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Weaker mobile vendors to be weeded out in 2014: Yankee Group

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More mobile vendors to be acquired or exit next year

Mobile industry consolidation will step into high gear next year as growth maxes out in several segments, leaving weaker players to either be acquired or exit the market, according to a new report from Yankee Group.

The liklihood of more consolidation was evident in the news yesterday that Kontagent and PlayHaven have agreed to merge with the goal of creating a marketing leading solution for helping mobile businesses manage their apps. Mobile enterprise application platforms such as Kony could also be acquisition targets as stand-alone vendors face growing competition from platforms that are more broadly positioned.

“Innovation isn’t enough anymore,” said Chris Marsh, London-based principal analyst for enterprise mobility at Yankee Group. “We have passed through the first phase of the mobile industry evolution from which many very innovative solutions came to market.

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“However as we have seen with the mobility management marketplace - including services like mobile device management or ‘MDM’ - many innovative technologies are becoming commoditized before they become mature, due to the sheer scale at which mobility is cascading across the consumer and enterprise landscapes,” he said.

Broader strategies
Other segments where consolidation is likely to pick up next year include mobile commerce, mobile app development and mobile broadband, per the report.

The bigger trends influencing consolidation include that technology vendors and service providers are trying to cover a broader section of the value chain for their customers with the idea of becoming business-to-consumer or business-to-business-to-consumer companies that provide some value to mobile end users, per Mr. Marsh.

For example, all of the more consumer-focused companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple have shown willingness to spend on mobility, and increasingly the larger enterprise software vendors such as SAP, Microsoft and IBM are, too.

Kony could decide to put itself up for sale because its model as a proprietary “does-it-all” platform is under growing pressure, with enterprises increasingly concerned about investing in inflexible technologies that are difficult to scale, according to Yankee Group’s research.

Given the larger trends at play, Kony could be a valuable acquisition target for an organization interested in leveraging Kony’s platform as part of a wider service portfolio.

Kony could also avoid a sale if it can make its platform more open.

“Kony does however invest a lot in R&D and could engineer a product turn around by making their platform more open and extensible, and there is some evidence they are heading at least partially in this direction, but I think this will be very challenging in a market which is becoming increasingly competitive,” Mr. Marsh said.

The tipping point
Yankee Group expects consolidation to pick up next year even as the mobile industry continues to grow and mobility becomes more entrenched in consumers’ everyday lives. Both new players and established ones are expected to exit their markets.

As the mobile ecosystem matures, many segments will reach a tipping point and consolidation will begin to pare down the market. For example, Yankee Group expects more vendors to exit than enter the saturated mobile POS market.

Additionally, some mobile backend-as-a-service players will struggle to survive as lower-cost business models become available while others are likely to be snapped up by larger vendors.

Smaller analytics and business intelligence players are also likely acquisition targets as the value of in-depth and integrated analytics becomes more important in enterprises’ understanding of their users and in the more iterative development of their own mobile solutions for those users.

Enterprise mobility management vendors are also likely to be looked at as possible acquisition targets.

“Massive complexity is stimulating platforms plays,” Mr. Marsh said.

“This rapid pace of change and the resultant massive complexity it has brought to enterprises is forcing value to pass up the technology stack with platform plays beginning to squeeze stand alone solutions, albeit as more stand alone solutions emerge,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

Associate Editor Chantal Tode covers advertising, messaging, legal/privacy and database/CRM. Reach her at chantal@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Research, vendor consolidation, Yankee Group, Chris Marsh, Kony, mobile marketing, mobile

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