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Friday, April 18, 2008

Device multiplicity is driving ARPU, not mobile web

I see that O2 UK is about to launch its 3G dongle service, aiming it primarily at its existing customers, and offering a discounted (but still high, especially for an 18 month contract) price.

This maps onto developments elsewhere, for example by Hutchison 3, which also encourages multi-device and multi-subscription users.

This makes a lot of sense to me. Why try & charge an extra few £ a month for someone accessing the web on their phone.... and possibly have to subsidise a device upgrade to get one with a decent browser... when you can charge £20 a month for a separate (and very cheap) device? Which then connects to the user's existing computing and user-interface platform (the PC), which the operator doesn't need to design or test or subsidise or distribute?

Yes, I know the arguments about bit-pipes and the possibility of selling advertising and assorted mobile-phone centric web apps. But the reality is that nobody is buying them, and the amount of paid-for browsing or data bundles on phones is low, whilst 3G modems & subscriptions are flying off the shelves.


Anonymous said...

Yup - good call there Dean.

re mobile advertising, I'm STILL waiting for the day I can enter in a list of items, e.g.

1 Levis 501's, 34R bootcut £30
4 Pirelli P6000 215/r16 @ £75
1 Topeak Joe Blow floor pump £20

And be alerted when shops nearby have these for me, in stock, at the price I specified or below. I am very happy to share oodles of hyper-personal info to get what I want, at the price I want. These are things I want to try on/see/feel prior to purchase, or in the case of tyres, I need to be in my car. I don't want to make a special trip as I don't need these things urgently, I just know I do want them at some stage.

'Advertising' then will be indestinguishable from magic. It will be extremely valuable to me as I've set my price and by default I'll be nearby. If I'm actually too busy, I can always decline the offer.

Until some cleverclogs knocks up a system like this, mobile advertising will just be pissing into the wind.

An Australian startup called Fluc was looking promising, but haven't heard anything from them for ages.



Anonymous said...

The problem with 3G modems for PCs is that some people use them as DSL replacements which makes these users highly unprofitable for an operator. The LTV of a user with a medium spec (okaish browser, basic email) phone is generally much better than a subscriber using his 3G modem every day to watch YouTube for an hour. And despite some activity in the US a couple of years ago, operators rarely cut off users that exceed the fair use limits on their 3G cards.

Dean Bubley said...

Anonymous - many of the current 3G modem offers are being specifically sold by operators *as* DSL replacements, for example for students who don't live in the same address 12 months a year & therefore cannot use DSL subscriptions.

Most of the 3G modem plans in Europe are sold with explicit 1GB / 3GB / 5GB caps. Usually fair-use doesn't disallow YouTube etc - as otherwise this would put the proposition at a competitive disadvantage vs. fixed broadband.