Popular As Porno
This bit of news is making its way around the mobile sites, a report on mobile porn notes that there's a site called PhonErotica.com which has a WAP site that receives 74 million hits a week. That's astounding. Now, I don't care about the porn aspect of it, what I'm thinking about is how popular this service is - and how it has *no* carrier involvement to help drive traffic. Think about it. In a world where walled gardens and carrier portals are the standard way to access the mobile web, this is a watershed in mobile data services. An external mobile site that gets 300 million hits a month. Wow.
Just imagine if you could come up with a service that's as popular as porno! No, seriously. Imagine if you could come up with the proverbial killer app for mobile data services. Something that was so compelling that consumers would seek the service out, even if they had to type in the URL by hand (which they obviously have to do with the above site). It could change everything about how the mobile world operates. Right now only 5% of the revenues generated from mobile phones are from data services, the other 95% being voice traffic. But we all know that's going to change, and quickly. Finding a way around the operator bottleneck would be both a coup and enormously profitable.
But can you really cut out the carrier? The site above has. Though they're not charging for the content, they could easily have advertisements with that traffic if they weren't a porn site, right? There's really two schools here, one for accepting that the carriers own the customer and the other that tries to think of the handsets as platforms (like the PC is a platform) and get around the carrier's grip. InfoSpace right now is the portal behind Verizon, but Yahoo also has a mobile portal that is public. Which is used more I wonder? Nokia had their Club Nokia service, but have abandoned it for Preminet. (Maybe this was Premi-ture of them. *Rimshot*.) Openwave deals with the manufacturers and also with the carriers. Opera, however, has mostly dealt only with the manufacturers to preinstall their browser, but has also had over a million downloads of the app from its own website. Macromedia seems to deal only with the carriers at the moment. Google launched it's SMS service without even having a premium deal in place. The list goes on.
Here's my take on this: You *can* cut out the carrier. The first company that does and drives traffic similar to PhonErotica's numbers without being porno will be the Yahoo of the mobile data services world. It's clear in my mind. This site has shown that people are willing to seek out mobile content if it's compelling enough.
Now, the question is what exactly is that compelling content? Obviously its not a portal since Yahoo already has that and it's not particuarly engaging. Nor free email. Nor PIM stuff. Nor SMS alerts. Nor mobile search. Nor moblogging. Not even Ringtones which are so popular they even got a Marketplace report about them tonight. No - there's some other service out there waiting to be developed, and when it hits it's going to turn the mobile world on its head.
Popular as porno... that's the key. Think, think, think, think, think! (Mobile crack cocaine? Hmmm. Nice thought, but impractical. Keep going.) Your thoughts?