July 9, 2009

Mobile Content Providers Expect Industry Growth

Online entertainment is quickly migrating to the mobile handset, and entertainment providers hope your wallet migrates as well.

The global mobile entertainment industry is worth nearly $32 billion according to the Mobile Entertainment Forum, a trade association.

In a June survey conducted by the forum and KPMG, the industry believes it can continue to grow despite the economic downturn, predicting a 28 percent increase in revenue over 2010.

Music, social networking, and text-based chatting, remain the most popular forms of mobile entertainment.

"This is people chatting to each other -- sometimes flirting, sometimes chatting and sometimes flirting with machines pretending to be ... women," one industry insider told Reuters.

According to CCS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore, free online sites, such as Facebook, will find it difficult to begin charging mobile users for a service that is expected to be free.

Services with exclusive content, premium offerings, or communities such as myGamma and Itsmy could be more successful in obtaining payments.

Other services that charge a small fee for premium content, in addition to their free core offerings, could also see some success.

Flirtomatic, found at www.flirtomatic.com, is a dating social network that allows users to rank profiles from "freak" to "off the radar."

People can pay to promote themselves on the service, to see who is rating them, and to give someone a better-than-perfect rating of 11.

The service, which is available in Britain, Germany, and the U.S., also allows users to send virtual and real gifts.

"We're not a classic dating site; it's about entertainment and fun," said Flirtomatic Chief Executive Mark Curtis. "So, we allow users to cheat."

"We discovered that people don't like getting freak ratings, not surprisingly, so we also launched a promotion called 'delete your freak.'"

Companies are also moving towards providing applications, which are small software programs for mobile devices, for a small fee or for free.

Getjar, which is the world's largest independent sellers of "apps", has had over 450 million application downloads in over 200 countries, and does not charge users.

According to Patrick Mork, Getjar's vice president of marketing, the free service could begin charging at some point.

"Our philosophy at Getjar has been ... to get consumers to really sink their teeth into mobile you needed to provide it free as a risk-free way to try content. But we think in the future they can both co-exist," he said.

Although, the company does not believe it will begin charging users anytime soon, Mork added.

"When you're waiting for the train and just want to dip into some content, unless the price is extremely acceptable it becomes difficult to charge."


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