have a strong direct billing model, others are still reliant upon SMS for payments. In the UK and the rest of Europe, several attempts at direct billing have failed to gain hold.
Furthermore, the process of delivering mobile content differs not only between continents or countries but also within each network provider. Vodafone live! in the UK, for example, works on a very different model to Vodafone live! in Australia. This is a clear indication that the mobile industry, despite its global success is still in its infancy. The majority of services today are still basic content delivery – a long way from what can be achieved in the future via mobile Internet devices that combine location-based services with push local advertising, for example.
These differences have a fundamental impact on the ease with which new products and services can be launched both within a country and across a particular network, and the revenue share on offer. This demands a more innovative approach to entice customers to download content – since the cost is so much more visible with this payment model.
At the same time, different pricing models have created new opportunities. In the UK, the high pricing of MMS effectively curtailed widespread adoption, which has prompted the development of a wide array of MMS services.
One in Thirty
While the potential market is now huge, developing and delivering profitable content in what is a phenomenally competitive environment is complex. Marketing testing is critical to assess consumer response to new models, products and ideas. But such testing is no longer the preserve of the UK – for so long the innovator in mobile content development.
Indeed the UK is the most highly regulated market in the world, with the most challenging data protection laws – and a complete ban on location-based services, for example. For many new services, the UK is frankly not the place to test. Instead, many organisations are using Ireland, a country with one of the most mobile savvy consumer bases in Europe, offering a high average consumer spend.
Yet getting the market testing right is not the complete solution. With, at best, one idea in 30 creating a viable mobile product, once a company identifies it has a hit on its hands, the global release has to be virtually instantaneous. Indeed, if the content is not deployed within a matter of days to all markets, other players will have developed look-/feel- or sound-alike competition, and the opportunity will be lost, for good.
The ability to understand these market differences – and use a self-provisioning solution that overcomes divergent standards, billing methods, licensing laws and technologies is critical if content developers are to maximise short-lived commercial opportunities.
This ability to seamlessly deliver mobile content and services across countries irrespective of local differences will become increasingly important as organisations look to exploit the growing maturity of technologies such as VoIP. With the extortionately high charges for data services made by the network providers across the globe, content providers are champing at the bit to exploit other options to deliver a range of innovative products to an eager consumer base.
With the arrival of the mobile Internet search engine – whether from a network provider or search specialists such as Google – the demand for data-based mobile content will grow exponentially. Yet the speed of technology innovation and consumer sophistication cannot mask the very different mobile infrastructures in every international market – the result of both vendor immaturity and evolving national approaches to content/data licensing and protection.
While the opportunities for global delivery continue to grow at an extraordinary rate it is the ability to seamlessly move between multiple technology delivery options that will prove essential both to deliver the consumer the right content, in the right format, and minimise the overhead associated with reaching the broadest possible marketplace.
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