At the beginning of this year, I took the time to sit down with my colleague Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst on Forrester's consumer product strategy team and a specialist in the telecom space, to discuss the top trends that will affect the European telco landscape this year.
Although we believe that the business/consumer split is increasingly vanishing, we decided to split the top 10 carrier themes that will matter in the European telco market in 2013 by enterprise and consumer perspectives.
In the enterprise segment, we see five main themes:
Over-the-top (OTT) and app-based communication services will become part of the IT landscape. OTT voice, social media, and messaging will spread in the enterprise space at the expense of traditional services. Our research shows that professional workers who travel are the most likely to embrace application-based communication services, often irrespective of what their company’s official IT policy is. Still, 2013 will not be the year (yet) that sees rich communication suites (RCSes) becoming a B2B2C communications platform.
Cloud-based enterprise services by carriers will see increasing interest from businesses. Communication-as-a-service will receive increased attention by CIOs as they plan unified communications and collaboration (UCC) projects. However, as our research shows, carriers will not be perceived as the top choice of providers for cloud-based services. Mobile device management firms like AirWatch and MobileIron will offer reselling opportunities for carriers but limit the carriers’ ability to add value around device and app store management. Business models for cloud-based data analytics of end user demand will grow in importance in 2013 but will only begin to materialize on a larger scale in 2014.
This summer Switzerland’s incumbent carrier, Swisscom, launched a simple but revolutionary new mobile tariff, Natel Infinity. Infinity is a speed-based tariff that comes in the versions XS, S, M, L, and XL, which represent download speeds ranging from 200 kbit/s to 100 Mbit/s. Prices range from CHF59 to CHF169 per month (€49 to €139). Significantly, the tariff throws in unlimited national voice, SMS messaging services, and data usage without any additional charge (XL even comes with unlimited international calls to most destinations and SMS).
The idea is simple: The greater your urge for fast mobile services, the more you pay — irrespective of which apps you use and how you wish to communicate. All that matters is speed. In this respect, Swisscom has replicated for the mobile world a tariff approach that is already fairly common in the fixed-line world. I believe this move by Swisscom is noteworthy in two respects:
It effectively pulls the rug from under the OTT voice and messaging services like WhatsApp and Tango by removing the arbitrage potential created by time- or distance-based pricing schemes.
It brings in line capital spending on and actual demand for network infrastructure capacity.