Back from the dead, the UK Cognito two-way paging service has been relaunched with a different business strategy, and a change in emphasis. The company was last heard of when Craycom Ltd bought all of Dowty Network Services except Cognito, and Dowty’s new owner, TI Group Plc, said that Cognito would be closed. It seems […]
Back from the dead, the UK Cognito two-way paging service has been relaunched with a different business strategy, and a change in emphasis. The company was last heard of when Craycom Ltd bought all of Dowty Network Services except Cognito, and Dowty’s new owner, TI Group Plc, said that Cognito would be closed. It seems that a white knight has emerged, however, in the shape of an unnamed European investment house, and the company has been reborn as Cognito Ltd. Alongside the change of ownership, theer has been a change in the emphasis of the business: the network research and development has been axed, as has the broad-based range of applications at which the service was being aimed; instead, the company is to concentrate on service provision, initially targeted at the field service engineer and sales force markets. Garry Garrard, Mobile Communications director with PA Consulting Ltd, feels, however, that on the service engineering, Cognito may not sophisticated enough to meet requirements: as he points out, while it will allow for appointment scheduling, it will not meet more application-specific requirements, such as database integration. On the more positive side of things, however, Garrard notes that of the companies offering two-way data services, Cognito has little competition in that both RAM Mobile Data Ltd and Hutchison Telecommunications (UK) Ltd are offering more expensive, tailored services. Despite its focused target market, Cognito has not relinquished all of its wider-ranging ambitions. According to Ashley Ward, the new non-executive chairman, once the company is past its break-even point, it intends to find an industrial partner to help with international expansion, and to help attack other markets.
The company is not just looking for financial assistance, however: according to Ward, we don’t have the resources or the expertise to do it internationally. The company is looking for a telecommunications or major electronics organisation which it hopes will help with market development expertise as much as funding. In addition, Cognito says that it has been successful in re-signing previous customers. Ward says that the company has three business plans reflecting various degrees of optimism, and only nine days into the asset ownership, we are confident that we are well ahead of the best business plan. When the service goes live on November 30, the tariffs are to be based on a flat rate charge of UKP50 per month for unlimited usage, plus the cost of the terminal. In addition to his reservations about the service’s sophistication for field engineering applications, PA’s Garrard also feels, however, that the price is a bit high. While he recognises that there is an enormous potential market, as he points out, a low-volume cellular phone user would expect to pay only an extra UKP10 per month for the added flexibility that that technology brings, a problem exacerbated by the low-cost packages now offered by both Cellnet Mobile Communications Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc.