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Telecom Leader crumbling under own weight of Obsolete Technology

By Umar Manzoor Khan

When the cellular industry knocked the doors of Pakistan way back in 1990s, people eagerly awaited the launch of GSM services which would help take technology to a new level. Instaphone and Paktel were given a run for their money as customers seemed to flock towards the much awaited world of GSM services. Mobilink the first operator to venture out with this technology saw a prompt uphill growth chart but after a few years of complete domination it has to face tough competition from players like Ufone, Telenor & Warid and much later Zong.

The consumer had become more accustomed to change plus wished to remain ahead with the latest in technological change. A case at hand is BlackBerry one of the fastest growing families in the world. Mobilink was the first player to launch BlackBerry in Pakistan and even though it had exclusivity to be the only player to offer these services in the country is has now become an obvious follower. Lately Ufone seems to have taken the lead by successive first to launch latest blackberry smartphones in the country. Even Warid has launched a number of the new generation blackberry handhelds before Mobilink.

Take for instance BlackBerry Torch 9800 introduced by Ufone last month. Blackberry users in Pakistan got their hands on the most advanced and latest BlackBerry with backed Warranty and Customer Support. The Torch 9800 is RIM’s latest smartphone with slider plus QWERTY pad which is loaded with the new Version 6 BlackBerry operating system and a 5 mega pixel camera. The handset allows multi tab browsing, supports multiple video and audio formats and has integrated social networks & RSS feeds in one simple view.

What seems to have gone wrong? Why & How has Mobilink derailed from its initial strategy to not only be the leader but also to take the necessary steps to remain ahead?

Seeing ‘leaders’ helplessly lagging behind in the field of technology is indeed a ‘gloomy’ spectacle. Today I saw a pitiable ad of Mobilink in a national daily. It was not a shock in the least bit to see that Mobilink has resorted to offer, outdated handsets like Pearl 8110 and 8120 and the flopped Storm 9500 (which I must ads is supposed to be a touch screen but sadly one has to fight to press a desired button) as a value bundle. The so called strategy gurus sitting in Mobilink do not realize that anyone who is his/her sane mind paying to use BlackBerry services will not invest in such outdated handhelds unless cornered by various compulsions to use these technologically outdated and third class sets. His/her choice simply will be the operator who is offering the most up to date BlackBerry.

Now the question is which market segment these outdated sets will cater for? Answer, NO ONE! I am no czar of the technology world but a “Mobilink Deserter” who ‘ditched’ the company due to obsolete technology and ported in to Ufone told me that in order to get the attention of the corporate world Mobilink recently launched the HTC HD7 and the Samsung Galaxy tab as a desperate move to tap into the corporate market but it couldn’t cut the mustard as blackberry is by far the most up to date and preferred service used by the corporate world.

Has Mobilink played its last blackberry card to get back its once loyal customer? Or are they simply going to remain a follower and continue to show there helplessness in the present fast paced cellular industry?

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