Mobile – is brand becoming more king than content?!

I love the TMT world as it never stands still and has the potential to reinvent itself every few years or so.  Lately the selling of patents has the making of a revolution, but currently the changing fortunes of the established handset makers and service providers is providing enough interest.

On the one hand RIM, Nokia and the former SonyEricsson have all descended the slippery slope into relative obscurity whereas all the attention has been turned to Google/Motorola Mobility and rumours about a new mobile from Facebook.  Of course, Apple still retains all the glamour with its iPhone.

On the face of it this looks like the ‘cool’ brands are winning the war for consumer spend over the older mobile phone brands.  However scratch the surface and what is apparent is that it’s all about your data.  All the focus is on capturing your data from your mobile phone usage/traffic so you can be sent targeted advertising.  Therefore these search engines/social media sites are desperate to gain majority control to attract the greatest advertisers and boost their profits.  Providing a mobile device is a great step in doing this.

The dark horse in this could be Nokia and it’s agreement with Microsoft for its Windows 8 operating system.  Should this alliance take hold it could prevent Google and Facebook from dominating the advertising space or at least make it competitive.

I am interested in your perspective on the handset/data war.  All opinions welcome!

Steve Blake is Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at Interim Partners.

4 Responses to “Mobile – is brand becoming more king than content?!”

  1. Says:

    Steve,

    The handset/data war will really come into its own next year when Vodafone and other major players begin to deploy the new VoLTE technology.

    I don’t think that people quite appreciate the huge revolution that is coming: Data-only transmission. An entirely new and much simplified IP-only backbone network. A system that will provide for auto-handover to wi-fi (e.g. when you arrive home), integration of all business phones into one virtual network, whether mobile or in the office, and so on.

    Essentially VoLTE will provide internet style VOIP connectivity a la Skype but fully embedded, managed professionally by the big players, and integrated into a new generation of LTE-enabled smart phones. Thank goodness the long outdated technology of keeping ‘circuit switched’ voice channels separate from data will soon be dead, and not before time.

    It’s been a long wait but I think, paradoxically, it will revolutionise voice connectivity and services far more than the much hyped bandwidth and lower latency improvements that it will of course also bring to data communications.

    And in terms of cost effectiveness, at last the world will have a decent deal for people who want to be able to communicate seamlessly wherever they are and who are currently paying through the nose for what are very often still quite complex and clunky services.

    Should be a brave new world, Can’t wait!

  2. Says:

    Expensive, subsidised handsets like the iPhone are driving operator margins through the floor, which were already low due to intense competition. Operators are also under pressure to increase ARPU through new services as subscription growth slows to a crawl. Hard times for telcos.

    For me its not so much about handset wars but OS and business models – some like Mac iOS and Google’s Andriod have the edge as they connect users to app markets, games and additional revenue streams within a commercial ecosystem.

    Rim will still dominate the corporate market for a while as their scrambling technology will tick the box pf many IT directors. But yep, not cool.

    Nokia lost its edge on the smartphone market years ago after its early lead with its Symbian OS. They have pulled out of interesting multi-platform OS like Meego with Intel and have invested in simple handsets in Africa that can be used for banking and micro-finance. That has a future. But their bet on Windows 8 on their Lumia range does not look good – the phones are solid but still trail in features and usability behind Apple and Android. Who would buy a second-best phone?

    Absolutely agree with David’s post – an all IP world is coming for phones as well as TV. Who needs to build expensive networks when they exist and pipes are getting fatter all the time? My prediction is that Cloud networks and SaaS (Software as a Service) will soon be accessible directly from devices without installed apps. Its the natural next step, and will be massively disruptive to established players when it arrives.

  3. Says:

    Please find my personal view below:

    The consumer view of the handset landscape is led by desirability but sustained traction is contingent on attracting compelling content linked to integrated ad platforms, and secure payment systems which are accepted by consumers.

    RIM blew it. Android [by volume] and Apple [by value] dominating with MS lacking an integrated supporting infrastructure and witness the increasing diversity of media available in Google Play and itunes walled gardens respectively.

    Emerging player? It has to be Amazon. A subsidised Kindle is a customer purchasing device linked to a superior product selling capability. If I were a betting man (I’m not!) watch out for an Amazon Android smartphone…

    Smell the coffee? Media sector. They have the content that drives the entire ecosystem and fail to seize the moment choosing to build the Facebook and Twitter brands whilst searching for a viable business model for digital.

  4. Says:

    Both 2 good perspectives above. I would argue that IP and direct connectivity has existed for some time. The actual take up of non-exclusive TV has not been fantastic…

    Who would invest in an MNO’s today? 3 remaining independent?

    MNO’s are falling down the value chain as quick as they can and need regime change as the content and services sector propositions will gain more traction.

    Subsidised handsets [in many markets] and a proliferation of alternative connectivity options with the Android/iOS ecosystem gaining the real advantage until the media sector wakes up!

    EE not offering an unlimited tariff for 4G/LTE will only last as long as their temporary monopoly exists.

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