The emergence of m-business : an analysis of the case of the French market

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1 The emergence of m-business : an analysis of the case of the French market Pierre Vialle Professor Groupe des Ecoles de Telecommunications MARKETIC Research Group Department of Business Administration Institut National des Télécommunications 9, rue Charles Fourier EVRY Cedex, France Tel Fax Keywords: m-business, m-commerce, wireless Internet, mobile Internet, GSM, GPRS, UMTS, e-commerce, innovation, co-operation, networks. 1

2 Abstract: Mobile Internet and M-business applications have been presented as a promising opportunity for suppliers of equipment and services, as well as for business users. In Europe, the presence of a common GSM standard and the high penetration rates achieved in most countries, raised the expectation that Europe could reach a leader position, in contrast to its backward position in Internet business compared to the U.S.A. In this paper, we analyse the emergence of m-business and its perspectives from a realistic point of view, from the case of the French market. We first present the specificity of the French Information and Communications market and industry. Second, we analyse the present and future technological and service environment, the present market situation and customer expectations, as well as possible future market development. Third, we analyse the strategies of suppliers and the emergence of a m-business value chain, with a particular focus on co-operation and competition between complementary actors. Finally, we conclude by discussing the relevance of m-business opportunities from a business user perspective. Introduction The French telecommunications market and industry have shifted from an advanced position to a laggard position with the emergence of the Internet model which challenged its traditional centralised state-led model (Vialle 1998). Due to the relatively high penetration rate of mobile in France, the presence of subsidiaries of two powerful players, France Telecom (Orange) and Vivendi Universal (SFR), and the introduction of i-mode services by the third operator, mobile Internet may be a way to catch up with the laggard position of France in the new information society. However, mobile Internet is still in an emerging situation, and subject to strong uncertainties: about demand, about the real capabilities of technical systems, about successful business models, and about the structure of this emerging industry. In a current rather conservative market, the French mobile operators have deployed a wide range of 2.5G services (GPRS) for consumers and business customers, and are preparing the testing and launch of 3G services (UMTS). In this fast moving and uncertain technical and market environment, a mobile value chain is emerging, composed of a complex network of numerous incumbents and start-ups, that are both co-operating and struggling for dominance. In this context, Business customers are trying to asses the benefits of these new services and are cautiously starting a learning process as to how to implement and use mobile Internet to attain their business purposes. 1. The French Information and Communications Society and Industry: from advanced to laggard position 1.1. An advanced position in the traditional telecommunications model with strong state intervention In the context of a strong public service policy implemented by public monopolies and statesupported industries, France previously enjoyed an advanced position in telecommunications, as well as in other sectors of industry such as electricity, railways, airlines or space. At the end of the 60 s the French telecommunications landscape was in poor condition: the supply of lines was far under the demand level and the equipment industry was dominated by the American ITT and the Swedish Ericsson. Confronted with this unsatisfactory situation for 2

