My Number 1 Wish for Operators
I just participated in a panel discussion representing developer needs from operators. The panel was moderated by Alan Qualye who kicked off the panel with the question:
If you could have one wish to make working with a operator easier, what would that wish be?
Having worked with many developers I have many wishes, but my top wish for operators is simply to LISTEN to developers. And by this, I mean to really listen, prioritize their requirements, and take action.
Only a year ago operators had a virtual monopoly for distribution of mobile applications and developers had to beg to get on deck. It was difficult to get on deck, it was expensive to get certified on every handset, revenue share was low, and it was difficult to stay on deck because discovery by consumers was difficult.
But the tables have been turned now. Competition for developers is at an all-time high. Handset OEMs, OS players, development tool vendors, social networks, game consoles, operators, infra providers are all luring developers. In fact, many developer programs have even created multimillion dollar funds to subsidize developers for their platform (such as the $10M Open Screen Project Fund my team and I set up for Adobe with Nokia).
The net result: developer exodus away from operator communities to the handset and OS communities (primarily). And as more web developers look to go mobile, going over the top is their bias. This was been documented by Alan Quayle at a recent presentation (look at slide 5).
In this environment operators need to treat developers as valuable customers and listen to their requirements:
- Shorten time to market of new applications (2 weeks)
- Simplify the certification process (and stop charging for this)
- Reduce handset fragmentation
- Share 70% of revenue with developers
- Enable developers to set their own price
- Be transparent on what it takes to get promoted
As you can imagine, some developers on the panel voiced their frustration with operators: “I don’t have a wish for operators. I’ve given up. I’ve chosen to go around the operators, over the top.” Shai Berger, CEO of Fonolo, was also on the panel. Check out his blog post here.
Many operators still have an opportunity to garner developer attention and even have a number of advantages over other players in the value chain. But unless they listen to developer requirements and move quickly to implement them, the developer exodus will continue, accelerating operator commoditization.
That’s my wish.
What is your wish? Please share it with a comment.