Posts Tagged ‘Mobile World Congress’

The Trap of the Better Mousetrap

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

5G Press ConferenceThe “better mousetrap syndrome” is where a basic, cheap, functional and familiar product is reinvented with something that does the same thing, but is potentially better and costs more. It’s a recognized trap for product designers and companies, and yet it still occurs.

Here are two examples of this syndrome that I recently experienced:

1. I was assisting an associate respond to a request for tactical marketing support for a new product from a relatively established company entering the fiercely competitive mobile space. The more we discussed this the more it became apparent that this company had a solution but didn’t really know the problem they were trying to solve. Their solution provided certain advantages /benefits but they hadn’t found out if these were something that their mainstream customers really needed or wanted.

Having been actively involved with a startup that offers a new technology solution to an age old problem, I have spent much time exploring the benefits of minimum viable products and the use of business model frameworks to best test and define customer needs and value propositions. It is therefore mind blowing to see that companies don’t learn from this process before rushing blindly into product development, market extensions or new products; or more significantly, close their ears when being informed about the folly they are about to commit.

2. During a 2009 visit to Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona the following astute observations were made about the mobile business by a colleague from outside the industry:

  • There’s a tendency to start with a technology and build it into a product, instead of starting with consumer behavior insight and creating a product to serve it.
  • This industry tends to approach development in a sequential manner: firstly, system and network decisions are made to accommodate long infrastructure lead times. Then devices and user interfaces are developed, next applications and services are developed and, finally, a consumer proposition is made – but this is often late in the development cycle when critical decisions have already been made.

These perceptive observations returned to me as I attended a press conference at this year’s MWC in Barcelona, when the EU sponsored initiative to create 5G was announced. At this same conference, and indeed over the past 12 months, I have heard and read nothing but moans and groans about the sorry business situation of mobile operators as voice revenues decline, data volumes increase and over the top providers piggy back on their networks, providing the messaging services that consumers want instead of operator provided expensive text and picture messaging services.

Has this industry learned nothing over the last 6 years? The OTT and software startups see the need to create a product and are, in the main, testing and refining their product and pivoting in accordance with lessons learned from consumers. The mobile industry, on the other hand, seems hell bent on creating a better mouse trap without checking that it’s something that the customer wants or, more importantly, is willing to pay for.

There are mechanisms that can bring consumer understanding to the forefront of the product development process; there are also business model frameworks that force holistic thinking about the solution, value proposition, and customer experience across all the business touch points. In some cases they are freely available and in others they are proprietary, but they are there for companies to explore. In today’s connected world, solutions shouldn’t be continually created for no known problem or for no identified customer need.

To learn more about effective approaches to more successful product development, contact us at info@keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

MWC 2012 Barcelona – What a Difference 20 Years Can Make!

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Article first published as MWC 2012 Barcelona: What a Difference 20 years Can Make! on Technorati.

This coming week is Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain where more than 60,000 mobile industry experts will gather to share the latest and greatest in mobile technology. This event is both a showcase for the industry and also a soapbox for luminaries. It also demonstrates how far the industry has come from the early days of a conference in Cannes, France where technologists, engineers and management from fledgling GSM mobile operators got together to talk about increasing penetration and getting manufacturers to develop low-cost portable handsets. In fact GSM was dubbed “God Send Mobiles”, so desperate was the industry!

What a difference 20 years can make. The first ever text message (SMS) was sent in 1992 and now we send more than 7 trillion a year on a global basis. Ahead of the show, comScore released a report “2012 mobile future in focus” that shows that smartphone penetration in the UK and Spain has achieved over 50% and that more than 48.4 million consumers access social media in Europe utilizing mobile phones; this represents an increase of over 76% since last year. Media and industry analysts are having their inboxes swamped with pre-show press releases about new developments covering everything from blisteringly fast chip sets and infrastructure to offload systems, 5G Wi-Fi and mobile payments, as well as a plethora of new mobile devices. ZTE will be reportedly announcing 8 new devices, prompting gizmodo.com to point out that “less is more” and that launching 8 devices isn’t impressive but actually indecisive!

It’s been quite a journey from the pre-mobile era and yet some things never change. The first ever roaming arrangement was signed in 1992 between Vodafone of the UK and Telecom Finland. In the early days of GSM, the cost of roaming calls made outside of your home country was astronomical. Over time the cost has come down, although not that significantly. Now, with the growth of smartphones, the issue has become the cost of data roaming. I use T-Mobile in the US, for example, which doesn’t offer a comparable data roaming package as, say, AT&T. With AT&T you can buy a 50 megabytes package for $25 while roaming but with T-Mobile those same 50 megabytes will cost you a staggering $750.  I guess I’ll be buying a prepaid SIM while inBarcelona …. or using Wi-Fi!

As key trends and news emerge in Barcelona this week that will be impacting your digital life in the near future, we shall keep you informed.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global