3 both the consumers and the industrial position of France, the French state decided to implement a strong public policy in order to reach a leading position in telecommunications. With regard to telecommunications networks, a plan de rattrapage (catch-up plan) was adopted in 1975, in order to allow universal access to telephone for the French population. As a result the number of lines grew from 5 million to 23 million in 1985, the DGT (former name of France Télécom) being the first public investor during most of this period. With regard to the equipment industry, a policy of restructuring and French ownership was implemented until 1983, which resulted in the emergence of a large national champion : CGE. This process culminated with the acquisition of the telecommunications activities of ITT by CGE in 1987, in order to constitute a multinational group: Alcatel NV. Alcatel NV was the second telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world with revenues of 11,9 billion $ in 1990, behind AT&T (12,2 billion $). Another feature of this policy was the strong focus on the development and implementation of new technologies, with the adoption of digitalisation. The first digital switch in the world was created in the DGT s Research and Development laboratory (CNET) in 1970, and manufactured by CGE under the E10 name. In 1977, the decision was made to generalise digital switching in the network, allowing the creation of the first extensively digital network in the world. As a result, France Télécom was able to offer ISDN access throughout the whole country in 1990, and to reach the second ISDN penetration rate in the world after Germany in In 1978, a public data network (X25 packet-switched network) was created under the Transpac name. This data network became the most dense in the world with access points in Europe in 1994, and an average connection distance of 10 km in France. France also became a leader in what is now called the information society. In 1978, the Nora- Minc report on telematique concluded that, France, having missed the opportunity of creating and sustaining a national mainframe computing industry, its only remaining chance was to invest in tele-computing. Therefore, the decision was made to launch a videotex system under the Télétel name (mostly known by the name of the dedicated terminal Minitel ) in The main characteristics of the launch strategy were the full subsidisation of the dedicated terminal, the definition of open standards, the provision of a simple billing system and the sharing of a large portion of revenues with content providers 1. In 1991, the installed base of terminals reached 6 million, to compare with only 3 million mass market electronic information services subscribers in the US at that time (Steinfield, Caby and Vialle 1992). The number of services offered reached in 1994, the total revenues were 6,6 billion French Francs (about 1 billion Euro plus inflation), out of which 3,1 billion were given back to service providers. In the mid 90 s The French telecommunications landscape was therefore characterised by modern networks, a large range of high quality services for consumers and businesses, high penetration rates of services, and a dynamic and powerful equipment industry A laggard position in the new Internet-based information society According to the principle that core competence can become core rigidities, this advanced situation in traditional telecommunications is probably the cause of the fact that France missed the initial opportunities raised by the emergence of the Internet. This old technology 1 We can observe that it is very similar to the strategy implemented by NTT DoCoMo for the launch of i-mode services. 3

4 (dating from the sixties) was looked down on by the French telecommunications engineers and considered as slow, of low quality and lacking security. Beside the classical Not Invented Here Syndrome, the Internet model, characterised by decentralisation, best effort, and location of the intelligence in the terminals and servers, was completely diverging from their technological trajectory towards optimised systems with a centralised network intelligent architecture (Vialle 1998). Moreover, the Transpac services and videotex services were becoming very profitable, after the initial strong investments period. From the point of view of market demand, business customers were very satisfied with the use of Transpac data network, whereas consumers were benefiting from a wide range of videotex services that they could consult with a free terminal. In 1996, there were only Internet subscribers in France, to compare with 7 million videotex dedicated terminals and 3 million PCs equipped with videotex emulation cards. The estimations of the Information and Communications Technology industry and markets vary according to the sources consulted and the activities that are included in the study. In 2001, according to a collection of sources in a report by Sessi (2002), the Information and Communications Technology industry sector represented 158 billion Euro in revenues, a total investment level of 12 billion Euro and employees (table 1). Another study (Idate 2002a), provides market estimates, including audio-visual services, of billion Euro in 2001, and billion Euro in 2002 (table 2). One possible interpretation for the lowest figure in the latter study, could be that wholesale of equipment may not be included in the activities considered. Number of employees Revenues (b. Euro) Investment (b. Euro) Equipment industry Telecommunications services Computing services, equipment wholesale Total Table 1: The ICT industry in 2001 (source: Sessi 2002) France 77.7 (6.6%) (7.2%) (7.4%) (7.6%) Western Europe (7.3%) (7.9%) (8.1%) (8.3%) USA (6.4%) (9.7%) (10%) (10.2%) World (6.8%) (8.9%) (9.1%) (9.3%) Table 2: The ICT market in billion Euro. Figures in brackets are % of GDP. (source Idate 2002a) Despite government and private initiatives, France is still lagging behind in the new Information society (Sessi 2002): - the share of added value of the ICT industry in the total industry added value is under the level reached by nordic countries or USA, - R&D expenses of the ICT manufacturing industry in 1999 (.30% of GDP) were inferior to Sweden (.85%), Japan (71%) or USA (.50%), - businesses invest less in ICT in France (2.02% of GDP in 1999), than in the EU (2.4%) and USA (4.5%), 4

