Tuesday, December 18, 2007

2007 Predictions: How did I do?

In December 2006, I wrote my predictions for UMA technology and markets in 2007. As we close out the year, it’s time to look back. All in all, it’s been an excellent year for UMA.

Prediction 1: Dual-mode handset models will more than double.

Reality: Correct! Reality surpassed our expectations.

At the close of 2006, there were just three models commercially available: the Samsung T709, P200 and the Nokia 6136.

As of today, there are many more devices: Samsung’s T409, T739, P260; Nokia’s 6086, 6301; RIM’s 8820, 8320; Sagem’s my419; and LG’s brand new KE520.

The Motorola A910, announced in 2006, became available for sale from BT this year. Given the Nokia 6136 and Samsung P200 are still available, the industry will close out the year with 12 commercially available handsets; a four-fold increase over 2006. Excellent progress.

Prediction 2: Subscriber count will go through the roof.

Reality: Half correct, we don’t have comprehensive reports.

Orange had suggested they would have about 1m users in France in 2007. It appears that they will be quite close to that mark. Unfortunately, reporting of numbers is sporadic. At the end of April, Orange reported 175,000 units. The last number, announced in September, was 468,000 handsets sold, with one phone from Samsung, Nokia, and Sagem each.

Going into the holiday season, the Orange handset line-up currently includes the hot-selling Nokia 6301, the new LG KE520, and the extremely popular RIM 8820. We won’t know the final tally until February or so, but I think they could round out the year with close to 1 million units sold.

While Orange publishes at least some numbers, T-Mobile US and Telia have been silent about the uptake of their services. We have lots of anecdotal and confidential information that subscribers are taking their dual-mode handset services, but there are unfortunately few public numbers to reference.

Prediction 3: More operators will launch UMA service.

Reality: Correct.

T-Mobile US, Cincinnati Bell, Telia Sweden, and NetCom Norway all announced service in 2007. There are now 12 service offers in nine countries. Dual-mode services continue to grow. While I was hoping for more, four new operators offering UMA service is a great accomplishment.

Prediction 4: VCC will actually be understood by the market.

Reality: Correct.

VCC has so many holes in terms of features and capabilities, no mobile operator will deploy it. The company that was leading the charge, Bridgeport, has all but abandoned it’s mission. The industry organization founded to promote VCC, MobileIGNITE, has been dead for months. No major handset vendor supports it. The standard is still not completed in the 3GPP, and there are no actual VCC deployments in the market. I think the market understands the UMA is the 3GPP standard for convergence and that VCC is a non-starter. Enough said.

Now, what’s in store for 2008…

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