Mobile Content Update

Wired news is running an article this morning about the state of "wireless content" here in the U.S. and where we are in terms of having a market based on that service. Their take is that it's making headway, which is great.

I love these articles because there's always lots of numbers I can absorb so that later when the need arises, I can come up with facts about the current trends of the market. Does anyone else besides me think that 5 year forecasts by IDC talking about billions this and billions that are completely useless? I want to know what's being sold *now* and I want to see forecasts for no more than 6 to 18 months ahead. That's it, I'll make my own observations from there.

From this article there's some great numbers:

At the end of 2003, Verizon's Get It Now store, launched in 2002 to house all of its wireless content for one-stop shopping, was delivering more than 5 million downloads a month. Verizon sells its content a la carte.

Sprint takes a different approach by offering data subscriptions that include content through a $15-a-month Vision plan in addition to a pay-as-you-go charge for more casual subscribers. The carrier counted 4.2 million Vision subscribers in the first quarter of 2004, up 1 million from the previous quarter.

Sprint also reported more than 20 million downloads of ring tones and screensavers in 2003 at $1-$2.50 a sale. In the first four months of 2004, the carrier sold more than 3.5 million games at prices ranging from $1 to $6. Some games are purchased for limited periods of time like 30 or 60 days; those at the higher end are usually unlimited use. ...

ESPN first dipped into wireless content with branded pagers in 1995. Today's offerings include similar data of scores and headlines -- the programmer says its free WAP site gets more than 500,000 unique visitors a day in addition to more sophisticated offerings linked to various niches like extreme sports enthusiasts.

I love that last one because I've seen it myself so I know it's true. I asked my coworker who's in his mid-20s who has the newest mobile phone that Sprint offers what he was doing with it besides talking. His answer: ESPN. He checks it all the time. Awesome. He doesn't take many photos, he sends less, and doesn't remember using the video at all. But the mobile internet? Daily.

I'd love to know exactly what was happening (besides SMSes) in Europe and Asia as well. DoCoMo is going to flat-rate data, which is going to be an incredible opportunity for the services that sit on top of i-Mode. People have a tendency to want to use all that bandwidth they're pre-paying for. And I got a comment talking about the fact that "only" 10% of revenues in Europe are from non-voice. Againk, I want to see the numbers, because they're changing quickly.

Cool stuff.


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