Dawn of Mobile Internet Revolution
Mobile application developers and high-bandwidth wireless data network operators are being dramatically boosted by latest innovations, growing popularity and rising demand of smartphones such as iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Treo and other mobile platforms. Some 10 percent of phones shipped worldwide — and some 19 percent of phones sold at retail in the United States — are smart-phones. Taiwanese smartphone maker High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) expects its sales in India to double in 2008, from 100,000 in 2007 to 200,000 in 2008. Although reliable figures are not available, Blackberry is finding traction in Pakistan and HTC is promoting its low-cost smartphones. Overall, there is room for substantial growth. In terms of wireless voice and data, markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia, will continue to grow at a rapid rate, according to an Aug 2008 report by Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd.
Each platform provider is vying for greater developer mindshare and faster wireless networks to add value to its device and gain market share to become the standard in mobile computing and communication. These developments are pulling together all of the necessary ingredients for explosive growth of mobile internet business in the coming decades. Though it's early, this ongoing mobile platform revolution could easily eclipse the PC and Internet revolutions of the 1980s and 1990s. The reason is simple: The cost and convenience of mobile devices makes them much more affordable and useful to a much larger population of the world today.
In an earlier post titled Mobile Internet for Pakistan, I wrote as follows: With the personal computers and the Internet penetration in Pakistan in single digit percentages and the mobile phone penetration approaching 50%, should Pakistanis still aspire primarily for the Western style PC/Internet access model? The answer to this question is clearly a resounding NO. Here is an opportunity for a strategic leapfrog to ubiquitous Internet connectivity via the most prevalent device owned by the largest number of people--the mobile phone. It makes sense from many perspectives: Device cost, connectivity options, electricity availability, usefulness for the vast majority of people, etc.
So what would the mobile internet do for people? Many consumers already use programs that come with their phones to send text messages, browse the web or take and email pictures. In addition to standard widgets like time, temperature, stock prices, and maps, Apple is offering an iTunes like online store called AppsStore that lets users download and install applications. iPhone owners can install programs that let them tune into Internet radio stations or get directions to the nearest gas station.
In future, phones will be able to do a lot more. San Jose Mercury quotes analysts as saying:
1. By simply using your phone's camera to take a picture of a bar code, you will find out instantly whether the store across the street or one online is selling a coffee maker at a lower price than the store you are at.
2. Whenever your bank account dips below a certain balance, your phone will notify you — and allow you with one click to instantly move more money into the account.
3. If you have a medical device implant, you will be able to use your phone to instantly and automatically alert your doctor to any troubling conditions.
4. Your phone will be able to tell you when you need to leave your house or office to make an appointment on time, given existing traffic conditions along your route.
As PC-like standards emerge in the mobile space and all-you-can-eat data services become inexpensive , the natural progression toward cloning and commoditization will happen, thereby making highly useful and multi-functional mobile platforms more affordable and ubiquitous in emerging markets such as India and Pakistan.
Over the 2002-2009 period, the number of mobile subscribers rocketed from less than 2 million to more than 94 million (58% penetration). The 2006-2007 period in particular had been remarkable for the country’s mobile operators as the total subscriber base moved from 22 million at the beginning of 2006 to 77 million at end-2007. By early 2008, the 50% penetration milestone had been reached, probably much faster than most people expected. Despite a tightening national economy, coming into 2009 the mobile market continued to expand at an annual rate in excess of 10%.
By 2009, however, Internet penetration remained low and broadband growth had also been negligible. There was some good news on this front when the year 2008 saw an upsurge in broadband subscriptions; importantly, this looked to be continuing in 2009, boosted by the spread of competition throughout the market. DSL subscriptions were dominating the broadband market, quite overshadowing the cable modem broadband services provided using HFC infrastructure.
In the meantime, early signs of wireless-based broadband Internet technologies had begun to appear and by 2008 there were a number of WiMAX networks being rolled out in the larger urban centres. For the time being, however, the number of wireless broadband subscribers remains relatively small.
The big challenge in the short term for Pakistan’s telecom market will be to manage the impact of a pronounced downturn in the national economy. The 2008/09 fiscal year saw a huge dip in FDI as foreign investment in the country suffered a significant overall reduction. In the longer term the ongoing task of regulatory reform will be the major challenge.
