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Who Needs Operators Anyhow? 27.10.2006

Posted by rafoso in Uncategorized.

I encourage you to pop over to the MEX blog and read a recent entry by Marek Pawlowski on how value is slowly draining away from the operators and toward application and handset developers. He describes how the main brands he sees now are the providers of the useful third-party applications he uses to make his mobile do the things he wants, as he wants them – from syncing contacts to uploading images and beyond. In his case, Vodafone is just a carrier signal underneath, and even then only when he can’t pick up Wifi.

I can totally understand this feeling. I just got the Nokia N93, pictured here, and in the past five days have pretty much avoided Cingular, my operator, and loaded as many third-party apps as I needed on to the handset. The main brands I experience now? Nokia and Flickr. I run over Wifi every chance I get (though I still can’t make voice calls with it, but all data is now going over hotspots, not my carrier’s data service).

It is somewhat analogous to the early days of the Internet, where ISPs tried to control the user experience, and eventually the dominant services and brands became third parties like Google, or hardware providers who offer services, like Apple and .mac, or Microsoft and its online services. I almost forget that my bandwidth comes from Time Warner.

Operators will have to become application providers more and more if they are to stay in the game for more valuable users. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep playing with my toy.


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