Isn’t it time we put the customer at the centre of the mobile data value chain: A new value chain for the Mobile data industry

I have been thinking about this for some time ..

Time magazine’s person of the year was YOU

So, isn’t it time we put the customer in the middle of the mobile value chain?

The traditional value chain we currently use in the mobile data industry is outdated. We need a new, customer centric value chain reflecting the greater role of user generated content and communications and consequently, a smaller role for the mobile entertainment industry.

In the ‘old’ value chain propagated by the media companies, customers were passive consumers.


The best exponent of that era was the ‘crazy frog’ – an irritating ringtone that we as consumers tolerated (at best!)

However, a new value chain would put customers and communication at the centre and would have only two elements: the Customer and the Internet (with the mobile Internet viewed as an extension of the Internet)


The customer is not ‘dumb’ and is more than a passive consumer. She is a creator. There is a two way interaction between her and the Internet.

The customer + device are at the centre of the value chain.

She connects to a ‘network’.

Increasingly, the network no longer means a ‘single Operator network’. There is a one to many relationship between the customer and her network.

The customer has the freedom to connect to any network through a range of access technologies which range from WiFi, Wimax, HSDPA, DVB-H, WCDMA, Bluetooth and so on.

The entire ecosystem is underpinned by four elements: Context, Payment, Security and Identity

That’s how I see the new world of user generated content, Web 2.0 and Mobile Web 2.0.



  1. Paul Golding says:

    You can’t reinvent an industry because it doesn’t suit your 2.0 paradigm. What does putting the consumer at the centre of a value chain mean? A value chain in economics has a distinct meaning, namely the consecutive addition of value from producer to consumer.
    There is nothing new about consumer as creator. Anyone is free to create and bring goods to the market. The economics of mobile is in the network. Taking RF spectrum and enabling voice to be carried over it with mobility has been a monumentally expensive task undertaken by wireless vendors and operators who have added significant value to the raw resources. Just because a few people can take digital pictures and share them doesn’t add any value to the network.
    Whether or not a new technology can undercut or bypass this value chain is another question.

  2. Chang says:

    Hey Ajit, how are you? Do people produce a lot of content in Europe? Coz even in Japan and Korea, I don’t see many users (at least not yet) producing, publishing, and sharing rich media content from their phones… Although I do believe at a certain point there will be an outpour of consumer generated rich media content generated from the phones posted up on the web, I still don’t believe we’ve come to that point as yet. But then nobody saw Youtube coming either :)

  3. MateoJ says:

    Interesting thoughts: however, I feel (just like the others commentators) that there might not be enough “content” to be shared as such. It’s not the few pictures and videos produced today that justify to re-invent the whole industry.
    Another pick: maybe the Internet is just discovering what “communication” is all about. It moved from a “publishing/broadcasting” type (Web 1.0, right ?) to a “sharing” type (Web 2.0 isn’t it ?), but there’s still way to go before it’s a real communication medium. And that’s what the ancient, old-style telco industry is all about: communications. Be it voice or messaging, I would argue that the customer is already at the center of the telco world; it’s just the addition of “content”/”Internet”/whatever you call it that is a bit fuzzy and new. But no reason to re-invent the industry: rather try to move it to the next level of rich and shared communications.