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Mobile operators rely on app developers for innovation

24 августа 2010

Many mobile network operators and service providers think they should rely on third-party applications developers for innovation over the next three years, according to a new mobile industry survey carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Meanwhile, more respondents selected "application downloads" than any other category when identifying future revenue sources. The study also revealed that the industry sees developing new pricing models as its biggest challenge over the next three years, and that mobile network-sharing is viewed as the best way to generate cost-efficiencies.

A sizeable 39% of mobile network operators and service providers selected "third-party application developers" in response to the question "What sources of innovation do you think mobile operators should rely upon most over the next three years?", according to information sent by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to Total Telecom on Monday. Respondents were able to select up to three answers.

Operators and service providers together made up 43% of respondents to the survey, conducted in June this year, with the remainder made up of content, software and equipment providers.

In addition, and perhaps surprisingly, "application downloads" was the most common answer selected in response to the question, "In three years' time, which of the following do you believe will be mobile operators' main sources of revenue in mature markets?" 37% of all respondents chose application downloads, followed by "voice", and "video downloads", with 36% and 32% respectively.

However, it was a different story in developing markets where 55% of respondents selected "voice"; "text messaging" and "email" also scored highly.

The vast majority of survey respondents (77%) agreed that for operators the best course of action in the apps space is to open their platforms to independent applications developers. And the study also showed some industry backing for operator-owned app stores. 45% either agreed or strongly agreed that mobile operators should develop their own app stores in competition with third parties, but just 40% agreed that the failure to do so would contribute to operators becoming dumb pipes.

"There are clear signs of a shift in industry practice towards greater collaboration," said Natasha Good, co-head of Freshfields' mobile group. "To maintain profitability, avoid being categorised as just a 'dumb pipe' and make customers sticky, network operators will look to join forces with content providers and application developers," she said.

When survey respondents were asked to list the top three challenges they believe mobile operators will face over the next three years, concerns over networks and pricing came in higher than content and applications.

"Developing new pricing models" was the top answer, selected by 48% of respondents. "Containing the cost of next-generation network deployments" and "ensuring adequate backbone capacity for future traffic loads" were second and third respectively.

55% of respondents agreed that tiered pricing for data is the way forward in mature markets, while 78% agreed that less complex voice and data plans will be key in developing markets.

Next-generation networks also featured strongly in the survey's section on cost-efficiencies, with 19% selecting "the accelerated deployment of next-generation networks" as the single most effective measure operators should consider for improving their cost-efficiency.

However, the most popular answer was "network-sharing with other operators", selected by 31%.

Источник: Total Telecom

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