Telecom: we’re gonna be cool again

We’ve all seen companies grow into giants and lose their power to innovate. They get so big that the competition is dwarfed and the drive to create new products is lost. Yahoo! and AOL are guilty as charged, and some have suggested that Apple will follow suit if it doesn’t make some big changes soon.

Once a company falls into that rut, it takes a vast amount of effort and resources to get the business back on track, and it seems as if New Zealand telecommunications giant Telecom has realised that it may be going down that track, and that it must begin that realignment process.

Telecom has, for the past 5 years or so, been perceived as the telecommunications provider for businesses and corporate empires that it is. Their plans weren’t great for small-scale buyers, and for the individual consumer, the products they sold were pricier than competitors. Telecom just hasn’t been “cool” for the past few years. They weren’t trying to be either; as long as they could tap into the valuable B2B market they were satisfied.

We all know that, nowadays, consumer revolution in the tech space begins and ends in the younger demographic. They’re the ones usually put under the categories “Early Adopter” and “Early Majority”. Get them behind your product, and it will boom for a few years, followed by a large usage uptake by an older, more valuable audience.

Look at Facebook, which started out with a strong user base of teens and adults in their early 20’s. Then mums, dads and grannies joined the fun, and the teens have left, looking for “the next big thing.” Zuckerberg’s social network is starting to lose its “coolness,” but the company is not worried. As cheap teens leave, working and established adults with bigger budgets join the service, resulting in a better market for consumer advertising.

Telecom is not holding anything back in its new effort to be “cool” again.

First off, the company announced #GigaWiFi, its contribution to the #Gigatown competition, which sees towns compete for the fastest internet in the Southern Hemisphere. Telecom’s #GigaWiFi will give the winning town 5th Generation WiFi hotspots in strategic places throughout their city.

Secondly, the company has undergone a complete rebranding. They’ve announced an upcoming name change from Telecom to Spark. Our first reaction was, “Really! That’s what they came up with!?” It sounds cheap, tacky almost, but it doesn’t imply antiquity like Telecom does, which is a good thing.

Thirdly, they’ve nipped Vodafone Music in the bud with a Spotify partnership. Anyone on the $29/month or higher Ultra Mobile prepaid plan, or the $59/month or higher Ultra MoBile pay monthly plan will get a free Spotify Premium membership, allowing them to play an unlimited amount of music with no ads, and download tracks for offline listening. In a world where an entire music library is being replaced by a single streaming app, this is very persuading move on Telecom (Spark)’s part.

Fourthly, Telecom account holders can get 1 Gigabyte of free WiFi per day from Telecom stores, Telecom WiFi zones, or the 700 Telecom phone boxes that dot New Zealand’s cities.

It’s a fairly competitive offering they’re dangling in front of consumers, and it has even been effective in convincing some members of the New Zealand Entrepreneurs team to switch carriers. Others appreciate having rollover data from 2degrees, or the heavily discounted home broadband plans that Vodafone offers existing customers.

As far as Telecom goes, we have a feeling this is just the beginning. Watch this space. And now for a hilarious parody by Guy Williams of Telecom’s Tech-in-a-Sec, watch this video:

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