BARCELONA 08/01/2008 - Interesting session yesterday night at FIRSTTUESDAY SPAIN where Bango CEO Ray Anderson gave some background to his entrepreneurial adventure at the company he founded in 1999 with €1.5m of his own money. He was very open in admitting that the venture required far more time and money to take off than he expected (he is still due to make an overall profit for the business) but that he was confident he would be in a position to exit via a buyout from a bigger group within 2 years should he wish to do so. The often repeated point about having to grow the company above all else in the first few years was backed up by Roberto Fernandez, founder of Spanish start-up Aztive Mobile (both Bango and Aztive will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month).
Ray voiced the opinion (that is being repeated by several commentators) that mobile operators are becoming less important, increasingly allowing new companies to enter the fray and offer services independently of the operator restrictions.As operators are more concerned with protecting their revenue streams than with competing between each other, they have traditionally adopted a 'wait-and-see' attitude and jumped on the bandwagon at the last moment.
He stated that it was an odd coincidence indeed that only once handsets were placed on the market with free wi-fi browsing capability that operators reduced their data transfer rates or how only once handsets with in-built GPS were launched that operators agreed to the release of location-related data for groups of customers.
He also stated that monetising revenues from the mobile web will remain an issue until operators are in a posiition to claim a substantial chunk of revenues from add-on services and he called for a Paypal-style new entrant to create a new global standard for payments that will stimulate new revenue models and open up new earning opportunities.
While talking about mobile site design, he stressed the need for developers to adapt web pages to the reality of the mobile screen (obvious but still not widely acknowledged!) with vertical navigation, simplified browsing, removal of flash-type graphics etc. Interestingly for me, he did not mention the whole dot.mobi movement spearheaded by the consortium of Nokia, Telefonica, GSMA etc. which is odd, as dot.mobi aims to do just what Ray preaches-viz.adapt web pages for mobile and create a 'gold standard' for mobile.
Ray also called for a simple and universally-accepted browser to be developed for mobile (i.e. Google for mobile) and circumvent some of the cumbersome browsers that are around today which reduce the quality of the user experience.