Over the last few weeks I have been consulting more and more about what Mobile might look like in 2012.
An interesting element is that the mobile networks are remember that first and foremost they are telephone companies and thus voice needs to be at the core of what they do. I hope that Voice2.0 will see the network look at what they can do before, during and after a call. I hope that in the near term what we will see is the introduction of better call quality alongside something that gives presence information before I make a call.
I am less positive on what happens with mobile data with a fixation on taking what happens on the fixed web and making it viewable on a small screen. If you think people making phone calls whilst driving is bad, just sit behind a driver send a text message to see that motion and mobility is dangerous. However the ability to use voice to navigate a website is exciting, it is one of the things I love about my Opera browser. Imaging if the Mobile Network could let me find driving directions (using handsfree) on the basis that I am charged on a premium rate call for the few times that I am lost in a new town without a satnav. Orange once had a service called Wildfire that provided a voice driven PA, then they were bought by the French and it was closed. What it did have when it was running was a loyal user base who spent over twice what the ARPU numbers were.
Whilst I am happy to read a few RSS feeds from my favourite websites, very few of the headlines result in me loading the page in full. This blog was written on a laptop waiting to fly home after a business trip, it would not be done if I were using just a phone, that is done with twitter should I want to.
At present Mobile Data is still about SMS. The major money spiller is not one-to-one texts which are predominately part of a bundle, it is rather premium SMS services linked to TV promotions. In the UK this is something that we are going to see decline thanks to the current stream of fraud and scandal. So with fewer and fewer people texting to lose the writing on the wall is that the users are not demanding data services in big enough volumes.
I do not think that Orange will be the only network that changes the guard at the top of the business. With new management teams to be bedded in, we are not going to see large amounts of innovation. My fellow Consultants are looking a windfalls as new mandidates are given to undertake benchmarking projects. The only hope if you are a consumer is that 3 and T-Mobile continue to be disruptive. I do not expect the iPhone to be a major impact in the UK because they are not that great for those that send text messages.