Last night I spent the evening watching pay-TV football over LTE. A little experiment to see how LTE could enrich my life. My expectations were unfortunately not met; I expected top notch quality, high speed, fast response time, no interruptions and zero dropped balls. Very little of that did I get though. LTE was on the other hand performing really great. It met all my expectations; top notch quality, high speed, fast response time, no interruptions and zero dropped calls. 2 hours uninterrupted high quality football (well..) over wireless on a laptop is in my mind quite impressive, especially since we’re still in the very early days of LTE with a first generation everything. I can’t wait to get LTE on my iPad! The future is bright, the future is gigabytes.
29 Apr 2010 | Northstream
In a recent blog post, we wrote about how online service providers (OSPs) are taking control of user data, threatening to lessen the value of the operators’ massive subscriber registries. Most OSPs’ business models are still based on advertising, and some of them are taking the lead when it comes to transferring this model into the mobile world. AdMob has become Google’s acquisition target, and Apple has just announced iAd; a solution to enable the placement of interactive advertisement into mobile applications.
Chances are that other mobile OS vendors will implement similar support in their software and developer programs. Such development may in fact cement the position of OS and handset vendors as the prime distribution channels for mobile applications. These players are already dominant in the mobile app space, and a wider offering of free apps will lead to more users and more downloads, which in turn may attract further advertising partners looking for scale and wider consumer reach.
As a positive note for some, this trend may somewhat counter Google’s dominance in the area of conventional online advertising – but is there still a place for mobile operators when it comes to mobile advertising? It depends. Some large operators like Vodafone are competing - and partnering - with OSPs through their own mobile web propositions, but others lack the resources and/or an attractive scale to play a significant role. Partnerships between operators - such as the recently announced Wholesale Apps Community – is an alternative, but may be too slow to take off to lead to satisfactory results.
But, don’t renounce just yet, operators who want to engage into mobile advertising still have further options: By partnering with competitors or by using an aggregator, a more attractive scaling and single point of access can be offered to advertisers enabling advertisers to reach the entire subscriber base of a country with one campaign (which in theory is 100%, more than can be obtained with any other channel). Another option is to avoid the OSP competition by focusing on other media, and couple them with user data. There are advertising channels and use cases that operators control better than anyone else: SMS, MMS, voice response units, written customer communication, or indeed the retail store network. For example, operators could target such users that have outdated phones, postpaid subscribers whose contract is up for renewal, or subscribers using international roaming.
So, get out there and fight and let’s ensure a healthy competition in the mobile ad space – operators have a role to play if they want, but need to figure which strategy that is most attractive to both advertising partners and end user segments.
19 Apr 2010 | Northstream
Speculations are over and facts are in the open. And I’m willingly admitting that doubting was wrong. “Need” has nothing to do with it. Just like you don’t “need” that motorbike if you’ve already got a pushbike and a car, or you don’t “need” that dessert after dinner or that glass of Chardonnay in front of the TV, you really don’t “need” that iPad either. But it feels darn good to have one. And you truly enjoy that extra spice in your life. I’ve had it now for 10 days and I deliberately waited to overcome the sometimes deceiving initial euphoria of a new gadget before giving a sober testimonial. It was hard to wait, but now I’m pretty sure; Sliced bread has been replaced! Justified use case here and justified use case there, what’s wrong about just having fun? “User experience” has been cited as a key selling argument, and good user experience is what it is. Whether I surf the web, play the games, read my mails, check my stock quotes, flick through my mails, read the news or put my photos on show to background music, it’s all different from how I used to do it. A true “lean back” experience and something I believe can rock the world.
Now, what’s this got to do with Telecom or Mobile operators? Well, that remains to be seen but it’s fair to assume that just like the iPhone reshaped the mobile device market the iPad and its alike (and they will come…) will set new standards on how we live our wireless lives, how we use the mobile internet and how a truly enjoyable user experience could (should) be like. So, pick a number, get in line and leap into the future!
And, maybe mobile operators should be rather happy that iPads can’t connect over 3G just yet, but it won’t be for long…
13 Apr 2010 | Northstream
The entry of online service providers (OSPs) into the mobile world has been a widely discussed topic, focusing on the new competition that mobile operators face in the VAS business: media downloads, games and navigation, but even messaging and voice calls. What is less visible is what enables these companies to serve mobile users: Not only do they benefit from the wave of more capable and open devices, they are also sitting on vast amounts of user data; often provided by users themselves, voluntarily: Through just a simple check of the Facebook friend list of a Northstream consultant, it turned out that more than 60% of the people on the list had given Facebook their mobile phone number, without being required to do so.
OSPs understand that user data is a fundamental asset to their business - but we see that many mobile operators still appear to regard user data management (UDM) as a cost item or a necessity. Over the last few years, industry analysts have highlighted the potential of UDM for operators, such as improved service delivery, lower churn and new B2B revenues through 3rd party APIs. But so far, we’ve seen very few that have an explicit UDM strategy.
In a recent trial, employees of the German IT publisher Heise were able to buy prepaid SIM cards of six different MVNOs without producing identification at the point of sale; the cards were activated online using fake personal data, with no problems. This indicates a perception that cost savings outweigh UDM revenue potential – a consideration that may be short-sighted because the initial sale may be the only moment when subscriber identification can be done at acceptable cost.
At the end of the day, it’s fair to believe that much of the future revenue opportunities in saturated market will centre around UDM in one way or another, so it would seem to us that it’s a no-brainer to establish a user data management strategy and to focus more on how to better explore existing user data (let alone not losing it…) both in terms of monetization and service innovation. Or someone else will for sure.
06 Apr 2010 | Northstream