The media lit up when AT&T CTO John Donovan floated a trial balloon about having wireless app developers pick up the tab for customers’ data use. Plenty has been written about whether app developers would sign up, the potential negative impact on innovation and other implications. An aspect that gained less attention but jumped out at me was the unnecessary complexity such a model would impose. If you do accept that there may be times when not just app developers, but content providers and device makers as well, see business value in sponsoring connectivity, there’s a much easier way. It’s called the Cloud. Or in our case, “service by Macheen,” which is Cloud-enabled.
More specifically, the AT&T proposal would mean app developers would have to code into their apps the ability for the network to monitor data usage. But that’s an unnecessary hoop to jump through if you view this from a different angle. It is great for users to get free access to services and applications – that is a good thing. But it is a pretty high barrier to expect developers to modify their apps to enable upfront what is essentially only an emerging opportunity. We see a different answer. Cloud-enabled, always-on connectivity, with the “control gates” in the cloud rather than in the code. Let a service like Macheen’s figure out how to deliver the right bandwidth for the task. So app developers (or network providers, for that matter), don’t need to re-write anything–the Cloud handles it all. And meanwhile the network operator is optimizing network resources to deliver only what’s necessary, while tapping new revenue streams with customers who otherwise wouldn’t be connecting at all.
Further, if you make it easy enough, those users are often quite happy to pay for a session, whether it’s 15 minutes, an hour or a month. See www.dellnetready.com or think Gogo for in-flight connectivity.
But “user pays” doesn’t have to be the only model. Any number of businesses will increasingly see value in “sponsoring” connectivity. This is what Amazon has long done with the Kindle–they take care of your connectivity, you buy books. Why wouldn’t a content provider consider, say, sponsoring connectivity to a free service to entice you to pay for a premium one? Or a device maker connect you to its online shop?
Point is, if you keep it simple–e.g., think Cloud models–and focus on content, apps, and services, everyone can win.