5 - the adoption of internet access, website, intranet and extranet by businesses is inferior to most of the large industrialised countries, as well as Internet-based e-commerce. Moreover, according to OECD (2002), France ranked 21 for the number of Internet hosts per inhabitants in July 2001 with 27.2, and 22 for the number of web sites with 4.3. In 2000, it ranked 23 for the number of Internet subscribers per 100 inhabitants with The mobile market: from voice to data With a penetration rate of 64% of the population in 2002, the French mobile operator market is still less developed than in the main European countries (76.4% in mid-2002, according to Idate 2002a), and still offers interesting growth perspectives (table 3) estimate (ABN-AMRO) 2006 estimate (IDC) Subscribers (000) 38,585 (1) 45,340 49,901 Penetration rate 64.0%% 75.0% 82.4% Revenues (million $) 11,528 (2) NA 16,603 Table 3: The French mobile operator market. (Source: (1) ART (2) IDC 2.1 Mobile Internet: a context of multiple technologies and terminals Mobile Internet is, and will stay for some time, characterised by the complexity of co-existing different standards and terminals. For data transmission: - the current GSM network allows data transmission at 9,6 kbit/s, - the French operators have upgraded their network with GPRS, allowing data transmission at a theoretical rate of 115 kbit/s, with a real rate not exceeding 40 kbit/s, - in a near future, UMTS networks will be implemented, with a real rate not exceeding 384 kbit/s (against a theoretical rate of 2 Mbit/s), - different operators are currently testing the provision of wireless Internet access, based on radio LAN technologies, on public hot spots such as airports and at business customers premises, allowing data transmission with a real rate of 5 Mbit/s and over in a limited area. Due to the high investments required for UMTS networks, the following situation is expected in the future: GPRS access in the whole country, UMTS access in the main towns (initially about 20 towns), wireless Internet access in hot spots and private radio LANs. For Information access and display: - HTML, the current fixed Internet language for web pages, and the new language XML, - WAP (Wireless Application Protocol), specifically designed for mobile phones and using WML language or XML. Exists in different versions, especially for black and white or colour screens, - I-mode, developed by NTT-DoCoMo, it is provided on Bouygues Telecom s network, and uses the C-HTML language, - SMS (Short Message Services), EMS (Enhanced Message Services), and MMS (Multimedia Message Services). 5

6 The main types of terminals: - mobile phones, with different screen sizes, - PDAs, - laptop computers. These terminals must be equipped with the adequate chip or software to access the different networks and the different applications. For the content providers, it means that the information must be adapted to the different languages, applications and screen size. For example, in the current situation in France, a content provider should offer 7 different style sheets in order to permit to be accessed by most of the terminals on the market. 2.2 Mobile Internet market and services The development of the mobile Internet market is subject to strong uncertainty. On the offer side, the uncertainty results from the ability of actors to develop profitable business models, as well as the ability of the technical systems to deliver the promised benefits. The first WAP services were clearly disappointing, the current WAP or i-mode services on GPRS still suffer from a bitrate which is too low and from too frequent disconnection. Concerning the future UMTS network, there are still some doubts about the effective level of capacity that will be provided, as well as about the maintenance of a uniform quality level in different usage and geographical situations. On the demand side, the uncertainty lies in the level of demand, the identification of future successful services and of target markets. Forecasts for the year 2006 vary between billion $ (IDC 2002) and billion $ (StrategyAnalytics 2002) representing a share of respectively 25.9 % and 23.8% of the total cellular service market. Business market versus consumer market One of the key questions is which market segment will be determining for the take-off of mobile Internet? Will we see in France a quick adoption of mobile Internet by consumers, as in the case of DoCoMo s i-mode in Japan, or a more traditional diffusion process as was the case for most telecommunications services, starting with business customers before expanding to the consumer market? One factor to be considered is the size of the market. With an estimated number between and million subscribers, the business market only represents about 20 % of mobile subscribers in 2002, but generates higher revenues per subscriber, with an estimated monthly ARPU between 59 Euro (Idate 2002b) and 95 Euro (Strategy Analytics 2002) 2. Because of its size, the consumer market would offer more opportunities, but would also need larger investments in infrastructures and marketing than the business market. Another factor is the intensity of needs and readiness to pay for the services. It seems that the business market, looking for improved co-ordination, efficiency and service to customers, is more aware of the benefits of mobile Internet. Another important element is that for business customers, a strong motivation is mainly to benefit from a mobile access to existing applications, such as access to , agenda and intranet, whereas the needs of consumers are difficult to assess. 2 This figures can however be misleading, as some business users use their own private handset for business purposes. 6

