NTT Docomo, Vodafone named top performers

Both mobile operators score high on product innovation and service implementation in ABI Research mobile operator matrix.

Japanese telco NTT Docomo and UK-based mobile operator Vodafone are setting the benchmark for product and service innovation in the industry, according to a recent study by ABI Research.

"Both of these companies have demonstrated remarkable cycles of product and service innovation that continue to underpin their market reach or implementation," said Jake Saunders, ABI's Asia-Pacific research director, in a press statement issued Tuesday.

The two companies topped a list of 20 international mobile operators that were assessed using ABI Research's latest Mobile Operator Performance Matrix, which judges an operator's performance based on various benchmarks. These include Capex (capital expenditure) spend per user, non-voice revenue contribution, number and utility of applications and service deployments, and share of the global subscriber market.

ABI's study revealed that both NTT Docomo and Vodafone were ahead of their peers in areas of consumer and enterprise application delivery, as well as mobile payment. The research house identified, for example, that both Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo were the first to offer enterprise e-mail service for customers, as well as the first to roll out mobile payments services.

The study also noted that most of the mobile operators surveyed were striving to remain competitive and gain market leverage by enhancing their capacity for innovation. While the overall versatility of some of the other operators, measured on two key axes--innovation and implementation--was not as comprehensive as that of Vodafone and NTT DoCoMo, ABI noted that some operators are showing long-term promise.

Saunders singled out China Mobile and Hutchison 3 as two operators that exude long-term potential.

"Hutchison 3 achieved the highest score for innovation of all the operators surveyed, but its comparative financial and market reach limitations lowered its rating on the implementation index," he said

China Mobile, meanwhile, scored the highest in terms of implementation by virtue of the sheer volume of its subscriber base. The operator, however, yielded a lower score in terms of its level of profitability as well as operational efficiency, according to Saunders.