as one of the biggest stories last year, along with the continued global expansion of Android. Top people to watch in mobile this year include Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos and Google mobile head Andy Rubin.
The findings of the Chetan Sharma survey were based on responses from about 150 mobile industry professionals.