Orcon, best known for its calling and internet services, recently entered the overcrowded mobile market with a ‘no contract’ approach to owning handsets. But can the tiny telco really stand up to the big boys that already dominate the market? CEO Scott Bartlett thinks so and told ConnectMe his approach is a game-changer.
Why haven’t we seen no-contract mobile plans before now?
The simple premise is that if you are a mobile phone provider, you make more money if you have contracts. We looked at that and said “Yes, we’d make more money but does it really fit with what we’re comfortable with?”
If I’d signed a 36-month contract the day before the first iPhone came out, I would have only just come off it in May. I just don’t think that’s what people want. People want to experience all the good stuff that’s coming out. Two years ago there was no App Store; now there’s an entire industry around it.
Technology is changing so fast now. The iPhone is cool, but look what’s coming out with the Android devices; better in some areas than the iPhone. If you take contracts out of the equation, people will use this stuff more.
What kind of success are you initially aiming for?
There’s an office pool I’ve got $10 on. The official estimate is none and I’m being completely up front. We don’t know. My $10 is on that we’ll have thousands of users within 90 days. Not tens of thousands, just thousands. One guy here’s got his money on 10,000 customers, which is quite optimistic, but good on him.
Are companies listening harder to what mobile users want these days?
I don’t think big companies do at all, which is good because it create opportunities for small companies like mine. That’s what competition’s all about. Big companies who have a strong position in the marketplace don’t need to listen to their customers. They just do what they do and the customers have no choice. If you deliver customers something that they want, they will respond. If you don’t lock them into anything they’ll also respond. They’ll respond by consuming more and doing more innovative things. We’ve taken a different approach in that it’s a big market, yes it’s fully saturated, but if we listen to what people want and deliver on that people will come to us. We don’t need TV ads, we don’t need to open 100 shops. Word of mouth will kick in. That’s how we’ve built Orcon.
Will Orcon mobile be canned if it doesn’t hit a certain target by a certain time?
No way. This is not an experiment, this is not us taking a car out for a spin. The world’s going mobile and we think it’s a critical part of the present and future for our customers. We think we can create more value around data and other ways to pay for a phone call. We can bring new devices into the country that people have never seen before. Put it this way: if we’re losing money on mobile in two years we still wouldn’t can it.
So where can the Orcon brand go next?
In five years’ time we’re going to be super excited about all the things we’re doing on fibre. We’re not that excited about who wins it; we just want it to be won. We want fibre out there so we can begin delivering services on it.
What should we expect there?
We’re already thinking about some of the services we can do once high-speed connectivity is going into every home. And I’m not just talking about faster internet or a new way to pick up your phone. I’m talking about what we can do on the TV, in interactive media, in interactive education, realtime health care and monitoring.