LAS VEGAS—In yesterday’s morning keynote at CTIA Wireless 2008, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin repeated several of the key messages he delivered at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February, including a call for fewer operating systems.
Vodafone’s customers are saying they want to communicate in new ways, such as IM and social networking, and they want services designed for the mobile world, not the PC. “Mobility is our key differentiator,” he said.
But to capitalize on the mobile Internet, the industry needs user interfaces that are simple and rewarding to use. In addition, the industry has dozens of operating systems, but it needs to get that down to three, four or five – “I didn’t say one, because we’ve seen that movie before,” he said, repeating a familiar phrase during MWC. Whittling that number down will help in developing better economies of scale for the ones that do survive and, presumably, thrive.
Another imperative is to invest in high-speed networks, and while in years past the industry fought in the technology wars, that was not productive. He suggested that WiMAX be put in the TDD section of the standard for LTE. Lastly, the industry needs to invest in CRM and LBS. Operators know a lot about their subscribers, and they can capitalize that responsibly in the form of mobile advertising. “We must not allow ourselves to become just bit pipes,” he said.