• Despite a faltering economy and speculation that the mobile market was saturating, Pakistan still managed to grow its mobile subscriber numbers in 2009, reaching 94 million subscribers (almost 60% penetration) by June 2009.
• Growth in mobile subscribers was continuing at an annual rate of about 12% in 2009, modest compared with previous years, yet still representing healthy growth in the circumstances.
• Pakistan’s mobile sector has been boosted by increased competition, with newcomers Warid Telecom and Telenor (both launched in 2005) having quickly claimed big stakes in the market. By mid-2009, their combined market share had reached just over 41%.
• Broadband Internet penetration remains low in Pakistan (around 0.2% in early 2009) but 2008/09 had witnessed a strong surge in demand for broadband services that looked set to continue.
• Growth in the country’s fixed-line market remained sluggish; fixed teledensity stood at less than 4% by end-2008 with the numbers expected to only edge up slightly in the short term.
• One positive factor in the emerging fixed market has been the success of WLL technology which was supporting around 35% of all fixed subscribers by early 2009.
Pakistan – Key telecom parameters – 2008 - 2009
Category 2008 2009 (e)
• Total subscribers (million) 6.2 6.5
• Annual growth -7% 5%
• Fixed-line penetration (population) 3.8% 4.0%
• Fixed-line penetration (household) 23% 23%
• Total subscribers (million) 3.7 4.0
• Annual growth 6% 8%
• Internet subscriber penetration (population) 2% 2%
• Total subscribers (million) 90.0 99.0
• Annual growth 17% 10%
• Mobile penetration (population) 56% 60%
A new wave of cheap smartphones could soon do for the mobile industry what years of hype and investing in pricey 3G systems failed to accomplish -- combining must-have chic with affordable prices for data-hungry masses.
Prices of smartphones are falling sharply as handset vendors use free software such as Google Inc's Android and chip prices are also tumbling as semiconductor makers put baseband and application processors into one chipset.
Free software is significant since Microsoft Corp charges up to $15 per phone for cellphone vendors to use its mobile operating system.
China's ZTE, which cut its teeth making cheap phones for emerging markets, aims to repeat that success in smartphones with a new model it is putting on trial for about $150 per handset, said He Shiyou, head of the company's cellphone division.
The model, using Google's Android operating system, is expected to start shipping next month and could be sold globally, he said at the Reuters Technology Summit on Monday.
ZTE's phones will join a growing crop of cheaper but still intelligent phones designed to take on the likes of pricier traditional models such as Apple Inc's iPhone, which costs more than $600, and Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry, which typically costs $250 or more.
"It will have tremendous importance when smartphones come down to maybe $100 to $150, then you can reach all (consumer) segments," Johan Wibergh, who heads the mobile networking equipment division at Ericsson, the world's largest cellular equipment maker, said at the Summit, which was taking place at various Reuters offices worldwide.
ZTE's cheap smartphone, which it is developing for domestic carrier China Unicom , follows similar moves by a number of companies and could mark the beginning of a new wave of phones to enter the market priced at around $100 to $150.
Global cellphone leader Nokia Oyj already sells a model whose price starts at 125 euros, while Chinese vendors are expected to take prices into largely uncharted territory.
"We are going to have an Android device for 85 euros ($105) by the end of the year," Oren Nissim, chief executive of satnav software maker Telmap, told the Reuters Summit in Paris, but he declined to name the manufacturer.
Telmap and many other major mobile software vendors have access to upcoming phone models well before they are introduced to the general public.
ZTE, NOKIA, HUAWEI, GOOGLE TO WIN
The expected boom should benefit companies such as ZTE, Nokia and China's Huawei that have expertise developing models for cost-sensitive emerging markets and have the manufacturing clout to develop new models cheaply.
"The market is seeing an abundance of affordable smartphones, but that raises a new challenge for operators in how to make data tariffs attractive and accessible on prepay," said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber.
It could also benefit carriers with 3G networks who stand to reap more money from the data-rich services, such as online gaming, music streaming and Web surfing, that such smartphones are good at.
Ericsson and other network equipment providers could benefit too as carriers boost capacity on their networks to accommodate rising demand.
Another possible beneficiary is Google, as its Android system is fast becoming the preferred choice of many low-end smartphone makers.
