|Europe II 2008
|Chief Operating Officer; Head, Customer Business Unit
|Magyar Telekom Ltd
János Winkler is the Chief Operating Officer of Magyar Telekom Ltd and Head of its Customer Business Unit. Previously, Mr Winkler served in a series of posts including CEO, Head of Mobile Services Line of Business, and Deputy General Manager & Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for T-Mobile Hungary Ltd (formerly Westel Mobile Telecommunications Co. Ltd.). Before joining T-Mobile, Mr Winkler was the National Sales Manager, later Deputy General Manager & Director of Marketing and Sales for Westel Rádiótelefon Kft, Budapest, Hungary and Sales Manager for the Nikex Foreign Trade Company. He also served as the Commercial Secretary, Deputy Commercial Counsellor, in the Commercial Office of the Hungarian Embassy in Peking, China. Mr Winkler graduated as an Economist, from Budapest University of Economic Sciences, and also holds a MBA from Perdue, USA.
The Internet is rapidly occupying TV, computer and cellphone screens and broadband fills these screens. Third Generation – 3G – wireless and HSDP deliver true broadband to mobile phones. The cell phone is the first personal mass medium. More than 2.6 billion people have cell phones. In the screen-dominated 21st century, broadband enabled mobiles will connect us constantly to our real and virtual communities. The iPhone, the first real screen phone, already puts Apple among the top ten handset manufacturers.
When we tap the word ‘Internet’ into the Yahoo search window we get a long list of descriptions, explanations and theories. Although we can talk about wires, servers, routers and modems, the World Wide Web is much more than a spider web of hardware. The Internet is a system to turn our fundamental needs, our desire to belong to a community, free communication and self-expression, all organized into bits. It is a knowledge base and an entertainment and communication interface. It is starting to dominate the screens of computers, cell phones and, soon, through IPTV, of televisions. The Internet is taking (has taken?) control of our lives by connecting us to the world. In today’s society, it is rapidly occupying the three most important screens in our lives – the TV, the computer and the cellphone. The task for operators is to conquer these screens. Darkness without broadband The screens cannot survive without content – content in the broadest (band?) sense. Content is everything on the Net, every sort of information and multimedia flow and, in fact, every digital transmission – everything with a network connection. Nowadays, living without broadband means returning to text, to grey monochrome displays and the limits of the pre-digital world. Colours, information, email and chat, browsing and video file sharing do not exist without the electronic highway. The digital age does not tolerate the sort of lengthy waiting we had back when we surfed the Net on a dial-up modem – delays long enough to finish a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Fortunately, those days are now (almost) history – you can surf the Net, even watch the news, on your cell phone while waiting for a bus. Broadband Internet connections have shaken-up the screens of the world. Increasing speed and new generations of computers have laid the foundation for the emergence of web 2.0. Just where would YouTube – responsible for an estimated ten per cent of the Net’s traffic – be without bandwidth? How could we upload our video files and watch the videos without high-speed web access? The mobile Internet and mobile displays exist only as a function of bandwidth. The mobile industry has been feeding users false promises about bandwidth for too long in the name of General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), and then Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). When 3G and High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) arrived, everyone was sceptical, based upon the experience they, and their friends, have had with mobile broadband in the past. Advertising EDGE as broadband damaged the industry’s reputation, but trust can be regained. HSDPA, for example, delivers true broadband and real freedom of communication via cell phones and computers. Today, if you need fast Net surfing, there is life outside the desktop. Thanks to real broadband, we have reached a point where people of every generation are seen staring at displays on their cell phones or computers while walking the streets or sitting in parks and cafés – I do this as well. If I need to check something on the Web, I no longer wait to get home, since my mobile phone is at hand. I wonder; should we still call it a telephone? We no longer have to wait to satisfy our curiosity – we have the Net and powerful search engines in our hands. Who hasn’t stolen a few idle minutes on the Internet, turning on a notebook or BlackBerry; we surf the Net, exchange emails, chat, blog or log onto our favourite forum while waiting to catch a bus, board a flight or ride a tram. We also share anything we see or hear – we take pictures, shoot videos and share them via our mobiles. Web 2.0 – a screen