Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 10 Mobile Brands

Today, Mobile Communications International has published a list of the "most valuable operator brands". In many ways, it's a list of the usual suspects, Voda is #2, followed by the T-Mo's, Oranges and Verizon's of the world. However, seeing China Mobile at #1 struck me as interesting ... and I can't help thinking it's a bit skewed. Yes, China Mobile has got a growing list of subsidiaries around the world (for example in Pakistan), but ranking a brand by value when the quirk of fate has it operating in the largest market in the world does seem to distort things.

So, what's the unscientific 'top 10'? The list of the top 10 operators who are 'most interesting'?

#1 - T-Mobile US ... forced to act like the new entrant, their 3G roll-out has happened at world record speed and are using UMA technology to deliver aggressive homezone priving and services to grab market share. Oh, and don't forget they're right out there at the forefront with the Google phone.
#2 - Orange ... they're pioneering FMC strategies and, with services like Unik, at the bleeding edge of technology
#3 - Softbank ... to be honest, I don't know much about these guys apart from the fact that if there's something new to try (e.g. femtocells), they're bound to be at the head of the queue of operators trying to work out how the hell they can make money from it!
#4 - China Mobile ... ok, ok, I'll defer to the 'pros' and put them high up the list. They're big. They're the 800lb gorilla to watch. So they're on this list because we should forget about them at our peril!
#5 - Sprint Nextel ... bless 'em, they're trying to build a business case for WiMAX. They deserve points for at least trying, don't they? Certainly by the criteria of are they "interesting", they certainly make the list.
#6 - NTT DoCoMo ... the Frank Sinatra of the industry ... yep, you got it, they'll do it their way!
#7 - Reliance ... anyone of a host of the Indian operators could make the list, but Reliance have always been the ones to grab my attention at least. Real innovators in some of the services they're delivering, making massive strides in terms of growth and definitely one to watch.
#8 - O2, AT&T (and any other operator who took the iPhone) ... if you're making enough money to be able to give a huge chunk of change to Apple, good luck to you. But when you look at some of the stats coming back (certainly from AT&T whose network has been crushed by the data usage driven by the iPhone) they are demanding attention
#9 - Telefonica ...They could (they should?) be up there with Orange / FT ... they've got it all, the mobile, the fixed, the geographies ... a sleeping giant
#10 - Vodafone ... maybe I'm just deliberately contrary, but god are Vodafone boring. Technology innovators? Hell no. Most interesting as a brand because increasingly that seems to be all they are. And just who are they competing against?

You may quible (and I'm sure you will) with who's in the list and where, but the point is this... if you're looking at who the innovators are, who are the operators who are leading, rather than following, you start to see a different list.

Leadership can obviously be defined in all manner of ways. But what ever definition you use, when you put your PR hat on, there's only one measure that matters ... are you interesting!

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