in Applications, Mobile Phones

The Fight for the Idle Screen

In the past few years all operators have started populating their mobile phone with branded applications in order to boost their data ARPU.

In the last few months they seem to be focusing on the mobile phone idle screen.

It’s quite easy to think at the mobile phone idle screen as the personal computer desktop. Actually I think it’s really the equivalent of the personal computer desktop on steroids.

The main difference I see between the two is the fact that the customer will spend most of his time with his mobile phone in idle state compared to a small amount of he will spend on his desktop.

That’s the reason why operators are focusing on this. Actually I do not really understand why operators did not start thinking about this a long time ago. For most operator it is a relatively new strategy.

Since the mobile phone and it’s applications are critical for content discovery the idle screen is perfect to promote new content and new services to customers.

From a technical standpoint the game is not easy at all.

  • The complexity and variety of mobile phones operating system will need dedicated porting of any idle screen application. If you ever worked on something like this you will understand how difficult this is. If you have never worked on it, trust me, it’s a real nightmare.
  • Mobile search has never been implemented in a good way by any operator. Finding content on a mobile portal is still hard and complex.

From a marketing standpoint it is not yet still clear how mobile advertising will impact this space. The idle screen is, obviously, the best place where to show advertisement messages. It’s the fastest way to catch customer eyes and, possibly, interest.

There is another big difference between the personal computer desktop and the idle screen of the mobile phone.

On the personal computer desktop you decide what to place on it while on the mobile phone idle screen the operator will decide what will be sitting there.

So, the big question is: Who owns the idle screen?

I think that the customer should be the owner of the idle screen. Definitely there should be an application on the idle screen but most of it has to be customizable by the customer and not imposed by the operator.

Why do I blog this? If the mobile is going to be personal computer of the future it has to behave like that. Full stop.