Friday, 22 May 2009
Telecom XT - Yoof first - Olds next
Telecom XT Press Briefing
The Westin Hotel in the rain drenched viaduct Auckland was the locus for the press launch of the Telecom XT network this week. The room was small - even intimate - the press group hardly needed their name tags, and the talent sitting on the box sofa immediately recognisable as Paul Reynolds, CEO Telecom, and the head of retail, Alan Gourdie.
Like everything about mobile networks these days, for every nugget of information we got, three others weren't quite ready for announcing. This included information on - devices - prices - content - and speed
Thus, we won't have the average speed number until the real launch on May 29th, 2009. However, we did hear that by Christmas this year, the top speed will hit 21 Mb/s. This is seriously speedy, and if the price is right, will offer real competition to the domestic, and even corporate fixed Internet market.
You never know, those images of running a start up from Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf just might come true! Something genuine variety new media hotshots heading to Auckland for this week-ends XMedia Lab might want to ponder on.
From Price to Value
Mobile as a real alternative broadband option will always be a winner for the corporate road warrior with a smart phone, a frequent flyer card, and a lot of email. Cracking the SME, and/or domestic market is of course a different scenario.
To get to that - as every telco in the world always wants to tell us - we need to start thinking value, as opposed to price.
And that means constructing a triage offer where the device - the data rate, and the on deck [exclusive to the subscriber] content combine inside a value proposition which each market segment finds compelling.
Within this triage, Telecom XT's price strategy is all about thinning out the complexity [from the current 60 plans to 14] - building certainty - i.e with this plan you get X and a not Y. And building loyalty - with this plan, you get access to this content, and by extension, this community of your peers, at this price.
This strategy also links with the devices they unveiled. They range from entry level handsets, to top of the range Blackberry and Nokia, et al. And a clear message the iPhone will be there as soon as they can get the right deal with Apple.
Maori predictive txt
On launch they will also have a special Bebo phone, and, in a lovely little cultural body swerve, a Telecom handset of their own which does predictive text in Maori.
On the content side, in a pitch aimed at the younger demographic, aka YOOF, the emphasis is on the clickable, sharable, content end of txt, fotos and video.
This includes, on day one, a free txting offer among Bebo users [almost all NZ students?], as well as free uploads of camera fotos and video.
TWorld Mobile Portal
There will also be a new TWorld mobile portal in conjunction with Yahoo. This will include music downloads and video - including, it's confirmed, some yet to be announced TV offers. These to be both local and international.
So all on all an interesting mix - new devices - new speeds and price plans - plus some opening content offers to keep what appears to be the initial Yoof target market on the deck, making, using, and consuming content, and open to more offers down the line.
I also liked the energy in the room. There seems some real willingness from all parties - consumer - press - Telecom - to try for a new way of talking.
Extending the mix?
But what of the next move? Take devices for example? Though definitely a cool set of new toys - there was just nothing at all on view that wasn't a hand held - except for Paul Reynolds at one point waving, with enthusiasm, the new Telecom mobile USB stick.
When Santa comes to call
So what would I, the original incumbent Paul Reynolds, like for Christmas to go with the promise of 21 Mb/s ? Well that's just too easy!
On the device side, I would like to see, touch and be able to buy a really cool e-reader, and/or netbook.
On the content side, I would like, in addition to a sway of subscription based video and sound, a whole raft of local and international magazine and publishing content on the deck as a subscription offer, including the TLS, The New Yorker, and the Economist, as well as some local content in the likes of Idealog, NBR , and possible the Listener. But that's me. You make your own lucky bag.
NZ Culture Club
I would also like a NZ culture club! This means, in addition to the international and local material mentioned above, I would like the New Zealand book trade to put up a sustainable e-book offer for inclusion on any reader, or mobile device. Oh, and while I am about it, can all New Zealand residents have access to the digital content resources of EPIC.
I would also like to see some of our key cultural institutions freeing up their digital content and streaming it out onto mobile devices of all varieties.
And wouldn't it be fantastic to see a new content industry making content for the mobile deck, and that includes getting access to the funding models of the likes of NZOA, Creative NZ, NZTE etc. It would also be great to see some new local gaming ideas in there as well.
Will we play/pay
All of the above requires Telecom, [and others] to start thinking very laterally about local and offshore content subscription deals to multiple content audiences on multiple devices. From the evidence on view on Wednesday you have to say that energy and commitment just might be to hand inside the new Telecom and their XT network.
The question is - can this energy be matched by the local creative and cultural agencies who, hitherto, have content, or the idea, but no channel.
I'm not saying this is an easy ask. Indeed, for some, especially in the traditional local magazine world, this will mean moving away from their current sense of lost entitlement. For others, as exampled by our own local Idealog, it might just be the opportunity they have been looking for.
But the really big question is - if Telecom XT fulfils their promise and starts building a compelling local content deck - will we push play/pay?
Update: iPhone works just fine on Telecom XT
Note: By the by - I am currently trialing an iPhone from Apple, Australia. As agreed, it arrived without any mobile offer. I have been using my Vodafone SIM card on it. And yes - it was working just fine.
At the press launch, Telecom XT gave me, and everyone else in the room, a test SIM card which lasts for 4 weeks.
Small setting change for data
I put it in the iPhone. It worked just fine right away for voice. To get data, I had to make a change in the settings: Settings/General/Network - check or confirm Enable 3G box.
Then Cellular Data/APN. Change APN settings to internet.telecom.co.nz.
Thanks to Chris Keal at NBR for this, here
See also the excellent Neal Richardson, NZ Geekzone for WAP settings etc, here