Mobile Applications on Sonopia

sonopia.gifI came across Sonopia’s new ‘roll your own’ MVNO  this week.

The idea is that anyone or any company can create their own MVNO. You build your own service around your own unique content, brand and community taking about 5% of revenue that Sonopia earns.

Looking at the Sonopia web site it seemed that news photos sharing and blogs were the main services. Hence, I initially came away thinking that it’s just a community based system – much of which people can get on the mobile Internet anyway.

I started wondering if people such as myself could add JAVA or native applications. This would open up the possibilities. Currently, it’s very difficult to get a network operator to listen to new ideas. Instead you could just create your own service. Examples might be…

  • An Enterprise MVNO targeting email, contacts and company information on the move
  • Vertical enterprise solution MVNOs such as ‘Man in a Van’ delivery and wireless inventory
  • Vertical hobby based solutions. For example, a ‘Sailing Phone’ providing GPS Mapping, weather, tide calculations etc.
  • Security based MVNO using camera photos and/or video streaming

i.e. Emphasis on applications where the phone is used as an additional device to perform a specific task. (In my opinion, asking people to ditch their phone/contract/tariff to become part of a community might not be very attractive). As an aside, there’s a growing trend for people to buy additional phones (or SIMs) for specific purposes or roles in their life.

I emailed Sonopia and asked if they support JAVA and native applications and whether these could be tied to a Sonopia MVNO. I was told they only support BREW and the ability to restrict BREW downloads by affinity will be available soon.

It turns out Sonopia is actually Verizon and I expect the same BREW authentication, testing and acceptance criteria that applies to Verizon content also applies to Sonopia MVNOs. Publishing BREW applications tends to be an onerous process but can reap real financial rewards for those who are willing to stay the course. In fact, if you are going to go this route then you might as well publish with Verizon rather than via your own MVNO so as to gain wider exposure.

I think Sonopia could present some interesting application opportunities… if they could somehow truly distance themselves from restrictions the underlying carrier.