Posts Tagged ‘prepaid calling cards’

Your Connections. Our Commitment.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Every day is a wonderful day when working at NetworkIP!

OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit; some days aren’t so wonderful and some are even down right tough, but that is true of every job (even Santa’s). However, the holidays truly are a wonderful time of year to work at NetworkIP. No, I’m not just saying that because it’s the time of year when we have our annual rockin’ company party.

It has everything to do with knowing that our relatively small company makes a significant impact in so many lives around the world. As we watch our call counts reach peak volumes during this holiday season, we know that families and friends across the globe are being connected. All of our employees are hard at work every day to ensure that each valued call is connected with quality and clarity.

Knowing that we are trusted to provide these connections makes being part of NetworkIP and coming to work each day so special for me. “Your Connections. Our Commitment.”, is much more than just a tag line for all of us.

So pick up the phone and stay connected to your family and friends during this special time of the year.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Prepaid Press Expo 2009 Observations

Friday, September 4th, 2009

As part of my post conference ritual I take a long run the morning of my return home and I use my time on the trail to sort out what I saw, the conversations I had, and the presentations I sat through.

Following this year’s Prepaid Press Expo I have come to three simple conclusions:

1.    The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever.
2.    The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product.
3.    The prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

The prepaid mobile industry has gone through some significant and positive changes in 2009. Let me set the stage for a moment about the prepaid mobile space before I go any further.

The commonly found post-paid billing model that we embrace in the U.S. is by no means the norm when we look at the rest of the world. In the U.S., prepaid mobile subscriptions account for less than 20% of all mobile subscriptions. Conversely, prepaid represents more than 80% of all mobile subscriptions worldwide.

There is a shift occurring in the U.S. from the traditional post-paid billing model to prepaid. In Q1 of 2009, for the first time ever, the number of new prepaid mobile subscriptions exceeded the number of new post-paid mobile subscriptions. Why is causing this shift to occur in the U.S.?

1.    It is evident that the economic crisis has enticed many people, especially those who were recently laid off from work, to make the move to prepaid mobile versus signing a 2-year long post-paid contract with a carrier.
2.    Earlier this year, mobile carriers such as Boost kicked off an unlimited nationwide calling plan for as low as $50.00 a month. Prepaid carriers such as Cricket, MetroPCS, T-Mobile, etc. quickly followed and now you can find a very nice unlimited nationwide calling plan (which also includes texting and data) for as low as $40.00 a month.
3.    The quality of mobile phones has improved significantly. In the past, prepaid mobile providers offered low-end, even refurbished phones that had very little appeal and very few features. Now, you can find very feature rich smart phones with high-end features such as e-mail, picture phones, data plans, blue-tooth, Wi-Fi, etc.

The demographics of the prepaid mobile market are rapidly changing in the U.S. From the beginning, prepaid mobile plans held a negative connotation – ie: they appealed to the “lower class”. This same undertone is not found in the international market. As a result of the slower economic times, we are seeing this negative implication being detached in the U.S. & rather than consumers viewing prepaid mobile as the lower class solution, prepaid has become the smart choice for the value conscious mobile consumer.

With 90% of today’s U.S. population having mobile subscriptions and by 2014 it’s projected that over 100% of the U.S. population will have mobile subscriptions, we must give this industry more attention than ever before. To highlight this point even further, in an Economist article titled “Cutting the cord” it was noted that one in every four households in the U.S. is already a cell phone only (CPO) household. The article goes on to suggest that if the current trend to adopt mobile services continues, that by 2025, landlines at home will no longer exist.

Realizing that mobile services are now ubiquitous to everyone, how do those in the prepaid calling card space leverage the growth in mobile?

1.    Market your products as extensions to mobile – Highlight how easy your product is to use via mobile phones.
2.    Incorporate features such as PIN-less Dialing, Auto Recharge, and Speed Dial. Remind yourselves that the mobile subscriber wants advanced and efficient solutions.
3.    Take advantage of direct marketing to the consumer by sending text messages to their phone announcing new features, new rates, and other special offerings on their prepaid long distance product.
4.    Deliver “clean”/reputable prepaid calling card products. The mobile subscriber expects to receive what is printed on the package.

