Why Wireless Carriers Should Offer A More Integrated Solution

from the provide-everything dept

Here’s an interesting discussion from the folks at Booz, Allen, Hamilton saying that if wireless carriers want to make money on wireless data they need to offer a much more integrated solution, including working on the design of the phones and helping to generate and offer content themselves. This sounds a bit like what SK Telecom has done (successfully) in South Korea, where they even created their own boy band to help promote 3G wireless services. They do admit that this is a risky strategy, and parts of it remind me of attempts in the late 90s when all of the “portals” wanted to create their own content. While I can see how this can be useful in jumpstarting acceptance and creating content optimized for the mobile environment, I wonder how sustainable it really is. After all, wireless services are going to be forced to be increasingly open, so that people will be able to access any content they want on the internet. In that situation, what advantage is there for the carriers to be providing their own content? It’s just one of many, and probably (since they’re not from the content world) not as good. The real question, for American carriers especially, is how can they create solutions that offer some real difference over what people can do sitting at home. People in the US (unlike in some other places) still aren’t as likely to use their phones as data access devices. Messaging is popular, but that’s user generated content. Ringtones (and to a much less extent, games) are about the only really popular content, and they risk a “Napster” style situation where they become available for free. If the carriers are just trying to create content optimized for their service, they’re going to face a lot of competition.

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