The Mobile Networks seem to have changed the business model successfully when it comes to Subscriber Acquisition Costs which has affected both the retailers and handset manufacturers. The Networks are looking for staged payments over the course of the contract dependent on spend which combined with longer length contracts could have changed the business model of the likes of Phones4You and Carphone Warehouse.
The European Regulator seems to wish to use her role to promote political ambitions back home, however in doing so she has made it very difficult to invest in new data services if you are a mobile network. Some of her economics seem strange from my seat when it comes to the cost of transit. It is all well and good to look at the lowest cost but at this moment very few networks are effective as we have a mix of standards running on 4 generations of networks.
Looking at networks the move towards Mobile Broadband still is a solution looking for a market in my view. However I do not think that we will be looking at the technology in the same way as we do with MMS; the consumer needs to understand better what he is getting before we have something that is long term. Recent trips have shown that WiFi and Mobile Broadband in London are mainstream with the number of “old style” internet cafes that are closed. My summer holiday in Greece proved that the same is not true as you move south with very poor service available.
What does all this mean to the Consumer?
I think that the traditional spurge on Handsets at Christmas will not be seen this year. Whilst some have been attracted to the glitz of an iPhone more have turned their back on it. Over the last few weeks I have been interested to look at the number of people who are using a Blackberry. It no longer seems to be the technology of the City, I have had to wait for shop assistants to finish an email and been held up in the Gym by women emailing. It will be interested to see what happens once they have got the bugs out of the Bold and Storm when it comes to attacking the consumer market. Sony Ericsson has a challenging time ahead it needs to get the new handsets into the stores at the same time it needs to retire handsets like the K800i. A number of Senior Executives are using the Xperia handset prior to its launch and I for one love the handset. Nokia seem to have lost the love in Europe with few interested in Comes with Music and the availability of E and N series being limited by the larger Networks. The reason for this is I think the price is disconnected at the moment. Looking at Price Plans as I do more and more often the Consumer is expected to pay some of the cost of the handset or commit to a higher than average monthly fee.
Recent research has shown that Mobile Networks have at this moment got the tariffs wrong. They are giving away too much, with under 40% of those on a contract using 50% of a bundle. This means that perceptions of value are lower than they should be. We are in danger of forgetting just what the mobile premium is. When I joined Motorola the fixed telecoms network was unreliable and getting to talk to someone was hit or miss. Roll the clock forward nearly 25 years and we now call someone rather than someplace if we cannot connect we can leave a message. New technology allows presence based solutions which will allow users to see who is available to take a call just as we can with IM services such as Skype.