In the last 5 years, the mobile market dramatically changed.
At the end of 2001, the Value Added Services merely didn’t exist, mobile carriers made money only from voice & sms.
They didn’t anticipate the strong value of SMS, it was not meant to be used for interpersonal communication but for network signalisation.
Then arrived the ringtones, wallpapers, followed by big failures as WAP 1, 3G and so on.
Those successful markets are doomed because of the new technologies embedded in the devices on one hand and because of User Generated Content on the other hand.
Ringtones : Downloading a MP3 on your phone, selecting it as a ringtone is easier (did you try to find a ringtone that was not in the radio Top 20 on any carrier portal ?), cheaper (free if you’re a P2P user, 0,99$ if you download it on a legal platform), and better (not a 10sec snippet) than buying a ringtone.
MocoNews reports that the market trend is £34.8 million in 2000, £177.3 in 2005, £143.5 million this year and £78.8 million by 2007.
Wallpapers : Every phone now has a camera, users take pictures and set them as a background instead of downloading some cute cats or naked girl on a car roof.
SMS : SMS is a poor media, yet widely adopted. Carriers tried to create a more advanced format : MMS. It’s a failure, people simply don’t use MMS because it’s difficult to create and doesn’t fit to a fast usage.
Which text service is already widely accepted, easy to use and almost free of charge ? Email.
Some studies anticipate that by 2010, mobile email will replace sms (in volume)
So where will the money be ?
Here are my guess :
1/ Difficult to copy contents
MP3 integration is the main cause of the ringtone market problems. Successful contents will be the ones that you can not find from other sources : Mobile games, Mobile TV.
2/ Internet services
As mobile phones become faster, screens larger, keyboards wider, every popular Internet application will be successful on the Mobile Internet : Shopping, IM, email, news, search engines.
Yet, the mobile world has lots of differences compared to the broadband fixed Internet : you can’t just access internet services from your mobile. Editors need to developp specific services to deal with screen size, device integration,… and to benefit from what device brings : you know who and where your customer is.
As on the Internet people will be less and less keen on paying for the contents (see the ringtone story) but will more and more accept advertisment in what their get.
For the reason said above, advertisement on mobile will be very profitable because you can target your message.
You can really deliver your message to someone you know.
This chart is from Slashphone