The Telcos still don’t get it
Technically unwashed marketing and bean
counting departments are still steering technology businesses
straight onto the nearest rocks.
Just when you thought it might be safe to go
back into the marketplace, there has been yet another telco
disaster. This time, the venerable Cable and Wireless has managed
to convert a cash mountain (some £7 billion, 2 years ago, £2bn
today) into a scrap heap for the hopes and aspirations of shareholders
and management. Ironically, everyone was saying that C&W’s
traditional sloth has saved it from making the sort of pre-emptive
moves on internet stocks that had sunk the reputations of it’s
peers at places likes WorldCom and BT.
So the recent news that C&W has
squandered the benefit of hindsight and managed to buy a
collection of written down assets and still managed to tank
seems to warrant a different sort of award for management. This
appears to be shooting oneself in the foot with a bazooka and a
gatling gun. This is like signing a statement that says you know
where your foot is and that you have a loaded gun in your hand
that is pointing at it, and still pulling the trigger.
And the 3G cellular fiasco looks to be doing
no better. All Hutchinson (aka “3”) can think to do is promote
the possibility of subscribing to a “see that goal” service,
and a bunch of mapping services that will not be frightening
Garmin and the GPS business very much. I have yet to hear about
one service that people are likely to pay from on 3G that cannot
already be delivered using the current GSM 2.5 GPRS system.
The other star application featured on their
website seems to be using the phone as a payment device. I can’t
wait. But it’s a good job they bought the Superdrug chain to
provide a front for flogging their phones, since the management
will soon need to go looking for the paracetamol when this lot
starts to roost, and the folks back home in Hong Kong ask those
awkward questions – starting with “why did we spend £4bn on a
licence to enter a market that is already 100% saturated?”.
I really don’t know what it takes to get
technology back on the rails and going places. Some of the
pioneering founders of the 80s PC and networking boom need to be
hauled off their yachts and given the task of throwing the present
generation of executives out of the telecoms industry and getting
back to the two basics:
Do something (useful) that you cannot otherwise achieve by
any other means
Deliver measurable value in improved efficiency
Think wireless computers - not computerised telephones.
If any Shopper reader has anything positive
to report on the state of telco performance with regard to
benefits for computer users, please don’t hesitate to email me.