Why mobile services are not being adopted :: Apptrigger

Survey results paid for by Texas-based company AppTrigger (the study itself was conducted by LM Research & Marketing) suggest that UK mobile operators could be doing much more to promote adoption of advanced mobile services among their subscribers. The data purportedly support the conclusion that

mobile phone operators are largely locked into proprietary application suites and hindered by complex connectivity issues. The missed opportunity comes in the form of traditional IN-based applications such as pre-paid, voicemail and SMS. Operators lack the application connectivity to integrate these existing applications with new services across their legacy and next generation networks to work seamlessly and cohesively together. This limits their ability to blend best-of-breed, multi-vendor applications in a timely fashion to respond to users’ demands and push these services out more quickly.

I agree with this interpretation, and I further concur with the company’s VP of Marketing that “the ability to bring innovative network services to market via new environments such as Web 2.0 will be the catalyst that enables monetisation of application mash-ups. Operators need to be positioned to reap the rewards of these opportunities”. Wireless operators interested in having their subscribers use advanced mobile services need to open up their platforms to enable the kind of radical social transformations (and associated entrepreneurialism and investment) we’ve witnessed in the IP-based web over the past several years. Getting in sync with services like Jaiku, Twitter, or Shozu (perhaps offering these up as bundled services independent of typical data plans) might be a start. I’m no business strategist, but surely it’s a no-brainer to offer up existing, user-friendly, post-beta services to subscribers rather than to try and flog your own non-interoperable walled MMS gardens.

But I have two issues with the interpretations that the authors put forward.

  1. To reduce the adoption question to lack of promotion is fallacious. There are myriad cultural and social reasons why users will not adopt mobile services. No amount of mobile marketing can force people to change their behaviour. This is precisely why opening up wireless networks to Web 2.0 services will encourage adoption of advanced mobile technologies – users are actively involved in development cycles in the Web 2.0 paradigm. No application in this arena will thrive without end user input, period. And the model is working so well in a competing virtual space – the IP-networked laptop/desktop world. This is why the US and Canada (and, it seems, the UK, according to this study) lag behind the developing world (where there is no platform competing with the mobile platform) in adoption of mobile services generally (not just the advanced services).
  2. The data in their full study is presented in a confusing way. There is no indication of the number of respondents surveyed – only percentages – and hence the study is not apparently scientific (at the very least it is not transparently so).

Still, some interesting discussion points here.

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