ATT vs. Telefonica The Long Tail Effect of Apple's App Store

Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
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ATT vs. Telefonica The Long Tail Effect of Apple's App Store

Having received the quarterly reports of Apple, ATT and Telefonica, I was very curious about the reasons that Telefonica was not basking in Apple's glory like ATT was.

The iPhone 3GS has added about another 1M new subscribers to the ATT network and if my calculations are correct they have about 10% of the US population on the iPhone.  

So if the apps are so kewl why is Telefonica not enjoying the same results.

A few reasons have been pointed out to me, some ring true and some do not.  The first one is that app store has many apps that are not available in Spanish.  Particularly the cooler (kewlr?) ones that rush to market to get ahead of the game do not make it on to App Store in a user friendly manner.
So the app store is not as powerful a weapon for Telefonica which interestingly enough impacts word of mouth, if you have to translate the app your are using to another person is it that interesting?

Secondly comes the issue of GSM countries versus the US.  In the UK Telefonica offers the iPhone to English speakers versus their O2 subsidiary, but the sales are not astronomical. It may be that ATT is in the backward nation of the US of A, where wireless has been starved for a working wireless Internet.  In Europe the ability to browse the Interenet from your cell phone is not as unusual thanks to GPRS, so the wow factor of mobile browsing is negated.

Also comes the fact that the exclusivity is leaky in Europe.  T-Mobile has the phone in the Germany as does O2 (even if its not sold directly their its supported) and a lot of ATT phones made it to Europe when Apple sold them only the US orginally.  An article in a German Trade magazine suggests that about 25% of the market is being supplied via other contracts.

Then comes the reality of smartphones, the blackberry, Nokia's N series and other smart devices were more readily available as a choice in the lands where GSM offered the customer the ability to bring their phones of choice to the GSM standard.  A closed network smartphone looks like a step back to people who are used to buying their phones and selecting the carrier independently.  Its hard to sell the cool of a proprietary service in Europe.

Finally comes price and the price points from Telefonica may not work in world where the cool distinction is marginalized by the factors above.

I bring this up for a few very specific reasons.  It may be that the iPhone does not have the same wow factor for other countries. In Japan, the iPhone has very little marketshare.  The wow factor their is the wrist action, which in the land of the Nintendo's Wii, NTT's Docomo and Softbank's mobile games is not that compelling.  I don't have exact prove of this but the sales numbers seem to indicated that where the wireless Internet has been available the longest, there is where iPhone sales are least.


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