A Pole Position in the Mobile Services Market Race?

September 29, 2009
43 Views

It’s easy to get tired of the hype-of-the-year, in that never-ending technological revolution. If you should ever do so, just think of what the world talked about fifteen years ago. “Digitalisation of the media” was one of the catch phrases (and many people actually related this mainly to the success of satellite television). Then it was being said that the Internet “will change our habits,” and, no doubt, this has turned out to be completely correct in the meantime. You never realize until you meet someone who hasn’t moved along – sometimes it’s your own mother. This is becoming less likely, though, if social network providers are to be believed that their fastest growing member groups is women aged around 55.

This emboldens me to make a daring statement: the evolution of mobile phone services, and its integration with the Internet, will change our habits. In fact – another daring statement – it’s already happening. The only thing I wonder about is why it’s happening so slowly. On the one hand, we can see a lot of things on the supply side going on. New hardware and transmission capabilities enable new gadgets and services, which result in new business models. There is a



It’s easy to get tired of the hype-of-the-year, in that never-ending technological revolution. If you should ever do so, just think of what the world talked about fifteen years ago. “Digitalisation of the media” was one of the catch phrases (and many people actually related this mainly to the success of satellite television). Then it was being said that the Internet “will change our habits,” and, no doubt, this has turned out to be completely correct in the meantime. You never realize until you meet someone who hasn’t moved along – sometimes it’s your own mother. This is becoming less likely, though, if social network providers are to be believed that their fastest growing member groups is women aged around 55.

This emboldens me to make a daring statement: the evolution of mobile phone services, and its integration with the Internet, will change our habits. In fact – another daring statement – it’s already happening. The only thing I wonder about is why it’s happening so slowly. On the one hand, we can see a lot of things on the supply side going on. New hardware and transmission capabilities enable new gadgets and services, which result in new business models. There is a richness in applications, and their potential has only just begun to get realized. On the other hand, consumers don’t seem to be in a rush to adopt these new services.

So, the future is wide open. It is unclear, though, who is going to “own” these emerging markets. Network operators, content providers, mobile phone producers – all of them have a stake in this race and strive to take the lead. It will be interesting to see who will win. I believe that the really crucial factor will be the ability to popularize those new mobile services in a true mass market. And my private guess is that this puts network operators in the pole position.

Why? Because, for the time being, they know their customers and their habits best. And they have a decade or so of experience in making customized offers on an individual basis. Regarding new mobile services, they will analyze data to answer questions like this: do customers shy away from mobile surfing but make expensive calls to hotlines instead? Would they be better off if they used the web portal? In this case, they might prefer a bespoken applet to a whole package of bandwidth and other services they’d never use. The result? Changing consumer habits.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The race in the mobile services market is not yet decided and network operators aren’t the only ones who have customer insight either. All the players need to try and penetrate this market deeply in the coming years. And I believe that customer analysis – utilizing large data volumes – will prove to make the crucial difference in this.

Paul O’Carroll

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