A New World Order – Part 2

 By Chung Jaan Hao

In the first part of this series, I talked about how the iPhone made a tear in the great walled garden of mobile operators, where traditionally it was impossible for any content developer to bypass the mobile operators’ “app store” a.k.a. “content portals”. All content had to be purchased and paid through the mobile operator’s own billing systems where they had exclusive claim over the customers. Purchase of content outside this system then was cumbersome and there was little if no infrastructure that could support this.

I don’t think that many mobile operators foretold how far this would go and for those who did, the decision was based on gaining the ability to bundle this cool and highly desired device with their data plans while only risk losing a very small portion of their content revenue. They were mostly right as the iPhone did manage to help some mobile operators who launched first in their territories to gain new subscribers, sell new data plans and even retain customers.

While the iPhone made small tear, android phones are going to shred that walled garden into pieces. While what iPhone did helped turn Apple’s bottomline, it also helped open the pandora box for all mobile content executives within the mobile operators. They suddenly realize that they no longer are in full control and had to swim against a tide of change. Not only that, mobile content executives now have less and less control over their subscribers as more of their subscribers switch to smartphones. In addition they also now have to compete with content developers for app space within the subscribers’ phones. Of course they still have their traditional content services which contribute a tidy sum to their KPIs and I myself have always held the view that early adopters of smartphones are mostly new consumers of mobile content. So the immediate impact may not be as big as anyone can imagine, but the downward pressure is there and it happens faster in some markets compared to others. The high adoption of mobile data services has always been any mobile content executive’s wet dream and this dream is now shattered forever as customers who adopted it went shopping somewhere else.
There always will be greater forces at work that are beyond our imagination or control. Recent technological advancements have brought rapid changes upon us. We shop differently, we listen to music differently, we interact with our friends differently, we share and access information differently and so forth. All this has brought a decentralizing effect on society as everyone now has a voice and can be heard. The laws of the crowd determine what gets popular and what gets drowned out. I am not going to talk about political implications and the effect of social media in forcing change within governments. I will put focus on trying to take stock of the changes within us, the changes around us, how such changes are experienced by us and how such changes are challenging the current conventions within the media landscape. After all that’s what my company focuses on.

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