Mobile Content Hunger Bodes Well For Carriers

By Judy Mottl

March 28, 2008

Experts say service providers well positioned to grab content marketshare.

When it comes to mobile content there's little customer loyalty to wireless carriers, except when it comes to ring tones and games, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Mobile device users are more likely to grab third-party or Web-based content over what's pushed to, or loaded on, a handset, states the report.

"Perhaps more with the mobile phone than any other consumer electronics device, content is obtained from a variety of sources," Michael Wolf, ABI research director, stated in a press release.

But that doesn't necessarily push cellular service providers down to the market cellar, as today's mobile device users are clearly demanding, and expecting, more content offerings.

A recent Handango study noted that smartphone users in particular have a burgeoning appetitefor entertainment content over business content.

A separate ABI research report notes that the smartphone user base, which held 10 percent of the total handset market last year, is growing fast and will account for 31 percent marketshare by 2013. ABI attributes the "meteoric" smartphone growth to several factors, including carriers' efforts to grow data revenues from advanced services.

Right now, however, the hungriest Web-based content consumers are iPhone users. A recent M:Metrics survey reported that 85 percent of iPhone users accessed online information in January.

The various mobile handset trends collectively bode well for carriers who plan to boost content services and revenues, said ABI's Wolf.

"Despite a loosening of control over content delivery to consumers, we believe the carriers will ultimately benefit as they open up their networks and handset platforms and look into taking advantage of increased advertising-supported content delivery.”

The ABI report, "As the Mix Diversifies, Carriers Losing Control Over Mobile Content," surveyed 1,005 U.S.-based mobile phone users between the ages 14 and 59.

When it comes to video entertainment, 35 percent of those polled reached out to YouTube while 31 percent watched their own carrier's video offerings. The main music file source is CDs, with 35 percent reported downloading music from their carrier.

Pre-loaded game applications, however, are a big favorite, with six in 10 reporting they only play games pre-built into their phone.



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