"Cheaper smartphone prices are only going to benefit two groups of people: telecoms operators and Google," said Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Securities in Taipei.
"Falling smartphone prices aren't going to be good for handset brands and they'll need to get used to these cheaper prices and lower margins soon," he said.
PTA stats said that Internet Service Providers of Pakistan added a total of 44,370 broadband subscribers in April 2010 compared to addition of 55,932 broadband subscribers in March 2010.
These statistics suggests that DSL still has 55 percent market share of total broadband market in Pakistan (in terms of subscribers), while WiMAX stands second with 30 percent subscribers’ market share.
EVO EVDO witnessed highest growth rate in last two quarters and has added its market share in terms of subscribers by 3 percent, while WiMAX subscribers’ market share grew by 2 percent.
On other hands, DSL users decreased by 3 percent and HFC saw a decline of 2 percent in market share in last 7 months.
Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) now extends its wireless Broadband EVO service to 100 major cities and towns across Pakistan. PTCL EVO is a superior 3G wireless technology that gives opportunity to roam freely with an average download speeds from 300 kbps to 500 kbps.
PTCL has made the broadband technology affordable by lowering the barriers to entry and now geographically, the service is within the reach of a large number of Pakistanis.
The major cities that PTCL EVO covers are, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Chakwal, Gujranwala, Muzzafarabad, Rawalakot, Mirpur, Okara, Sargodha, Sialkot, Multan, Faisalabad, alongside other small towns and cities across Pakistan.
Expansion of PTCL broadband network will continue to ensure that more customers get the opportunity to experience the latest wireless broadband and related technologies.
Naveed Saeed SEVP Commercial, on achieving this important milestone, said that the EVO launch in 100 cities reflects PTCL’s commitment to connect its customers to the world via Internet and the company’s commitment to provide its customers with best telecom services at their doorsteps. Working in a market where technology changes every minute, PTCL always strives to introduce products and services that brings more value to its customers.
At Camp Blessing in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley, some American soldiers played “Angry Birds” on their iPhones when off-duty. Jonathan Springer decided to put his device to a different use: building an app to help fight the Taliban.
“I wanted to give something back to soldiers that might help save their lives,” Springer, 32, said in an interview from his base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The result is Tactical Nav, an iPhone application the U.S. Army captain built with $30,000 of his savings and a maxed-out credit card a year ago. The $5.99 app uses GPS technology and the iPhone’s camera to chart coordinates and guide artillery fire. It has been downloaded about 8,000 times by U.S., Canadian and Australian soldiers, as well as hunters and hikers, Springer said. From e-mails he has received from soldiers who have gone on patrol with it, the app has been used in both combat and training, Springer said.
If Teri Takai gets her way, American soldiers, sailors and marines may all soon be able to download Tactical Nav and other military programs through a dedicated U.S. Defense Department app store. Takai, the department’s chief information officer, wants to build a secure network of smartphone apps to help soldiers fight in new ways, from more precise maps to better manuals. If security challenges get resolved, the project will result in a revenue source for app developers and a potential boon for iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
(Pakistan currently has) five to six million smartphone users.
A rather bullish estimate is cast by Ericsson Pakistan which anticipates some 50 million smartphone users in Pakistan by 2016, accounting for 70 percent of operator revenues.
It could, however, be misleading to equate the potential mobile broadband uptake entirely with the incidence of smartphone users in Pakistan.
The cue might actually lie in the current mobile internet usage, which is reportedly growing despite high tariffs and laggard speeds on GPRS/EDGE networks.
According to PTA Chairman, mobile internet users crossed 15 million in June 2011, just four million shy of PC internet users.
Telenor Pakistan, arguably the dominant player in mobile internet services, shared with BR Research that every fourth Telenor customer is a mobile internet user.
High adoption rate is found in the 18-26 age, cohort and significantly higher data consumption is witnessed among business users who are mostly aged 30 and above.
Rural and semi-urban areas in the North are reported to have surprisingly high usage.
Interestingly, just three percent of total handsets on Telenors network are smartphones, when over a quarter of its customers have been mobile internet users.
This possibly means that the feature phones are at work here, which are not smartphones but have additional functions over dumb phones, including internet settings.
