The democratization of Mobile Telecommunication

The world of mobile media is full of surprises – and it is all the better for that!
Who would have thought at the beginning of 2005 that the per-minute charges for mobile phone connections in Germany would ever be in the single-digit euro cent range? Or that, as a result, practically everyone would be able to afford a mobile phone and make regular use of it? Or that retrieving emails and visiting online social networks via mobile phone would become standard, inexpensive practice for everyone – not just for people with company mobiles? Or that more and more websites would be specially configured for mobile phones, so that they can be accessed by users “on the move”?

At the beginning of 2005 these were still only remote possibilities, yet within a comparatively short space of time they have become reality: with the launch of simyo, the pacesetter for the new mobile communications generation. In the self-satisfied world of telecommunications, the concept of simple, fair and transparent pricing based on the lean online sales channel was nothing short of revolutionary. The primary focus on the customer’s wishes and requirements – that was and still is our recipe for success. Many companies have opted for our business model and have helped make Mobile No-Frills offers or Mobile Discount , as it is called in Germany, a major force in the marketplace.

But not only that, the steady decline in charges since then for both telephone and internet connections has not only meant lower prices: it has also been largely responsible for the surge in popularity of mobile internet usage. Four years ago, users were at pains not to press the key for online connections on their mobile phones because of the stiff charges they would incur. Nowadays they think nothing of retrieving emails, news bulletins or train timetable information wherever they happen to be.

Two factors have made this possible. On the one hand, the internet sites had to be configured to suit mobile phones. This was not a viable proposition for the providers until there was an increase in demand, i.e. in the number of mobile users, which in turn only became possible with the availability of suitable, affordable hardware and, above all, low connection charges, which increased the appeal of the new technology for the majority of users. Now more and more people are using their mobiles to access the internet and the content providers have been adapting themselves to this trend. There have been rapid changes in the use of mobile media over the past few years. Practically everyone can avail themselves of the offerings available and practically every form of content can be downloaded by the mobile user.

We are proud that our company has played a decisive role in establishing the new strategic focus of mobile communication – and in the democratization of it. And we continue to pursue this strategy – because we believe “the best way to shape the future is to do it oneself”.

But where do we go from here? What can – or what should – telco carriers or the manufacturers of mobile equipment and content providers do in order to develop the mobile media still further? What is the present impact of the internet on your actual everyday life? Has your mobile internet usage via your mobile phone been increasing in recent times? Keeping in touch with friends – that works with more and more media (telephone, mobile phone, (mobile) internet, etc.), but which of them do you actually use? How will Messenger and chats hold their own against mobile social communities? Are prices to keep on spiraling downward – even if you then have to do without service? How much transparency do you expect from you mobile network operator and how convenient is self-administration via the mobile portal in the internet?

In your opinion, how much influence does the new “green” movement have on the use of mobile media? What can we learn from other countries? And: what would be your “negative” vision of a mobile future? What should therefore be avoided at all costs? The future will only work if you are part of it, so get on board – this is a great opportunity!

Mocom 2020 is the platform for all your ideas. They are not only collected here, they are also listened to, discussed – and understood. A vision for the future which could soon become reality. I look forward to discussing these things with you, so let’s be hearing from you!

Rolf Hansen,
founder and CEO of simyo GmbH.

About Rolf Hansen

Rolf Hansen is CEO and Founder of Simyo GmbH in Germany. Rolf Hansen (1966) studied at the European Business School and Münster College of Higher Education, obtaining a degree in economics (specialist subjects: marketing and finance). From 1990 to 1993 Rolf Hansen was employed by Hutchison Mobilfunk GmbH in Münster, where he attained the post of Marketing Manager. In 1993 he joined Deutsche Telekom Mobilfunk DeTeMobil GmbH in Bonn, where he played an active role in the founding of the company and headed the Marketing Services Division up to 1994. Parallel with this, Rolf Hansen was a co-founder and director of ABC Marketing & Consulting Partners GmbH in Horstmar until 1995. In 1995 he became a co-founder and managing partner of Skillnet GmbH in Hamburg, before setting up his own Rolf Hansen Management Consulting GmbH in 1997. In 1999 he was appointed to the management of the ProSieben Media AG / MGM Media Group in Munich, with special responsibility for multimedia strategy. From 1999 to 2001, Rolf Hansen was both manager and director of in Munich, London and Amsterdam. He was then appointed managing director of Spectrum Strategy Consultants in Düsseldorf, where his clients included Barclays Capital, Bertelsmann and Vodafone D2. In 2002 he founded Rolf Hansen Management Consulting GmbH in Meerbusch, serving clients such as T-Online International and Otto Versand (Mail Order). In his capacity as a consultant, Rolf Hansen headed various projects for Vodafone D2 GmbH in Düsseldorf between 2003 and 2004. Rolf Hansen is both the founder and managing partner of simyo GmbH and has been in charge of the company's market entry operations since April 2004.

2 thoughts on “The democratization of Mobile Telecommunication

  1. In my opinion we are still at the very first beginning of the democratization of mobile telecommunications. If we really want the mass to use their phones more with their eyes instead of their ears, we need affordable iPhone like devices for everybody incl. real data flat rates. So no exceptions anymore like: “All you can eat” but not valid for VoIP or IM. This would of course damage the cash cow SMS, but democratization efforts always have been painful :-)

  2. What can be learned from other countries, what should be done to make the mobile internet a success? From what I have seen and learned in the last 8 years here in Japan are two key things: 1. Built a working ecosystem (I mentioned that before in my post) and what is also very very important: 2.Don’t be too greedy. Make sure you can offer a fair deal for all parties involved. I often see the tendency in the West to launch a service or a technology and to go for the so called “quick wins”. Take MMS as a good example or the carriers revenue share models with the content providers. In both examples the carriers try to squeeze as much money as possible out of either the users or the content provider. While this might be a not too bad idea in the short term, it can kill a service in the long term. Same goes for mobile internet usage fees. In the beginning it was simply too expensive to use it. Think back of the days we all had dial up internet connections for our PCs. The clock was always ticking each minute we were online. Now we have DSL flat rates and the router keeps us online 24/7. The same will happen to the mobile internet. We have seen this here in Japan, I can see this in Germany for services like the “Bild Mobil” MVNO: once you don’t have to pay for the data to access a certain service (like the Bild Mobil pages) then the usage increases. So my mantra would be “don’t be greedy, think long term, think with the user in mind and think beyond a voice/mail communication device”

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