No more hype at the Mobile World Congress

Mobile telcos and their vendors are trying to benefit from the wave of social networking. However, their only chance is to add mobility to the offerings of big Internet players, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, in order to get a little share of the revenues through covering the “on-the-go” part. Setting up closed telco-only communities is a doomed game.

With the hype times over telcos have also well realized that currently their major business is coming from classic communication services, mainly voice and (SMS) messaging.

Vendors in this field seem to be stronger than ever. Mobile instant messaging (MIM) is still on the screen with a few trials under way around the world but doubts are rising if it will ever take off – driven by a fear of cannibalizing the highly profitable SMS and MMS business.

Mobile marketing including SMS and MMS campaigning also belonged to the visible topics at the world’s largest mobile business show. Telcos and vendors believe there is still untapped potential in it.

Mobile phone vendors are desperately trying to catch up with Apple in two ways – copying (as far as patents allow) the great touch user interface of Apple’s iPhone (e.g. Samsung’s “Touch” claim) and Apple’s app stores concept with RIM, Nokia, Microsoft having launched or are launching similar offerings.

This is also part of the reason for optimism among mobile telcos, their hope is based on overall data usage picking up heavily, mainly due to the growing number of Internet-capable smartphones.

However, questions remain over whether this will turn into new business models for mobile telcos or if it just moves them closer to becoming the feared ‘dumb data pipes’.