Mobile second-quarter 2014: analysis and outlook

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Health and fitness emerge as a platform
  3. Streaming music as a loss leader?
  4. The Amazon Fire Phone: sound strategy, questionable execution
  5. The uncarrier rolls on as Sprint lurks and Dish Network waits
  6. Can Wi-Fi-first networks compete with cellular?
  7. Near-term outlook
  8. Key takeaways
  9. About Colin Gibbs

1. Summary

Health and fitness emerged as the newest major platforms in the mobile industry during the second quarter of 2014. Apple unveiled an iOS-based offering that aggregates health-related data from multiple apps and devices, Google announced a similar initiative for Android developers and users, and Samsung and WebMD introduced their own health-targeted services. This flurry of activity illustrates how quickly the mobile-health industry is maturing beyond a concept into a market teeming with potential.

The second quarter was eventful on other fronts during the second quarter, too. Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion in a surprising move that may have centered more on the importance of streaming music than on the headphones for which Beats is most well-known. And Amazon finally introduced a smartphone that has been the subject of rumors for more than two years.

Other highlights from the quarter include:

  • Device manufacturers and operating system providers increasingly focused on emerging markets such as India and China, where smartphone penetration lags far behind more mature markets and pricing is crucial.
  • T-Mobile continued to steal customers away from the three other major U.S. carriers thanks largely to its “uncarrier” strategy, while Sprint maintained its push for a merger with T-Mobile in an effort to regain its shaky footing. A merger would reshape the industry landscape, shrinking the field to three major carriers. However, approval by federal regulators still appears unlikely.
  • Speculation ramped up regarding separate plans by Comcast and Google to launch mobile services primarily through networks of Wi-Fi hotspots, using cellular networks only as a fallback. Several MVNOs have launched “Wi-Fi-first” offerings in the U.S, but thus far have seen limited success. A well-funded offering from a major player might have a substantial disruptive impact on incumbent mobile operators

This report examines these and other events that unfolded during the second quarter of 2014, and breaks down what they could mean to the mobile industry through the rest of the year and beyond.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Dinic/Thinkstock.

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