The Promise of the Mobile Market
For all of the excitement over online video, the jubilation over the promise of mobile entertainment looms larger, but perhaps that is because few analysts or companies have managed to wrap their arms around the market. Like the Web before it, there are numerous challenges facing the marketplace, both in terms of consumer adoption and monetization.
But the promise is considerable:
- To properly put things into context, the world's population stands at over 6.5 billion people, with China (1.3 billion), India (1.1 billion) and the USA (300 million) leading the way. When ranked by Internet users, Asia leads the way with at 389 million Internet users, followed by Europe with 313 million and North America, with 232 million. In terms of penetration, North America leads the world with nearly 70% reach. Clearly, the USA leads the world with 207 million Internet users, with China in second place with 140 as of last dec 2006 million users. But China isnt going to stay in second place for long as it will surely overtake USA before the end of 2008 to be the world largest Internet users.
- The China mobile market, according to reports from China's Ministry of Information Industry , has an estimated 461 million mobile subscribers in 2006.
In other words there are more mobile subscribers than there are Internet users in China. Clearly, mobile is the fastest-growing new digital media platform. But this does not suggest that mobile has – and will – experience uninterrupted growth. After the initial burst of growth, mobile content is struggling to break out of the early adopter segment and achieve mass consumption.
Time will tell if the growth curve will kick back into high gear, but mobile entertainment will certainly go through some road bumps as the crucial transition to third-generation mobile telephony, or 3G, takes shape next year when new 3G licenses are issued.
The 3 C's : Content, Community, Commerce
What the Web has proven, of course, is that advertisers follow audiences. But audiences follow content. That is what the web has proven. Creating content, making it free online, creating a community around it, and commerce will flourish. On some sites, such as eBay and Amazon.com, commerce came in the form of transactions. This is what drove the first wave of the World Wide Web’s growth from 1994 to 2003. From 2003, commerce has been fueled largely by advertising. The challenge faced by the mobile entertainment industry in china right now is a basically lack of compelling content on the Web.
History Repeats Itself
Of course, it should be noted that today's handsets are not exactly weak by any stretch of the imagination. After all, today's average handheld device, be it from Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, or Sony Ericsson boasts the equivalent processing power of a desktop computer from 1995. If history repeats itself – and it always does – and mobile has overtaken the Web as the fastest-growing new content platform in history, then it should be noted that what ensued online after 1995 was the explosion of the Internet with the creation of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee and the launch of the web browser Mosaic by Netscape Communications. Of course, what really made the Web sticky was the quality of the content that flourished after 1995. ISPs began to offer more than connections to the Web and email addresses, they added content to retain users and engage them.
Similarly, if handheld devices have the firepower of a computer in 1995, then the right mobile content could change the name of the game. After all, currently, mobile carriers bill themselves as reliable telephone services that offer nationwide coverage. In other words, content is an afterthought. If that philosophy changes, then the dynamics of mobile entertainment will improve and realize their promise, and ideally, the theory goes, so will mobile advertising, which is slated to drive the mobile market into fully becoming the fastest-growing new digital media and content platform in history of china online industry.