Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Na Khedaange, Na Khedandayange Policy of Pakistani Telcos

Everybody of us knows about the power of cellular phones in Pakistan. Practically, there is no comparison between the cell phone subscribers and internet users. However, these days software development in Pakistan is mostly being done for Smart Phones, web or other conventional desktop solutions, and nobody is interested to touch the other side.

Some friends ask me why can’t we make innovative solutions for the telecom companies. Why aren’t there any interesting business solutions and apps for mobile phone users who don’t own a smart phone? The answer is simple and straight, “Because Telecom Companies are not themselves interested.”

As per my experience, most of the individuals working in their Business Intelligence (B.I.) Teams only have “Basic Intelligence.” But they are not the only one responsible. The upper management in these telcos is only concerned with the new packages, call and sms rates. They have miserably failed to analyze what their infrastructure can provide to masses.

Telcos normally don’t have big IT Departments and VAS is normally outsourced to a vendor like in case of Tower Planning and Deployment. Even if somebody makes a good VAS application, he’s offered peanuts for his work. Also the 80-20, 70-30 Business Model and Setup Costs etc. are way too unjust. But this happens once when you go into advanced stages of negotiation. Prior to that, reaching out to the value added services team is somewhat an impossible task for new comers and application developers. The planning managers would never respond to your emails and if they do, it would be an email expressing no interest in the product.

I have seen various individuals who wanted to make a difference by running their services independently, leaving their idea or product half heartedly because telcos never believed in them nor provided them white label short codes at an acceptable price. Also if they were able to get a long code from a telecom solution provider (TSP), either the developer/organization failed to monetize the product or the telecom solution provider stepped up with a heavy invoice. Availability of same service on all operators is something not acceptable to them and they will try to bitch you up in every possible way. Their ultimate goal would be to own the product exclusively. Millions of rupees would be spent on publicizing “Bacha Bachi” packages but you will never see advertisements of products that can add real value in the lives of people.

Mobilink has come up with an online store, Mobistore which primarily focuses on the smart phone apps on a 50-50 revenue sharing model. This is certainly a good effort but before moving onto smart phones, we need to explore the huge potential in conventional SMS and MMS infrastructure. So it’s high time that telcos should let go of this “Na Khedaange Na Khedan Dayange” (Neither will we play nor will we let you) policy, and open up their platforms on relaxed terms and services for voice/text solutions. Let people innovate with your infrastructural support. If you'll rub their back today and play part in their success, they’ll definitely love to rub your back by sharing the revenue stream.