BARCELONA, SPAIN--(Marketwire - February 15, 2011) - It seems there's nothing smartphones cannot do, yet customers want more, so they buy electronic readers, tablets and even picture frames that connect to the internet.
In-Stat projects that in just three years, the average American household will sport five to ten web-enabled electronics devices.
It could be a boon for wireless operators whose networks will carry much of this traffic, but also a challenge. Just as the operators spend billions to upgrade networks to 4G technologies like LTE, they also must cope with an onslaught of new devices that enter the market.
What should they stock in stores? Should any be subsidized? And the biggest question of all: can operators avoid seeing their high-speed networks turn into nothing more than dumb pipes with lots of bandwidth and commodity status?
Brightstar understands that operators must focus on building and running networks. They need help managing handsets and the many other devices that use those networks.
"We see some opportunities," said Jeff Gower, president of Brightstar's operator services unit. "The level of understanding consumer behavior that a retailer needs to know could increase significantly. Operators may have to really work with consumers to educate them."
Brightstar offers a platform of services to operators to help them understand how consumers use physical devices, Gower said. It is building new platforms to do the same for services and applications.
Today, an operator knows how many voice minutes a smartphone customer uses and how many kilobytes a month. But the operator lacks knowledge of what applications the customer downloads or how she uses them.
"To date, applications communities really try to protect that information and keep the operator in the dark," Gower said. "We believe the operator needs to be part of that story."
Brightstar's work often consists of improving communications among manufacturers, operators and retailers. In fact, the company's new guiding philosophy is the acronym MORE for Manufacturers, Operators, Retailers and Enterprise.
Collaborative IT tools developed by Brightstar regularly help operators and their retail partners use analytics software to improve understanding of customer behavior and ability to predict product demand by store, Gower said.
"It allows retail partners to have a seat at the table," he said.
While operators in developed markets upgrade to 4G networks and look at redirecting and reducing handset subsidy costs, operators in Asia are moving in a different direction, Gower said.
In Asia, the operators typically outsourced handset sales to other retailers. Now that smartphones are a growing factor, those operators are beginning to offer handset subsidies to establish a firmer connection to high-value customers, he said.
"They have done the volume play," Gower said. "We're anticipating a possible shift to the value play."
With its global perspective, Brightstar is helping Asian operators go in a new direction just as it helps North American and European operators.
"Wherever they are in the market, we have experience," he said.
To view a media-rich version of this release, go to: http://brightstarmwc.com/email/O_show_daily.html
Michelle M. Merrell