Friday, December 28, 2007

Mobile (Value Added) Services

I seem to be preparing others well for interviews, I guess. Yesterday, a friend of mine pinged me to take some advice on an interview that he was going to take with a company that provides solutions/application for mobile services providers and devices.

I was quite impressed with my observations that I made about the mobile industry. I know this may sound pompous but i am not trying to blow my own trumpet.

First of all, mobile as technology never had a chasm. Before that we need to see if mobile technology is disruptive. Does it qualify in making the existing infrastructure irrelevant? There is newer infrastructure being set up for mobile services. They definitely are making many of the old landlines irrelevant but they haven't gone and I don't think they would. Two, does it change the way consumers behave? Yes, a lot. Completely? Maybe not. From the point of using the instrument, there is change but the basics remain. Sum total, in my opinion mobile technology is not disruptive. (Please refer ‘Fast Second: How Smart Companies Bypass Radical Innovation to Enter and Dominate New Markets’ by Constantinos C. Markides, Paul A. Geroski)

Anyway, if you look it as a standalone technology, mobile never had the problem of having to cross a chasm. Telephony is already well entrenched, there was always a pressing need. And bang, it took off. (Please refer ‘Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers’ by Geoffrey A. Moore)

So what next?

Mobiles are in main market, at least in India. After having satisfied the basic needs, both users and mobile service providers will naturally look to extract more out of it. That is nothing new about it, isn't it? Think about PCs, first calculations then productivity tool, internet, games, mailing... applications and usage are ever crossing new frontiers.

Isn't it amazing that Maslow's Theory of Hierarchy of Needs is so relevant in non-human sphere, too.

I am, surely, starting to believe that there is a great future of mobile (value added) services. SMS is already ubiquitous. Vodafone is probably one player which is at the forefront in pushing VAS through its ads.

I certainly think that more serious applications will make debut on the handset, if they have already not.

Of course, how many will use? Adoption is for sure going to take a long time. The company of ‘elite’ software engineers that I keep, many are still to do online shopping or banking. I hope I am making my point. If that is the case for PCs, how quick will users adopt it for serious applications? But I am sure the time will come.

I still remember the PR campaign for Tata Sky that I was part of while at 20:20 MEDIA. Tata Sky must be commended for demonstrating thought leadership in making market conducive for DTH before launching its service. For more than a year, we pushed for DTH’s cause. It was only after enough momentum was generated that Tata Sky launched its service.

Something that mobile service providers should consider for VAS.

I think to myself why people use cheque when there is funds transfer facility though net banking. No driving to bank, no traffic, no queues. At your desk, at your own comfort.

I, also, wonder why HDFC Bank charges for certain net banking services that customers avail. The bank should in fact be incentivizing.

Pic source:,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU02_AA240_SH20_.jpg

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