for everyone! Web 2.0 comes into its own on screen – on computers and increasingly on cell phones. Mobile Internet users can, and do, share what is happening in their lives; they connect and transfer their experiences to others, as they happen, from their mobiles – compressing time and space. Web 2.0 takes on its real meaning in the totally networked world of mobile communications. The cellphone is the first real mass medium – a personal mass medium. There are 2.6 billion people with cell phones in their pockets. Throughout the world, the mobile screen reaches children and senior citizens alike. It is the first mass medium that can be easily personalised. Mobile is growing more rapidly than any other medium before and is creating a personal attachment never seen with other mass media. T-Mobile Hungary and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences have studied the social effects of mobile telephones for years. They have investigated how mobile communications change our lives. Their studies and those of international researchers show that our strong attachment to mobile telephones derives from the social interactions, the person-to-person relations, mobile telephones make possible in an urban world. With a mobile phone in hand, our family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances are only the push of a button away, no matter where we are in the world. We contact whomever we want directly; there are no intermediaries, and we do not have to leave a message – we can dial them directly wherever they are. This is natural now; we do not think about it, we push a button and start talking. World Wide Webs of individuals, communities, are growing on the Internet and the mobile phone will soon keep all of us constantly connected to our own communities. A network of person-to-person and individual-to-community relationships is replacing person-to-person relationships, and the mobile telephone will become one of the most important connections to real and virtual communities in the screen-dominated 21st century. In much of the world there are few computers and no landline infrastructure, so cell phones – Internet enabled handsets – are the only way people can access the Net. With the spread of broadband mobile networks, the last obstacles are disappearing; access to information, to Web 2.0, to images and sound will be via a screen in our pocket. A new experience We are at a turning point; the world can finally become a real community with the help of mobile tools and broadband mobile Internet. The concept of the World Wide Web – a truly global network of people – is becoming reality. We are just starting; manufacturers now understand we need more than just a simple equipment facelift to consolidate the revolution. Today the screens are often scary and hard to understand; buttons, menus, user interfaces are often incomprehensible and illogical. All handsets present obstacles that keep the screen-controlled web 2.0 from enhancing our sense of ‘community’. When broadband mobile was launched, we often heard voices of doubt: ‘Make no mistake, the mobile Net will end up as WAP did. Who is going to surf the Net with such a small screen? It is slow and unmanageable.’ Despite the doubters, speed is no longer an issue, and the tools – the handsets – are getting better and better. Cell phones have become smarter, but the user’s manuals have become thicker and harder to understand. Our handsets have so many functions they are often difficult to use. It is no coincidence that in the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in forums and workshops of manufacturers and operators, one issue stood out – the user experience. Users want attractive and trendy handsets that provide services they really need and can easily use. The iPhone is a case in point; I was very impressed when I first took one in my hand. Within minutes I was convinced it is an excellent handset, a real ‘screen-telephone’. Its voice performance is perfect, but it is not optimized for voice – this telephone is all about the screen and content on the screen, voice is secondary. Although the iPhone cannot do everything that some state-of-the-art cell phones offer, it has completely revolutionised the cell phone market; Apple, with only one relatively expensive handset, is already said to be among the world’s top ten handset manufacturers. It is not surprising; the iPhone is the first real screen phone. It is very revealing that German iPhone users use 30 times as much data as an average customer! For them, mobile Internet is no longer a novelty; rather it is an essential tool, an essential experience. Success and screens The bottom line for operators, indeed for users as well, is what can be found on their screens – on televisions, computers and mobile phones – perhaps all three simultaneously. Can we provide a Web 2.0 experience that people feel, love and enjoy on the new screens? The success of operators will be measured against that. Operators succeed whenever a subscriber chooses its screen among the many available. Operators succeed when the user’s experience bonds users to them through millions of screens.