ABI Research recently released several reports covering forecasts for the cellular market including microwave backhaul, infrastructure and handsets. Below is a short portion from each report:
Growing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.3 percent, capital expenditures on microwave backhaul equipment for mobile networks will reach almost $5 billion in 2012 as mobile network operators upgrade and transition to more cost effective packet microwave systems. The Asia Pacific and Western European regions will continue to dominate the market for microwave equipment with a combined share of 61 percent in 2017.
World-wide Opex from leased T1/E1 and Fiber backhaul represents $6.2 billion in 2012 growing at a CAGR of 2.2 percent, “We believe mobile network operators are increasingly lowering their TCO by using Capex to replace leased T1/E1 and Fiber backhaul with modern, high capacity, cost effective, packet based microwave links,” says Nick Marshall, principal analyst at ABI Research.
A U.S. election year combined with uncertain European financial fundamentals has clouded the economic outlook for the North American market. However, mobile operators are busily preparing their networks for next generation 4G services. “North American mobile cellular capital expenditure is expected to hold its ground in 2012 year-on-year, with expenditure of around US$ 10 billion”, said Jake Saunders, VP for forecasting at ABI Research. “In 2013, mobile capital expenditure is likely to surge 4.9% to US$10.5 Billion as North American operators continue upgrading their networks”.
“Handset shipments have not seen a sequential YoY decline since the global economic crisis of 2008-2009. Although seasonality regularly brings a negative impact in Q2, the economic crisis in Western Europe has compounded the issue, leading to an uncommon annual contraction of handset shipments for two consecutive quarters,” say ABI Research senior analyst Michael Morgan.
Despite the seasonal and economic headwinds faced by the handset industry, both handset and smartphone shipments were able to eke out small QoQ gains. Below the surface of the macro economic factors, many of the leading handset OEMs continued to struggle with demand difficulties of their own making. Apple experienced a 26% QoQ decline in shipments in Q2 as consumers withheld purchasing an iPhone in anticipation of the new model to be released in late Q3. RIM and Nokia experienced 14% and 30% QoQ declines respectively in smartphone shipments as both companies raced to transition to new operating systems before their cash reserves were depleted.