What Are 3G Providers Selling?
By Mike Masnick, Wed May 25 22:00:00 GMT 2005

It seems that too many 3G providers are selling the 3G nature of their offerings rather than why the service is useful.

The flipside to the problem of overselling the possibilities of mobile data is selling them in a way that just isn't appealing at all. While it's understandable that people within the mobile industry are interested in the specifics and technical differences between mobile technologies, the average consumer isn't.

That's why it always seemed strange that the mobile operator "3" chose that name, and hyped it so much. It was an obvious reference to the 3G service it was offering -- but the mass audience 3 was targeting probably didn't know or care about 2G or 3G technology. It also, of course, would lead to questions when the technology eventually advanced enough that 3G technologies were obsolete.

However, it seems like plenty of companies make this mistake. Back when AT&T Wireless launched 3G UMTS service in the US, it marketed it as UMTS, despite the fact that most people probably have no idea (or desire to know) what UMTS is. Others have been a bit smarter. Verizon Wireless branded its EV-DO service as "Broadband Access," distringuishing it from its slower 1xRTT "National Access" service.

However, it seems that plenty of mobile operators still haven't figured this out. Witness the launch of a new W-CDMA based 3G service by Taiwan Mobile in Taiwan. Instead of pitching the higher speed data and what that allows, Taiwan Mobile has gone with the tagline "catch 3! catch your eyes!" While it's not at all clear why you want to catch your eyes, it's even less clear why you're trying to "catch 3!" It only sort of makes sense to the people who actively follow the mobile industry and understand what 3G is. For everyone else, it's going to seem completely nonsensical.

Is it really that hard to market the actual advantages a service provides? Rather than pitching pipedreams or the details of the actual pipes, why not show why faster mobile data is useful and why people might want to buy into it? Unless, of course, the operators themselves don't know -- and then they've got bigger problems to deal with.