Revenue drivers

Amid falling ARPUs, mobile operators are often heard talking about so-called ‘killer applications' that could revive dwindling revenues. And with innovations such as mobile TV often being hailed as the next big thing by mobile and network operators, Paul Gainham, Juniper Networks' marketing chief for the EMEA region, tells CommsMEA why the industry should focus more on the needs of the end-user.

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By  Administrator Published  February 28, 2008

Amid falling ARPUs, mobile operators are often heard talking about so-called ‘killer applications' that could revive dwindling revenues. And with innovations such as mobile TV often being hailed as the next big thing by mobile and network operators, Paul Gainham, Juniper Networks' marketing chief for the EMEA region, tells CommsMEA why the industry should focus more on the needs of the end-user.

What kind of innovations and applications should operators be looking at developing?

If you look at history, most of the innovation in the whole IT industry has come from outside the telecom industry. It has been the IT players, the Microsofts, Googles and Yahoos. The service providers have to get far more innovative. It is no good talking about bundles as innovation - you have got to go way beyond that. You have got to keep showing value in the eyes of the end-user.

We need to question what the definition of a ‘killer application' is. You could argue that it is something with such a wow-factor behind it, and long shelf life in terms of the ability to draw people to it. With interactivity there are some nice innovations but it is also a temporal shelf life - it only takes the next operator to come along and do the same.

What do you think of the idea of a ‘killer application'. Is there any innovation that could transform mobile revenues?

There is no killer application and if you are looking for one you are never going to find it. I'm not a great fan of giving things the killer application tag because I have yet to see anything that really has such a wow-factor that it would really have a long enough shelf life to give a company a real advantage.

So what should operators focus on in your opinion, and why?

The most important thing to focus on is the end-user, because generally they are becoming far more discerning, knowledgeable and demanding. You have to show value to those people because that is what will determine how successful you will be as an operator, so they have to go much broader and be far more innovative.

Everything that changes and develops in this market will be driven by the end-user. If you look at TV content distribution over time, four or five years ago I had to sit at the TV at the time the broadcaster told me to watch a certain show. It used to be the broadcaster network community that had control, while now it is very much the end user community. Users are less passive.

In all of the surveys that I have seen, the one thing that comes out very clearly, is personalisation. Give me the feeling that it is my network. Give me the choice, the freedom, the ability to control my own experience. That is why I position the user as the killer application, because this whole power change has moved the balance over to the user. And in a competitive market, they have choice, they can look at the market offerings, they can make a choice based on what they see and what they perceive as value.

How can operators exploit that?

Every user that connects to your network as the service provider will be accessing all sorts of content, whether it's best effort internet content or IPTV content, or some other content connectivity.

If I pay US$10 to the content host to download a game, if the network host is actually playing a more active part and is not just acting as a transport pipe, but is actively engaging with the content player, then effectively what you have is value in the network. If I spend $10 with the content, the content and the network provider can effectively say, we are building value, we expect a cut.

It is showing that value to the content players and then doing more to share that value. If that doesn't happen, the network effectively becomes a utility.

Can developing markets such as the Middle East and Africa learn from Western markets?

It's interesting. When I look at some of the developing markets whether it's in Africa, the Middle East or Eastern Europe, the only thing that's different is the classic time delay. We are starting to see the markets here begin to open up to competition. It is always healthier. I can't think of any negatives to a competitive market. Competition drives innovation, always has done.

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