About eight years ago, heated price wars were the bane of the mobile telecommunications industry with all three players then, actively engaged in some form of posturing. The recent announcement that the Communications Authority of Kenya is mulling over the introduction of price regulation had me shaking my head. History and future thinking must have us look at the present predicament, if at all it is one, from a different lens.
The market has favored all players differently in the past. Some had a first mover advantage, others had a solid infrastructure plus asset base while others had access to deep pockets courtesy of a global pedigree. We win some and loose some in the open market and must be willing to own those mistakes and not offload the outcomes of boardroom sessions on others.
We need to let go of this ‘kiosk’ mentality where we seem to regurgitate what peers have put out. Homogeneous product offerings only result in a fight for wallet share where the one with the deeper pockets or cheapest access to the consumer takes the day.
There was a time Safaricom rubbed the startup and innovator space the wrong way, paid dearly for it but they invested in restitution. They have since created a collaboration pipeline and also opened up parts of their network through easily accessible APIs on their Daraja platform down to a live Git repository where literally anyone in the world can build on top of their network. During the same season Airtel touted a list of 55 API’s that never got to see the light of day, the other players still have nothing to show in a quid pro quo ecosystem.
There is such a thing as coopetition. The bottom-line and ROI matrix last I checked is not sensitive to the process of its actualization. No one has a strangle hold on the end consumer, not yet at least. There are verticals that remain untouched that could have a higher average return per user that may fall outside the core business range of the traditional telco but we know for a fact that those lines have since blurred and we need to see more movement toward that direction.
Profit and market share is a reward reaped by businesses and corporations who navigate risk and market dynamics well, often underpinned by innovation and solid execution of well thought out strategies. Initiating any sort of controls that are not cognizant of the time, effort and sheer bankrolling of these strategies, dumbs down innovation as everyone falls back on the crutch that is a negative lobbying position waiting for that all important handout hived from the backs of those who dared try.
Here are some thoughts from the past;
- The Orange game play, operator wars continue
- Perspective on the telco and mobile money wars
- Trojan horses in the Safaricom stable
- Quick thoughts on current operator wars
- How to differentiate your telco…lessons for Zain, Orange,Yu and any other chap trying to play catch up
- The road less traveled by mobile network operators
- Innovation on voice and non voice services will change operator fortunes