To Sell Data, You Have to Think Data
By Eric Lin, Thu Oct 16 23:00:00 GMT 2003

Mobile Operators have been making progress offering more data services and more data centric handsets. However to make significant progress, they will need to drop their voice-centric mindset, says a Gartner VP.

On ITU Telecom World, Gartner VP Nigel Deighton sums up the progress of mobile data services over the past 4 years. He touches on all the usual subjects for quite a while, but thanks to a link on Smart Mobs, we stuck it out for his last two paragraphs. He believes that while voice will still rule, "data will play an increasing and increasingly valuable role, whether it is in music, images, personal data or corporate applications." This isn't exactly news to anyone except that Mr. Deighton goes on to encourage mobile operators to shift from a voice-centric view to one where data comes first. He believes that once the carriers place a higher value on mobile data, then they can work on conveying that same mindset to their customers.

His timing could not be better as today Gizmodo stumbled across the luddite opinion of Scott Kirsner in Fast Company. He believes that manufacturers are adding new data features to phones while ignoring such basics as call quality or battery life. Scott's list of needs are pretty simple and don't go beyond voice calls, and in our experience his needs should be well met by any modern feature phone. However his "I just want to make a damn phone call, why should my phone do any more" mindset is exactly the voice-centric scenario that carriers have created and will now have to break down if they are to sell more data services.

Anecdotally, as we have adopted more mobile data usage so have our peers, in order to keep with these new modes of communication. Maybe Mr. Kirsner has yet to catch up to his peers, or his children. In the UK, there's a new Teach UR mum 2 txt campaign designed to help parents keep in touch with their teens. Could programs like this that span the generation gap bring those who (GASP!) only make calls with their phones into the 21st century?