7 Therefore we would rather forecast a scenario where business customers and some limited consumer market niches would be the first markets for mobile Internet, and an extension to the mass market in a few years, after the introduction of new UMTS services. Mobile Internet services can be divided into communications applications, transaction applications and content applications. Consumer market and services Communications applications mainly concern person to person communications. It is the current main mobile Internet service, with the now popular SMS service, and will probably account for the majority of mobile data revenues in the next five years. During the last quarter of 2002, billion SMS were sent in France (ART 2003), corresponding to an average usage of 16.1 SMS /month/active user. MMS has been introduced on the market, but will take 2 or 3 years to really take-off, taking into account the replacement cycle of handsets. Transaction applications concern monetary transactions, and can be assimilated to m- commerce. The current usage of such services is quasi-nil, and it is not expected to represent a large share of revenues in the future. Limited deployment and security concerns seem to be the main barriers for adoption. Location-based services could trigger the use of transaction services in the future. Content applications can be split between information services (such as news, transport information, financial information, educational information or directories), and entertainment services (such as games, music, ringing tones, icons, and adult entertainment). The current consumer market concerns mainly ringing tones and icon downloads. The main barriers for adoption of attractive services with rich content, are the limited bandwidth currently available and the level of tariffs. For example, it would take up to 20mn to download a full music title with GPRS. The higher bandwidth made possible by UMTS networks would solve the download speed problem, but the pricing issue will remain. Image and music based services remain the most uncertain type of services, because of their high attractiveness on the one hand, and their possibly deterring tariffs on the other hand. Terminals have been launched on the market, that allow one to take and send pictures, as this service was perceived as a possible killer application for the consumer market. The main barriers for this service to take-off are the price of terminals and the network externalities (Rohlfs 1974): as there will be few terminals in use at the beginning, there will be few possibilities to find any user to whom to send pictures, leading to a very slow development and eventually to a failure for this service. Business market and services It is important to outline some specific characteristics of mobile Internet for businesses. It differs from consumer mobile internet due to the specific expectations of business customers such as: security, terminal and user identification, access control, administration, reporting, or specific business related content. The first disappointing experiences with the first WAP services initially had an inhibiting effect on the intent of adoption of business customers for mobile internet solutions (Vialle and Epinette 2001). Since then, mobile telecommunications companies have significantly improved their offers and are now putting strong emphasis on this market. 7

8 On the market side, some significant trends can be outlined : - the continuous growth of the mobile market, - the extensive integration of WAP functions in mobile handsets, - the generalisation of internet access among businesses: after large companies, it now affects small and medium companies, with an estimated equipment rate of 73% in France in 2001 (Idate 2001), - and most of all, the diffusion of Intranets, which equipment rate should grow from 10% in 1999 to 40% in 2002 in France, according to Idate (2001). Forecasting the evolution of this market is still hazardous. In research conducted in the fourth quarter of 2000 (Vialle and Epinette 2001) on a sample of French key accounts, mobile Internet was a priority for 20% of the respondents, while 40% intended to implement mobile Internet applications in the next five years. In another study (Markess International 2000), 16% of respondents intended to implement such applications in the short term. Both research studies suggest a short term dominance of B-to-E applications for business employees. Business customers show a cautious approach to mobile Internet. Although future technological development will allow for very innovative services 3, business customers expect in priority a mobile access to existing applications, before considering more innovative services. Therefore the main applications in the short term will be: - mobile office, - secured access to Intranet, - specific industry applications for industries such as transportation, building, administration or healthcare, - functional applications such as sales, logistics or field service. To make offers more attractive, telecommunications companies have packaged their services around the concept of the business mobile portal. A business mobile portal is basically an adaptation of the business portal concept to mobile situations. It may concern the company s own employees (B-to-E), or the partners employees (B-to-B), such as suppliers, distributors or customers. The content of a business mobile portal can be grouped into four categories : - general information: hotel and transportation reservation, weather report, road traffic information, general and business news, - general company information: company directory, company agenda, company news, - mobile office: agenda, planning, , - functional applications : sales, maintenance, logistics, - management applications for the telecom manager: fleet and service management. An important characteristic of mobile Internet for business customers is that it also includes the design of solutions including equipment, software and integration services. According to IDC, the mobile solution market (including Wifi), should reach billion Euro in 2003, and 11.3 billion Euro in Emerging industry structure The mobile Internet value-chain can be broadly structured around 3 layers: - content provision: providing and editing content - content enabling: content enabling, enhancement, and aggregation, - service delivery: infrastructures, terminals and their operating systems. 3 See Samuelson and Dholokia (2003) for a review of future services. 8

