Mobile services must diversify

SMS has taken the UK market by storm – we generate more than 1 billion text messages a month. But SMS is just the tip of what is becoming a phenomenal market – in years to come, our mobile devices will not only be phones, but also organisers, wallets and even keys. Yet, to capitalise on this market, the industry needs to take note of the hard lessons from the voice services industry.

While the voice services market grew dramatically over a five-year period from 1988 to 1993, mobile service operators will not have the luxury of time. This is an explosive market and there will be little room for experimenting or getting it wrong.

Losers in the voice services market included the telecommunications companies, which became commodity players with nothing to set themselves apart from each other. If you’re only in the telecoms game, you’re going to be squeezed ever hard – the future for SMS will be in diversification and the anticipation of customers’ needs and market movement.

The voice industry invested heavily in attracting customers, rather than building customer loyalty. It became a case of quantity rather than quality – something obvious with hindsight – without any understanding of customers’ needs, likes or dislikes, proving that market share alone simply won’t be enough.

Mobile access to data services is going to revolutionise the way we work, think and play and, while there will be a lot of failures along the way, the winners will be those companies that take on board the lessons from the voice services industry.

Gary Corbett

Managing director

Opera Telecom

Birmingham,

West Midlands

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