The incredible success of application stores for mobile handset vendors like Apple’s AppStore and Nokia’s Ovi indicates a shift in mobile business and adds fuel to the ongoing discussion on the future business model of mobile network operators.
It is common sense that mobile telcos are getting squeezed between handset vendors, media and content companies and highly innovative Internet players.
Analysts see three major alternatives for sustainable business models ranging from dumb bit pipes over smart bit pipes with subscriber and billing ownership to ultimately application service providers.
Some analysts, however, believe that continuous service innovation, i.e. the service provider model, is the only chance for mobile operators to maintain current revenue and profit levels.
However, this requires a profound shift of the current business model and corporate culture of mobile telcos.
These company’s major innovations are currently mostly coming from small, external service providers or are even dictated by telecom equipment vendors, handset manufacturers like Apple and increasingly by Internet players like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others. To date mobile telcos had little need for out-of-the-box and self-initiated innovation.
Now, it is becoming essential for mobile telcos to build the necessary know-how, to establish an innovation-centric culture, to automate standard business processes and to acquire the right software and process tools for efficient and continuous design and roll-out of new application and services.