Research Notes

New survey shows that the greatest challenge to WAP is the operators!

Many do not understand value added services (VAS) and how to market them.

Many people are criticising the mobile Internet. Much of this criticism
misses the point!

Imagine we had asked people 10 years ago, if they would be interested in a
wireless phone, with poor sound quality, periodic drop-outs and airtime
costing four times as much. Most likely people would have said No.

Still the mobile phone has turned out to be a huge success with sales far
surpassing that of the refrigerator, the car and other technological
consumer goods. But the success of the mobile phone is not due to its
quality, but rather its function. If offers mobility – the freedom to send
and receive calls anytime, anywhere.

The mobile Internet is currently experiencing a similar situation. Rather
than being judged on its own merits, it is being compared to the existing
Internet. As a result the mobile Internet is receiving poor reviews, despite
the freedom to access information anytime, anywhere.

Clearly the mobile Internet requires a new approach to sales and marketing,
and here operators around the world have a lot to learn. Most importantly,
they must learn to reject the misguided tendency to compare the mobile and
the existing Internet.

During the past 6 year Strand Consult has thoroughly analysed the
Scandinavian mobile market. Our surveys and reports have focused on
marketing and sales of mobile products and services. The surveys all tell
the same story. Operators have focused on marketing the phones. Retailers
have focused on selling the phones. And customers have focused on buying the cheapest phones. In all, a single minded search for new customers and higher penetration with little or no attention to VAS.

During the past month we have conducted a survey amongst 101 shops. The
findings are shocking! The retailers know virtually nothing about the mobile
Internet, and do nothing to inform customers about WAP based services:

– 89% did NOT ask if we knew of WAP
– 50% showed us a WAP phone
– 7% demonstrated a WAP phone
– 13% of the demonstrations supported the sales situation

Data transmission was more commonly used than WAP as an argument for buying a specific phone. This despite the fact that data transmission accounts for only 3-5% of the total airtime. And despite predictions that WAP will soon
be generating 3-4 times as much traffic.

We must conclude that many operators have missed their wake-up call. They
have forgotten to educate retailers about the mobile Internet and its
possibilities. Visit your local retailer and ask him to explain the mobile
Internet. His knowledge is very limited and from our point of view the
operators are responsible.

Compare this to a survey on WAP users Vilstrup and we have just completed.
Here we found that WAP users are very excited about the new services. The
survey was conducted amongst 3156 WAP users in Denmark and showed that:

– A WAP user is logged on to WAP services an average of 8 min/day.
– 81% of users navigate through a portal
– 41% access email on the phone
– 41% consider M-commerce to be safe
– News, Internet and business services are the most popular
– Users demand higher speed, more functionality and more services
– WAP is a success. When people have started using the services their use

In many ways the development of WAP is similar to that of SMS. Traffic is
slow in the beginning, but after a while grows exponentially. Therefore we
believe the mobile Internet will be a success for the same reason that made
mobile phones a success – mobility and the freedom to access information
anytime, anywhere!

New and high quality services are appearing on the mobile Internet. Services
who are easier to access and much more user friendly than their counterparts
on the traditional Internet. One example is Interflora Denmark’s WAP
service. Here 25 keystrokes will see you order and pay for a bouquet of
flowers to be delivered to a third person – far more convenient than a
traditional Internet service.

Judging the future on the basis of the past leads to a dangerous kind of
blindness. We have learned not to judge mobile phones by comparing them to
fixed net phones. We must learn to do the same with WAP and the mobile

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