Communication is perhaps the most important need of man as a social animal. And not so arguably, speech is the most natural means of communication.
Sure, the mobile revolution has addressed that need in an amazingly effective way. Yet, even as the mobile services juggernaut rolls on, new paradigms of communication continue to emerge and gain widespread user adoption. The ongoing convergence of telecom and IT has helped.
Voice communication has typically been a telecom-based thing. On the other hand, e-mail, instant messaging and the ilk have been IT-based modes of communication. The relatively newer paradigms like unified communication (UC) bring the two sets of communications together into a single window. Yes, UC products and services have so far focused on the business users, but there could be a latent demand for a UC-like offering among sections of the consumers segment as well, especially as more and more personal devices get carried into the workplace in an acceptable manner.
The smart phones are a good example of that. Users commonly use their smart phones for receiving and sending both official and personal mails and for making official as well as personal calls. They also do access the social networking websites through these mobile devices. The burgeoning tablets market has the potential to further accelerate the process.
Smart phones and tablets as devices are naturally suited for delivery of multiple communication channels–voice, video and texting, which is increasingly the preferred way of written communication over the more traditional and structured forms such as e-mail.
Interestingly, the month of June witnessed some significant tablet launches in India. These include Motorola’s Zoom, RIM’s PlayBook and Huawei’s MediaPad. More tablet launches are on the anvil in the coming months.
In the smart phone segment too, there were some interesting developments, especially for consumers in the mid segments. The most noteworthy one was the re-launch of iPhone 3GS in India at a sub-Rs 20,000 price point. While tech bloggers have been divided in their voices on the re-launched device, one thing is sure that this would lead to a series of fresh adjustments in the device prices in the segment.
Such developments would augur well for telecom service providers, who could see more subscribers coming into the fold of higher-value data users. Meanwhile, this could call for new plans to suit the potentially more diverse needs of the new iPhone and Android users, and of course, the new tablet users. Is it time to try out a unified communications plan for select consumer segments?
(As published in Deccan Chronicle, June 30, 2011; header changed.)
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