Amazon, Facebook and Google are engaged in a global contest to become the pre-eminent broker of digital commerce between merchants and consumers. Google controls the leading digital platform – the Android smartphone. And Facebook dominates mobile messaging. But new digital platforms are emerging – the growing popularity of smart speakers, which rely on cloud-based artificial intelligence, could help Amazon, the original online chameleon, to bolster its fast-evolving ecosystem at the expense of Google and Facebook. As the digital food chain evolves, opportunities will open up for telcos, but only if the smart home market remains heterogeneous and very competitive.
Mobile messaging is fast becoming a key platform for digital commerce, mounting a challenge to Google Search, Amazon’s Marketplace and other two-sided platforms. As Facebook gears up to take advantage of this opportunity, some of the world’s largest telcos are working with Google to develop and deploy multimedia communications services that will work across networks and will replace SMS. But will it be too little, too late?
Messaging services are increasingly enabling interactions and transactions between consumers and businesses. Largely pioneered by WeChat in China, the growing integration of digital communications and commerce services looks like a multi-billion dollar boon for Facebook and a major headache for Amazon, eBay and Google. It also poses a strategic dilemma for Apple and telcos: Can they turn their communications apps into shopping channels while championing privacy and security?
In 2014, AT&T launched its Domain 2.0 Programme to virtualise 75% of its network functions by 2020. So how is it going, and what are the lessons for others on the complex journey to the virtualised / agile Telco 2.0 digital vision?
Baidu, China’s answer to Google, is one of the world’s leading Internet companies by market capitalisation. But can Baidu break out of the Middle Kingdom? Fast-growing smartphone maker, Xiaomi, is building a multi-faceted ecosystem and a tribal brand among young people. What impact will Xiaomi have in Western Europe and North America? DJI, the world’s leading drone manufacturer, could become an anchor for a major ecosystem in the consumer robotics arena. But several obstacles may knock DJI off course.
Both Alibaba and Tencent have created formidable Internet ecosystems within China. However, the increasingly competitive Chinese economy is now slowing, and their continued growth depends on weakening the control of Google, Facebook and Amazon over the global digital commerce market. In the first of two reports on China, we examine Alibaba and Tencent’s services, business models, and aspirations, and explain how and why telcos should support their international expansion.
The unveiling of Apple Pay and unravelling of Weve (the UK operators’ payments venture) looked like bad news for telcos’ ambitions in mobile payments in some markets, and highlighted challenges to Google and others’ models. Yet there are already successful telco models and favourable market trends that telcos should exploit. So what are the opportunities now?
Facing lockout from a growing chunk of the Internet and mounting competition from the Facebook-Microsoft alliance and Amazon, Google’s core business is under intense pressure. The search giant’s response is to innovate, offering consumers proactive recommendations, as well as reactive search results. Once an interesting sideline, Google Now has become fundamental to the Mountain View company’s future. Is the suggestion service good enough to maintain Google’s position as the world’s leading big data company?