Top Things to Look for in Wireless in 2011

1/12/11Follow @marklowenstein

1) 4G. 4G services will become available on a near nationwide basis in 2011. At its best (and what is called “4G” gets murkier every day), 4G offers a true mobile broadband experience. In order to be successful, 4G operators must have a comprehensive go-to-market strategy, with compelling devices, exciting and differentiated applications, and innovative pricing models.

2) Re-Thinking the App Store. It’s great that there are 300,000 apps out there on iTunes, and 100,000 in the Android market. But with so many options out there — and not a lot of real businesses being built — there will be greater attention to search, discovery, context, and personalization to deliver a more effective and monetizable apps experience.

3) OS Consolidation. The new Windows Mobile 7 phones are pretty good. But can the market support another OS? Add to that the struggles of Symbian (Nokia) and WebOS (HP/Palm), and Blackberry’s declining share, and something is going to give. Look for something blockbuster involving Nokia, Microsoft, and possibly RIM.

4) Content Distribution Models. We are in the early innings of thinking about how print and broadcast content and programming are going to be effectively distributed digitally, and to our “multiple screens.” Next year will see the introduction of some innovative new business models, but also continued battles between content owners and emerging distribution networks.

5) Mobilization of the Enterprise. This is something that we have been talking about for years, and it has been happening in baby steps. But in 2011, we will see corporate IT make significant investments in mobile, driven by the availability of 4G, compelling new products such as smartphones and tablets, a more open and cost-effective application development framework, and a maturing ecosystem of companies to help firms mobilize.

Mark Lowenstein, an Xconomist, is managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, a wireless industry consulting firm. Subscribe to his free Lens on Wireless newsletter here. Follow @marklowenstein

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