We have had several discussions on Mobile VAS on venturewoods earlier. Many of us have noticed the transition away from operator-led services – for reasons to do with operators (revenue shares, non payment of dues), service operators (excessive push, billing frauds), as well as regulators (ad-hoc regulations). Last friday, Canaan did an event around emerging mobile services in Bangalore. The panelists included people trying to build mobile subscription, payment as well as advertising services. Interestingly, the operator-led world was conspicuous by its absence.

Is there still a future of operator-led services? I would think so. Operator channels still remain the channels of mass distribution of mobile services. They also remain the most convenient payment mechanisms. The trick perhaps is for operators to recognize these strengths, and focus on them. Other elements, such as branding, consumer experience management, and service delivery are best left to a distributed ecosystem of providers.

Within our portfolio and outside, we are beginning to see operator-led service providers morphing their services to take more ownership of end-consumer experience. Be it in consumer directed analytics, delivery of services, or better integration of operator-led services with other touch-points like the internet. On their part, operators would be well served to re-establish consumer confidence by clearly outlining their commitments to consumers – the “bill of rights” of a mobile consumer in India.