Grounded cellcos need to grasp the cloud

Robert Clark
08 Feb 2010

Mobile operators must be the only people in the business world not interested in the cloud.

It's a mystery why. Cloud services - or "network-based services" as they used to be known - are cellcos' best bet for regaining the initiative from the smartphone guys.

I was thinking this recently as I spent several hours transferring my address book from my PC to a well-known internet brand because it can sync them with my mobile phone.

A tiresome task - but surely my mobile service provider could have done that. And maybe it does, in which case they should be shouting it from the rooftop. I'm not aware of any cellco in Asia does it.

Take it from me, if you're hosting my contact book, I'm locked in.

Even the smartest mobile devices are limited in their functionality and screen real estate, so added network-based functionality becomes critical.

Phones are also vulnerable to being lost or stolen. Contacts are just one part; how about backing up my photos, my texts, emails and documents?

I keep getting calls from my operator offering to insure my device for HK$520 ($67) a year. No one calls me about offering something much more useful, which would be to back up my data.

Apple charges $99 a year for its MobileMe address book and backup service. Telcos could charge less than half that for the same service.

That's just the beginning. You'd think telcos would know that the address book is the launching point for any communication. Hosting a database of thousands of contacts is a big win in itself. You can build an online business around that, not least in the essential area of social media sites.

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