A developer's guide to pitching mobile apps to operators


One of the few highlights of last week's otherwise moribund CTIA Wireless I.T. and Entertainment 2007 conference was the State of Mobile Content Mini-Conference, a panel discussion bringing together the data services heads of the five largest U.S. mobile operators. During the course of a lively and far-ranging session moderated by Douglas Garland, executive in residence with venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the subject turned to developers' best bets for successfully pitching their applications for inclusion on carrier decks. Here's what each data chief had to say.

  • John Burris, Sprint's vice president of wireless data programming: "Understand what kinds of services Sprint offers today. You'd be surprised by the number of partners who aren't aware of what's part of our portfolio today… Be flexible."
  • Wade McGill, Alltel's senior vice president of product management and development: "Have a business model and an elevator speech. If it takes an hour or two hours to get through what a product is, it's not going to sell. Show me the value in the first five minutes."
  • Lee Daniels, Verizon Wireless' staff vice president, consumer services: "You have to understand the network impact of your application. How often is it hitting the network? How much data is it sending? You can't crush the network with streaming audio and video."
  • Ian McKerlich, T-Mobile's director of mobile web and content services: "Know what else we have and how your application is different. Take time to know how our business is different from other operators. We all go to market differently. Tell me how it adds value to the consumer, how we can make money, and how you can make money."
  • Mark Collins, AT&T's vice president of consumer data services: "What's the customer experience and why should a customer be interested in what you have to offer? If the customer isn't going to have a good experience, neither of us is going to make money. We have limits to our resources--we've got to prioritize."

For more of our comprehensive coverage of the CTIA event, including exclusive photos of some of the newest mobile phones and devices, click here. -Jason