Is Price The Only Thing Mobile Customers Really Care About?
from the falling,-falling dept
It may be a little surprising to learn that mobile number portability (the ability to keep the same phone number when switching providers) wasn’t introduced in Japan until last week. MNP’s introduction has set off a fierce round of churn in Japan — rather unlike what happened in the US — as operators look to steal customers from their rivals. Given that Japan is such a mature and advanced market, it’s not surprising to see operators trying to compete on the basis of their content and data services, such as KDDI trying to lure customers in with its music offerings. But even with Japanese mobile users’ widespread and long-standing use of mobile data services, when it comes down to it, it appears all they really care about is price. Softbank, which purchased the country’s third biggest operator, Vodafone KK, earlier this year, said its strategy to grab new users would be to start a price war and undercut NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, its bigger rivals. People have apparently flocked to it in such large numbers that Softbank had to stop taking new customers twice over the weekend because its computer system couldn’t keep up. While Softbank isn’t disclosing any numbers, there’s widespread belief that it’s already gained a huge number of new subscribers. Mobile operators around the world tend to hate competing on price, because the only real overall effect is to lower their average revenue per user. If operators in one of the world’s most advanced markets can’t use data and content services as effective differentiators against low prices, it may not bode well for operators in other, less advanced markets.