This could imply that the barriers to smartphone adoption may not really hold back the mobile broadband uptake, because a feature phone would suffice to access high-speed internet.
However, the appeal of a smartphone - which is capable to communicate with platforms like Android Market, Apple Store, and Blackberry App World, along with a plethora of third-party mobile applications - cannot be matched.
Besides handset functionality, the telecom leaders in their interactions with BR Research have cited two other decisive factors for the growth in mobile broadband users.
These are the development of local language content and creative mobile applications, and pricing of the data services as per needs of various segments.
There is a strong case for a large-scale mobile broadband adoption in Pakistan given the current data consumption trends.
A high penetration of mobile broadband can go much beyond mobile entertainment, social networking, and business usage.
It will augur well for areas, like education, healthcare and governance that are in dire need to be turned around for Pakistans socioeconomic progress.
Pakistan Telecommunications Co. (PTC), the country’s biggest phone-service provider, forecast a return to profit by its fiscal fourth quarter as workers opting for early retirement cut labor costs.
“We will return to profitability after we absorb the cost of retiring employees,” Naveed Saeed, senior executive vice president for the Islamabad-based company’s commercial unit, said in an interview on Oct. 22. “Our revenue growth is strong and we are really trying to contain the costs.”
Pakistan Telecom has struggled to increase revenue from its fixed-line unit as mobile-phone operators including Telenor ASA (TEL) and China Mobile Ltd. (941) grab market share. The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users jumped more than ninefold in the past seven years in the country of 180 million people.
Profitability for Pakistan Telecom was hurt in the first quarter as it absorbed the cost of a voluntary retirement progam that reduced its workforce by between 5,000 and 6,000 employees, Saeed said at the company’s headquarters. A similar program in 2008 saw 35,000 of 50,000 employees retire early.
Saeed forecast 7 percent sales growth for the current financial year, which ends in June. That’s higher than the 6.4 percent average annual revenue growth for Pakistan Telecom in the past five fiscal years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About half of the company’s revenue goes to paying salaries for an estimated 25,000 permanent and contractual employees.
Pakistan Telecom fell 3.3 percent to 18.57 rupees yesterday. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 79 percent, compared with an advance of about 40 percent for the Karachi Stock Exchange 100 Index.
Pakistan Telecom, controlled by Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (ETISALAT), posted a loss of 8.26 billion rupees ($86.4 million) in the three months through September, its first quarterly loss in more than four years. That compared with a profit of 2.23 billion rupees a year earlier.
Fixed-line users fell to 2.9 million last year from the peak of 5.2 million in Pakistan Telecom’s financial year that ended in June 2005, as more people switched to mobile phones.
The number of mobile-phone users in the country grew to 119.8 million as of May this year from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the Pakistan Telecom Authority.
“They will be back to profit by the end of this year,” said Ayub Ansari, a Karachi-based analyst at AKD Securities, in a telephone interview. “There has been a steady growth in their core businesses. The cellular segment continues to grow, plus the broadband segment is also very exciting. That’s the next big thing for Pakistan and PTCL in particular.”
Pakistan Telecom derives most of its sales from the broadband unit, which has more than 1 million customers and contributes about 25 percent to profit, Saeed said. Aqeel Shigri, a spokesman, said the unit has a market share of 90 percent.
The company, which also owns the country’s third-largest mobile-phone operator Ufone, plans to bid for 3G bandwidth licenses the government plans to auction this financial year, Saeed said.
Currently, around 119 million people in Pakistan own a cell phone which is about 68.6% of the entire population. Furthermore, out of all the cellphones sold 6% are specifically smartphones. Similarly, from all the smartphone brands available in Pakistan, Samsung has the highest market share (39%) followed by HTC (22%) and Sony (8%).
HTC is a Taiwanese manufacturer of smartphones and tablets which have managed to capture the attention of the entire world. Recently, to further improve their position in the smartphone market, HTC has signed Robert Downey Jr. for its marketing campaign “Here’s to change” which is expected to help increase HTC’s sales, after their recent loss in stock value. This Taiwanese phone-maker is going all out with the introduction of this $1 billion marketing campaign. Other than implementing these stringent marketing strategies, the smartphones which have recently been introduced by HTC have also upped the game. Some of the best smartphones which have been introduced by HTC are:
HTC has recently launched HTC One, which has taken the mobile phone market by storm. It boosts an amazing camera which has a remarkable low-light performance, a new interface which helps combine all your social media and news feeds into a single place, great sound and a brilliant 4.7 inch screen which helps provide the best immersive experience. Also, its user-friendly features and its impressive aluminum body construction may help HTC in capturing the mobile phone market.