9 We will focus here on the role played by operators and actors involved in content enabling. 3.1 Mobile operators. There are currently 3 mobile operators in France offering GSM services (table 4). Orange (France Telecom), SFR and Bouygues Télécom. All three have implemented GPRS services and hold a 3G UMTS licence. Compared to most other European mobile markets, which have four or more operators, this situation may be detrimental to competition. On the other hand, it may facilitate the deployment of UMTS, due to the high investment involved and the uncertainty of market development. Operator Number of Number of prepaid Nb. of outgoing SMS subscribers subscribers 4 th quarter 2002 Orange SFR Bouygues Télécom Total Table 4: French mobile market in 2002 (France and overseas departments). Source: ART (2003) Orange France is a subsidiary of Orange SA ( 85% France Télécom), which was created after the acquisition of Orange plc by France Télécom in August 2000, and floated in February The wireless activities of the two companies were merged to create an international wireless group with a strong focus on Europe. With 15.1 billion Euros in revenue and 39.3 million customers at the end of the year 2001, Orange SA is the second European mobile company and the third in the world. It is present in 14 countries and has shown a strong commitment to mobile Internet with the acquisition of UMTS licences in 11 countries. SFR is a subsidiary of groupe Cegetel (80 %) and Vodaphone (20 %). Groupe Cegetel (70 % Vivendi Universal, 15 % SBC, 15% Vodaphone), is the second French telecommunications company for both fixed and mobile telephony, and thus France Télécom s main challenger. Mostly focused on the French market, it is also present through Vivendi International in 5 other countries. SFR has acquired an UMTS licence in France and the group is currently experimenting a UMTS network in Monaco. Groupe Cegetel has put a strong focus on business customers since its creation in Bouygues Telecom, is a subsidiary of groupe Bouygues (67,2%), a large building and media company. Created in 1994, it launched its DCS 1800 services in As the latest operator on the market, Bouygues Telecom has used innovation to differentiate from the two market leaders: it was the first to target the mass market with packages of minutes tariff plans, and introduced high resolution sound on its network. Bouygues Telecoms did not participate in the first UMTS licence contest, but applied for one in May 2002 as the French government had decided to lower the licence fees from 4.9 billion Euro to 619 million (plus 1% of revenues). The licence was awarded in September Interestingly enough, It signed a contract with NTT DoCoMo in April 2002, in order to launch i-mode services in France. Concerning the consumer market, the three operators have designed specific offerings. Orange has launched its Orange portal, with improved GPRS enabled services in Vivendi Universal, the mother company of SFR has sold its stakes in Vizzavi portal to 9

