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Friday, March 31, 2006

one number, one bill, one device? or multiple?

I've lost count of the number of presentations I've seen that seem to think that "convergence" means that users will have just one device / bill / number / "identity" / service provider. I've heard a huge number of trite comments which suggest it's completely obvious that this is desirable to everyone, and completely inevitable.

It's the same level of short-sightedness that makes people use the dreaded word "seamless" as a self-evident benefit.

A mention of "one everything", by a conference presenter or vendor, now incurs "minus two credibility points" from my viewpoint. ("seamless" incurs a "minus three" penalty).

Sure, some people want binary telephony. But plenty of others don't:

- plenty of people have 2+ mobile phones and want to keep them. Maybe an email phone for work, and a cool slim phone when they're out with friends
- plenty of people have (or want) 2 numbers. Work and personal. Different operators/different tariffs. Foreign SIM cards. "Public" and "Private" (for close friends and family). Fixed and mobile (so inbound callers don't have to phone a mobile # & incur higher costs)
- some people want multiple bills for various reasons, or are happy with them. I've never known anyone to complain to me about getting separate ones - have you? Or complain about getting separate gas and water bills? Who cares? And certain regulators don't like it anyway
- one "identity" - outright rubbish. Everyone has multiple email or IM addresses - and most younger people add additional multiple "aliases" or "profiles" as well, as well as various social community IDs. One of the greatest things about the Internet age is that it's much easier to "be different things to different people".

Bottom line - ditch the marketingwaffle "one number etc" slides. And make sure your platform offers options to the carrier or user, that correspond with the diverse range of personal preferences.


Simon Cast said...

A good indication of the bundling's lack of market power are Optus and Telstra in Australia. Both of these telecoms companies have had triple play (and now quadruple play) bundles for at least five years. Yet the bundling never produced the massive revenue boost that senior execs at both companies told the market they would. Yes it produced a rise but never anywhere near the levels both companies had thought.

Once more and more providers offer bundles the anti-churn effect will disappear.

Dale Vile said...

Dean - I agree with your sentiments, people don't want everything converged, but the problem is that the fragmentation is forced on us at the moment. If we take telephony, it is just not convenient having a number tied to a device and vice versa. There is huge value in the one number approach promoted by Avaya and the like for business users to coordinate contact actoss desk phone, multiple mobile devices, soft phones, etc. That's not to say that as a business user I only want one number per se. I might have another number for priviledged team/peer contact, another for personal/family use, etc. I guess what I am after is the ability to set up many-to-many mappings between numbers and devices.

If you think about it, we actually do this already with email. I have a personal and a business email address and both are accessible via all my devices - Outlook client, Blackberry I use during the day, smartphone I use at evenings and weekends, etc.

Re billing, again, it is a case of getting rid of unnecessary fragmentation. I use Orange's dual SIM (single number) facility across the aforementioned Blackberry and Smartphone, but they cannot give me a single GPRS bundle that operates across both!

So from a billing perspective, I agree with you that looking for a single bill for the sake of it is a red-herring, but the situation at the moment is far from satisfactory in so many cases.

My call is for flexibility to map and combine various elements in a way that suits me. I don't want any scheme dictated to me whether it's single ID or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I'm currently trying to figure out how to carry 1 device that manages to separate my Boeing (Business) plan from my Personal plan. One device two numbers maybe, Or one device, one number and dynamic plan partitioning based on incoming/outgoing phone numbers or on time of day. Please help me identify any pertinent information or precedence as to why this is or is not available...I know it's possible.

Anonymous said...

p.s. please email me at jared.m.tritz@boeing.com with any information regarding multiple plans and/or phone numbers on one device.