“It’s the application stupid!”
Anticipation was building… show organizers even changed the event’s name to”Mobile World Congress” (MWC) to acknowledge the evolution of the industry. The stage was set for a technology debate around HSPA, LTE and WiMAX. Many were prepared to engage in the rhetoric and race for mobile access technology supremacy. There was plenty of hype as Intel, Ericsson, NSN, and other corporate titans attempted to increase mindshare for their particular solution or approach. In the end, it was the small guys who captured the attention and headlines-the companies who focused on the delivery of a rich mobile user experience. “It’s the application stupid” was the theme that stole the show (see “Green Porno-a series of short films designed for cell phones and computers; provocatively named for search recognition). As Softbank CEO, Masayoshi Son and Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin pointed out in their keynotes, the Internet, entertainment and mobility are where the world is heading. Mr. Son even went so far as to say, “Voice will be offered for free” Wow… how times have changed.So what is the killer app? Well, you could say new search techniques from Yahoo!, Skype for mobile, fixed-mobile services, social networking, video chat, financial services, targeted advertising, or just the high-speed access to the Internet; the list goes on and on. Indeed, application innovation was a common thread throughout the MWC halls; big guys and little guys each demonstrating what is possible now that we have deployed high-speed mobile broadband (pick your access type). Combine that infrastructure with fast handset processors that support appealing graphics and one could confidently suggest that mobile operators are ready and primed to serve as a growth engine for their shareholders and the Connected Life economy at-large. With all the excitement around new applications that use the high-speed data path of a mobile network, one has to ask,”How will the mobile operator make money on all this Internet traffic?” Is it the Apple-ATT over-the-top approach? Or Verizon Open access initiative? We have seen this movie before in the fixed world and the service providers’ ability to increase bandwidth and revenue from end-users (simultaneously) has proved difficult in competitive markets. My suggestion to mobile carriers: leverage the intelligence in your network. Turn these”smarts” into sustainable business advantages by allowing consumers to personalize services and offering tiered, premium services (for a fee) that consumers value and are willing to buy. By all means, don’t give it away.Stay tuned for more.