I have been looking at some of the projects that I undertook last year and some of the new ones for this and once again I have to say that everyone in the Mobile industry seems to forget that it's about VOICE .
I have now been using 3G for over two years and the biggest disappointment is not that the Web2.0 services are slow to take off, it is the fact that others ask if I am calling them whilst I am on the toilet as the call quality is so poor! I had hoped that the work I undertook at the time of the spectrum bids would see the light of day by now. Talking over coffee with others and it seems that the issue is once again one of legacy, what is the point of giving me a device with excellent voice if the person I am calling is still using a handset that is four years old?
I have to say that unlike the switch to colour displays the failings of voice are more urgent. When I next get the opportunity to talk with Senior Executives in the Operators it's my intention to raise the issue of call quality. The reason that people are not happy to substitute mobile minutes for fixed is not about price it is because having a conversation over 3 minutes on a Mobile can result in a headache. This has nothing to do with microwaves and everything to do with the quality of the network and bandwidth given to voice. Just as I have been prepared to invest in a better set of headphones for my MP3 player so that it is enjoyable to listen to music as I travel, I would invest in a handset that improves the voice quality.
Talking with people at Sony Ericsson it is not a question of poor technology in the handset. The issue is with the network where planning is at fault when it comes to voice.
Once Orange believed in a wirefree life which saw Voice at the centre of the offering. At this time they invested in a company called Wildfire and made a promotional video call "Adam and Eve" they sent out Evangelists to promote the view that we would soon have a relationship with them based on Voice. They had a vision that saw the mobile phone as a remote for our life, they said that one day soon we would be able to do this with something as small as a stud in your ear. Then they stopped believing and lost there way and decided that what we needed was not hope but training!
Why to I believe that Voice is the future? Well in looking at E-Plus in Germany you see a CEO who has put voice at the centre of his strategy. He does not believe that the future as mobile data services and as such has declined to invest in new equiupment. He says what is needed is to get the customer to buy and then use the phone in their hand. His idea has won him new customers and hurt his rivals so he might just have something right. I hope to be able to test his service in the next few months when I am working in Germany to see if he can make the voice quality issue that I have here go away.