Thursday, July 15, 2010

Racer mobile phone - the name of the winners not written in the press release

Racer, the new Android phone sold below symbolic threshold of 100 UK Pounds, produced by ZTE and distributed by 3-UK, has been announced this week. This is probably an important milestone in the mobile phone history. Funny enough, the name of the true winners is not written in the press releases.

The announcement indicates an important smart complementary offer; 3UK granting a volume data bucket of 150MB for top-up on a prepaid account.

3UK and ZTE are obviously mentioned in the press release.

Through this launch, 3UK, desperately tries to attack its strong competitors with an appealing offer for youngsters. Vodafone, T-Mobile/Orange and O2 are able to follow when they decide. If the phone is a success, it's just a question of months to come back to a similar balance between telco players on the island.

On the other hand, ZTE makes a step towards a position in the top-5 mobile phone manufacturers but there is still a long long way to run.

Funny enough, the name of the big winners of this important milestone is not written.

Android is mentioned but Google is not. Through its "free licensing model", Google will win the scale battle with Apple. Google copies the Windows model used by Microsoft against Apple during last century. Google does not directly produce cash through this kind of offer. But advertising inventory (display and search) will indirectly grow at an higher pace and this growth is directly linked to G revenues.

The name of the other winner is Facebook, with the same logic of increased inventory, since target of this phone is most probably youngsters, heavy Facebook users. This can be extended to myriad of mobile phone application providers.

Names of losers are rarely written in press releases.

We can not say that Apple will loose with this kind of move but it defines the borders of a profitable corner.
Apple, luxuriantly trapped by the very high value of his brand and its vertical approach - mandatory to change the game at the beginning but limiting the scale during next phases of growth -, will loose against Android in terms of mobile OS market share. As a consequence, iAds, advertising initiative from Apple, will then probably be restricted to high-end brands while Google presents a universal inventory for any brand, any shop.

This announcement now materializes another level of danger for Nokia. Lost in Symbian, Meego, Linux mobile OS announcements, Nokia is still the number one but does not manage to tease interest of developers for applications - the next criterion for people to buy a phone.

Moreover, the whole telco market could start to see ARPU (average revenue per user) declining faster at this stage. Through this offer with such a pricing for device and data, number of data users could reach a tipping point where messaging traffic could start to significantly migrate from charged SMS to free instant messaging.

This only if the Racer phone is good and is a commercial success.

To be continued ...

Benoit Quirynen

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