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The predictions are that mobile content – pictures, audio, video and games – will be a massive market within the next few years. What are the opportunities and threats for developers of that content? Mark Brill from Ping Corporation Ltd looks at the issues for mobile content, and what the future may hold.

The Opportunities

All of the research shows that mobile content is going to be massive in the next five years. Screen digest estimated the value of this content to be £5.46bn a year by 2011. A 2006 Gartner Survey estimated that mobile content would be worth a less conservative $78 billion within the next 5 years.

We have already seen a ‘first wave’ of mobile content, largely dominated by ringtones and backgrounds. However the predicted ‘second wave’ of mobile content is almost upon us and it is expected to generate greater revenues, with a longer lifespan than the first wave.

What will bring about this second wave?

The growth in mobile content will be driven by improvements in technology such as higher resolution screens, better software and improved data connections, such as 3G. Handset technology is converging with internet technologies through the introduction of devices such as the I-phone and the impending Google Phone. The line between phone, music or video player and PDA is becoming seamless.

At the same time the mobile phone operators are  소액결제현금화 reviewing their pricing policies for data. Until recently, the cost of downloading was a few pounds per megabyte. This was a major barrier to downloading content. Most of the operators in the UK are now offering a flat rate for data, following a similar model to home broadband.

Premium SMS offers a simple revenue model allowing micro payments to be taken quickly. Identifying a phone number through SMS also allows for easy user and age verification with content restriction to unregistered phones. The growth of 3rd party developers will continue. Many industry observers regard D2C (direct to consumer) as the most likely area to succeed with the most engaging content and the best user experience.

With over 3 billion phones worldwide, mobile technology is in wider use than PC-based internet access or television. As such it has the potential to become an enormously powerful tool for selling and distributing content. A goldmine for mobile content providers.

Selling onto mobile

Typically the route to market is as follows:

* Content is created – pictures, video or audio

* The content provider sells through a distributor – such as Player-X or direct to the consumer via a platform such as immedia24.

Distributors will generally work with operator portals, such as Vodafone Live or T-Mobile’s T-Zones. This is always operated on a revenue share – the content is not bought outright, but the revenue from Premium SMS is shared between the portal, distributor and content developer.