We’re seeing a proliferation of business models in the mobile domain. Many take advantage of opportunities that have emerged since Smartphones became a primary means for people to access online services, websites, and social networks. Earlier this week, it was announced that InfoGin, a company that provides “mobile browsing solutions for publishers, search providers, and mobile carriers” will use MetraTech’s Metanga, multi-tenant, cloud-based billing solution to “monetize” its new GinWiz service.
GinWiz is called a “mobile cloud service”, but what it primarily does is convert existing websites into mobile-friendly formats and gives them a mobile commerce, subscriber management, and analytics back end. It is offered with three levels of service: Basic, for free; Standard, for US$29.00 per month, and Premium for $149.99 per month. This is a valuable service because being mobile-friendly online is now a “must have.” Making it easy and inexpensive for retailers and publishers to achieve a commerce-enabled mobile presence, without recreating a new or parallel web infrastructure, is extremely valuable.
It’s this kind of business model where cloud-based billing really makes sense. For starters, the cloud, or software as a service aspect, gives the end user the advantage of leveraging valuable business functionality without having to build, install, maintain or expend significant capital for anything. Because Metanga uses a multi-tenant architecture, it allows InfoGin to extend its capabilities as part of its service offering. In other words, not only is the service provider able to use it to bill its own customers, but the billing solution’s complete capabilities become part of the service it can extend to, theoretically, an unlimited number of users. And finally, we don’t need to get lost in complexity. If I want my lemonade stand to accept mobile payments this summer, GinWiz just made that possible.
We’ve written before about the ongoing debate over the need for telco-style complexity in a cloud biller, versus the value of simplicity in stripping away capabilities that some considered to be over-engineered. There are legitimate cases to be made for either argument, depending on the circumstances. In this case, we’re seeing a good middle ground. There’s enough complexity here to support some relatively sophisticated business models for end users, but its simple enough not to require a team of engineers to get to market.
This kind of enabling technology allows for some real creativity in how businesses and people can use the mobile web. Instead of worrying about how to build a mobile presence, sign-up customers, and collect payment, they can focus on innovating products. Ultimately, this is where the really interesting stuff begins to happen as we stop thinking about things as “mobile services” and just think of them as “services,” taking the mobile piece as a given. That’s one of the positive impacts effective, cloud-based billing solutions can have on the marketplace.