10 Vodaphone, but got 100% of Vizzavi France and works in close collaboration with Vodaphone. Interestingly enough the group has launched a mobile virtual operator (MVNO) called Universal Music Mobile (UMM) targeted at teenagers and young adults. UMM proposes packages including handsets, specific tariff plans and services focused on music. Bouygues Télécom launched i-mode services in November Concerning the business market, they have also designed specific strategies, according to their existing positioning (Vialle and Epinette 2002). Due to the international (and mostly European) positioning of Orange and its mother company, this new business was conceived from the start with an international focus. This international positioning is based on the co-operation between two subsidiaries of France Télécom: Orange and Equant, a global company aimed at international business customers. In this co-operation, the two subsidiaries put together their resources and expertise in mobile and data services respectively. Under the name Orange MIB (Mobile Internet for Business), a task force was created in February 2000 and the Orange MIB portal was launched in July 2000 in France. In June 2001, the joint-venture Orange MIB was created. To the basic offer (Internet access, , agenda, task planning, company directory, SMS, access to business applications), other services were added such as Lotus Notes access, geographical location and industry applications. This is a specific feature of Orange, which offers: - Road on line: a specific application for truck transportation to better manage logistics, for 1000 Euro plus 30 Euro/month/line, - MIB City: aimed at local authorities to manage maintenance activities, for 1000 Euro plus 11 Euro/month/line. Orange also introduced a partnership strategy, with two types of partnerships. The first concerns information providers that are accessible through portals (services such as news, weather report, reservations). The second concerns companies such as software houses, computing service firms, equipment manufacturers, developers, integrators or consultants, for which a partner pack has been designed. The objective is to allow partners to help them to develop mobile solutions and products by providing a test and demonstration platform, a privileged access to new technologies, a commercial and technical support and a development forum. In fact the objective is twofold: to increase the number and variety of products and applications around its portal, and to benefit from the prescriptive power of the partners on the market. The partners pack is available for 2000 Euro plus 8 Euro/month/user. Under the name of PIM (Portail Intranet Mobile), SFR introduced a partial version of its portal in 1999, and the final launch occured in September The service offer is similar to that of Orange. SFR also has a partnership strategy. To launch its portal, it proposed a trial offer PIM découverte, that allows customers to test some functions of the portal before adopting it. Bouygues Telecom launched its portal in September The content is similar to the others, but the services presentation appears to be clearer and easier to understand. It has also developed a partnership program. In February 2002, the three companies announced the launch of their GPRS services. Apart from the increased bandwidth (with a real expected bit-rate of 30 to 50 Kbit/s), this technology allows billing according to the volume of information, instead of airtime for plain 10

11 GSM. They applied the package approach to data which has spurred the diffusion of voice cellular services, and launched packages tailored for different market/usage segments, including an allowance of data volume. For example, Orange has launched 7 packages that can be grouped into 3 classes: - the 1 Mo, 5 Mo and 10 Mo packages are designed for the occasional user who will access services through his mobile handset, - with 10 Mo, 15 Mo and 30 Mo packages, users can access more data consuming WAP pages and even web pages if they are equipped with a PDA, - the 50 Mo and 100 Mo packages allows the use of a laptop linked to a mobile handset to access web pages. Two types of services are promoted: - portal services, or Intranet access, - mobile office (Internet, and WAP/i-mode). The three companies are also preparing their UMTS offer, but the launch is regularly delayed and will probably not happen before 2004 or 2005, on very limited geographical areas. 3.2 Content enabling The content-enabling layer includes a wide range of actors that allow content to be delivered to networks and terminals, taking into account the specificity of mobile Internet. They assist the content providers to adapt content to a rapidly moving context of multiple terminals and interfaces. An important task is to convert content initially developed for a fixed network environment to a mobile network environment. Sabat (2002) identifies five types of actors contributing to the development of wireless platforms and utility applications: - Service bureaux, developing open platforms to convert and format all forms of data information (i.e. messaging, advertising, billing, location-based services, voice-enabled services, hosting), - Middleware and content delivery applications providers, facilitating the transmission of content with different networks, operating systems and format (i.e. application platforms, content management, corporate data access, synchronisation, network monitoring, data optimisation and security applications), - Portals, aggregating, presenting, navigating, and delivering a wide range of communication, commerce and content services. A distinction can be made between Internet portals such as Yahoo, general mobile Internet portals such as mobile operators portals, and specialised portals providing entertainment, streaming video, or gaming services, as well as vertical solutions (financial, education, CRM and sales force management, IT management, transportation and logistics, field force), - Systems integrators and consultants, specialists in the development of end-to-end wireless internet offerings, for operators, service providers or large business users. These actors may play an important role in the structuration of the value-chain and benefit from very specific competences. The actors involved are of various sizes, including large computing service firms, subsidiaries of large groups or specialised start-ups. One example of these new specialised start-ups is Netsize. 11

