Consumer Communication Services: Market Dynamics, 2013
This report will be of interest to operators who currently access Stratecast tracking data, or who wish to understand the forces driving subscriber consumption of communication services offerings.
Stratecast actively tracks the quad play (voice, video, broadband access, and wireless) markets in the consumer communication services space. Over time, general trends have become apparent that indicate sea changes in consumer preferences. Notably, tracking data support the notion that consumers are becoming more dependent on broadband access, shifting their spending to such services and away from traditional telephone service and television subscriptions. These findings are not necessarily bad: indications are that consumers are still enthusiastic about both content and personal communications.
In particular, consumers are increasing their spending on wireless services and are increasing the number of devices that they attach to their subscription. Indications are that more people are becoming more mobile, and that they are using their smartphones and tablets for increasing numbers and types of tasks. Tracking data gives us evidence that this dynamic is accelerating. This “mobilization” of society has barely begun, and will likely transform human interactions and institutions in ways that can scarcely be imagined now.
More profoundly, indications are that consumers consider communication services to be essential, but they are keeping overall spending flat. This indicates that spending on at least some forms of communications is still regarded as a discretionary expense.
Reduced spending on entertainment (including cable television services) is to be expected when the consumer’s wallet is squeezed by non-discretionary expenses, such as food, shelter, transportation, and now health insurance. In fact, President Obama suggested as much, in recent remarks about the need for individuals to prioritize their spending for mandatory health insurance.1
Yet, 2013 also showed that, in spite of ongoing concerns about expenses, employment, and about the overall health of the economy, consumers are not willing to fully divest themselves of a connected lifestyle. In fact, although the U.S. employable work force is declining, the overall revenues generated by communication services providers are not in decline. Therefore, Stratecast expects that, unless the economy significantly retrenches, the dynamics that defined 2013 are likely to continue in 2014, and the communication services market likely will remain healthy.
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