Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's not what you do, it's...

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse

Oops. BT have blown it with their new BT Fusion dual-mode device.
What’s wrong?
There should have been two numbers for the device, a mobile and a geographic one. Sometime you really do want to call the place, not the person. (“Can I borrow an egg” type calls.) I suspect the real motivation of avoiding a geographic number is to try to slip into the less-regulated mobile space and finesse or delay some of the unbundling that’s about to hit. Damn the customer.
Secondly, the billing is screwed. It misunderstands how value is created in mobility. It comes from the inbound calls, not the outbound ones. Payphones and general blagging and borrowing made an inferior but acceptable substitute for mobile-originated calls. But the ability to be reached anywhere is unique. Thus the outbound calls should have been all at landline rates. Having to worry about which network you’re on is ridiculous.Doesn’t need to be the cheapest, just mid-range competitive. OK, some people get to call a lot for lower rates — but the US cellular industry thrives quite nicely in such conditions. [The difference in population densities and spectrum availability means crowded Europe can’t go as far, though.] BT should be able to negotiate a cracking MVNO deal, and the strategy should be to get all BT broadband or PSTN customers to participate in some way to ensure high volumes.
It’ll kill them on customer service costs, with endless billing queries. They’re brand will get hammered, too, for example when someone gets a billing surprise because their home connection is down. Betcha this one ends up on Watchdog.
Inbound calls would mostly be to the mobile number, for which there is a high termination fee. That’s your revenue source. You want to incentivise people to give out only their mobile number, especially when they might otherwise have quoted the landline. How? Give them a kick-back; make the cost vary with how many inbound minutes you receive, or just give ‘em a direct revenue share. Anything — Tesco points, Air Miles, cold cash, whatever.
While you’re at it, offer mobile numbers to all your landline customers, offer an open platform for access (so anyone can build a Bluephone), and make some excuse to the regulator that you can’t tell anymore which users are genuinely mobile in the house versus those wanting to just get the kick-backs. (Evil? Moi?)
The fact that this product is also tied to BT’s own broadband offering suggests they just don’t get it. That’s monopolist incumbent-think. Just work on taking a small slice of lots of value chains, not large slices of a few.
Whoever built the technology for this product should get a bonus. The person in marketing should be sacked. And the person in corporate strategy should be shot.
While I’m on about BT, they should be thinking about Yahoo!’s Dialpad acquisition and thinking, “That could have been you”. Not as a buyout, but as the default partner for global VoIP/PSTN interconnect. What was stopping BT being the attack-dog against foreign incumbents? They should be getting fabulous wholesale interconnect rates. (It costs less at retail to call the US from here than it did from Kansas City long-distance!) They understand incumbency like nobody else.
I guess it’s the same cultural reason none of the canal operators managed to run railways, and none of the railways managed to become airlines.
Ah, BT - “It’s good to pontificate”. I love blogging, and am so grateful for them supplying the material! I really don’t know where I’d be without them…


Blogger Joe Muka said...

Just surfing around late night and came upon your blog...I liked it.
My site about Verizon Voip is hard to have a blog for VOIP stuff and boring too

7:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home