A Mobile Shift

What trends emerged from the Mobile World Congress?

April 1, 2011

Today members live in disruptive times.

That was the sentiment during the recent Mobile World Congress in Spain. The meeting brings together leaders in the mobile technology and cell phone markets. A few quick hits, according to the New York Times:

  • The iPhone continues to hold the applications market. But other phone makers seeking a rival are turning to Android, the mobile operating system Google created.
  • LG of South Korea introduced a smartphone with a screen capable of showing 3-D content. It doesn’t require any special eyewear.
  • INQ, a smaller phone maker based in Britain, wants to appeal to social networking addicts with its line of Android-based devices, which prominently feature on its home screen updates from the user’s Facebook news feed, along with easy access to chat and check-in functions.
  • HTC, a Taiwanese hardware manufacturer, showed two phones: the ChaCha and the Salsa. Both include a separate button on the front to quickly access Facebook.
  • Sony Ericcson offered the Xperia Play, an Android smartphone with a slide-out set of controller buttons, similar to Sony’s PlayStation Portable gaming device. It’s intended to allow users to play games too complex for touch-screen controls.
  • HTC also revealed its first tablet, the Flyer. It comes with a stylus and features a movie streaming and downloading application called HTC Watch, as well as access to OnLive, a service that lets people play elaborate games without buying special hardware.
  • Nokia announced it formed an alliance with Microsoft to use its Windows Phone 7 software in its line of mobile devices. “The world is shifting from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems,” says new Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Last year, global sales of smartphones surged 72% compared with sales in 2009. Analysts say that as soon as this year, mobile phones and tablets will eclipse desktop and laptop computers as the primary way people access the Internet.

“It’s a very disruptive time,” adds Al Hilwa, analyst for the research firm, IDC. “Both software and hardware companies are going back to the drawing board and rethinking their business plans.”

Define Your Business Model

Behind nearly all successful products will be a business model that:

  • Offers a unique, relevant value promise;
  • Is aligned with market trends;
  • Is capable of generating healthy profits because it creates the lowest cost or offers unique benefits that competitors can’t easily replicate; and
  • Opens up new growth platforms.

In Associations Now, Kay Plantes, author of “Beyond Price: Differentiate Your Company in Ways That Really Matter,” suggests these questions to define your credit union’s business model strategy:

  • Who are your target markets, how do you reach them, and what is the nature of your relationship with them?
  • What is the scope of your offering?
  • What value promise will lead members to choose your product or service?
  • Which benefits or cost savings will lead members to choose you over alternatives?
  • What other credit union advantages or partnerships can you leverage to make it difficult for competitors to copy your value promise?