Mobile must become «society-centric»: Verwaayen

John C. Tanner
17 Feb 2010

Mobile broadband’s next phase of growth should be shaped via new business models designed to serve society as a whole, not just customers, said Alcatel-Lucent chief Ben Verwaayen Tuesday.

“We are seen as an industry that deals with ‘me’ not ‘we’. We’re not seen as a force for good,” Verwaayen said in a morning keynote at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “We need to take this seriously, or we will become little more than a source for taxation and a force of limitation.”

Verwaayen said the mobile industry needs to do more to promote itself as a key tool for helping humanity, citing examples such as aid agencies using SMS to coordinate delivery of aid in Darfur, and mobile’s role in fighting climate change.

Verwaayen insisted that the goal of mobile broadband was not to become merely consumer-centric, but “society-centric”.

“Investors look at mobile today and say, ‘You’ve had a great run. What’s your next phase?’ The next phase is to transform the way we look at customers and think of them as citizens,” Verwaayen said. “We need to add the interest of society to our consumer business model.”

Verwaayen added that mobile broadband business models had to transform in any case, as cellcos will have to drop flat-rate pricing models as traffic escalates and more M2M devices come online.

“Customers like the all-you-can-eat model, but we have to convince them to abandon that and accept the value we’re offering – services they want when they want it on whatever platform they want, and we have to explain this in a language they can understand so they can see the value,” Verwaayen said.

“That’s hard to do, but we have to do it. We have to transform the way we make money,” he added. “Mobile broadband is not about the technology or even the business model – it’s about our own attitude.”

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