Today, scores of companies ranging from Apple to AT&T to Google are positioning themselves as mobile retailers and providing consumers with a seemingly bottomless well of plans and features. There's no doubt that today's mobile customers are enjoying the wide array of new options now available to them. After all, until now, consumers had somewhat limited choices when it came to making mobile buying decisions.
So, how can carriers rediscover the benefits of their former mobile monopoly and thrive in this new atmosphere? Let's look at three steps:
Step No. 1: Embrace mobile's inherent symbiotic nature
The first step is to embrace mobile's inherent symbiotic nature. Though device manufacturers, carriers and publishers are all essentially competitors, no one player can truly deliver value or a complete mobile experience without enlisting the others.
For instance, publisher Google aims to offer handsets with its Android software stack but will be unable to successfully venture into this arena without the partnership of a carrier. Similarly, carrier AT&T seeks to move into the publisher space by developing mobile portals but cannot do so without a device OEM. And, in perhaps the most well-known example, device OEM Apple has positioned itself as a budding publisher thanks to its growing application store. But Apple cannot move forward without a carrier.
It is clear that until one player can clearly dominate all three of these key roles, the customer experience can only be delivered through cooperation and collaboration. Companies that understand and accept this reality are sure to be poised for success.
Step No. 2: Smart partnering
In light of the first step, the second step for success is smart partnering. While your company's marketing messages should emphasize your unique strengths, your behind-the-scenes focus should be partnering to address your weaknesses. It all boils down to the "3 Fs": Form, Functionality and Features-where does your company excel?
For Apple, their exterior focus has been on superior usability, aka form, while they have partnered with AT&T for network functionality. Meanwhile, the company's strategy for growth has centered on creating an environment where anyone can create great content via its application store features.