Most of Europe's mobile operators have already started to build a strategy to address vertical markets. These range from mHealth, mPayments and mBanking to M2M, mobile advertising and mRetail. Some operators have already launched units focused on these sectors, while others are planning to launch commercial units to address these new business verticals.
While mobile payments and mobile banking have been seen as mass-market services aimed at the consumer, many others, such as mHealth, are more focused. However, each vertical will require operators to build a comprehensive offering in close collaboration with partners.
Building and developing these partnerships into an effective and mutually beneficial business will be the No. 1 challenge for mobile operators in 2011.
One enthusiastic M2M forecaster believes that the number of connected devices worldwide will reach as high as 50 billion over the next ten years. TeliaSonera's head of industrial service has stated that "M2M represented an opportunity that was potentially larger than either the mobile or Internet revolutions."
Orange has also been upbeat about the potential of M2M, and has set the vertical as one of the four key goals over the next five years for its Orange Business Services division.
Likely outcome: Already a topic of huge interest among larger operators, M2M will become a business reality during 2011 as European governments mandate the implementation of smart meters and/or grids.
mPayments and mBanking will continue to grow during 2011 as financial services firms use the technology to differentiate themselves and attract new customers.
However, other ventures into mobile vertical marketing will fail. Some operators seem very unsure about how to approach mobile advertising--forming and then disbanding their focused business teams.
2011 will be a year of transition for mobile services; some will bloom, others will wither.