mvnos – good or bad?


MVNOs have the capacity to broaden the market and hence they are useful to the OpenGardens/developer model.

Anita gives some interesting insights on MVNOs in her blog mobilegirl.

She says

From an interaction stand point, the experience will now be more inclusive: hardware purchasing, service, and content will all be controlled by one brand. Bundling all these price points to really drive a product, both limits choices but makes things much easier on the end user. [Apple does this very well!] For example if I want to purchase the latest mo-blogging phone software, maybe my MMS service becomes cheaper. Or if I want streaming TV or radio, maybe my dataplan is automatically unlimited, without me having to choose that option too. The focus shifts from service to function. What do I want my portable device to do? The pricing, service, and even hardware for the best experience could then naturally come along with it.

I like this approach and thinking but in doing so, are we perhaps at a danger of replacing one ‘choke point’ i.e. operators with another (brands)? Most importantly, do customers want it? If not, there is little chance it will succeed. If I think of myselves as a ‘user’ in this case – I could be a candidate for a ‘disney’ mvno/portal. My fondness for animation is well known – right from my earliest blogs. And it includes disney. But .. it also includes a lot more. Specifially ‘Tom and Jerry’ and alsoTintin and Asterix. Would a disney mvno / portal allow me to view other animations? I doubt it. Worse still .. I like pixar more than disney! Another problem for ‘disney’. I think branded portals and MVNOs would work only with the most fanatical of fans – maybe sports fans – but these are few. The rest of us may well prefer a choice

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  1. Ian Wood says:

    I surpose the question is one of deffinition of an MVNO. If the offering is little more than a rebranding of existing offerings then I have to say that other than lower user costs then an MVNO is no more than a service provider. Thus as a service provider it could operate like ISPs and thus give access to more content.
    However for this to happen we would have to see an improve on the current micro browsers alongside the adoption of .mobi. I am a user of the Opera browser and I have to say that it works very well on both my Symbian based handset and my Laptop. But I still get prolems with sites that are not configured for a device that is used by only 1% of the internet users!
    However is a company was to offer a genuine MVNO we could see a difference in the user experience, say on that takes a broadband service and makes it mobile. Such a concept limits the number of MVNO services to a small group that owns/controls content such as Disney. The question then becomes one of could SKY/Fox get enough of its subscribers to switch networks for the business to stand alone. One of the drivers would have to be that you are in a walled garden just as some users were happy to stay inside AOL for example at the start of ISPs.
    As more high end phones are in circulation the yes we will see better MMS services as it is just a question of economies of scale. However how you view such services will change to a question of on v off network. The key is that todate the networks have managed to charge users regardless of source but with the arrival of all you can eat services they need to protect revenues. This being the case the Network owners as less happy to sign deals that include the HLR data that would allow improved services.