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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Multiplicity rules in mobile

A theme I've mentioned before is that of "Multiplicity". (I also sometimes call it "Divergence", largely to annoy the more religious convergence zealots). I'm increasingly convinced that this is an important future trend, and that vendors and operators need to understand its implications. This is a corollary of the segmentation strategies employed by operators & manufacturers - the more tightly segments are defined, the more likely that any individual will associate with two or more of them. (So, for example, you might be a music-lover with additional obsessions for checking work email

A couple of conversations I had yesterday with vendors point to the fact that this is (slowly) becoming accepted, with functions such as multi-device management being integrated into their boxes' capabilities. Chipset, operating-system and software client vendors are also talking up their multi-platform capabilities (mobile phone, VoIP phone, broadband modem etc). I'm also seeing the first signs that the obsession with Powerpoint slides featuring "Ones" (one device, one number, one bill, one identity, one operator etc) has peaked.

This morning, Multiplicity has even become visibly trendy.....

Nevertheless, I think we are a long way before operators or other constituencies in the mobile industry fully embrace - or even evangelise - multiplicity. Finding service providers which make it easy for you to get a multi-SIM offering is still tricky. I don't know any operator that offers some form of "personal multi-device management service", perhaps recognising that you'll also use a work-provided phone or BlackBerry from another operator. There's so much battle for subscription market share, that companies have failed to realise that there is possibly more value in integrating/federating across multiple different providers.

I suspect it will be 2007 before this trend really becomes evident, but it's something I'll come back to as it evolves.

1 comment:

Francesco said...

Great post! The concept of multiplicity is very interesting and absolutely relevant for the future of telecom providers.

In my opinion, telecom providers need to focus more and more on share of wallet, and not just on client ownership.

In a mature market it is a fact of life that sophisticated customers like to be served by different telecom providers at the same time. You can't own the client 100%, even if you are very good. In this context, the goal is to "own most of the client", that is to maximise share of wallet, offering and selling more services than the competitors.

That's why telecom operators have a lot to learn from the credit card industry. There, it is common that a customer owns and uses at the same time 3 or 4 credit cards from different competitors. Credit card providers fights not only for client ownership, but also, and mainly, for share of wallet.