Vertical specialists favoured over operators for future services

Smartphone users do not see mobile operators as the natural providers of a range of key future services, according to research published by network equipment provider Ericsson. The Swedish vendor’s ConsumerLab research division surveyed smartphone users in Sao Paolo, Beijing, New York, London and Tokyo to gauge demand for a range of future services related to aspects of city life that drive satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Survey respondents favoured vertical specialists as providers of mobile services related to their sectors.

The biggest drivers of satisfaction among consumers in the five cities were shopping, eating out and leisure facilities, while the primary sources of dissatisfaction were care for children and the elderly, communication with municipal authorities and traffic. For services related to the three key areas of satisfaction, mobile operators were felt to be less natural providers than both retailers and leisure services operators and internet companies. “Consumers expect [retailers] to become ICT providers,” said Michael Björn, head of research at ConsumerLab.

And yet greater densification of the network will be fundamental to the availability of new services in the future, which the research suggests will grow in number by a factor of five over the next three years. It is an increasingly familiar conundrum that mobile operators will be forced to bear the brunt of investment with no certainty of incremental revenues from the growth in services and usage.

Nonetheless an opportunity remains for operators in bringing these services to market, said Cecilia Atterwall, head of ConsumerLab, speaking to during Ericsson’s Business Innovation Forum 2013 event taking place in Tokyo this week.  “Some of the operators want to just be in connectivity but others want to go one step ahead and be service enablers. They want to do it for the benefit of their customers.”

In one positive development for mobile operators, 47 per cent of respondents felt that operators would be the natural providers of personal navigation applications that combined real time information on all transport options available to users in a city. Respondents also felt that the relatively high quality of mobile connectivity was another key benefit to city living.

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