Published June 3, 2013
TORONTO – Expect to see continued growth in mobile video, commerce and other wireless apps over the next few years, as well as a surge in new, smart, web-connected devices.
Those were some of the key points made by four industry experts at the Canadian Telecom Summit here on Monday morning. Speaking on a panel devoted to mobile devices, screens and apps, the four executives agreed that the mobile movement will continue to extend into new areas, foreseen and unforseen, as consumer demand for such devices keeps growing, wireless devices get even more sophisticated and even such traditional appliances as refrigerators, thermostats and washing machines become smart, interconnected devices.
Nauby Jacob, vice president of products, services and content for Bell Mobility, said Bell’s mobile TV product is prompting more customers to use mobile video and driving mobile video consumption among existing users. He noted that Bell’s mobile TV subscribers now watch an average of more than one hour of video content on their wireless devices each day, up from 25 minutes a day four years ago.
“It’s really an exciting business for us,” Jacob said. During the Toronto Maple Leafs’ climactic seventh game against the Boston Bruins in the NHL playoffs last month, he noted, “a lot of our cell sites had trouble keeping up with the demand” from subscribers.
Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations and ecosystem development for BlackBerry, said his company sees great promise in mobile commerce apps. Despite consumers’ current security concerns about making their credit card information available over their cell phones, he believes that mobile wallet technologies like Near Field Communications (NFC) will take off as users get more comfortable with using their phones for mobile payments and other information exchanges.
“We think that NFC has a huge amount of potential,” Saunders said. He noted that the company’s latest BlackBerry 10 devices are already NFC-enabled.
James Maynard, president and CEO of Wavefront, said machine-to-machine (M2M) communications holds great potential for Canada as more and more devices get connected to the Internet and learn how to speak the same language. He also sees promising industrial and health applications for M2M, such as tele-medicine in emerging markets and remote locations.
Although smartphones have created a great deal of market disruption, “the real disruption will come with connected devices and wearable devices,” Maynard said. For example, he noted that M2M could “change the way we drive,” produce electricity and deliver health care.
The big obstacle holding back the device-to-device communications market right now, Maynard said, is the lack of a real business model for such services. But he expects that issue to be overcome because of the momentum behind it. “It’s better to be driving he bulldozer than to be part of the proposed roadway,” he said.
While all four panelists extolled the virtues of the mobility movement, they admitted under questioning that it has its downside as well. For instance, they said, the constant beeping, buzzing and ringing of mobile devices and the multitasking required to manage them is already taking its toll on peoples’ attention spans
“It’s certainly made my kids a lot less patient than I would like them to be,” cracked Ken Price, DM of mobile communications for Samsung. He questioned whether rules meant to limit to the use of mobile devices in corporate meetings and other settings will prove to be very effective in the end.