12 A French company created in 1998, Netsize actually began its operations in 2000, as a wireless messaging operator. Its main activities are the development of customised mobile solutions, in order to link its customers information systems to mobile terminals, with a strong focus on SMS, and now also on EMS and MMS. Starting with revenues of 0,6 million Euro in 2000, Netsize has reached 40 million Euro in 2002 and expects to reach 85 million Euro in Netsize operates a network of gateways connected with more than 75 mobile operators (essentially in Europe), allowing the provision of pan- European messaging services, and offering access to 400 million mobile users. Netsize has developed a network of 40 partners, such as Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, or Atos Origin, and over 700 clients, mostly large businesses. It is now a small multinational with 110 employees, 10 subsidiaries in Europe and one in USA. The company intends to expand its operations to be able to offer progressively world-wide services. An example of a large computing service firm expanding its operations to mobile Internet is Atos Origin. Atos Origin is a French company providing consulting, system integration, outsourcing and on line services solutions. With billion Euro of revenues, employees and a presence in 30 countries, it claims to be the third largest e-business and IT services provider in Europe. From its strong experience in on-line services as an integrator and hosting provider, the company naturally extended its activities to include mobile Internet. It now has a multimedia platform offering access to all distribution channels such as Internet, GSM, GPRS, UMTS, WAP, SMS, Videotex, satellite and voice systems, for different terminals. Benefiting from a strong presence in the banking industry, it develops m-banking and m-payment solutions. 3.3 Relationships between actors The emerging mobile Internet value chain is characterised by a complex network organisation 4 of this quickly evolving industry. Different actors are positioning themselves on this new value-chain, according to their existing technical and market-based assets, their search for a profitable business model, and are both co-operating and struggling for dominance. Content providers, content enablers, telecommunications companies, terminal manufacturers and operating system providers, are working in close co-operation to develop and implement new services. However, the same actors may be competing. Mobile operators are in a strong position, benefiting from their infrastructure, their brands, their customer base, their billing capabilities, their distribution channels, as well as the control of specific information on customers, such as location. Due to their strong investments infrastructure, they are tempted to follow their natural tendency to integrate vertically on most of the value-chain. On the other hand, the lack of financial resources, the regulatory pressure, and the necessity to move fast, may hinder this tendency. Content enablers, benefit from their specific competencies (for the pure players ), or from their ability to integrate their existing Internet-based assets with new mobile competencies. They may find a strong position as intermediary between users and operators, as they are able to offer multi-operator services, relieving users of dependence from a single operator. On the other hand, other actors such as content providers, portals, mobile operators, or OS providers, may develop in-house competencies or acquire content enablers. One important element would be a concentration of the current multiple players into large multinational companies that would result in a power situation for content enablers. 4 See Vialle and Epinette (2003). 12

