Normal Service or Lip Service?

No response yet from O2 to the questions we asked about its opted-in marketing database, which I was told last night could actually number more than 1 million subscribers, rather than the 300,000 we reported yesterday.
It will be interesting to see how forthcoming O2 is with answers, given a conversation that took place last night at the networking event following the mobileSQUARED Taking Internet Mobile roadshow.
The point under discussion was whether mobile operators really take mobile marketing seriously, or whether they merely pay lip service to it, given the minuscule contribution it currently makes to their revenues, compared to voice and text.
A comparison was made with the fixed Internet. 25  years ago (roughly, it’s not that important), there was no Internet, then it emerged from the primordial soup of academia, and so companies set themselves up as Internet Service Providers with a very clear business model of charging people a set fee each month to provide them with access to this thing called the Internet. In some cases, these companies, like BT, also did other things, but they took a conscious decision to set themselves up as ISPs because they could see a revenue stream.
Look at the mobile web and things are slightly different. Here, you had mobile operators raking in millions, billions even, from voice and text, when along comes all this data stuff that they didn’t really ask for or push for. Rather, it’s been driven by mobile content companies looking for an obvious distribution channel for their goods, and by brands and, to a greater extent, their agencies, who can see great potential in mobile as the ultimate, personal, customer engagement channel. Meanwhile, the operators, arguably, would rather focus on the stuff that makes the money here and now.
This theory would explain why 3, which had no legacy voice and text business when it opened its doors for business has, arguably, been the most innovative of the UK operators when it comes to anything closely related to data services or mobile marketing.
The operators may argue otherwise, and it would be great to hear someone from one of the major UK operators put their point of view. A response from O2 about that marketing database would be a good place to start.

David Murphy