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New smartphone options for local telcos

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These days you can buy a smartphone from almost anywhere, from a mobile carrier to a grocery store. This month we put out an announcement on how this trend might impact telcos. Now, the telcos may turn around and say “that’s good, we don’t want to be smartphone retailers anyway” as their core business is mobile services, not handset sales. The problem is they risk loosing their advantage of being a trusted advisor for valued-added mobile services as well, particularly in the business space.

The smartphone market has rapidly solidified around the two big incumbent platforms, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. BlackBerry and Microsoft are holding their own, but the new range of smartphone operating systems:

  • FirefoxOS
  • Ubuntu
  • SailfishOS
  • Tizen

may also help carrier differentiation, in addition to consumer choice. There are already handsets available running each of those and 2014 is looking like a big device launch year for Ubuntu and Tizen.

Telstra has already signaled its intention to evaluate FirefoxOS as an alternative smartphone platform. It will be interesting to see if all three mobile carriers come through with a alternatives to the incumbents. The reward could mean more than just handset sales if they provide a path to more value-added services.

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