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Mobile Darwinism at work.

Is there a trend underway?  Mobile startups everywhere are looking beyond cheap voice calls as generous minute packages have niched these players into providing cheap international long distance and not much more.  Om Malik profiles several this morning, including the newly “rebooted” iSkoot.

The conditions are right for these companies.  As first Apple, then Google, RIM, and Nokia all announced new mobile applications “stores”, the shackles imposed by carriers on software developers have gradually loosened.  The iSkoots, Truphones and mig33’s of the world were formerly left to their own resources to gain distribution – cutting deals with carriers, or doing downloads over the air.  Neither option is all that profitable, nor easy for the customer. The environment is now changing.

Having weathered the downturn with large cash reserves, these folks are now starting to deliver real value added service on top of the infrastructure they originally built to provide cheap calls.  And with these fat cash reserves, they’re poised to capitalize on the economy as their less flush competitors experience the … ahem… downside of the “free” business model.  It’s downright Darwinian.

A trend? Definitely.

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{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Tsahi Levent-Levi January 27, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Alec,
    Do you think that downloadable mobile VoIP clients have any future, or are they just a passing trend?
    Though the app stores bring them an opportunity, it looks to me like something that can't hold for the long run. As these are not an additional application/game/productivity tool on the handset, operators will sooner or later catch on to the game and start blocking these apps when they introduce their own.
    Tsahi

  • Alec January 28, 2009, 4:35 am

    Tsahi, I think they have to evolve into value-added services. VoIP on mobile is taking the arbitrage play we saw on land lines to new devices. It’s a decent business model today, but there’s no reason to believe we won’t see a similar outcome — falling minutes prices.

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