I wonder what would happen if you conducted a survey of consumers, asking them to allot 100 points of 'value' between:
a) Having a mobile phone, with the convenience of an integral phonebook, camera etc
b) Having the ability to make & receive personal calls from wherever you are, send SMS and emails, browse the web etc
c) Having the ability to do (b) while you're actually moving - for example in a car or bus
I'll hazard a guess that the answer would reveal perhaps a 50/40/10 split of perceived value. Yes, there's probably better ways of phrasing the question, but you get my point. The actual 'moving about' part of mobility isn't that relevant unless you regularly make calls while driving - and ironically, the move towards data services exacerbates this.
This is all a bit of a problem, as mobile operators have traditionally priced calls on the basis of a premium which essentially blends all of the above. That customers value the handsets themselves as much as the service isn't news - it's at the core of the ongoing tug-of-war between phone manufacturers and operators, as to who 'owns' the customer relationship.
More relevant is the distinction between nomadicity and full mobility. The advent of VoWLAN in all its guises, cellular homezones and assorted other location-based mechanisms for differentiating call prices has been apparent for the last few years, in the guise of FMC.
But with moves like BT's tie-up with FON last week, as well as the nonsensical hype around metro-WiFi, it's clear that nomadicity (and cheap/free calls on mobile devices) is taking a step further to achieving 'B' above.
I wonder, though, if the push for geo-specific pricing is actually a special case of what should really be in place: velocity-specific pricing. Maybe we should be pricing mobile communications based on how mobile you are. A call when you're stationary is cheaper than a call when you're walking, which is cheaper than one made on the bus/in a car, and so on to trains & planes. If you're on a femtocell in your bedroom, or connected via WiFi/FON in your neighbours house, you shouldn't be subsidising the calls of the salesman in his Mercedes driving 80mph down the M4.
Now obviously there's a world of pain in communicating all this - especially as even though customers might only value high-speed mobility at 10%, they've grown up to expect it, on the odd occasions they need it. But with the onward march of GPS in handsets, motion sensors and so forth - even just working out a given customers' average number of cells-per-call - it ought to be possible to measure who's really deserving of paying the mobility premium, and who should be on the 'nomad' tariff.
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