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NOW mobile operators start whinging about being “just pipes”…

Barcelona event is setting up an utterly dynamic environment for each and every mobile user; communication capability dramatically improve in speed and reliability, handsets are becoming the real next-big-thing with their “smart” declination, the outer Web has long since transformed in a social platform able to let you grow, learn, interact and ultimately “be” whomever you like.

In this terribly interesting ecosystemic shake off, mobile operators realise they have been hedged, or rather they are loosing client’s ownership, provided they ever had it…  quite rightly Arun Sarin, CEO of Vodafone, stated that pundits such as Google or Yahoo have so far delivered a better “mobile experience” than operators’, which is altogether pretty weird, if you come to think to the starting points for both this industry conglomerates..

You know what??? I recall working with some of the big guns in the mobile industry, right at the verge of the UMTS era, say some five years ago, and the overall, consistent, solid approach was along these lines: “the network is my capital, so everyone has to pay to use it”, “clients are topping up and there won’t be much of a market share shake off” and, when presented with service strategy such as the Japanese DoCoMo or KDDI, thus based on an aggressive revenue sharing model (roughly speaking: you provide the service, I put in the network, every penny coming from this wedding will be shared accordingly..), I can still hear the words “no way” resounding all around the room…

Those very shortsighted managers did not even consider the possibility to act and plan in a systemic fashion, thus accepting the fact that the entire industry was not revolving just around “them” but there were some concurrent R&D and marketing strategy that were already shaping the marketplace, absolutely and indisputably well defined. By the way, I have a slide deck dated “2002” proving the above…

So, now doomsday has come… and clients are slipping through the fingers of mobile operators in terms of “attention” and “equity” perception. The crisp money mobile companies did accumulate in the past years now is merely a remnant of what was once an empire.

Admittingly, that could possibly be slightly harsh and not quite accurate, but the message is all about “expectation”, “relative importance” and “experience”. In this sort of strange equation, users expect from mobile operators to have an always-on pipe, quite likely a fast one (HSDPA/HSUPA as tendency) and that is about the end of it.. ah, nop, one more: all-inclusive tariff plans. End of message.

The experience is about handsets ergonomy and usability (I told them, let me boast this!!!), multiple connectivity opportunity, and all the IP based services you can master, plus the media fundamentals, video-photo-sound, at the highest possible level. The rest (thus the pipe) is commodity, pretty much like expecting light when switching on a lamp..

The Vodafone payoff is “Life is Now”… may I remind that someone said that life is that thing happening whist you are busy doing something else, which is probably the case for some of the mobile execs in the recent past…

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