The mobile world is shifting from voice to data. Voice revenues may still make up 85-90% revenues for operators today, but they are not going to grow. The new subscriber growth is slowing; the new subscribers at the bottom of the pyramid aren’t going to be talking as much; the existing 500-600 million users have maxed out how much they are going to be talking. So, the way forward is to either cut costs to increase earnings, or to drive new services which improve profitability.
In this world, the mix of high-speed networks, better devices and flexible, developer-friendly operating systems create an amazing new opportunity waiting to be exploited. In this brave new world, operators can either be dumb pipes or can create new business models where they can benefit from the growing demand and consumption of data services.
Operates have to thus look at three streams of revenue: today’s voice revenues, tomorrow’s data access revenues (for pipes), and the future’s data services revenues. A model like that of i-mode can help create more of the access revenues, but more importantly, drive huge data services revenues.