If you are an Operator who is not selling iPhones, why haven’t you built your iPhone App already?

In a previous weblog article on “Open Access Service Examples,” one case includes an “Operator Community Widget.”  Where I provided some use cases on how an operator can harness Facebook.  The business model for the operator would be to insert itself into the 16%-20% of online time being spent for social communications; enhancing that experience; and using it for both advertising and stimulating consumption of operator services.

I’ve talked about the Apple App Store in many articles last year, e.g. Open Innovation and Application Developer Needs “Part 1” and “Part 2,” and “End of year Review.”  It provides an open service platform where operators could place their application.  For example, an AT&T iPhone subscriber could have a Verizon app (VZapp) on their iPhone.  Or an iPod Touch customer could similarly have that VZapp application.

Here’s an example use case for a VZapp on an AT&T iPhone:

Fred hops on the bus to his local coffee shop.  While passing a bill board advert for Lost, he realizes he’ll be out tonight, so remotely sets his FiOS DVR (Digital Video Recorder) to record the show, as well as checking if there are any old shows he should delete.  He then watches the local news from his FiOS TV service remotely.  While drinking coffee he sees on Facebook a friend has just bought an exclusive track from Verizon Media Store (see previous operator Facebook app use case) that they talked about yesterday, so he does the same.  He then messages/calls his friend (who is on Verizon) for free, asking what she thinks of the new track.  Before Fred leaves the coffee shop he checks out the latest VCAST exclusive videos, then does a local search (location provided by iPhone / iPod Touch) GPS) for the nearest pizza joint.  This could all be done with the VZApp.  The scenarios do not need to be limited to consumer applications, there are many business scenarios.

The iPhone provides a platform for operators to experiment in the role of being ‘just’ a service provider.  Even though they may have lost a mobile network customer, they can still maintain the relationship and revenue with their other services.