Partnerships the key word at #MWC16, but beware

Written by on February 29, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

partnershipIf there is one word that sums up this year’s Mobile World Congress it is partnerships. Finally, the mobile world has become comfortable with the notion that it cannot be all things to all men.

It is reminiscent of a moment over a decade ago. The music industry was on its last legs. The internet providers were still thinking ‘walled gardens’ and the two were ‘having monologues at the same time.’ No-one was listening. Bill Gates was on record saying that the internet might be a passing phase. The potential of the internet was only just beginning to become clear. And the size of the potential disaster facing the music industry was also becoming clear. Then, finally, the internet players realised the potential of the thing they called content and struck some initial partnerships with the music men.

Now, of course, partnerships between Deezer and Spotify and CSPs around the world are being hailed as innovative, win-win, and great for attracting and keeping customers. The music industry is having a resurgence.

We have reached a very similar moment.

Partnerships were centre stage at MWC, and the players were no longer pretending. Ericsson was showing off its new OCC product, designed to enable CSPs to open up their APIs to third parties, and quickly develop and deliver content and products in partnership with others. CSPs now understand that partnerships are critical. In fact, not partnering is not an option. Verizon was boasting that over 4,000 developers are already involved in its ThingSpace, its IoT development hub.

CSPs are even offering partnerships to other CSPs to foster innovation and make things better for the customer.

All of this is great news. Partnerships will allow CSPs to think beyond ‘data’ and it will, hopefully, lead them out of the commodity pricing cul-de-sac they were happily driving down.

The only twist to this otherwise happy story is that, as fast as things come together, things will disappear. The Internet of Things, as a term, will go. It is already too general. We will see the rise of the Internet of Retail, the Internet of Healthcare, the Internet of Cars and a host of others. Eventually, these too, will disappear and, once each of these arenas has become connected to the point that the connection is now longer the issue but the way things are, we will no longer see a reason to talk about the Internet of anything.

We joke that terms such as IoT and OTT are great for conference organisers and trade show hosts. We also joke that once something has become universal it disappears. The Personal Computer show was the biggest in the land, until everyone had one, then there was no point in having a generic show. Shows came and went with titles like Personal Computers in Education. But they didn’t last long.

Now that, as the bill boards announced last week, ‘Mobile is Everything’ will the Mobile World Congress become too generic to be worthwhile? As the applications become more about different verticals than mobile itself, is it possible that this giant, too, could disappear?

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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