As another year comes to a close, again we’ve seen mobile impact every aspect of life, as wearables, new apps, mhealth, social platforms, mobile shopping, video adds and more have permeated our lives. Here’s how Anna Yong, Jaskaran Sangha and Mikko Disini at Citrix thinks these trends will develop in 2015
Devices & wearables
Mobile data traffic will continue to grow at a pace of 1.5x for 2015. Wearables traffic will grow exponentially.
Overall tablet and smartphone ownership is rising, though the pace of growth is slowing. However, 4G-enabled device penetration is rising rapidly. Consequently, in 2015 we can expect to see the volume of data traffic continue to rise exponentially.
Connected watches and fitness trackers made a big splash in the consciousness of consumers in 2014 with Apple and even pop mogul Will.i.am announcing new devices. They will continue to grabs the headlines in 2015 and we will even start to see data creeping up as units are shipped to enthusiastic early adopters.
Samsung launched the Gear VR in September 2014 and virtual reality headsets, in general, are becoming more affordable (see the Google Cardboard for £50!) so we’re going to see more from VR next year – maybe we’re a year or two away from serious data generating VR devices, but they’re coming.
The Internet of Things (IoT), which includes phones, tablets, watches, VR headsets, cars, toothbrushes and potentially just about anything and everything else, is a trend whose time has come. The technology exists – we’re waiting now for the services revolution that will drive traffic from the 25 billion networked devices expected by 2020.
Mobile ads / video ads
70% of mobile subscribers will be served ads. The growth period of ‘free’ social media is apparently over, and it’s time to make money via advertising.
Mobile advertising is growing in sophistication. Ads linked to context have been ‘about to happen’ for a long time, but the emergence of larger smartphone, phablets and tablets in combination with fast networks is helping accelerate advertising.
In 2014, Citrix found that 50% of smartphone subscribers were served ads, and that the relative popularity of video ads increased from 1/20 banner ads to 1/16 banner ads. Next year, we predict that 70% of mobile subscribers will be served ads as every major social media channel announces monetization plans based on advertising.
Video ads on social networks will continue to drive the mobile advertising market and its impact on the mobile network.
Now that we are almost in 2015, just about every single social media vendor seems to have advertising, with Snapchat’s launch of video ads on Oct 17, 2014 as being one of the last entries into the money making machine of advertising.
And it’s working. Advertisers spent $1.95 billion on Facebook mobile ads in Q3 2014, generating 66% of FB advertising revenue for the third quarter of 2014, up from approximately 49% of advertising revenue in the third quarter of 2013.
With 2015 we will see mobile ads permeate every mobile social media communications channel – whichever one you may choose – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Google+, Weibo, FourSquare just to name a few.
Mobile video will continue to make up the lion’s share of data traffic over cellular networks. Video traffic will be 55% of mobile traffic in 2015. (In Sept 2014 Citrix Mobile Analytics Report stated it was at 52%).
Mobile video data will grow significantly in Latin America, shifting from 40% video traffic to 45% in 2015. Furthermore, we anticipate that in 2016 LATAM will see major spikes in video traffic around the Olympic Games.
With faster networks and greater 4G device penetration the volume of mobile video consumed is going to rise via short-form channels such as YouTube and also longer form services from the likes of Netflix – though subscriber ‘bill shock’ fear could continue to force mobile users off cellular and onto Wi-Fi for longer video.
As noted above, advertising is going to support a wider range of mobile data services such as Facebook, Twitter.
According to the latest Citrix Mobile Analytics Report, 2.5% of subscribers access sports media content through their mobile device. With the world’s eyes on the 2015 Rugby World Cup, we predict a spike in video consumption with 5% of subscribers tuning in their favourite matches on their smartphone or tablet.
Streaming has been set to replace side-loaded audio content for some time. People are unlikely to rely entirely on streaming since mobile coverage is not ubiquitous – nevertheless we’ll see streaming services driving up mobile music consumption in 2015.
Based on information collected from Citrix ByteMobile Adaptive Traffic Management Solution deployments around the world, mobile audio – including Internet radio and audio file downloads – now constitutes 12% of mobile data volume in North America and 4% outside North America.
Mobile internet traffic is growing exponentially, and we’re going to see more audio traffic in 2015. Applications including Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Rhapsody, Slacker and several local radio station applications are increasingly popular among mobile subscribers. Whether we see the proportion growing relative to other types of data traffic remains to be see, though it is likely that the rest of the world (or at least the world where smartphone ownership is most common) will start to catch up with North America.
In 2015 mobile subscribers will be 2x more likely to watch video over LTE networks than over 3G networks.
