EComm: Time to change the station

by alec on October 29, 2009

I’ve spent a little over a day at eComm meeting people, listening to the conversations and presentations happening and reflecting on what I’ve heard.

During the panel yesterday afternoon, I noted that I spend less on voice, data, and text messaging each month than I ever have, but more money on communications over all. What has made up the difference?  Music, and applications.  The carrier’s share of wallet is in decline, although I spend as much or more money than before. When I asked whether the panelists were worried by this trend, there was no good answer.

It’s time to start a new dialog in the emerging communications community.  It’s time to abandon conversations about whether carriers will or won’t survive.  They will. Yes, margins are under pressure, but networks need to be managed and operated.  Better the carrier manage the network than, perhaps, a government entity. 

Perhaps carriers will be the pipes companies, and as many people observed yesterday at eComm, that’s a great business.  Perhaps they will be applications developers, although I think that’s highly unlikely.  The vertically integrated model this implies necessarily constrains innovation.  Perhaps they will be aggregators of third party applications; several carriers I spoke with yesterday expressed support for this viewpoint.

It is, however, time to stop talking about the death of the incumbent. Let’s instead change the conversation – acknowledge that the carrier network is a platform, and that the carrier has a need for an application community, and begin the dialog between network partners and developers about the ability for those operators to help us get to market.

While we’re at it, let’s also change the channel, dial away from the conversation about “mash-ups”, and focus instead on user needs, the user experience of communications, and the economics associated with that user experience.  By focusing on the business value of the services being developed instead of the technology platform, we can all become better able to reach the customer with game changing new communications services.

Make sense?  It’s an idea who’s time has come.

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