During Q3 of 2012, mobile operators across the US added approximately 2.4 million new subscribers to their combined total – the slowest period of growth in the 20+ years of the mainstream cell-phone industry. While some have been eager to insist that general economic uncertainty and shifting market trends are the primary reasons for the stagnation, others are slightly more concerned that the industry as a whole may simply have peaked.
While the addition of 2.4 million new subscribers is indeed a decent enough figure, those behind the research highlighted the fact that around 2 million of these new accounts were prepaid – accounts known to bring in less than 50% of the revenue of contract customers. What this translates to is a situation where the industry continues to grow, but where US cellular networks are for the most part experiencing significant reductions in income.
According to analysts painting perhaps the gloomiest picture of all, the problem could be the fact that cell-phone and Smartphone markets have to a certain extent already come as far as they can, therefore hold little to nothing new and exciting to offer. Case in point for the problem would be the iPhone 5, which although happens to be one of the most technically advanced devices ever to hit the market was regarded by most as a moderate rehash of an existing idea.
Or to put it another way, mobile subscribers are becoming less and less willing to shell out for upgrades and new contracts due to the fact that their current Smartphones already do about 95% of the things the latest models can do.
From high-definition displays to 4G LTE connectivity to NFC super cameras and so on, the standard is becoming so high that the gap between devices at the very top of the industry and those at the mid-levels is becoming smaller than ever.
Some have already warned that the expected Samsung Galaxy S4 Vs iPhone 6 battle next year could prove to be the least exciting to date, with both devices earmarked for little more than we already have.