Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Why are we paying more for mobile content?

I had previously commented on a blog by Russell Buckley where he reported that the global market for paid content on mobile phones is already worth $20 billion, while the market for paid content on the web is worth only $4 billion. I don’t know the ultimate source, but the numbers probably aren’t far off. Does this mean that consumers are happy to pay for mobile content, or that the mobile market is somehow healthier than the market for content online?

Consumers don’t have any choice about paying for mobile content. Mobile providers exert so much control over our phones that we can’t get free content onto our phones even if the content provider wants to give it away. Free WAP content providers in China are mostly providing free content to its users but users still need to pay for the high GPRS data charges. Its really not free afterall.

The high price of mobile content is a direct result of closed platforms. If your ISP could prevent you from downloading music onto your PC for free they would probably do so. Your mobile operator can and does. People may be prepared to pay more for music on their phones, but we don’t know the fair market price. Your mobile operator just wont allow supply and demand to determine that price.

Beside not having any choice for paying for mobile content, the consumer dont have much content to choose from either. On the internet, the consumer have access to infinite supply of content and there are mostly free so why pay when you can get it for free. Unless those content are unique and exclusive, its always hard to get the consumer to pay on the internet. Internet users are used to the notion of free content on the internet as they expect all things to be free on the internet. Mobile content on the other hand has always been paid content and nobody expect anything for free.

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