Mobile subscribers are increasingly using LTE networks to consume video related content. The availability of LTE drives greater consumption of long-form content such as that offered by Netflix. In fact, Netflix viewing times are longer over LTE than over 3G and more subscribers seek to watch Netflix over LTE than over 3G with 74% requesting Netflix service over LTE versus just 26% over 3G
With Neflix announcing its European expansion plans and the penetration of 4G growing, operators worldwide need to maintain and ensure data Quality of Experience (QoE). This is precisely why operators need video optimisation solutions
Operators are faced with the same dilemma they were faced with when 3G networks were rolled out. Namely, that of making the technology pay. It is a careful balancing act, between providing data at a price that encourages its use, but not at a price that is unsustainable for growth. One thing we can be certain of is a rise in traffic, all of which means a greater demand for analytics, management and optimisation
Social Media & Big Data
Social networking will remain the most popular activity over mobile networks. Currently, social networking is the most popular activity over mobile networks at 40% of mobile subscribers engaged, generating 10% of daily mobile data volume. The majority of mobile social networking data volume consists of images and videos, which generate 87% of that volume.
With Facebook, Instagram and Twitter growing in terms of the number of users every day and new features arising, we predict that social networking will remain the most popular activity over mobile networks.
With data for mobile consumption growing exponentially, MNOs will be pushed to implement optimisation techniques geared towards delivering the smoothest quality of experience. With a growing amount of data now available for mobile consumption, MNOs will have to be able to provide a quality of service that matches both network speed and new customer trends, the likes of video streaming, internet radios and OTT messaging to name a few.
Mobile networks will see a sharp uptake in health-related data traffic, to cater for the rise of wearable devices and the need for healthcare professionals to communicate.
Citrix analysis of 2014 mobile health traffic found that compared to Q1 2014, mobile health apps still generate minimal activity on the mobile network. And within this category, more people engage with fitness apps over the mobile network than with other mobile health apps, such as dieting or women’s health.
As the popularity, affordability and sophistication of wearables grows, the portion of mobile health traffic will increase rapidly.
In 2015, mobile networks will be the key conduits, and possibly brokers for a constant and consistent pulse of mobile health data traffic – be it for tracking personal fitness goals, aggregating fitness app traffic to discover fitness hotspots and usage patterns, proactive patient health monitoring or installing "granny cams".
Along with this, mobile networks will become critical information highways for more than just personal health tracking to help healthcare workers deal with emergency situations or health hazards globally. Specifically, mobile health apps that can capture personal health information, and deliver interactive video will be able to help communities address communities in need, bringing education, communication and expertise to those who need it most.
On Christmas Day 2014, the majority of retailers’ website traffic will originate from mobile and tablet devices, as people try out new Christmas presents & browse for add-ons to their gifts. John Lewis reported that more than 3/4 of its web traffic on Christmas Day 2013 came from mobile devices. This year it is predicted that as people receive new mobiles and tablets and Christmas presents they will use these to access retail websites.
Operators will become a platform for OTTs with creative business arrangements that will promote both OTT and MNO. We are seeing more significant partnerships where the operator becomes a platform for the OTT.
In Germany, WhatsApp has an MVNO–type arrangement with E-Plus where they offer an E-Plus WhatsApp SIM card; in this case, WhatsApp is the primary mode of communication bundling of E Plus voice and internet access under the E Plus brand. In this model, WhatsApp is not rebranding the voice and Internet access services, but rather keeping them under the E-Plus brand umbrella.
In 2015, we predict that
- The WhatsApp – E Plus type of arrangement will be replicated with other MNOs by WhatsApp, Facebook and other OTTs
- Quasi-MVNO models will grow to full MVNO models where OTTs will promote their own OTT app and branding as their own the MNO’s voice and internet access services
- OTTs will begin to market their own smartphones as part of their MVNO strategy.
In 2015, Mobile Network Operators will be able to leverage their existing messaging and voice infrastructure to support WebRTC services.
WebRTC proponents, which broadly speaking come at communications from an Internet perspective, view WebRTC as a game changer. The ability to carry out real-time communications without the need for a plug-in promises a future of innovative browser-based communications solutions. Citrix predicts:
With 13% of web video calls through WebRTC, WebRTC will gain adoption by mainstream users in late 2015.
WebRTC for voice will likely extend beyond early adopters to add mainstream users. This will be driven by applications from operators that leverage WebRTC for existing voice and messaging systems.
With more mainstream usage of WebRTC, large enterprises will begin to develop WebRTC-based tools especially for touch points with customers such as in contact/call centers.