Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“All you can eat data” going on a diet

by Karen Coppock


During the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week one thing became clear, the days of flat rate data plans will soon be coming to an end. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the industry; it simply isn’t a sustainable model for operators. The challenge, however, is to develop new pricing models, which make financial sense and are also acceptable (and understandable) to customers. During the session Strategies for Growth - Segmentation & Pricing, at least one panelist suggested volume-based pricing. But how much of the general public really understands bytes and should they even have to? The panel acknowledged that they would need to educate the consumer, but is that really optimal?

An alternative approach was suggested by an Alcatel-Lucent executive in a session on LTE later that week - price per experience. He noted that consumers can judge the value of downloading a song, watching a video or live TV broadcast or viewing an email message much easier than trying to figure out the quantity of bytes consumed or downloaded. This approach will also require consumers to associate prices with individual activities or items, which also may not be optimal.

Operators will likely experiment with a wide variety of models, the one exception being unlimited data...

Monday, February 22, 2010

mHealth Interview at Mobile World Congress

Brooke Partridge and Karen Coppock were interviewed about mHealth by Karma Peiro Rubio of 3cat24 - the information service for Catalunya based in Barcelona.

here to read the interview in Catalan (you can use Google translate to read it in Spanish or English, although the English-language translation is a bit rough).

China, India…or Peru? Don't Overlook Quiet Emerging-market Stars

The recent sovereign debt scares in Dubai, Greece and other developed and emerging markets have rattled many investors, but some countries are weathering the storm. Peru is one of them. For most of the last decade, the country went from being one of Latin America's perennial laggards to one of its superstars. Peru was one of the only nations in the western hemisphere to register positive economic growth in 2009, and the EU recently said that it is bullish on the country's job growth prospects. Since 2003, Peru's annual economic growth rate has averaged 7% and GDP per capita has doubled, prompting some observers to call it "the next Chile".

The economies of emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil tend to grab the headlines because of their eye-catching growth statistics and huge populations, but there are a number of quieter economic success stories that are often overlooked. In addition to Peru, less prominent emerging markets such as Indonesia, Tunisia and Botswana have racked up years of solid economic growth, aided by prudent macroeconomic management, relative political stability and skillful exploitation of natural resources. Many of these countries have been able to avoid the asset bubbles and subsequent crashes that have afflicted some of the more well-known emerging markets since the beginning of the global financial crisis.

Multinational companies often devote a great deal of resources to markets with the fastest growth rates and biggest populations, but fewer pay attention to the long-term policies that countries adopt to lay the foundation for sustainable growth. Intel did just that several years ago when it located a major chip plant in Vietnam after reviewing the country's education curriculum and ability to produce a skilled workforce, among other factors. Examining countries' future market potential in addition to short-term indicators can help identify markets that may be below the radar, but which offer solid returns over the long term.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chile gets a new president and a new membership

by Brendan Smith

Chile made the headlines last month when it elected a new president, billionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera, on January 17, ending over 20 years of rule by center-left governments. Less publicized outside of the country was the fact that the country's current president, Michelle Bachelet, recently signed a series of agreements with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of wealthy industrialized democracies, that will result in Chile becoming the first South American country to join that rarefied institution.

For Chile, which began membership negotiations in 2007 along with Estonia, Israel, Slovenia and Russia and is likely to be joined by those countries as a member, joining the OECD is the culmination of years of fast economic growth and strenuous efforts aimed at becoming a developed country. The organization was founded in 1948 to help organize European reconstruction, but it has since grown to become a forum for discussion, coordination and cooperation among countries that have "made it" to developed country status. Joining the organization was a cause for celebration in countries like South Korea and Mexico.

Like the G8 and now the G20, the OECD is often criticized for its exclusive nature and its inability to act swiftly on important issues. But Chile's excitement about joining the OECD shows that membership in these institutions remains an important symbol of progress for many countries. Symbols may not mean much in practical terms, but they can be important motivators for countries trying to climb the ladder.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mobiles & Women: A Global Opportunity report launched!

\by Karen Coppock

Vital Wave Consulting's CEO, Brooke Partridge, along with the GSMA's CEO Rob Conway and Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women all spoke at the official launch of the Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity launch this evening in Barcelona.

The Women & Mobile report is the first comprehensive view of women and mobile phones in the developing world. It starts by noting that a woman is 21% less likely than a man to own a mobile phone in low and middle-income countries. This translates into 300 million fewer women than men own mobile phone in these countries. If this "gender gap" were to be closed, mobile network operators would earn $US13 billion in incremental revenue each year.

The report segments women into five main demographic groups (Women at the Base of the Pyramid, Women in the home, Women in School, Career Women and Rural Women that Work) and characterizes their mobile phone ownership usage, barriers to adoption and preferences. It also includes ten case studies highlighting the strategies and tactics that both mobile network operators and non-profit organizations across the globe are implementing to increase the usage and impact of mobile phones around the world.

Over the next five year, 2 out of every 3 new mobile phone subscribers are likely to be female..that fact alone should motivate mobile phone industry players - and development community - to understand women's usage (and barriers) of mobile phones. This report is an excellent primer to the topic.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vital Wave Consulting at Mobile World Congress

Vital Wave Consulting will be at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week - come by one of our sessions and say hello.

Monday, Feb. 15th
- Launch event for “Women & Mobile: A Global Opportunity”, the first global market sizing report of its kind highlighting the gender disparity in mobile ownership and usage in low and middle income countries. Report is authored by Vital Wave Consulting and sponsored by the GSMA Development Fund and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. Vital Wave Consulting's CEO, Brooke Partridge, will be a speaker. (invitation only)

Wednesday, Feb. 17th - mEducation
- Liberating the Classroom, 2:00 - 3:30 pm. Vital Wave Consulting's VP of Consulting, Karen Coppock, will be a panelist.

Thursday, Feb. 18th - mHealth – Collaborating for Universal Care, an mHealth Insight developed with the mHealth Alliance, 2:00 - 3:30 pm. Vital Wave Consulting's CEO, Brooke Partridge, will be a panelist.

Hope to see you in Barcelona!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Disaster Relief & Philanthropy Enabled by New Mobile Business Models

"Information is a vital form of aid in itself […] Disaster-affected people need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter..."

InSTEDD cites the above quote from the IFRC's World Disasters Report on its blog, which highlights Haiti and the work InSTEDD and its partners are doing in disaster relief. Everyone has heard about the millions of dollars raised via mobile phones for the Haiti crisis. Less discussed are the business models that are required to make these donations and other disaster relief efforts a success.

In developed countries such as the US, Germany and Japan, most mobile customers are on the postpaid system where they pay their bill after services are used. This enables mobile operates to charge and collect donations on traditional phone bills. Up to 90% of mobile phone subscribers in developing countries use a prepaid model, purchasing air time in advance of usage. The prepaid business model is not as conducive to mobile phone-based philanthropy. However, this is changing with the adoption of mobile phone-based money transfer services such as M-PESA, Zap and Wizzit in Africa, Globe and SMART in the Philippines and True Money in Thailand. These services enable the movement of funds and could facilitate mobile philanthropy in addition to providing much-needed financial and payments services to emerging-market consumers.

From non-profit organizations to global corporations, it is important to understand how business models differ across countries or regions and to tailor products and services that lend themselves to these distinct paradigms. Business models continually evolve and as they do, new product and service opportunities arise and others become less attractive. Mobile phones are incredibly powerful tools, but harnessing them for both social and commercial gain requires a deep understanding of their underlying business models.