If you could remember, in 2016, one of the largest telecoms companies in Africa was mulling a grand plan to ban WhatsApp on its network.
The crux of the matter was that the company and its competitors were recording loss of substantial revenue to over-the-top mobile apps such as WhatsApp, Skype etc. This is 2018 and the mobile carrier could not make good its threat to ban WhatsApp and every other app that takes away its food.
As a matter of fact, these mobile carriers are now at the forefront of promoting messaging and mobile Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) apps to gain new customers and reduce churn for their data bundles.
A review of the financial results of mobile carriers shows that their revenue growth is now dictated by data products while voice revenue has been on continuous decline for the past six years.
This, therefore, begs the question– Is there a future for mobile carriers? Definitely, there is a future but its trajectory will be dictated by disruptions, pivoting and even mergers and acquisitions as data costs slow down and artificial intelligence (AI) continues to scale technology to make products more addictive and even affordable to customers.
Available data shows that voice calls now only accounts for 10% of actions performed by an average smartphone user. Messaging and social media apps consume over 70% of tasks while other tasks are on financial and entertainment apps. It is now apparent that data is the future of mobile carriers and the more they understand this the better. In media and communication, digital marketing has also taken the front-burners for especially for lifestyle brands.
In a market where millennials represent over 60% of your customers, neglecting digital media is a self-destruct strategy.
As smartphones continue to dominate our interactions in a connected world, mobile carriers, as well as advertisers, would have to realise that the game will also require different rules and playbook.