Retailing to shift to content

As mobile data sales increase, direct to consumer channels will become more important than the current mobile operator-controlled channels.

That might seem a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, given that the web represents a much lower overhead for retailers than a storefront. But the report from Informa Telecoms & Media has some interesting background to its conclusions…


The report – the third edition of Informa’s Mobile Distribution and Retail – says the mobile industry has been moving away from a vertically integrated model controlled by operators and manufacturers, to a more complex horizontal, layered structure, “creating new challenges and opportunities for distributors and retailers of cellular phones and data services”.

Informa predicts that content and applications developers will be increasingly influential as the mobile retail distribution structure becomes more complex. The mobile distribution value chain has conventionally focused on hardware such as handsets, accessories and prepaid top-up cards; but it has now begun to include content services – and initially at least it will be the newer direct channels that seize this opportunity.

Informa is forecasting that direct channels will take 42% of retail sales by the end of the decade. In 2005 they accounted for just 24% of a global mobile retail market that was worth about $126bn. The 2005 figure was made up of $106bn on handset retail sales and $20bn in mobile data (excluding P2P messaging and prepaid top-up). By 2010, mobile data will have reached $47billion,while hardware sales will drop to $86bn.

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