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The invaders are at the gates of mobile

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.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • @disruptivedean May 19, 2011, 8:34 am

    Got to agree on this.

    I speak regularly to people in the (old) telecoms industry about "The Future of Voice" and related themes, but although many of the strategists "get it", there is often still deep conservatism in the networks groups, while the boardroom doesn't really understand the true impact of IP and continues milking the cash cow.

    We will see a few more wake-up calls, along the lines of Dutch operator KPN's SMS revenues being slaughtered recently. Apparently, WhatsApp got 70% penetration of smartphones in about 3 months flat.

    When the crisis comes, it will come very hard, and very fast.

    Dean

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