Posts Tagged ‘prepaid mobile’

Keeping Your Eyes and Ears Open

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Given the speed of technology advancements it is imperative that we all keep our eyes and ears open to new opportunities. In my opinion, there has not been anything as exciting as what we have seen take place in the mobile industry in the last 5 years - both here in the U.S. and abroad.

From a prepaid perspective, 2009 has to be the most impressive year yet. It was in early January that Boost Mobile introduced their $50 unlimited plan and from that point forward the “Prepaid Mobile Price Wars” began. Maisie Ramsay just recently wrote a great article titled “Duking It Out In Prepaid” in Wireless Week on this subject. Beyond the price wars, the introduction of smart phones and the demand for mobile applications have really changed the face of prepaid mobile.

Also in 2009 we have seen an explosion in the number of mobile applications developed, and more importantly paid for and downloaded. While Apple’s iTunes store model has been by far the most successful (2 billion applications downloaded to date), Nokia, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Windows have all introduced their application store models in an attempt to gain market share in this space. I foresee the day when having a mobile application for your company is just as important as having a website.

As I leave my hotel room this morning and make the short walk to the San Diego Convention Center to attend CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment my eyes and ears will be open to the many new mobile opportunities that lie ahead for NetworkIP and our customers.

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

How to Find Us at the Prepaid Press Expo

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

We wouldn’t be the Gladiators of Prepaid if we just sat back and kept quiet. If you are coming to the Prepaid Press Expo this year you’ll have a number of opportunities to meet NetworkIP.

You’ll always be able to find one of us at booth 323 from sunrise to sunset this Tuesday – Thursday. We also have a number of speaking engagements planned throughout the duration of this year’s event.

Our CEO, Pete Pattullo will appear twice on Tuesday. First at 10:00 AM, Pete will talk about “Prepaid Virtual Operators – Turnkey Hosted Solutions for Card Providers.” Then later in the afternoon at 1:30 PM Pete will talk about “New Developments in Prepaid Technology – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, Nichole Janner, our VP of Prepaid Services & I (Brian Kirk), VP of Business Development will have show floor presentations. Nichole is keeping her presentation under wraps for now. I’ll be talking about the Prepaid Mobile Space and providing insight on what has occurred in just the past 6-months and how the prepaid calling card industry can best leverage the prepaid mobile space.

If your tied up during the day, then you still have a chance to catch up with one of us from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on Wednesday during the Gladiators of Prepaid Happy Hour Lounge at booth 512 – 514 which we are sponsoring.

We look forward to meeting you at the show.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP

It’s About the Journey, Not the Destination

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

It’s been another interesting year since we all met at the last Prepaid Press Expo. I know we have all endured some bumpy and windy roads along the way. Hopefully the lessons learned have given us the tools to navigate the path ahead.

Our organizations have been challenged in a variety of ways, and we have conquered many hurdles. We have learned new ways to do business, strengthened our existing relationships, and established new lasting ones.

Today we begin another new day, this time we’ll be in Las Vegas at the Prepaid Press Expo. The Prepaid Press Expo is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and share our stories of the journeys we’ve traveled and our plans for the future.

We offer sincere gratitude to our customers who have walked along side us over the past year; you are and will remain critical to our success.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP