Sunday, July 12, 2009

All that is wrong with the US view of mobile

Have read Scoble's post on the problem with Europe's mobile scene and raised my blood pressure to a level that has caused me to post.

Here in Europe we have a number of advantages over the Americans. First we have Networks that they can only dream of in terms of coverage and speed so should the user wish to they can adopt mobile data services. We have thus decided that using a laptop with mobile broadband is a better way to surf than a smartphone.

In terms of innovation we have leadership in LTE, Handsets and Network Ownership. We are looking at how voice can be improved.

Whilst the US feels that it invented the Mobile and now once again owns the space it is not about just one device. Last year more people bought a single Nokia handset than all the smartphones sold in the world. Mobile payments in the form of micropayments for content and services in Europe is far more than Apple has made from the Ap Store.

Looking at the history of mobile data services it is far from certain that the Ap Store is going to become a cornerstone of all things mobile. One thing that Europe is better than the US at is regulation and the exclusive nature of the iPhone is something that the EU will regulate against; just ask Microsoft and Intel if you are unsure. Without regulation what is to say that the Ap Store is another AvantGo? At the hight of the bubble everyone thought that the web clipping service was the future and now it is little used.

Before we had smartphones we had PDA and everyone was using either an iPaq or Palm a few geeks preferred PSION devices, all these used bluetooth to connect to a mobile and use it as a modem. Now these devices are museum pieces.

In four years time will Apple still be in the mobile phone market or would it have moved on? At this moment in time we have seen three devices in 2 years ALL of which have the same form factor. As a historian of mobile it looks all too much like Motorola with the StarTAC and Razr rather than RIM who have transitioned from a single device to multiple form factors or Nokia with ranges that have global appeal.

We have to remember that the primary function of mobile is a phone rather than internet device. A number of networks are looking at new generation Voice services which will stop downward pricing of the product unlike the fixed world. For the last four years mobile has carried more voice than fixed and for the last eight it has generated more revenues. Having lost out on the fixed revenue stream the Networks are not going to do the same again if they are to continue investment in 4G.

Lets just remember that mobile is just that and all to often we find users of smartphones static. How many times have you bumped into someone walking off a plane as they adopt the Blackberry Prayer to read their phone and though is it that important?


Cayce Pollard said...

"We have to remember that the primary function of mobile is a phone rather than internet device. "

I'm not sure this is completely true anymore. I use text, email, web all the time. I get slightly annoyed when people phone me up. My son uses 500 texts for every phone call he makes. Voice the "primary" function?

Ian Wood. Principal Wireless Foundry LLP said...

Dave whilst you have evolved your use towards data and pricing means that your son is a heavy texter data shows that the World spends more time talking on a mobile than it does on a fixed phone or of IP.

My other half only uses the mobile to talk. A number of my clients have a phone for talk and a Blackberry for data. Whilst some have adopted the mobile web most have not. A senior technologist recently told me that he does not use mobile data services as they are expensive and when he tried them in 2004 they were crap so he has not done so any more.

Data that I have seen from T-Mobile shows that less than a tenth of its users take advantage of some of the best prices in Europe for mobile data.