Why mobile operators love Facebook
The telephone is dead long live the telephone. Or to put it another way, if you are a mobile operator, thank heavens for Facebook.
That was the message from AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega in his keynote session at CTIA Wireless on Tuesday.
De la Vega emphasised the importance of social networking to operators “social networking is going to be a major force in this industry for years to come”
He was backed up by T-Mobile CEO Philipp Humm, who went further saying, "Mobile users pick up the phone 150 times a day". A quick look at my own activity log shows that on average, just 2% of those times are for voice calls.
In essence, social networking has created an addiction to mobile data.
Cast your mind back 10 years to 2002 or perhaps more accurately, the year 2BF (2 years Before Facebook) and you’d have trouble finding even the most active text messager using their phone as much. But now, operators who saw their revenue slice dwindling due to fewer calls being made can now rejoice in our addiction to data.
For operators, the crucial difference between text messaging and social networking is that texting relies on a two-way conversation, while checking your Facebook can quite easily be a solitary obsession. And every time you're checking to see if you’ve missed something, you're chewing up more data.
The clearest message for us is that whatever new technologies might emerge, their translation into successful services and business models will depend not on new functionality but on how they fulfil our basic needs as human beings – in the case of social networks, our need for belonging, allegiance and acceptance.
After all, as De la Vega says, Facebook simply “…helps people communicate. That’s what we do.”
Photo: Creative Commons / University of Maryland