January 13, 2012
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The Second Generation Data Boom
It is no secret that the rise in data usage over the last few years has been chief on the minds of mobile operators. The world has gone wireless and has gotten very demanding for data. The data boom has been the lead story of every article looking at pain points and at the future of mobile for a while now, but while this is generally an accurate way to asses the issue facing mobile operators (more data, more problems), it misses out on one key point. We are no longer dealing with a data boom, we are dealing with the Second Generation Data Boom.
When mobile operators first planned for rapid data usage escalation, the problem was fairly isolated. The problem was the laptop. Laptops meant mobile users looking for data in different yet mostly stationary places. So, of course, the planning went into how to account for this. Luckily, while the laptop was “mobile,” its possibilities for mobility were limited. Sure they brought far greater wireless data requirements, but where the need would be greatest was fairly predictable. Coverage had to be strengthened in urban areas, shopping malls and in academic settings and if that was done, the data doom would be manageable. Then came Apple.
Incredible as it may seem, the first iPhone was only unveiled in 2007. It feels like we have spent a lifetime with smartphones, but it was just on June 29, 2007 that the first iPhone was released commercially. And with that, all the careful planning for covering the data boom changed. Soon to follow the iPhone were smartphones from more companies and tablets and more laptops with increased mobility and ultimately, the human product of the technological advancements, the mobile worker we have today, constantly connected through a variety of devices and constantly consuming data.
The other major change in 2007 was the arrival of Facebook full force in Europe. With Facebook’s arrival and the full onslaught of social media to follow, the data consumption habits of mobile users again changed. There was better reason to be constantly consuming data, constantly checking feeds.
It is this new mobile user who is the biggest problem facing mobile operators during this Second Generation Data Boom. Customer behavior is different now, far more complicated than what was planned for. Sure, urban areas and academic settings still require significant amounts of data, but the same people populating those areas now require the same standards of usage wherever they go, from the classroom, to the office, to their home and everywhere in between. Literally, everywhere in between. People walk and consume data, drive and consume data, take public transportation and consume data. People need data everywhere.
Data consumption is skyrocketing and the strategies first put into place to handle it are proving insufficient. Mobile operators will not be able to keep pace with the data requirements and stay profitable for much longer unless they focus on managing the Second Generation Data Boom on its own terms, and that means adapting to the mobile worker. Operator costs are increasing and average revenue per user (ARPU) is decreasing. In order to stay afloat, mobile operators must focus on intelligent data offload and cost reduction. They have to join the New Mobile World Order.
Next week, we will show you how...