I have not seen that Femtocells have really caught on in the market as they seem to be only used for local range extenders. ABI Research says they are now attracting consumers’ attention in other ways. Their initial use-case has been to enhance indoor cellular coverage, but it is now clear that their potential utility is much wider. It is based on “femtozone services” that use key attributes such as location and presence to trigger innovative applications residing on the mobile device, or in the access point, the core gateway, or the cloud.
A simple example: a family alert system. A young person arrives at the family home, and the femtocell there registers the presence of his or her mobile phone and sends out an SMS notification to the parents. Such systems are already in use in Japan. Other kinds of femtozone applications can turn on lights or activate security systems, while still others can be used to sync content between mobile phones and other devices in the home such as TVs, laptops and media players. Via the mobile network, they can even allow remote access to digital content stored at home.
ABI Research forecasts about 2.3 million femtozone subscribers in 2012, providing revenue of more than $100 million. These numbers rise sharply to 2015, when 45% of femtocell users will subscribe to femtozone services. Femtozone services will see initial adoption in the Asia-Pacific region, but ultimately the North American market will be by far the largest.
Practice director Aditya Kaul says, “Femtozone services will be bundled with femtocell subscriptions and will also be available individually, increasing the perceived value of having a femtocell in the home. Eventually, mobile apps available from Apple or Google App stores may be designed to work via a femtocell. The femtozone services market is expected to reach almost $2 billion in revenue by 2015, but operators need to act fast, as the popularity of Wi-Fi/GPS-based over the top applications could pose a hindrance.”