Carrier Pragmatism in Off-Deck Mobile Content Distribution

It was refreshing to hear that the wireless carriers are changing their tune as it relates to their expectations in mobile content distribution. I can remember a time when carriers wanted to be media companies and wanted to control not only content distribution, but also get closer to content creation. Now, I believe (or should I say I know) that we have entered a more pragmatic phase. Just look at AT&T and the iPhone, T-Mobile with Android and the G1. And, there is an increasing focus on their best assets – (smart) pipe and customer assets (billing and analytics intelligence).

It was also interesting to hear what a carrier such as U.S. Cellular expresses that it needs to do to help mend a broken off-deck mobile content marketplace. Alex Moy, Senior Manager, Product Management and Marketing, U.S. Cellular, offered his thoughts at the (informa telecoms & media Off-Deck Mobile Content 2008 event earlier this week in Boston. His thoughts on what the carriers need to do:

1) Strengthen the dialogue with the ecosystem, including inter-dependencies and better understanding content provider needs;

2) Build on core skills and assets to fill pipe with value to content providers, including customer relationships and customer knowledge, unique capabilities (location), retailing, merchandising and distribution;

3) Strengthen competitive stance, including carrier deck and core services; and

4) Maintain a great experience.

What was most striking to me was the pragmatism. Carriers are no longer expecting that the other ecosystem participants, content providers and aggregators, will solve the problems. They need to do what they can as well to maintain their relevance. Particularly if they want to continue to play a role, monetize and improve profitability.

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