Given our current environment, it is paramount that we focus our energies where the mobile industry is shifting. The prepaid calling card industry is consolidating and brands are more important than ever. The mobile industry, specifically prepaid mobile, is growing and evolving as a product. And most importantly, the prepaid calling card industry must leverage the mobile industry to succeed in the future.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

The Home Phone is No Longer a Necessity

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Tomorrow AT&T will release its second-quarter earnings. It is projected that AT&T will fall short of their projections for this past quarter & many suspect that AT&T will lower expectations for 2008 as a whole.

AT&T, along with other major phone companies, has seen a significant decrease in landline services in Q2 of 2008. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the phone companies used to be largely insulated from economic downturns because most consumers considered their home service a necessity. However, now that over 80% of Americans own cell phones, the home telephone isn’t the necessity that it used to be.

It is my opinion that many Americans realized long ago that the home phone wasn’t a necessity, however, we choose to avoid the hassle of calling up the phone company & turning off our service & then having to inform all of our family & friends that we now only use our mobile phone. Now that the price of gas is $4 plus dollars we are willing to accept these hassles & actually disconnect our home phone services.

The disconnecting of home phone services also points to a number of other realities. First, the wireless networks have improved such that we aren’t worried so much about poor quality during our phone calls. Two, the cost of mobile phone services has decreased significantly & the notion of domestic long distance no longer exists. Three, the mobile phone has become such an integral part of our daily lives that we always have it with us & it is no longer something that we only use when we are away from home.

As we see a decrease in home phone services I suspect we’ll see an increase in business for prepaid calling card providers. Regardless of how much better those mobile phone calling plans have gotten, it is still quite difficult to find a good international long distance rate for mobile phone calling plans. Prepaid calling cards offer a great alternative for consumers that are looking for a low cost & good quality international long distance plan. With many prepaid long distance services offering PINless* dialing features & auto-recharge options it has become more convenient for users to gravitate to this type of service. These services have become practically invisible to the consumers using them.

I suspect that over the next 5 years we will continue to see the number of home phones diminish. Not only will more Americans cancel their existing services, but younger generations won’t even bother having them installed. Mobile services will continue to expand & until mobile international calling plans improve the prepaid long distance businesses will prosper.

* PINless dialing is a convenient feature that allows you to register your phone number(s) at the time of purchase so that you can place long distance calls without having to dial a PIN.

Your Brand Can Be Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset

Friday, July 18th, 2008

As a leader in the prepaid industry we realized the value of our clients building successful brands long ago. We take every opportunity to advise clients on what to do (brand-builders) & more importantly what not to do (brand-killers) in order to build a strong & successful brand for their product. We even went so far to develop a 3-part Branding Toolkit that provides our clients the tools & techniques to manage, measure profit, & protect their prepaid brand.

You can download NetworkIP’s 3-part Branding Toolkit from our website.

At NetworkIP we make it a point to continue building our knowledge base & sharing with our clients what we have learned & what others are saying about brand building. Just yesterday we caught a post from Om Malik describing the frustration he has with advertising being every where. Om initially opened with Delta’s plan for printing advertisements on their boarding passes & then he lead to talking about how IDT is going to begin inserting advertising messages on their prepaid calling cards. IDT, using VoodooVox as a technology provider, will play an advertisement to consumers based on the consumer’s demographic profile (where they are calling from or to) when making phone calls. While there may be additional dollars for IDT to gain from advertisers; will this strategy hurt their brand & ultimately generate in fewer prepaid calling card sales?

Before you rush to do the same as IDT is doing, consider for a moment what this will do to your brand’s image. How will your customers react to having advertisements played to them when making phone calls? Will you be able to offer your customers better rates because of the additional revenue made from the advertisements? Will the advertisements themselves offer value to your consumers or simply be a nuisance that they will not put up with?

We advise making sure you can answer these questions before doing anything to risk your brand. Brand awareness creates demand for your product & your brand can be your company’s most valuable asset!