Telecom Industry: From Product- Selling to Service- marketing and beyond

Telecom industry has come a long way. Gone are the days when a one minute call would cost Rs. 16/-. Gone are the days when SMS was considered a addon only for the educated class. Gone are the days when GPRS was a service hardly anyone knew. And, gone are the days when service was considered merely a 7 letter 'vestigial' word in the telecom sector.


Technology has induced such a transition. Mobile phones were considered to be a luxury of only a select few in the society. Now, it is more than a necessity for the 'common man'. Now, I guess, the common man is falling short of pockets to carry his phone. Need-Gap analysis for the textile industry, maybe. But, on a serious note, the fixed line sector (landline) is going through a decline phase and has rightly adopted the milking strategy till they reach their destined exit. That’s how big a part technology has played in the mode of communication. But thats just the tip of an iceberg. Technology has improved the quality of data / voice, improvement of cell phone handsets, upgraded cell towers, picocells, femtocells, 3G, 4G, WiMAX, LTE etc.  From an end-user point of view, we are in for exciting times.

The industry, as on today, is divided to 3 sub-sectors / verticals, which are mutually exclusive, yet cannot survive without the other two. Those 3 verticals are the cell phone manufacturers, service providers and the VAS (Value Added Service) vertical. When the telecom sector was in its introduction stage, there were only 2 verticals: Cell Phone and Service provider. To interact with a person wirelessly, you needed a phone as well as a SIM card. The product was basic and services were few.  The case is entirely different now. Cell phones are more than what it was intended to be. We have cell phones doubling up as audio recorder / player, high quality video player / recorder, high quality camera, Maps, Navigators. You name it, either it'll have it or it'll come in the next release.

Service providers have moved from providing voice based service to a combination of voice and data based services. Mobile internet is developing at a faster rate compared to desktop based internet. Quality-of-service (QoS) has also increased many-fold and industry dynamic changers like MNP only helped in fuelling QoS.


Cell phones had basic operating systems that the makers can't even boast of. Compare that to the Android (Google), iOS (Apple), Symbian, MeeGo (Nokia), Bada (Samsung) and the millions of apps each OS supports. There is a reason why 2011 is considered by many as the year of "apps". Value added services are ruling the roost. For almost every customer requirement, there is a corresponding app. This vertical has emerged purely on the basis of adding more features than a cell phone vertical can think of.

Industry has certainly moved from Delivering products to Customer satisfaction to customer delight and is on track to move towards, what Kotler believes is the next wave of marketing, 'Customer Experience' (Human Spirit).

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