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Middleman is the king

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DQW Bureau
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If the customer is king, then what would you call somebody who claims to own

the customer by giving the power to compute and communicate in his or her hand,

anytime, anywhere. Emperor?

Nokia, the world's number one mobile phone maker is now beginning to leverage

the formidable reach that it has. A base of over 1.2 bn Nokia phone users

globally, including 240 mn plus users in India, the company has aspirations much

beyond what any phone maker will have.

Just because it will be advantage mobility in the days ahead, thanks to newer

technologies like 3G and smarter and cheaper handsets, it will be advantage

Nokia because of its leadership position. According to industry estimates, by

the year 2014 more people will access the Internet through mobile phones than

computers. Nokia could be at the center of this person-to-person, businessto-

consumer, and government-to-citizen interaction.

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So far Nokia has been focusing on applications and services for consumers

like maps, education, agriculture, and entertainment, in local languages. But

now the portfolio is growing and widening.

The company is testing waters in the B2B area. For instance, Nokia has

embarked on a very critical pilot project for the SMB community, where it gives

them business solutions for connecting with its sales force and partners in four

verticals and seven cities. And it is a pay-peruse and pay-as-you-grow model, at

Rs 550 per month per user, based on cloud technology. If successful, this

service could be very quickly replicated across the country and across the

world. If Nokia becomes a solution of choice for the SMB, the big companies

could be forced to adopt it too. Services for business users have the potential

to become a big revenue earner for Nokia, and this could be a threat for the

traditional hardware and software companies.

Of course Nokia is not the only one in the race. There are Google, Microsoft,

and Apple (iPhone), who bring their big and increasing customer bases to the

negotiating table. Clearly, any strategy that ICT vendors and enterprise users

make without taking the likes of Nokia and Google into account, will be doing so

at their own risk.

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One last point that I would like to add is very critical.

Unfortunately, the established, organized and suave industry that ICT is, it has

been badmouthing the traditional middlemen who were unorganized and

unprofessional. The ICT players call themselves as ethical and professional

service and solution providers. The fact is that technology control gives them

tremendous power and control, so there is every possibility that these solution

and service providers start behaving like the railway reservation

touts--demanding a pound of your fl esh. That will be a sad day in the journey

of technology and it benefi ts to masses.

Middleman sounds derogatory, but one hopes that these guys, whatever you call

them, will add value to their customers and the ecosystem.

Ibrahim Ahamad


ibrahima@cybermedia.co.in

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