Mark Newman the head of research over at analysts Informa has written an article on how networks are frustrated with the fact that phone users are more interested in the handset rather than the network. He says that this has led to networks spending heavily on creating stronger brands, hence the full page adverts from Orange and Vodafone which talk about experience rather than show handsets.
Mark goes on to say "Players such as Vodafone and T-Mobile are reviewing their roles in the content business. They are becoming interested in off-portal strategies and helping customers find the services they want rather than actually providing - and taking revenues from -those services. People might choose to buy the N92 for its mobile TV feature and then decide later to add a voice-telephony capability."
This point of view is something that I have found interesing since attending Mobile Monday last week in London. In talking about the issue I found the analogy of MNO's being like a branch of WHSmith when it comes to selling books is a good one. What we see available from a Network Operator does not match anything like what the consumer wants in terms of personalisation, what the offer is the top 100 in terms of music, news, entertainment etc. If you are seeking something a little more specialist then you have to go an purchase it from somewhere else. A Network will not offer the best data solution for customers until they have finished building a broadband network. The way in which GPRS was deployed shows that it was not until they had a reasonable coverage that the networks focused on the development of portals.
With the handset manufacturers we see them fighting not to become the Pepsi of phones, we have seen with a strategy towards OEM handsets the networks are not looking to to hang on the coat tails of Nokia. Nokia itself is not the power is once was, many youngsters now see Motorola, Samsung and SonyEricsson as better handsets thanks to better industrial design and advertising.