Did Someone Say Synergies?
By Mike Masnick, Thu Mar 31 01:15:00 GMT 2005

There's more speculation concerning a possible Time Warner and Sprint MVNO, with the focus (again) being on the content that Time Warner brings to the table. This sounds suspiciously like the "synergies" claimed during the Time Warner-AOL merger.

Sprint and Time Warner have been planning an MVNO for quite some time. Such an offering would let Time Warner offer the four big services, sometimes referred to as "the quadruple play" of telco/information services: voice, video, data and mobile (though, you can quibble over whether or not these are really separate services).

However, the biggest question for anyone entering the MVNO market is what do they bring to the table? While some MVNO offerings have a clear vision of what they offer that the competition does not, some seem to be setting up an MVNO just because they can.

With Time Warner, many are focusing in on the "content" that Time Warner has to offer, suggesting that will be the differentiating factor. Leaving aside the question of whether or not people subscribe to a mobile operator based on the content it provides over a number of other issues such as price, services, connectivity and features, this entire discussion seems oddly reminiscent of the discussion that surrounded Time Warner during its well-publicized merger with AOL. The focus was always on the "synergies" between AOL's connectivity subscribers and Time Warner's content. Of course, half a decade later, many are still wondering just where those synergies are -- and the lack of those synergies cost a lot of high profile executives their jobs. Part of the problem, obviously, was poor management skills in bringing out the potential synergies -- but simply assuming those same synergies will magically make themselves clear in the mobile world seems like a very risky proposition.