Research Notes

The launch of Apple’s iPad ought to get mobile operators and ISPs to think twice

The media is currently full of stories about the launch of Apple’s iPad. But reading through the many stories we noticed that very few focus on the iPad from an operator’s viewpoint and even fewer focus on how the iPad will influence content and the VAS market in non-Apple areas outside the value chain controlled via App store.

May we start by pointing out that the iPad is just one of many devices that has the possibility of being online via the mobile operators’ networks. If an operator focuses on the iPad, they will only make money on the data traffic created by the iPad – there is no voice and SMS revenue like on traditional mobile telephones. We have no doubt that most customers will purchase their mobile traffic where it is cheapest and that their choice of operator will be based on who can offer the most inexpensive mobile data traffic.

When you examine a device like the iPad and the way that operators will sell data, it corresponds to having a restaurant that offers an “all you can eat for a fixed price” menu. In the same way that restaurants hope people do not eat too much, operators will also hope that their customers do not use their mobile networks to send and receive data.

At this point, a smart reader would question why mobile operators and ISPs need to think twice – and how a device like the iPad could undermine the operators’ future business cases, resulting in mobile operators and ISPs becoming dumb bitpipes?

Strand Consult has never believed that mobile operators can use a walled garden strategy to achieve a central role in developing, marketing and selling services. Neither did we ever believe that operators in the future would develop into dumb bitpipes that only sell connectivity. If you read through the many research notes and reports we have published regarding this subject, you can see that we have always viewed operators as intelligent bitpipes, using an open garden strategy as their foundation.

When we look at Apple’s strategy and iTunes position on the music market – and the position they are starting to achieve on part of the application market and other markets – there is no doubt that Apple would like to handle the billing relationship in an increasing number of areas. According to Apple, the mobile operators’ primary function is to deliver cheap data traffic to customers.

We believe that mobile operators around the world have many possibilities if they take advantage of their large customer bases, the billing relationships they have to their customers and the intelligence built into their networks. This can be sold to service providers that can create, market and sell applications and services that are far more intelligent than those available today for devices like the iPad.

In fact, mobile operators and ISPs can use the launch of the iPad to enter a new market that is very close to the premium SMS market that mobile operators around the world today earn billions from. Moving from what is happening on mobile telephones today, to what will happen on iPad’s, portable PCs and many other online devices in the future, is only a short step.

In our report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry we have analysed Open API and the possibilities that operators and service providers will have on the future Telco market. We not only examine the actual standard, but also put forward a number of suggestions on how operators and content providers can optimise their business models.

Strand Consult was the first company in the world to analyse and publish information and reports about premium SMS. It was our recommendations in our initial premium SMS reports, published between 1998 and 2003, that were the foundation of the business models that mobile operators across the world have since implemented for premium SMS.

We believe we have now created the same knowledge and underlying business models that will enable operators and content providers to create a healthy business case based on Open API and an open garden strategy.

In our new report OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry you can read more about the opportunities available to you on this market and get inspiration on how you can create an exciting business based on Open API.
More information – OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry

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