CTIA Convenes Apps & Enterprise Conference Amid Predictions of Explosive Growth

The CTIA wireless industry group convened its annual enterprise and apps conference in San Diego yesterday, and the biggest buzz so far has been around Google and Samsung’s decision to cancel the debut they had planned for both the “Ice Cream Sandwich” version of Android and the Nexus Prime, characterized as the next “pure Google” phone. Last week, the two companies canceled the news conference they had planned for today, saying the decision was made at the highest levels of each organization out of respect for the death of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Today there are about 6 billion wireless-connected devices around the world, according to the GSMA, a London-based industry group that represents more than 800 of the world’s mobile operators. With the population of the world estimated at roughly 6.7 billion, you might reasonably conclude that the market for wireless devices is maxing out. Instead a study commissioned by the GSMA predicts that the number of connected devices worldwide will soar to more than 24 billion in the next nine years, with mobile phones, tablets, and other devices accounting for 11.9 billion, or nearly half of the total.

The study, conducted by Machina Research, also predicts that the size of the market targeted by mobile operators will hit $1.2 trillion—a sevenfold increase over the industry’s expected revenues this year. “That’s a significant bit of growth for the industry,” Michael O’Hara, the GSMA’s chief marketing officer, told reporters and analysts at a news conference late yesterday.

However, the industry group also is clearly concerned that the multiplicity of wireless technologies, formats, and standards will result in a kind of wireless Tower of Babel.

“It’s key that we unite the entire ecosystem behind a consistent approach that utilizes accepted mobile industry standards,” O’Hara said. “We are calling on all participants in this new, expanding ecosystem to come together and join with the mobile industry to realize this vision.”

In addition to a doubling of the worldwide mobile market, the Machina study predicts even more explosive growth by 2020 in the machine-to-machine market. But O’Hara says a partnership approach also will be needed to address this market, which is expected to grow, for example, to $445 billion in wireless-connected consumer electronics. The study predicts the wireless connected automotive market will expand to $202 billion, healthcare to $69 billion, and utilities to $36 billion.

“The value is in the products and services that wrap around the connectivity, and the connectivity brings value to the products and services,” O’Hara said. “There’s a synergistic effect.”

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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