For years, service providers could see their competitors coming head on. For example CLECs and VoIP providers are pretty easy to spot and entrenched telecom providers worldwide have adopted different strategies to battle these new entrants.
But that was the easy part of the game. After all, playing in your home stadium is often easier than playing on the road.
But this "on the road" analogy is perfectly accurate in describing what service providers will be dealing with as they enter new markets and come up against companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.
Recently I had a chance to see a demo of technology from Openwave Systems which helps service providers compete more effectively with the traditional web-based competitors.
I must say that I was beyond impressed with the demo I saw of a product named Openwave Mobile Client Suite, a set of products which help turn service providers into internet companies.
I also had a chance to see some of the company’s network-based technology, the Openwave Rich Mail Solution, which does what Microsoft Exchange Server and Outlook clients do for the typical enterprise. The application is based on AJAX which means response times are more like software than web pages.
The look of the UI is impressive and not something you might expect your typical service provider to code themselves.
For example there are contextual menus which pop on a right-click, e-mail preview, drag-and-drop, voicemail/VoIP integration and more. You can even integrate mobile messaging and television allowing the TV to act as a hub for all messaging.
As service providers begin to embrace the concept that they should be internet companies we can expect broader adoption of such services and eventually this will lead to enough eyeballs for advertisers to get excited about.
Not surprisingly, Openwave sells a suite of advertising solutions as well which can be integrated with the solutions described above.
I am not sure I am 100% convinced service providers can make a serious dent into e-mail and other businesses of the major internet companies but I see opportunity for integration of telephony, directory assistance and account management all in a single interface which will be sticky enough for users to feel there is a credible alternative to the traditional email companies.
Even if you aren’t convinced, you should be exploring a web-centric strategy… I really think all service providers should take along hard look at what this company is up to as it could really help you leverage some hidden revenue opportunities.