This in turn opens up additional solution opportunities for the mobile channel, which bring with it additional revenue streams. The mobile channel is already starting to find ways to penetrate accounts and build differentiation with unique bundle combinations. Some examples of this include mobile phone handsets, mobile broadband, TV, and PC bundles.
This takes the mobile channel part of the way to addressing converged business requirements. The next step however would be the biggest step for the mobile channel…that is to actually offer fixed line solutions to businesses.
As the margins for fixed lines are as razor thin as it is in the mobile space, fixed line providers offer additional solutions to help augment revenue. These solutions include a whole multitude of possibilities such as provisioning itself, consulting on knowing which desk phones works with which PBX, PABX, IP-PBX, offering hosted, managed, or onsite installations, broadband, SIP, WiFi, and other CTI possibilities that come naturally when looking at the entire picture of business communications.
MB: What do you see as the pitfalls for independent mobile dealers looking at moving into other areas? Is this, at the point in our recession where people are saying things are looking better, the best time to attempt a cross over?
SM: There are many pitfalls for mobile dealers. Some of these include: getting the right partner for the market space they are tying to target; providing the correct compatible technology that would meet the goals of all parties involved in a solution; migration issues between platforms; hardware price points from a supplier who needs to move their inventory with falling margins; the marketing message with a USP that would make a difference; reliance on other partner’s SLA’s as many mobile companies may need to rely or leverage a service or support mechanism from another supplier where provision in concerned; knowledge of physical connections and service limitations and thus setting the correct customer expectations.
There is no particular point in time when it makes better business sense to cross over or not. The main considerations include: knowing what your customers are looking for; your technical expertise to supply a solution; your customer’s time frame to implement the solution; the amount of budget they have; the pain they are feeling; and their wiliness to work with you versus another established telecom provisioning competitor, given that you may need to spend some extra time sourcing several solutions to demonstrate that you can not only advise them correctly, but you can provide them with options.
MB: The past year has seen a lot of new, innovative mobile operating systems and smartphones stepping to the fore, including Apple’s iPhone 3GS, HTC’s Legend and other devices, and the Android operating system that appears to be the most exciting challenger to Apple’s proprietary system, while Symbian and Microsoft look over their shoulders.
In your opinion, which mobile handsets from which manufacturer do you think are the best, both for consumers and for businesses, and what operating systems do you think are the most interesting, or have the highest potential to rock the market?
SM: With regards to consumers, Apple’s iPhone is the market leader,or at least the most popular handset at present. The iPhone was build and targeted to the consumer market and it shows. The interface is easy and fun to use, the device is stylish and pleasing to look at, the applications are easy to download, and the device can be configured to the individual.
In the future it may become the phone of choice for business, but presently other handsets manufactures are leaders in the business category with the two main players being Blackberry and Nokia, with HTC gaining ground through its smartphone handset market offerings.
For businesses, they usually place more importance on security, device management, SLA’s and support, application integration with back office systems such as CRM, easy email usage and capability, information back up, full QWERTY keyboards, and battery life.
For businesses, the Nokia handsets seems to have the highest business functional specs when compared to others on the market. Many businesses provide either Blackberry or Nokia phones for their employees. My preference is the Nokia e71.
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