A small example of the huge gulf in UX thinking between traditional telcos and the new entrants (Apple, Google, Palm)... I received an email from a PayForIt provider we work with today. If you didn't know PayForIt, it's a cross-operator consortium that's come up with a single payment solution - as a content provider, you can integrate once to you can bill customers across UK operators.
This sounds like a good thing, but the user experience is quite poor when compared to, say, a contemporary App Store: clicking through a couple of mobile web page round-trips, confirming your purchase, opting out of marketing info, and so on. It's bad enough to result in measurable drop in revenues for those moving to it from SMS (something I've heard from content providers who've moved from SMS to PayForIt). But they've announced an improvement to the service (I've redacted the payment provider name):
"Dear Valued Customer, We are pleased to announce a major improvement to our XXX platform.
Previously we were unable to bill many Iphone, Blackberry and other smartphone users due to the fact that for these devices, we were not passed the users mobile number from their network operator.
As of today, we can now bill users for your content on all of these handsets.
We have automatically enabled Smartphone billing in XXX, and the good news is that there is nothing you need to do to enable this functionality.
As you may know iPhone users are not always able to save non App Store content to their handsets e.g. audio or video assets.
We have included a disclaimer in the iPhone user journey which is detailed below;
Iphone Users: Please note that, due to Apple’s current content policy, it may not be possible to save the content you are about to buy to your Iphone for future use.
To summarise, great news: you can bill iPhone customers! But err, they can't guarantee getting what they've bought. And what customer in their right mind is going to pay for content, be unable to download it, and think "hey I guess there was a disclaimer so it's fair enough"?
I don't mean to pick on the PayForIt provider in question here - it's good news that the customers with strongest propensity to buy can now purchase more content. PayForIt is a cross-industry initiative and I'm sure a lot of hard work has gone into reaching consensus and implementing this across operators. To me, given all this effort, the gulf between the end-experience and that of the new competition is just all the more depressing...