Saturday 21 July 2007

what happened to THREE's strategy?

Hong Kong is and has been on the forefront of telecommunication, not only in Asia but definitely worldwide.

The mobile market is one of the most competive markets in the world, and with a penetration of over 130% (yes, that means people have more than 1 phone) competition is full on.

The market is customer driven, which results in competitive prices, good packages and a constant flow of new innovative services.

I have been using THREE for around 3 years now and am considered one of their "SUPREME" customers, not sure what it means. Regularly they send me an sms to call them about a special offer, when I call them it is pretty much impossible to speak to someone that has a decent command of the english language. I get the promiss to call them back, which happened only once so far... but after 3 days. Interesting event, as I had the money in my hand to buy a new handset but they didn't want to take it.

So, I went to visit a THREE shop....hmm under construction. As was another one close to where I live. Also under construction.

It worked out to be a bit of a rebranding combined with the launch of..... I-MODE services. WHAT????? I-Mode, which is originally Japanese (NTT-Docomo), was launched in Holland by KPN years ago as well as a number of other countries Australia and UK. It never really took off but had its own niche market.

Basically it is like a private internet network. It is an environment with a limited set of services offered. In Japan this has been a serious hit, as there were many service providers on board. In Holland, there were some, but it was better accesible and usefull compared to regular internet access.

Now this is were the trick comes in. Mobile internet access has developed over the years. The connection speed is now getting up to levels that it is workable, providers have developed mobile sites, handsets and other tools are ready to go mobile.

The decision by THREE to start offering I-Mode is even more interesting now not only KPN has decided to "phase out" the service, but also big guys like an O2 and Telstra.

Is there still a need to use a "cordonned" off environment where as you are able to access the whole internet? I am not sure, but time will learn. Especially now other providers are offering mobile broadband......