While mobile has always been a dynamic industry, 2012 was a particularly eventful year that saw the emergence of some important and potentially disruptive new trends. Carrier SMS revenues appeared to plateau as third-party messaging services continued to grow in popularity. Carriers such as France-based Free Mobile embraced Wi-Fi and other offloading technologies to bring services to market at vastly cheaper prices than traditional network operators. And we saw the emergence of supersized handsets that bridge the gap between smartphones and tablets.
Other trends continued unabated in 2012: Google’s Android platform cemented its position as the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Apple remained the most profitable company in the industry, and Research In Motion watched its market share crumble. Meanwhile Microsoft’s Windows Phone struggled mightily to emerge as a real threat to Android and iOS, and carrier consolidation heated up as spectrum became more valuable than ever.
That consolidation is likely to persist among smaller carriers looking to fortify themselves against AT&T and Verizon Wireless. But there are plenty of other things to watch for in the mobile industry next year as well.