This is part of a conversation that started in a Startup Insiders session – should a young fledgling firm with a good idea think about building products around the mobile telecom space?
If you have a nice brilliant consumer-focused idea today, you’ll also have a number of options available to implement it. You could realize your idea as a web-2.0 implementation, as a widget, as a facebook / open-social application, as a web-M solution (mobile-focus website), as a handset-only application, or as a specialized value-added service built and offered in close partnership with a telecom operator.
The question is – where and why would you want to work with a telco, when some of the other options (particularly facebook) can offer a much higher potential audience-base and much lower total development costs.
Adnan from PixSense had the best answer I’ve heard about this – and as a backdrop I’ll point to a recent interview by the Mobile Marketing Magazine of the CEO of PixSense, Paul Singh.
The answer, according to Adnan, lies not in what telecos in general are doing with service vendors, but in what they could do in terms of pricing of the service.
Telecos start with heavy investment in building pipes that isnt entirely affected by the specific services that are introduced on those pipes later – they will only consider their cost for providing a particular service as an amortized portion of the total initial investment.
It is possible then, for telecos to look at data transfer in a different light from, say, ISPs, who typically rent those pipes for providing an end-user service to their customers.
Lets put this in light of a service such as PixSense which allows people to share photos with their friends. If this service was offered as a Web-M solution or over on top of facebook, each person would have to pay standard internet-data-rates to transfer photos to their friends…. if a typical photo is 1Mb, then you’ll be paying Rs.15 by current standards.
Telecos, however, can choose to offer that particular photo-upload service as a fixed-monthly subscription, and choose to not charge extra for data transfer per photo. If that is done, then a service provided by the carrier itself would be much more attractive to consumers compared to a similar service available on the mobile-web.
There are thus certain services that only make sense when put in perspective of a close partnership with the people who own the pipes.
Another example would be value-added services that use MPLS-level guarantees on service delivery, such as some type of niche video-on-demand or video-conferencing solution.
Read the full interview of Paul Singh to read up about everything this interesting firm is up to.
Thanks Imtiaz for pointing me to this.