Last week I had a bizarre conversation with someone who claimed to be "Head of European Business Development at Vodafone" (a big guy with a beard and Vodafone-red rimmed glasses - give me a shout if you know him...)
He started the conversation when I was looking at iPhone 5 at Apple Store on Regent Street, with "You'd better buy Android." I disagreed, explaining that my four-year old son and 75-year old father (the latter only used smartphone once in his life) would
be able to take iPhone and - without any external help - make a phone call or access YouTube (I did that experiment when iPhone 4 came out). They'd be staring at Samsung Galaxy for hours.
That incognito stranger (who may have been pulling my leg about his business credentials) mumbled about Android being a superior OS, and then he suddenly blurted out: "Apple are parasites!" - "???" - "They don't share revenue with anyone!"
That was when I enquired which company he worked for. When I heard "Vodafone", my most immediate question was: "Who exactly does Vodafone share (exorbitant roaming) revenue with?.." OEMs? Google? Oxfam?..
Puzzled look on his face.
I went on: "If I publish an app on the AppStore, Apple would give me 70% of the revenue, whilst allowing me to target 100% of Apple's customer base. Does Vodafone allow me to target ANY of its customers?"
"Even if I could somehow offer something of value to Vodafone's customer base, will Vodafone share anything with me?.."
Most mobile network operators (MNOs) are missing it big time - the sentiment I've heard many many times from different industry players. Look at the "progress" ISIS is making in the USA. Compare that to Square and the army of its copycats. Let alone Google
I'd like to say that MNOs are not (just) "dumb pipes" (two of my friends are MNO CEOs), but - unfortunately - most of the MNOs I came across were arrogant and clueless. Not a good recipe for success, when you have to compete with disruptors left and right.
Consider OTT: "What's up, doc?" - "Whatsapp!"