Is this the end of mobile phone operators as we know them?
Apple’s announcement in which they expressed their desire to offer their clients a telephone (such as the iPhone) equipped with its own subscription and delivered with its own SIM card has caused quite a stir in the mobile phone industry. This concept would enable a client to change operators and networks, constantly selecting the best tariff whilst retaining his number, his applications and his mobile phone kit.
The benefits for the client seem appealing. In collaboration with Carvea consultants, we tested this new commercial approach with mobile phone users. To this end we presented a generic offer (without mentioning brand names) so as to test users’ reactions to how the concept would work above all. “This built-in SIM card enables you to use any network you wish in order to choose the most advantageous tariff for you. Your contact will no longer be a mobile phone operator but a mobile phone supplier”.
Main result: the built-in SIM card should prove to be a terrific success. Almost 42% of mobile phone users expressed an interest.
Our study shows a high level of interest in this concept. 42% of mobile phone users declared that they were ready to accept it, of which 20% in the short term (certainly). The main motivations stated are: freedom of choice and cost reduction. Clients would be free to choose and change operators as and when they wish and to use the best network depending on their situation. This motivation is top of the list, along with the reduction of communication costs and mobile data terminals. Clients with an Orange contract have much greater expectations in terms of cost reduction (51% compared to 39% on average).
A strong legitimacy of traditional suppliers in this marketplace monopolised by long-standing operators.
Apple has made the first move but the clients also expect traditional suppliers to offer this kind of service. Are these brands ready and do they have the means to respond to this demand? This is a strategic issue for their survival.
Which brand to choose? Mobile phone suppliers who have never dealt directly with clients are at the top of the list (60%). However, suppliers of Smartphone equipment and owners of their operating systems such as Apple, Androïd, BlackBerry, are only quoted by 33% of those interviewed.
This study was carried out using our Internet panel, targeting a French national representative sample of 528 mobile phone users from the 12th to 19th November 2010.