Interesting commentary from Mike Masnick at The Feature .
His story is about the battle between handset makers and mobile operators on customer ownership. I think you need to add a "killer app" (outside of the SP or phone manuf) that plays a key variable. You'll see in a minute.
The battle for the customer, though, is about to get much more complex. Thanks to things like smartphones and wireless broadband, the mobile space is increasingly merging with the overall technology and consumer electronics spaces -- and that means more players who all hope they can own the customer.
Witness, for example, the rumors from last week that the delay behind the Motorola iTunes phone was due to operators being worried they would get cut out of the transaction. While Motorola is now denying this story, and saying it has more to do with Apple's marketing plans, it was certainly a very believable story for many. In fact, such battles were predicted almost as soon as Motorola and Apple announced the deal to work together.
What if the mobile operator (service provider) also had a division that had a "killer app" that would not only get consumers to sign up for service, BUT could also force other consumers to install on every phone regardless of their service provider.
I know this sounds confusing but here's what I'm thinking.
I'm going to use Virgin Mobile in this example. A small service provider, but they are part of a huge conglomerate. Combine Virgin Mobile with a killer app from Virgin MegaStores (music downloading). Let's say either Virgin Mobile offers a downloadable program for your cellphone that allows music downloading to ANY phone that has this software. Downloading can be done via clicking on barcode or artist/song search.
If I'm the VM (Virgin Mobile) I might offer an unlimited download capability for $10.00 a month. For NON VIRGIN MOBILE users, a .99 per song. Make it so cost effective for users they will switch to VM service.
Access to Virgin MegaStores online music library using Virgin Mobile service creates an enormous opportunity and now gives Virgin more weight in customer "ownership" against the handset manufacturers.
What happens if a Sprint customer downloads the Virgin MusicClick program (hypothetical) to their phone and spends his data minutes downloading from the Virgin music library?
There's another thing I'm wondering. It relates to mobile advertising. Who's customer is it, and could there be a cross marketing idea?
Could Virgin Mobile advertise to the Sprint customer through the mobile now? Interesting conundrum.
I can't think of any other service providers that could offer such a unique and in demand content idea like this. Are there any SP's that you can think of like this?
Would it take a SP to license an online music database to offer this as well? With Virgin, two entities combined could offer a very powerful mobile content idea.
I discuss the power of this idea in my story The little Virgin that could .
Would love thoughts on this one.