Missing Mobile Innovation

by Braden Kelley

Mobile Television ArticleI came across an interesting article about mobile television takeup.

Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have all tried to launch mobile TV in the United States, but with takeup at only 1% of cell users it’s pretty easy to say that mobile TV has failed to prove itself to be an innovation.

Sure people might find it to be a useful invention, but customers refusal to pay an extra $10-25 per month for it on top of their $40-80 monthly contract, proves that it is not a valuable innovation. So if in the current environment customers might only take up mobile television if it were free, what are the mobile operators to do?

Stop offering mobile television as fast as they can….

That might be a little problematic for Sprint, given that they just signed a $500 million deal with the NFL, but maybe they have an out.

Why do I think that killing mobile TV as fast as possible is the way to go?

The article indicates that the existing offering were launched before sufficient technology was in place. Experience teaches us that launching a technology too soon is sometimes more damaging than not launching it at all. If people have a bad experience with a technology they are likely to do one of two things:

  1. Stop using the technology and not try it again for a long time
  2. Think the technology provider is at fault, ignore improved options from the same provider, and switch to a different provider instead

Either way the existing operators are likely to lose money in the short-term and long-term revenue opportunity and market share in the long run.

T-Mobile USA has the opportunity (if they are smart) to observe where the others are failing, talk to lots of customers to better understand their needs, and partner with someone like Slingbox to deliver something that customers find worth paying for.

What do you think?

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