Historically, mobile operators have been afraid of the risk of becoming a “bit pipe” and this is what has governed their strategy in the last 10 years.
Whilst certain wireless carriers such as Vodafone have reached a global scale, it is clear that none of them has managed to create de facto standards in Mobility services.
Let’s take the case of NTT DoCoMo, which has almost 90% of its customers on 3G and has been very successful in creating an ecosystem of Mobility services.
Despite several years of effforts and agreements with 15 operators worldwide, it has struggled to expand the iMode success to other countries. 90% of iMode subscribers are still Japanese.
It seems now that the front is far less united than it was.
First, mobile operators have succumbed to the prisoner’s dilemma of who would partner
with Apple. All, including Vodafone and Orange, have attempted to launch the iPhone and agreed
to share service revenues with the handset vendor.
Second, other global players such as Google have followed a similar path, managing to obtain partnerships with T-Mobile and probably China Mobile, Telefonica and Telecom Italia.
Today, mobile operators are clearly at a junction and need to answer the following questions
1. Do they need to keep investing in mobile data applications, and in particular in LBS?
– How to effectively leverage their access to a huge customer base?
– How to create an ecosystem of developers?
– The presentation layer (Vodafone’s) ;
– The distribution (T-Mobile’s).
– Other global Internet players (Microsoft, Yahoo!, etc.) ;
– Other mobile operators, eitheir through consolidation and alliances.
– How to reach pervasiveness, i.e. integration into all moving objects, into company processes and consumer’s every day actions?