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In response to the general worries about how to continue earning—or even increase—strong revenues as mobile devices become ever more popular, some telecommunications companies are being proactive. These innovative exemplars recognize a global trend: Mobile phone subscriptions are about to outpace the number of people alive in the world today! They also reveal five main lessons that their peers and competitors need to learn, if they don’t want to be left behind.

  1. Get domain knowledge, one way or another. For example, Ford specializes in making cars. To expand its understanding of the mobile setting, it has partnered with SYNC to add mobile apps to its automobiles.
  2. Pursue mass personalization. One remarkable innovation by Telefonica, a Spanish insurance company, allows parents to install monitoring devices in their teenagers’ cars. The devices report on whether the young driver speeds, brakes too hard, or takes the car out late at night. It also links the price for the company’s product—that is, the insurance premiums it charges—to the actual driving performance demonstrated by the teen. Hence the product’s name: Pago Como Conduzco (Pay By How I Drive).
  3. Recognize the heterogeneity of mobile users. A report by the McCann research group highlighted the widely varying needs and demands of various users, as well as the necessity for mobile companies to recognize and address those demands.
  4. Entertain. Function and utility are always important, of course, but mobile devices are still routes to fun for most users. Thus Qualcomm is offering a service to sports arenas and fields that allows them to broadcast games directly to subscribers’ phones.
  5. Support mobile payments. People love the convenience of paying through they mobile phones, but they also tend to worry about security issues. For eBay, the answer has been to offer a means for customers to find products in stores, then help them pay for the items, regardless of their distance from the official point of sale.

Other examples of innovation reaffirm these lessons: With their wifi-enabled camera products, GoPro customers can live broadcast their fun exploits, using a camera mounted to their ski or bike helmets. A home management service by AT&T also promises to offer consumers ready control over their home appliances, such that they can minimize energy usage.

Source: Greg Armshaw, “Five Takeaways for Marketers from Mobile World Congress,” Advertising Age, March 1, 2013

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