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CTIA Day 3: Kutcher Suggests Carriers Beware of the OTTs

Thu, 05/23/2013 - 2:06pm
Andrew Berg

(LAS VEGAS) - Ashton Kutcher has some advice for wireless carrier executives: change is coming. The actor and investor mulled a range of issues relating to mobility during a Day 3 keynote at CTIA 2013 on Thursday. 

Kutcher, who is known for his acting talents, has also built an impressive resume of successful investments in technology companies--Path, AirBnB, and Spotify are among the many standouts. 

Anyone arriving at the keynote expecting one of the characters Kutcher plays on TV had to have been pleasantly surprised with the articulate, at time philosophical discussion that emerged from Kutcher's conversation with CNBC's Julia Boorstin. 

At one point in his talk, Kutcher spoke directly to the carriers, saying that he thinks data rates are too expensive and wired hotspots and Wi-Fi, along with VoIP apps are a very real threat to high data rates being offered in the industry today. 

Kutcher said the decentralization already happening as a result of innovative technologies should be a wake-up call for the carriers, saying they would be crazy not to start investing or purchasing over the top players like Skype, and Viber. 

He said that as people start moving to high-capacity fiber in the home, consumer expectations of cellular are going to change. 

"People are going to start looking at cellular and have that feeling that I'm not having that experience that want to get, that I need to get...consumers are very entitled," Kutcher said. 

According to Kutcher, app discovery is one of the major challenges facing companies looking to break into the mobile space. Kutcher gleans insight into the market by extensive research and attending trade shows, as well as by sitting around with friends and finding out what's on their homescreens. In doing so, Kutcher manages to get ahead of the market, which he says is constantly behind the curve because of poor app discovery mechanisms. 

"I'm always shocked at how far behind the market is," Kutcher said. 

One thing Kutcher said could help with discovery is getting consumers to opt in to revealing more information about the apps on their phones. But he admitted that prevailing security concerns amongst consumers has hindered that kind of sharing. 

But even a guy with as impressive a track record as Kutcher says the fast-moving world of tech and mobility is almost impossible to predict. When asked what the future of mobility looks like, Kutcher said he really has no idea. 

"I could maybe predict what it's going to look like in a month, and I'd probably be wrong 50 to 70 percent of the time," Kutcher said, adding that continued growth in connections and technology is the one certainty.  

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