Bye bye, fixed line...

I mean, it's nothing new as us mobilists knew it all along but now, alas, someone put their finger in the air and quantified it. So here goes: as early as next year, wireless phone users will outnumber landline users by 3 to 1. Impressive, huh?

Some more somewhat obvious findings are: rich nations are running out of non-users, and in some emerging markets, where rising personal incomes have made wireless affordable, that gap closes quickly, too. Even so, only half the world's population uses mobile phones now. Most subscriber growth over the next five years will quite naturally come from India, China, parts of Asia, and Africa. I think the author might have forgotten Brazil...

And now, dear content lovers, comes the candy: the analysts say that "[f]irms must boost their average monthly revenue per user, or ARPU. Text-messaging has been the biggest moneymaker, along with ring tones and games. Music and video downloads are starting to catch on". By 2011, U.S. carriers will garner 35% of service revenue from data products, more than twice the 2007 share, says the Telecommunications Industry Association.

But in emerging markets, non-voice services are growing, too: "Wireless companies need to evolve their business models because of the changing nature of the industry, not just penetration levels," said Sureyya Ciliv, chief executive of Turkcell. "Communication and information technologies are converging globally.

T-Mobile shuts the door on Nokia's Ovi... Or did it?

Funny little press reports today tell us that T-Mobile "ditched" Nokia handsets that are capable of supporting the Finnish giant's Ovi (Finnish for door) multimedia portal. The German originator of these news is slightly more cautious: they also report that T-Mobile denied this and merely point out that T-Mobile has less Nokia phones on offer than a week ago and has - quite noteworthy indeed - removed all those that were "Ovi-enabled".

The background is of course Nokia's move into the multimedia service area (on which I first wrote about here). Nokia scored some early successes, namely with Telefonica (see here) and Vodafone (see here) but the threat to operator-driven content offerings was clear from the start. Whilst Telefonica and Vodafone were quite content on having the Ovi portal to music, video and games offered from Nokia's platform, on their desktop alongside their own offering, T-Mobile allegedly sees this as a threat to its own plans. It is, hence, yet another iteration of the fight of carriers for their ground in the media sector.

T-Mobile might feel strong in the media space due to its iPhone monopoly in Germany but even if (and I suspect that that is not the case), it would be a somewhat desperate attempt: if such drastic moves as locking out the market leader's handsets are required to keep customers on its own content offerings, is it then not a clear sign that such offerings might not actually be cutting it? In particular when the competitor is an OEM that in itself does not really enjoy a particular flair of creativity and buoyancy in media terms...

I would suggest that Nokia is (only?) a noteworthy competitor because of its market share in the OEM market, and not because it is such a good media company. Constraints with a view to placement on the phone's "desktop" as well as walled gardens and consumer fear for super-high data charges (see an absurd example here) drive people to what is there, not what is best. This is not even disrespectful to the fine folks at Nokia; it merely is to demonstrate that a lot of players are not even there yet, so that it is too early to say who is best. The desperate moves of the carriers as well as historical performance on the content side suggests, however, that carriers may not be the best suited ones. Given that content is only a fraction of their data revenues, this may not actually be a bad thing: could it not be pointing them to do what they're really good at, i.e. operating a network. If you want to call it a pipe, fine, but just make it a very, very smart pipe, and everyone (most importantly your customers) will love you!