• 02.01.09

Mobile World Congress Preview

Cell-phone honchos meet in Barcelona, Spain, February 16-19 to talk — in person — about their sector’s possibilities and challenges. Four gave us a preview.

“The current financial uncertainties are going to be a big discussion point, because this is an industry that has experienced extreme growth. In 2007, the handset market grew at around 16%. In 2008, that slowed to around 10%. Volume growth is still strong in emerging markets, but it’s happening at the very low end of the price band.”



“We’re still getting new subscribers as coverage expands. As handset and tariff prices come down, more Kenyans can afford phones. Kenya’s mobile penetration rate is still only 35%, but in the next five years, we expect that to reach 60%.”


“I expect the percentage growth of smart phones will decline for the next year or two as people make more economical choices. Consumers are focusing more on buying what they need, rather than what they want. So a lot of people won’t be sucked into buying a smartphone simply because everyone else has one.”


“Historically, we’ve looked at mobile phones as voice and text devices. Then with 3G, we started talking about data-centric technologies. Now, with what we call LTE — long-term evolution of broadband devices — you have mobile wireless broadband in your possession. You have to stop thinking about phones, and start talking about Internet devices.”