HTC One mobile price in Pakistan:- Rs.65000/-
HTC Desire C
Not everyone can afford the latest android technology but that doesn’t mean that everyone should have to live without it. HTC desire specifically caters to the needs of these people; it’s one of the best budget phones which is equipped with the latest android technology. The main selling point of HTC Desire C is that it has a 3.5 inch screen with a 600MHZ processor and that too at such a low price. Also from its high end look it is almost impossible to guess that it’s a budget phone. One major advantage that Desire C has over its competition is the addition of HTC sense which supercharges this device.
HTC Desire C price in Pakistan: – Rs.11,000/- to 15,000/-
A smartphone for those on a tight budget, the HTC Wildfire doesn’t hold back on the specs; the touchscreen handset runs on Android 2.1 which is equipped with user-friendly HTC Sense UI but one issue is that it has the same processing power as 2009′s HTC cellphone, the HTC Hero.
HTC Wildfire Price in Pakistan: – Rs. 12,000/-
The HTC 8X is the epitome of elegance, not only is it beautifully designed, it is equipped with all the necessary features required in a smartphone. It is definitely one of the best smartphones which gives other windows 8 (operating system) based smartphones a run for their money. It’ll certainly raise eyebrows when you hold this cellphone in your hand – not just because it’s colorful, but also because it’s so beautifully made with unibody, polycarbonate design.
Another attractive feature of HTC 8 X is its high resolution screen – which measures about 4.3 inches coming in at 1280 x 720 pixels. It’s considered to be as good as Apple’s Retina (which is the current best) or maybe even better.
HTC 8X price in Pakistan: – Rs. 46000/- to Rs. 50,000/-
The market share of smartphones is expected to double next year as stiff competition rages among cellphone makers with moderate prices and cheap Chinese brands penetrating the market.
Nokia Android phones have also hit the markets where Q Mobile, Samsung, Huawei, Sony, LG, Voice, G-Five, VGO Tel, etc continue introducing new smartphones with more advanced features and competitive prices. However, feature phones (not smart or android) still hold 80 per cent market share and cost between Rs2,500 to Rs4,000.
According to Director United Mobile, Azad Lalani, smartphones share will jump to about 40pc next year from the current 15-20pc.
Pakistan’s monthly sales of overall cellphones is estimated at 1.5 to 1.7 million units. The start of 3G services will further boost sales of smartphones.
Market sources said that one of the Chinese cellphones now holds a major market share with sales of 600,000-700,000 units per month, a sector that was previously dominated by Nokia. The price of smartphones (Chinese brands) starts from Rs7,000 and touches up to Rs60,000 plus for many major brands.
Country General Manager Nokia Pakistan and Afghanistan, Arif Shafique said, “We have recently launched the first of our Nokia X range of smartphones in Pakistan. The device runs on the Nokia X Software Platform, which is built on the standard Android Open Source Project (AOSP).”
Shortly, the company will expand the range of Nokia X devices in Pakistan across all price points. The recently launched Nokia X is available at an estimated price of Rs13,500.
“Pakistan’s mobile market is burgeoning and the users are becoming more and more tech savvy,” he said.
On grabbing market share in Nokia Android phones, he said as per Nokia policy he cannot comment on the company’s market share by country or region. “I believe there is consumer demand especially in the affordable smartphone space,” he added.
Regarding investment in the launch of Android phones in Pakistan, he said: “The investment is largely in the marketing and promotion of this new range, as well as in supporting Pakistani developers to come up with more locally relevant apps for Nokia X family.”
Currently Nokia phones are arriving from China for the Pakistani market. “As and when trade between India and Pakistan opens, we will weigh both options — of importing from China and India.”
“We will opt for the one that will offer the best value to our consumers in Pakistan,” he said.
On Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia devices and services business, the general manager said, “Our transition with Microsoft is shaping up to close in April and our journey towards bringing smarter mobile devices and smarter technology is going ahead with this transition.”