Sometime in early October 2011 Apple is going to release the iPhone 5 and along with it iOS version 5. The concern for communications service providers (CSP) raised most seems to be around a feature called iMessages, which allows instant messaging between all iOS devices and perhaps all MacOS devices. I believe the impact of iMessages to CSPs for this services for a number of reasons will be almost imperceptible in revenue and data traffic.
There is, however, another feature being released with iOS 5 that will have a much more drastic impact on CSPs from both a customer value and a network data standpoint – iCloud.
I speak to a lot of communications service providers (CSP) and most of them are hyped up about the idea of offering services ‘in the cloud’ to their customers to enable quicker time-to-market and more flexible and cost-effective long term benefits. They seek to provide enterprise class hosting, storage, order management, HR services, CRM and other traditional enterprise class applications. All great ideas and they are all hard at work with their heads down – and they are all doing the exact same thing.
To date not a single one has indicated to me that they have any initiatives to offer cloud services to their consumer market customers. Of course consumers are interested in different capabilities and have different needs – but the cloud value is the same, ease of implementation, low startup cost and the ability to disperse the cost over an extended period of time. And ‘stickiness’, the ability to have a customer’s digital lifestyle more tightly tied to them. While the leaders of CSPs continue to list over-the-top providers (OTT) like Google, Hulu and Apple as one of their top concerns they continue to miss opportunities to re-take the value position through innovation and insight.
There are over 200 million iOS devices out there so it is entirely conceivable that Apple is going to enable consumer-class cloud services for up to 50 million users overnight – and every single one of them is going to be able to store and stream digital media from this service. This has the potential to have a significant impact to CSP data traffic with ZERO opportunity for more revenue outside of tiered data plan growth which CSPs are routinely villified for. And that’s just a start, once the customer is connected even more with iTunes via iCloud Apple has the ability to offer cloud services beyond storage and streaming.
Communications retailers must learn to think about game-changing approaches that differentiate themselves from not only their traditional competitors but from the new ones as well.