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Smart Life!

Using its smartness to the hilt, the Smartphone of the 21st century is a no short of a life companion

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The Telecom Battle

The telecom market is seemingly saturated – that’s the claim studies and reports make. But a casual browse through any editorial, magazine, blog or a cursory look through web pages and social networking websites, and there’s an ‘op ed’or a punching ad juxtaposed next to breaking news, discussing the latest smartphone features, a piece by piece comparison with its touted rival and even rumours about  the most ‘awaited’ one. With the number of mobile phones in the world market being almost equal to the world’s population and still counting (according to The International Telecommunication Union, May 2014), the smartphone industry is booming.

Smartphone manufacturing giants like Samsung and Apple have introduced specialty smartphones. There’s one aiming specifically at photography, one aiming at gaming, one aiming at playing music, one aiming at shopping, one aimed at every-possible-job-in-the-world; the drift? Companies, big or small, are spinning out smartphones by the minute and consumers are lapping it up; absolutely loving spending minutes and hours using the smartphone; the possibility of two individuals sitting next to each other-smiling, laughing, talking, nodding, to their phones rather than each other, is not just high but given. Consumers are addicted and attached to their smartphones.

And telecom companies today are cashing in on this addiction. Every telecom company today has carved a niche; there are both low budget and high end brands. Brands like the Chinese multinational ZTE, are known for their pocket friendly offerings while brands like Samsung and Apple offer phones that come with a hefty price tag and have eventually become a status symbol. Various Asian and European companies like Pantech and T-Mobile have slowly spread their reach as far as USA using novel marketing tactics. Companies like T-Mobile create progressive marketing campaigns roping in celebrities to reach the target audience. Samsung S series and Apple’s iPhone are regularly pitted against each other. Taking this rivalry further Apple has announced partnership with IBM. Every telecom company wants to position itself in the market in a way that is user friendly and memorable. Tie ups with a particular OS, providing default apps on purchase, a tie up with a specific mobile network operator, M&A etc. are done to leverage sales, create good brand image and increase penetration.

The Telecom Battle

Smartphones create a buzz not just with their features but also for the mobile network operator they can operate on and the underlying OS (operating system). AT&T is one of the biggest players when it comes to the sheer size and revenues of mobile network operations. Any smartphone’s inbuilt operating system is the backbone of its functionality. Just as automobiles come in various variants – petrol, diesel, LPG and battery operated; smartphones today operate largely on three platforms: Android, Blackberry and iOS. Google’s Android is a favourite among mobile phone manufacturers; with a market share of more than 50%. Used first by HTC’s Dream (or T-Mobile G1), the Android is released in various versions till date, Android L being the latest. iOS is propriety Apple operating system. Both Android and iOS are pitted against each other for every move they make. Appearance, speed, GUI, ease of use, app management, there are various parameters which qualify both the OSs. Which OS a smartphone supports is an important deciding factor in any telecom company’s sale.

Telecom companies have their share of controversies and troubles. Loudmouth CEOs taking potshots at their contemporaries especially during mobile phone launches during telecom expos, is commonplace. The notion of telecom giants offering the usage of their phone only for specific mobile network operator (handset exclusivity) receives flak now and then; it’s constricting and monopolistic but it’s still rampant. Consumer data is leaked and shared, compromising privacy and security. But it’s still ignored, because consumers are satisfied and happy; watching, pasting, sharing, clicking, writing, reading things they love, at the click of a button on their smartphones. With telecom companies creating a market share for themselves, beyond the geographical boundaries of their home countries; it’s as clear as daylight that the telecom battle is getting hotter, lethal and bloodier; simply because the loot for the winner is huge and priceless- it translates not just into billions of dollars in revenue but also a faithful consumer fan base for future gadgets and network plans.