It is one thing to speculate on what you think might happen, it’s quite another to make a bold choice based on your vision of the future. Being that decisive can make you as many enemies as it does admirers and major changes based on forecasts often provoke extreme reactions. So it’s no surprise that as to two major high street brands - Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail - officially merged there was a range of contrasting responses from the mobile industry. The news following the merger that the new business is set to hire 2,000 new retail staff for the 500 Carphone concessions in Dixons stores only emphasises the extent to which the two firms are banking on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IOT) being the next big driver in the world of mobile.
The new staff in these combined retail stores will not only have to be versed in all things mobile, but must also be able to sell the device as the central tool in the IOT. The way in which these concessions will operate will demonstrate quite how far the integration of the two stores will go. In an increasingly saturated smartphone market the search is on to find the next area of growth and there will be many other partners hoping that the merger’s vision of a connected market becomes a reality.
One area that must be addressed is how the consumer fits in. In many ways they already use an IOT: planning recordings on their Sky+ box using their phone or tracking the steps they’ve taking on their Nike trainers. But how do you get them to go further? To buy more new products or upgraded smartphones to use this ‘internet’ to the fullest extent? It will be a question that advocates of the IOT must answer.
The deal also leaves Phones 4u as the only independent phone retailer focussed exclusively on mobile which demonstrates once again how the power of the direct selling from the networks has changed this sector of the mobile industry. Clearly Phones 4u must fight back, but the question is how? Perhaps a partnership of its own would be the way forward; but finding someone big enough and brave enough to join forces with the business to fight the new Dixons-Carphone offering won’t be easy.
Quite how this battle develops and whether IOT has the impact that has been predicted will be fascinating to watch. As the new editor of Mobile I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.