Cutting Room: Vodafone and O2 in B2B power match

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The mobile industry is moving to embrace unified comms and ‘cloud’ computing in 2011, and operators Vodafone, O2 and Orange are putting stakes in the ground

Our 2011 predictions tell of an industry pinning its hopes on certain things. One major feature of the industry’s confidence for the year ahead, through a difficult economic climate, is the emergence of cloud computing in the mobile industry.

Vodafone’s move with Microsoft is the clearest sign yet of its coming-of-age in this market. It is the area of computing Microsoft most clearly leads. Importantly, dealers are talking about it excitedly, as the final piece of the jigsaw to make businesses truly mobile and bring home flexible working.

Cloud computing is not a fad. Twitter and Facebook are 21st century phenomenons, and the ability to store pictures, blog and access information online is second nature to an influential part of the mass market.

Microsoft says 90 per cent of its developers are developing cloud services. Airtime distributor HSC has already agreed a partnership with Microsoft.

Outsourcery, the completely recast old Genesis business, is a Microsoft gold partner and a growing business, one that struggled in 2010 to persuade the market of its services, but finished the year with key support from Nokia and O2.

The latter will surely put significant focus on Outsourcery this year.

In parallel, O2 has struck a deal with IT service provider 2e2 to combine on systems integration, WAN provision, hosted products and cloud computing, and bring these to bear under its brand in the business market.

These are operators with clear and developing focus on the business market now, enabled by the business potential afforded by smartphones and, through 2011, tablet devices.

At the same time, Orange has announced pricing for its Pocket Landline service. O2’s action now and Vodafone’s prep work for three or four months hence makes Orange’s latest announcement already obsolete.

O2’s move, typically in partnership with a close third-party, must be viewed as a ready proposition, although it counters Vodafone’s more robust OneNet offer.

These two are trading blows. Orange is not even ringside.

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