Can Internet of Things Make Telcos "Platforms?"

However one assesses the possibility of succeeding, some argue major telcos have to become platforms.

That would be a profound challenge under any circumstances.

A computing platform is, in the most general sense, the environment within which computer software is designed to run within, obeying its constraints, and making use of its facilities.

The notion of “platform” therefore is a shortened form of the complete term “computing platform.”

Conceptually, there are different levels of abstraction. Hardware architecture, operating system or runtime libraries provide examples.

You see the problem. Historically, computing has been one business and set of functions, communications a separate business. Becoming a platform” necessarily means moving “up the protocol stack” and into a different industry, fundamentally.

Platforms can include pure hardware such as embedded systems, browsers, applications, software frameworks, cloud computing, virtual machines or virtualized version of a complete system, including virtualized hardware, OS, software and storage.

Internet of Things could well be a place where a former “telco” could create a new role, as a platform for development. Whether “telcos” can become generalized “platforms” might be another matter.

Some might argue that, to the extent it is possible, mobile service providers already are moving in that direction. Connected car and connected healthcare provide examples.

“As the US market focuses on the next stage of its evolution--from voice to text to data and now to constant connectivity and what you do with it—competition for market share and retention of subscribers takes center stage,” said Susan Welsh de Grimaldo, Strategy Analytics director of  wireless operator strategies.

The U.S. mobile business has entered into a new phase, evolving from voice to text to data and now to constant connectivity and what you do with it, according to Strategy Analytics Wireless.

With fewer new subscribers to sign up for mobile service for the first time, carriers have focused on transitioning consumers to smartphones, 4G LTE and monetizing their data use. Now carriers are focusing on adding value and content.
The reasons are simple enough: by 2020, adoption will have reached 128 percent. Growth will be hard to manage based solely on adding new “human” accounts and customers.

That is why mobile service revenue will grow just 0.2 percent to reach US$197 billion in 2020, up slightly from $195 billion in 2015.

Mobile data revenue might grow only  3.3 percent.

Strategy Analytics PR US wireless outlook 2015

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