Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Real Hurdle to Mobile Media

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Thursday, one of the panels was apparently very revealing on the topic of advancing mobile media business models. The Hollywood Reporter has excellent coverage on that story.

If you ask most people, they would probably characterize the content providers as reluctant to make their content widely available on mobile devices. Personally, if I had to guess, I would have identified that as the primary factor impeding progress in that area.

However, the real problem appears to be the carriers. They are apparently stuck in a business model where consumers must pay extra for everything they get through their phone. The content guys favor making content more readily (and cheaply) available to mobile customers, but the carriers insist on pricing it as a premium feature. This, of course, discourages most consumers from signing on.

The content guys recognize that if you want people to change their media habits, you can't make price an issue. You have to make it cheap and easy at first so consumers get used to doing things the new way. Once they grow attached to the availability of robust media on their phones, then they will be much more likely to pay for additional and expanded services.

That makes sense to me. I think the content guys are right and the carriers are being short-sighted.

By the way, the article makes one other interesting point. MTV is apparently discovering that consumers like watching full-length media on their phones. I think the presumption was (and continues to be for most people in the business) that mobile media would work best in smaller units -- something in the 5 minute range as is the norm for online media. However, MTV says this does not appear to necessarily be true.

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