Scenario Planning; If You Build It Will They Come?

Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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Scenario Planning; If You Build It Will They Come?

"A sales guy is usually the last guy to call a downturn", is the quote from Dave Vellequette of JDS Uniphase in today's Journal as they discuss the value of scenario planning in a recession.

I think all the carriers are busy doing their own efforts nows.  With over 5 Million additional subscribers to ATT as a result of the Iphone here are some scenarios I will be thinking of at 4GWE.  Verizon is certainly wishing it had better understood the impact of the exclusivity on their bottom line, and the desire to partner with Apple with LTE is a big part of the aggressiveness implementation.

1) Best Case for T!  Nothing changes for Apple and ATT but the widgets start to add value to a general marketplace.  I am still not sure I can make the distinction between a widget and an application, but as Google's Android and Palm advocate widgets I think the scenario will be slower growth.  Its still the coolest phone in town, but its limitations are easy to exploit.  Multiprocessing and more web friendly strategies all work for me.

2.  Retail WiMAX! So what?  Clearwire has been agressive with its build outs, but the WiMAX certification process is going to yield some products that are going to be looking for a general consumer spend.  What is the scenario that impacts the planning?  What should be the competitive analysis that drives the discussion.

3. Price Floors!  We have bundled pricing as our strategies, when a competitor starts to impact you what can you do to stop the bleeding.  Ericsson / Sony, HTC, LG, Nokia, RIM, and Samsung are all great at making the same phone (only different) for various partnerships.  However, Apple, Google and Palm are doing exclusive deals (We may have to think about Google differently then all of them going forward).  So how do you fight the coolest release.  The reaction to the Apple/ATT launch was very weak by T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.  What should be the next strategy.  Apple certainly knew how to steal the thunder from the Palm Pre launch.  Other than price what works?  What holds the customer in place?

4. MID way!  The case can be made that the device of future is not a phone, I am now starting to watch how many people are in keyboard mode rather than in voice mode.  I have even seen someone trying to text while the speakerphone of the cell was on (does this work on your device?).  If you look at Intel / Nokia and a few others they will tell you the story is not about a phone but a computer, (Hence the session at 4GWE)  I am not sure when this move happens.  Samsung has a WIMAX netbook, but everything else is still adjuct with a USB.  I think there is a price point that will hit the market right for this and then comes the most interesting question.  Will the carriers enable VoIP?

All of these are game changers that can have a huge impact on the bottom line and all of them require contingencies.  I have also left out the possibilities of major mergers, and the world wide impact. The story from JDS Uniphase is interesting also since they are at the heart of so many fiber deployments.  It may indicate the backbone is not being built out in ways that we thought. They have changed their strategies very quickly (and profitably) by redirecting their assets.  It will be interesting to see if the carriers can also be that aggressive in their redirection.


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