13 Finally, large users with specific competencies, brand image and distribution networks may go beyond content provision. For example, banks could be in a good position to offer m- payment and m-business services, or car manufacturers (such as Renault) to provide portal services and maybe become virtual network operators. The actors of the mobile Internet value chain are therefore involved in paradoxical strategies: on the one hand to mobilise a strong network of partners, on the other hand to struggle for dominance and eventually compete with the more powerful partners. Conclusion: The development of the mobile Internet market in France, as in other countries, is still subject to strong uncertainties: about demand, about the real capabilities of technical systems, about successful business models, and about the structure of this emerging industry. The bulk of the current market mostly consists of simple and rather conservative services: SMS, ringing tones and icons for the consumer market, mobile office and access to intranet for the business market. However, numerous innovative services are being tested on these two markets. We will probably experience an ecological phenomenon of proliferation of new service species, followed by a phase of selection and elimination according to market and financial criteria. Business users (the firms using mobile Internet for business purposes), are also confronted with this uncertainty: they focus mainly on opening a mobile access to existing applications, and on Business-to-Employee and Business-to-Business services, where there are no market risks. Concerning more innovative applications, linked to specific functions such as sales, logistics or field service, they need to take into account the current limitations of technical systems (bandwidth constraints), and the difficulty of assessing the ROI of applications. Concerning costs, it must include the cost of telecommunications, terminals, software, servers, development and integration, as well as user training. Concerning returns, the first problem is that they consist of benefits for functions other than the IT function: it is a very different exercise than buying a more efficient computer or a telecommunications service, where both expenses and cost reductions remain mostly in the IT and telecom budget. The second problem is that even if some benefits are relatively easy to measure (reduced human resources time, communications costs, reduced paper purchase, stock control), other more qualitative benefits (such as efficiency of processes, efficiency of mobile employees, increased customer satisfaction, or enhanced reporting) may not. Mobile Internet re-enforce the necessity for a strategic alignment between IT policy and general business policy, and for IT and telecom managers to work in close co-operation with other functional managers 5. 5 See Epinette and Vialle (2002). 13

14 References: ABN-AMRO (2002), Pan European Telecoms-Wireless Model Builder Vol.1. ART (2003), «Le tableau de bord du marché national», Observatoire des Mobiles, 4 trimestre Dholakia Nikhilesh, Morten Rask (2002), Configuring Mobile Commerce Portals for Customer Retention, Working Paper, RITIM: Rhode Island. Epinette Olivier, Vialle Pierre (2002), The Impact of Technological Change on Sales Relationships in the Telecommunications Services Industry," 18th Annual Industrial Marketing and Purshasing (IMP) Conference, Dijon, France, September 5-7 th Idate (2001), Enquête PME/TPE : besoins en télécommunications à l heure d Internet et des haurs débits. Montpellier : Idate. Idate (2002a), Digiworld Montpellier : Idate. Idate (2002b), Services mobile en entreprise. Montpellier: Idate. IDC (2002), European Wireless and Mobile communications: Country and operator Profiles. Markess International (2000), Les applications Internet professionnelles (maturité et enjeux technologiques). OECD (2002), Measuring the Information Economy. Rohlfs, Jeffrey (1974), A theory of interdependent demand for a communication service, Bell Journal of Economics, 5 (1), Sabat Hemant Kumar (2002), «The evolving mobile wireless value chain and market struture,» Telecommunications Policy, 26, Samuelson Mats, Nikhilesh Dholakia (2002), Assessing the Market Potential of Network- Enabled 3G M-Business Services, Working Paper, RITIM: Rhode Island. Sessi (2002), L industrie française des technologies de l information et de la communication. Paris: Ministère de l Economie et des Finances. Steinfield Charles, Caby Laurence, Vialle Pierre (1992)," Internationalization of the Firm and Impacts of Videotex Networks.", Journal of Information Technology, 7, (December), StrategyAnalytics (2002), Western European Cellular Market Forecast Vialle Pierre (1998), Stratégies des opérateurs de télécoms. Paris : Hermès. Vialle Pierre, Olivier Epinette (2001), «The attitudes and perceptions of ICT managers of large firms towards M-business Internet adoption : beyond the magic,» Conference on 14

15 Telecommunications and Informations Markets (COTIM), Karlsruhe, Germany, July th Vialle Pierre, Olivier Epinette (2002), "Mobile Internet Strategies of the French operators for business customers,» 13th European ITS (International Telecommunications Society) Conference, Madrid, Spain, September 8-10 th. Vialle Pierre, Olivier Epinette (2003), «The Impact of Demand for Integrated Solutions on Distribution Channel Strategy and Management : the Case of France Télécom,» 8 th International Conference on Marketing and Development, Bangkok, Thailand, January 4-7 th. 15

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