Comment: Terminal manufacturers are developing new applications and intergrating the user experience of other brands. Can this be a harmonious relationship with operators own portals?

With a selection of mobile phones from Christmas 2006 sitting on my desk from several big names its apparent that 3rd parties are now working with the terminal suppliers directly to port their web experience to phone apps. You can see this happening in Europe primarily with Google for blogging and search, but in the US, Helio has had success with its brand phone and social-networking tools.

Since the early days of mobile, it was primarly the reponsibility of the operator and terminal manufacturer to develop phone applications or new services for customers. Traditionally this has been in 3 areas -

  • Native phone firmware or apps which includes the terminal settings, pictures and themes an operator installs, and
  • Shell Apps like Java, flash or other applications developed and ported across phones, and
  • Web/wap apps which are quickest to develop and are used in portals like Docomo and Vodafone live! as well as any third party.

Its the native apps that the 3rd parties are now working to integrate. Sony Ericsson camera phones now come with ‘Send to Blogger’ and blogging clients on the phone and some devices come with a static internet jump page that already has an internet search box.

The handset manufacturers are installing these applications in their part of the firmware. This is now a new area for operators to test and check these apps work or alternatively, to block from working (such as those operators still with walled gardens or child-blocking technology). Interestingly how can this be commercialised for the benefit for customers? without a direct billing relationship, customers are still going to be paying data charges for these searches which are not included in their on-net portal browsing.

Its certainly a reason for customers to argue for simpler pricing models like the flat rate xseries from 3 UK. More likely, these apps will stay in the 3rd party or expensive off-net browsing section with its per kb or timed data charges (opps revenue)


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Damien Saunders
An experienced management consultant and business leader interested in digital transformation, product centred design and scaled agile. If I'm not writing about living with UCTD (an autoimmune disease), I'm probably listening to music, reading a book or learning more about wine.
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