Wireless carrier networks must evolve: Today’s cellular networks are like the first fish with feet. They are saddled with a prehistoric architecture optimized for voice while struggling to evolve to a reality where data is the fastest growing source of traffic and revenue for many carriers. They’re struggling because the economics of voice and data are vastly different. While a user’s voice call can be tens of kilobits of data per second or less, data can be an order of magnitude greater or more. If you factor in the revenue a carrier gets from each bit of voice vs. each bit of data, the economic difference can be striking. 2008 will see an evolution in some carrier networks to meet this demand. Those that don’t evolve might just go the way of the dinosaurs.
WiFi(ght) it?: For many years, WiFi was viewed as antithetical to the wireless carrier business model. WiFi is open and unlicensed while the carrier networks are closed and tightly controlled. TMobile was one of the early large carriers to embrace WiFi and 2008 will be a year to watch for significant growth across carriers in the number of users with WiFi enabled cell phones. Carriers who embrace WiFi will deliver significant value-add to their subscribers through a full browsing experience and unfettered access to rich set of web properties. If done correctly, the carrier can use WiFi to significantly increase mobile advertising revenue pie and partake in that growth. It can also help carriers address consumer frustration with indoor cell coverage and in turn give consumers fewer reasons to maintain a separate voice landline.
Location, location, location: This old adage for how to make money in real estate may be the wireless carriers’ slogan for how to make money in 2008. Location- based services can open powerful new business models for carriers and compelling new applications for consumers. Intent can be deferred from location and location can also significantly increase the relevance and utility of mobile services and ads. As an advertiser, imagine not only knowing that someone clicked on your mobile ad, but that they also requested directions on how to get to your store. Take this one step further and imagine that (without compromising privacy) an advertiser only pays when a user clicks, navigates and then arrives at the store. Location- based services are only possible in the mobile medium and have an opportunity to create significant utility for the consumer and value for advertisers and carriers.