Has Claro really made an impression in the Jamaica Telecom market?

3G this 3G that, all one can hear and see on radio, TV, and print is this hype about Claro 3G network. In fact many of my young friends are saying “Oh not another Claro commercial”. Some are even saying, “Every other commercial on TV is either Claro or a Digicel” and that they are tired of it.

So what is all the hype in Claro’s commercials about, and the latest one about video calls? Nothing really, as making video calls at the same cost as a voice call is nothing revolutionary or cost effective.

In fact, when Digicel rolls out their WiMAX (4G), Claro will be 1G less. Using WiMAX network or even third party application over the mobile Internet at affordable rates, a user can make high quality Video and VoIP calls for FREE if the network so decides. Thus, it will be a short time before consumers see no need to switch to Claro, as Claro currently has no real product incentives to warrant a switch. Price is not the single best reason or criteria to switch.

Why switch?

This is a good question to ask yourself: Why switch from your existing network to another network?

Each person’s answer may vary. For many Jamaicans, owning two mobile phones is the norm. For some, one phone is for local calls while the other is for International calls due to convenience.

One has to consider that people are not so willing to lose their old mobile phone numbers and all their friends’ phone numbers that are on another network.

But the fact of the matter is Claro’s decision to go 3G, and their decision to bank their market launch and service on 3G, was a poor choice by management.

Sponsorships and Prizes

Giving away new Mercedes Benz cars and tons of prizes, sponsoring football leagues with little incentive to use their products was also poor marketing.

In fact the sponsorship of the KSAFA leagues was so poorly managed, that some clubs in the Super League did not even have training bibs with Claro on them or bibs at all. One club had it so bad they did not have bibs much less powdered Gatorade, and were seen using Digicel training footballs.

There was very little TV presence for the Claro Super league or quality. They came and it just went. Unlike the Digicel Premier League which was better organized and had excellent TV coverage.

So why sponsor a football league to the tune of alleged millions of dollars as a Mobile provider, and clubs are still operating in a bush league format and using your competitor’s branded footballs for practice?

But the proof is in the pudding. If Claro is able to increase on the strong user base that they acquired from MegaPhone, they are still a distant third in comparison to LIME and Digicel.

How to dominate?

(1) Offer products and services that allow the consumer to save money and enhance their communications not just domestically but internationally.

(2) Lift Jamaica from a voice and SMS consumer base to also embrace Data services. Thus users being able to access Social Networking sites, Blogs, Micro Blogging sites, various communications web applications ranging from Facebook, Twibeo, Twitter, Skype, and JaJah to name a few all for FREE.

The fact of the matter is the mobile phone is evolving to a cost effective mobile PC. Thus PC applications and voice has converged. The user does not want to pay for a Telecom expensive network as it was not the user’s fault that the Telecom provider was not smart enough to choose the right mixture of technology while offering communications services to the market.

Digicel is king of the Jamaican market and will remain so for a long time to come especially when they begin to offer WiMAX. Purchasing Digicel or LIME may be Claro’s only real chance of gaining a market leadership in Jamaica. For now and the near future Claro is simply a niche player in the market.

For the record I do not own a Digicel phone, nor is this article any promotion for them.

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