New Applications and the Myth of the Killer App
The most exciting and perhaps most anticipated telecoms for new revenues is applications. We are starting to see these, the iPhone Apps for example, or Nokia’s “Comes with Music”. There are a few interesting ideas here, based on the uniqueness and personalization of a phone, and the trusted billing relationship that exists with a subscriber. Many of these will be unveiled next week at MWC.
Certainly I am seeing some very interesting home based services. While resisting the temptation to jump on the ‘Connected Appliance’ bandwagon, there are new businesses which could be built on the back of a technology that "knows" when people are home – home delivery services, healthcare applications, “fridge magnet” type family reminders, and so on. These could be offered by mobile operators, or serve as a platform for new entrants who could use femtocells to cost- effectively offer consumers a compelling package of voice and data as well as a series of "femto apps", without the high entry costs of traditional infrastructure equipment, base station real estate or rental, power and other utilities.
As with many areas of technology it is probably impossible to predict the one that will capture customers’ imagination. But an interesting precendent is residential broadband. Ten years ago many were skeptical of the need for ADSL: there were no services at the time that required such speed, the way people used high-speed internet at the office did not suggest new ideas, and dial-up was adequate for email or simple browsing of static websites. But “supply creates its own demand” and within a few years the existence of always-on, high speed internet led to services like Skype, Facebook and the whole Web 2.0 opportunity.
In a similar way, it is hard to doubt that the combination of personalization, context-sensitivity and an always-on, always available, high-speed connection to your unique personal phone will not lead to attractive new services.
By Rupert Baines, picoChip, www.picochip.com.