Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"You can not out-Facebook, Facebook"

Matt Fischer, VP of product management and development at Malaysian WiMax operator YTL communications recently said at CommunicAsia "The biggest threat to [telecom operators] is venture capitalists", according to TotalTelecom.

I agree with his conclusion that operators cannot out-innovate the OTT players for several reasons. 

Mr. Fischer correctly states that one of the reasons is that the OTT players do not have to make money because they are paid by venture capitalists. I agree, as long as telecom operators think that they can get something for nothing, there will not even be a fight over who will provide innovative services to the consumer. Innovation costs a lot of money, and when it comes to the internet startups and OTT players, that investment is made by angel investors, venture capitalists and the blood, sweat and tears of entrepreneurs.

To expect that telecom operators are going to churn out reliable returns, year after year, in an industry that is faced by immense competitive threats from both within and even more so from external players, is just plain unrealistic.

If the telecom industry decides to wake up and actually compete and innovate, that will come at a initial investment cost, that is just the way the world works, and if the owners of carriers are unable to see that, they should prepare to see their investments wither away at an ever increasing rate.

There is no reason that it can't be done, the carriers sit on the greatest platform known to man, their networks. The question is just who is going to invest in innovation and hence reap the rewards. To date, carriers have shown little interest in participating in the investing and innovation part, but more than happy to try and share in the rewards part through so-called partnerships etc. 

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