Research Notes

Many talk about the enormous opportunities in the mobile world

– but are there enough people out there with the ability and visions to create new innovative services?

For the past 15 years we have run a successful business delivering objective information to mobile operators around the world. Our list of clients include over 160 mobile operators, many of the largest infrastructure providers and a number of other market players that are doing business – or would like to do business – in the mobile industry.
Our work takes us around the world many times every year. During a typical year we will have visited over 30 countries on four or five continents, and held workshops for the top management of around 40 mobile operators. In other words, we get around a lot and help a great deal of people every year in navigating the mobile universe.
We have also been closely involved in a number of start-up companies through the years. Fortunately, many of them have done well and have created value for their shareholders. Our core business is the mobile industry and for the past 15 years we have amassed an enormous amount of information and experience from all parts of the mobile value chain and have helped many small and innovative companies achieve national and international success.
Among the things we often hear when travelling around the world, is that the local political system is not doing enough for people and companies that want to focus and invest within the mobile area. We hear that operators are difficult to approach and cooperate with and hundreds of other similar excuses when people try to explain why small “innovative” companies in the mobile world have not been successful. It is very seldom we hear a discussion that is based on the level of innovation in a country and whether mobile start-up companies in that country are innovative and creative enough to become successful.
When you have been in the mobile industry for as long as we have and travel as much as we do, you too will reach a point where it really takes something special to impress you. The truth of the matter is that it is very seldom we meet companies that offer something unique and we are sad to say that – in our opinion – the level of mobile innovation in many countries is very low.
Similarly it is very few of the companies we meet that have any global focus. Many companies that do have international thoughts are often only focused on their neighbouring countries and not looking at the opportunities available elsewhere in the world, or whether they can break through internationally by partnering with other companies within the same business area in other parts of the world.
One of the biggest problems is that many of these companies base their ideas on what they are reading in the press, instead of taking the time to examine the mobile industry, how it is developing and where the most lucrative cash flow is to be found in this fascinating industry. Somewhat bluntly, many of these companies base their whole business case on what they believe, rather than what others in the business actually know. They read what the press is writing, instead of examining what real customers are actually doing.
For example we have met many people that would like to make apps for the iPhone, but we have yet to meet anyone who has become a millionaire from iPhone apps. We have also met many people that create mobile services for ordinary mobile phones – and many of those have become millionaires by focusing on areas with a high cash flow. We easily can name more than 200 people in Europe that have created fortunes of between 1 and 50 million euro by creating and selling mobile services, while we cannot name anyone that has made a fortune on creating apps for iPhone or Android mobile phones.
When we look at the market that started with premium SMS services and is now developing into a market with operators selling access to various APIs, we are having difficulty finding any companies that really understand how to develop exciting and innovative new services that take advantage of the built-in intelligence in the mobile operators’ networks. We have described these new business opportunities in depth in our report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry . The fact of the matter is that it is already possible in many countries today to create many new intelligent services that take advantage of the built-in intelligence in the mobile operators’ networks.
Our analyses show that it is not the lack of political support that is the problem – it is the lack of creative and focused people that have the ability to develop, market and sell interesting services to the 4.8 billion mobile customers around the world. In addition to this problem there is still the issue of far too many mobile operators that have yet to implement new business models for the new APIs that will play a central role in the future mobile world.
There are some countries where the level of innovation is way over average (Norway, Sweden, Israel, Korea and Japan for example) and there are also countries where people creating services and solutions for the mobile industry understand how to think big and globally.
All this may sound harsh, but it is simply a very long time since we met a company in this area that stood out from the rest and that showed some innovation and personality, that instantly makes a person like me realise that it would be fun to help them achieve international success. In many countries there have simply been so many mediocre attempts at starting businesses in the mobile area – not due to their political system – but simply because the really creative and innovative people that have the ability and willingness to create something new and big in the mobile area are few and far between.
If you would like to learn more about future opportunities in the mobile world you can receive more information about our report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry.

The report describes all the new opportunities that the operators’ APIs will give creative people that want to develop, market and sell exciting new services to a world market of over 4.8 billion mobile customers.

More information:

OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry
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