Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wireless Web Services and Nextel Direct Send-Commodity Pipeline and Niches

In my last post I commented on Yahoo Mail and Google Local Maps. Both of these web based services bypass the need to pay an extra monthly fee for the application to the wireless carrier beyond a data plan. In line with the recent Microsoft news of their increasing focus on web based applications which have the features of desktop based applications, the rapidly evolving movement of processing from desktops to central servers, is now coming to mobiles too. The implications are that wireless carriers' data services will increasingly become a commodity carrying and serving up web based applications chosen by customers and not the carrier.

Carriers will not long be able to keep the barriers up, and the tolls on, for individual applications downloaded to the phone or for users' access to web services enabled sites such as Google Local. In fact, this development, and the reliabilty of these new services now make me a happy Sprint Vision (their data plan for $10/mo.) customer. Sprint will likely see increasing numbers of customers opting for data and as wireless bandwidth increases people like me will be willing actually pay more for increased reliabilty and speed as long as the customer has the freedom to chose the wireless sites and applications which make the most sense for their needs. A commodity purchase.

While downloaded music is somewhat more complicated in terms of bandwidth, rights management, and playback capabilities its time will come too. Sprint's recent launch of a download music service, while in all respects seemingly a great product, will not fly far, at least in the US with songs at $2.50 each when the standard is iTunes $0.99. Tolls are on and an opportunity may be lost.

Over on the Nextel side of Sprint niches and focus on customer segments are the norm. The recent launch of Nextel Direct Send ,a service which allows pictures to be taken and sent while on a walkie-talkie call without interupting the call, will prove a boon to professionals such as real estate agents, contractors, and public safety folks. Who knows maybe teens too! The $0.25 per send is a steep price to pay, much like the Sprint music. Likely this will evolve into an all you can send for $5-$10 per month which many will be happy to pay. Nextel will maintain and increase its grasp on tradespeople and professionals through such careful examination of customer needs and innovative use of their IDEN platform.

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