Ovum: Telcos must live up to 'smart enabler' hype

Mobile operators positioning themselves as 'smart enablers' in the industry must live up to the hype, global analyst firm Ovum warns telcos recently.

Mobile operators positioning themselves as 'smart enablers' in the industry must live up to the hype, global analyst firm Ovum warns telcos recently.

In a report entitled "The role of smart enabler: positioning for growth in the open mobile market, dissecting the role of smart enabler," Ovum said that in order to efficiently take up the role, operators need to view their network assets, communications expertise, customer intelligence and other capabilities as resources that can be marketed to third parties, not just end users.

The analyst firm likewise advised mobile companies to find the most efficient business model to deliver services before adopting this role. "At Ovum, we think the most equitable model is one where there is an element of risk sharing; for example a tiered approach where operators only charge for API access once an application reaches a certain revenue threshold", said Eden Zoller, principal analyst, Ovum and co-author of the report.

Aside from determining the best business model, Ovum advises the creation of developer ecosystems that can compete with other providers, because "most operators' developer programs do not compare well to those offered by device/platform vendors and online players," said Michele Mackenzie, principal analyst, Ovum.

"Mobile operators are not the only players wanting to take on the smart enabler role," Zoller explained. "Developers and other third parties can turn to device platform vendors like Nokia, Apple, Microsoft and Google. These players offer a number of benefits such as a large addressable market, lower levels of fragmentation with regard to the device and platform, and a trusted consumer brand."

The last piece of the 'smart enabler' puzzle, Ovum suggests, is the application store, which can provide an attractive retail distribution model for developers. "From the operators' perspective, it can help them to offer a wider range of applications and address the long tail of content, which they have failed to do in the past," it said. "However, in Ovum's view, an operator-branded application store is an option for the few. To make a play in this space, operators need, among other things, excellent scale and reach, a developer platform and support program and of course a strong brand."

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