Security could also prove to be an attractive value-add for consumers as smartphones become more prevalent. Last October, Juniper Networks made just such a pitch with its Junos Pulse mobile security solution, which enables cellcos to provide antivirus, personal firewall, device monitoring/control, anti-spam and loss/theft protection to smartphones. While the solution is aimed mainly at enterprises, cellcos can also use it to target consumers who are unaware of just how much personal data they store on their smartphones (from email and text messages to photos and even health and financial data) until their devices get lost or stolen.
Mark Bauhaus, executive vice president and general manager for the service layer technologies business group at Juniper Networks, explains that while the solution involves a client on the smartphone continuously scanning for spyware, malware, viruses, spam, etc, and monitoring the phone to enable data backup and remote commands such as locating it when it's lost, wiping data if it can't be found and restoring data if/when it is found, "all of that has to be connected to the service provider headend, which may be a managed service offered by the service provider, or it may be self-management where the consumer goes in and says please find my phone, wipe it, those kinds of things. But it's that connection to the service provider that's high value-add that the service provider can monetize."
Bauhaus adds that he has seen cases "where people would be willing to pay between $15 and $30 a month just to find a lost phone, let alone the other 95% of what this solution does. There are also what I'd call secure communities of interest - think about your company, financial services and healthcare. Each of those is an opportunity either for the consumer to pay a VAS fee, or a company or supplier."
For operators with quad-play assets, another way they can leverage their network chops - at least in the future - is providing a seamless multiscreen experience from one device to another, says Sinha of Cisco.
"The idea there is that if you're watching a program on television and you leave your home, you can continue watching that program on a small device," he explains. "That requires someone storing your session and your identity, and that can't be provided by someone over the top because the telco knows how much bandwidth need to be provided to the end device and knows the characteristics of that device. That's not reality yet, though."
While the above examples are ways cellcos can chase VAS revenues outside of the apps ecosystem as it currently exists, that's not to say cellcos have no role to play in the apps game. Operators have already banded together under several different initiatives in order to assert their role in the overall apps development space.