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Widening mobile ecosystem means everyone needs to expand their horizons
|06 апреля 2011|
I introduce myself to someone and explain how my coverage touches on the entire wireless infrastructure space. His or her response? "Wow, that's an awfully big purview." In reality, there's lots of kit in the wireless network that I don't have the pleasure of writing about on a regular basis: OSS/BSS gear, DAS systems, outside plant.
Still, I've never understood how covering the breadth of the network (even if absent a few things) should strike anyone as a gargantuan task. I've actually never understood how anyone trying to follow the wireless infrastructure space could do so without this broad of a focus.
More recently, (and I know it sounds like I have a problem with understanding things) I've found it difficult to believe that anyone in the wireless business--company or person--can get along without somewhat of a focus on the broader mobile ecosystem.
Now, I will freely admit "ecosystem" may be one of the most abused words in the telecom lexicon. Borrowing from the natural world, the term is meant to conjure up the notion of diverse industry players all existing in the same space, driving the market forward. It has often been claimed, for example, that LTE's triumph over WiMAX was a result of broader "ecosystem" support. This is just a fancy way of saying that LTE enjoyed the commitment of a much greater number of market participants (who just happened to be bigger too): operators, device vendors, network vendors, integrators, etc. That commitment, in turn, bred further support which was impossible to overcome.
Unfortunately, when every company wants to position itself as part of a larger movement, the meaning of the concept is quickly diluted. We end up with a myriad of different ecosystems. Consider a mobile industry comprised of mobile device silicon ecosystems, mobile marketing ecosystems, radio access network ecosystems, mobile core network ecosystems, application and app development ecosystems, machine-to-machine communications ecosystems, etc. To be fair, this is completely logical: even the narrowest categories within the mobile wireless market rely on number of different vendors, and understanding those vendors (competitors) is critical to surviving in any market segment.
Yet, it's appropriate to say "unfortunately" because, while accurate, dividing any market into a number of individual ecosystems ignores a very important reality: The value in taking an ecosystem-level view of a market lies in understanding the interconnections between the various constituencies and the potential impact of developments from outside your specific area (or areas). Carrying forward the example, nowhere has this become more evident than in the Mobile Ecosystem.
In mobility, the importance of taking a wide, ecosystem-level view is grounded in three fundamental truths.
Ecosystems drive markets. The success of the mobile wireless market depends on an incredibly diverse set of players, representing different facets of the network, service and device layers.
The Wireless ecosystem is getting more complex. The arrival of new mobile broadband technologies, networks and services has grown the number of relevant participants and segments within the mobile ecosystem.
Complexity yields threats and opportunities. As the breadth of the ecosystem expands, it is critical for everyone in the space to understand the implications of what is happening in adjacent markets.
This was the case with 3G services, and even the 2G services that preceded them. Each required a combination of networks, devices, and device silicon in order to power services. Each link in the chain (ecosystem) needed to know what was going on with the other links in order to support its customers. As 3G gives way to LTE and other mobile broadband technologies, the interconnectedness between these spaces grows and the relevance of the ecosystem grows with it.
Consider the following: Where operators are launching LTE, it is with the intent to deliver an improved user experience (higher data rates, lower latencies) and better network efficiencies. The improved user experience is, in part, a response to mobile services becoming an integral part of people's lives, along with one component in an attempt to drive those services deeper into our everyday lives.
This links LTE intimately to:
- the development of new multimedia applications which take advantage of LTE's capabilities.
- silicon and device functionalities which can support these applications.
- service models aimed at monetizing these applications.
- more efficient network architectures leveraging LTE deployment schedules.
- marketing and commerce applications leveraging added network bandwidth.
- the search for new spectrum resources, and a better use of existing assets.
- new standards aimed at supporting compelling mobile broadband applications, or driving the efficiency of existing ones.
The service provider who isn't ready to take advantage of these evolutions--evolutions that stretch beyond what its service offers--will lose out to its competitors. The same goes for network infrastructure vendors who aren't ready to help their customers tap opportunities in terms of new mobile applications, or device vendors who do not understand the introduction of new standards, spectrum bands and operator business models.
As voice services (and revenues) give way to data services, and mobile services integrate deeper into our lives, the breadth of the mobile ecosystem will only expand. With this expansion comes the importance and increased difficulty of understanding what's going on across and throughout it.
Peter Jarich, the Service Director оf Current Analysis