In search of the ordinary consumer

It's not every day I suggest you closely watch a marketing campaign. But you should keep an eye on the Telecom JetStream Mobile 027 campaign that ordinary consumers -- as opposed to business types -- are about to be deluged with.

It's not every day I suggest you closely watch a marketing campaign. But you should keep an eye on the Telecom JetStream Mobile 027 campaign that ordinary consumers -- as opposed to business types -- are about to be deluged with. Then compare and contrast it with how Telecom's DSL product family has been managed.

One difference is easy to point to already: in the mobile market Telecom has competition and in residential broadband it has none.

JetStream Mobile, Telecom's latest mobile phone data offering, runs on CDMA 1x and is capable of speeds of up to 155kbit/s. Mobile data is the name of the game and Telecom has a two-pronged approach to customers: divide them into business users and consumers.

The business markets are being sold on the advantages of high-speed mobile data: we're shown men lounging at poolsides seemingly doing a full day's work without working up a sweat. Mobile data is a natural fit with the business market and as such Telecom, with its headstart over Vodafone in the business sector, is working from a strong user base. Businesses want their sales reps and marketing managers out on the road talking to clients. It's what they're hired for, what they're paid for, what they do. It makes sense for businesses to have these people if not in contact then within reach at all times -- though I have heard of at least one company manager taking that to extremes by actively monitoring his teams' location at all times.

The consumer market is an altogether more difficult kettle of fish for Telecom. Vodafone has ruled the consumer roost since it first announced text messaging. Vodafone has always had the better looking phones, the consumer-centric marketing push and the clout to take Telecom on in that segment.

Telecom is taking it to Vodafone in its consumer market stronghold by introducing content, in the form of an Xtra-branded Super 12 campaign and a smart new advertising regime under the "Go 27" banner. Forget the TM campaign that nobody really understood (What was it with that dog humping the guy's leg? Was it a guy?), that's history. Now we're finding out what real people want from a mobile phone service. Data isn't as important as applications; end users aren't going to want access to the company VPN as much as they are ring tones and tattoos, or so the theory goes. (All in all, it's shaping up to be an interesting battle when Vodafone also unleashes its next-gen mobile phone services on the country.)

DSL JetStream, by comparison, has been sold using a more moderate approach -- surf the net faster seems to be the idea, although nobody actually says how much faster (there's a vague "up to 50 times faster" with plenty of explanatory small print). There is the occasional online ad comparing dial up with JetStream courtesy of various easy to understand analogies (fishing with a hook versus a net, for example), but that's about it. The only pricing move Telecom has made has been to change JetStream 400 and 600 to 500 and 1000 respectively (number of megabytes of traffic that's allowed to be used in a month).

Apart from the JetStream games realm there is nothing to entice users over to broadband, no content push, no branding to speak of -- giving those who already have the service no reason to use it. It has a difficult pricing structure at the best of times, a distinct lack of tools to help the user manage the product and a series of capped or restricted service levels that make using the product for anything other than email and web surfing almost impossible. JetStream Starter customers can't use the service to serve files not because of the technology but because they're not allowed to. JetStream customers who want to run a VPN or connect to a work-based VPN are discouraged. The mentality of the JetStream product is a negative one, is one of restriction rather than encouragement.

Maybe this is why Telecom already has 250,000 users on its JetStream Mobile platform and fewer than 60,000 on JetStream proper.

Brislen is IDGNet’s reporter. Send letters for publication in Computerworld to Computerworld Letters.

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