Kevin Fox muses that Microsoft, Apple and Google may be “quietly preparing for war with mobile carriers”. He cites the ten-year innovation desert in voice, coupled with the explosion of data on the handset, weaves in Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype, and spins a tale of how the data companies take over the telecom industry.
Implausible? No. In fact, the innovation piece of the story has been being told for years now. A band of rebels in the communications industry, myself included, have been speaking at industry events like eComm, authoring documents like the Voice 2.0 Manifesto, and building business plans to pitch to investors for a very long time. Nobody in mobile, however, has been that interested in listening.
Today’s mobile industry is a bit like the music industry. Just as the music industry has been built around physical distribution of goods, and was slow to react to the digitization of music, the mobile industry has been built around a steady predictable minutes model, with share driven by the carrier with the current handset-de-jour. It has made them complacent, and ripe for disruption.
The App Store model was the first real disruption, as it capped new margin growth from software. Will Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype – the world’s largest carrier of international long distance minutes – be the next disruption? It’s hard to know, but one thing is certain – the invaders are at the gates and change is coming.
Change is coming.