Smartphones are rapidly making their way through the subscriber base of the U.S. on-deck premium mobile content market, as mobile operators offer voluminous catalogs of smartphone applications where possible.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), 2010 U.S. On-deck Premium Mobile Downloadable Content and Applications Markets, finds that the market earned revenues of $2.82 billion in 2009. In this report, Frost & Sullivan's analysts thoroughly examine mobile music, games, graphics, video services, and informational services.
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The mobile phone is currently the most important communications device, and subscribers continue to rely on wireless services for their communication, entertainment, and information requirements on-the-go.
"The large majority of the installed mobile device base continues to use feature phones, and mobile operator portals remain an important channel for mobile content discovery and distribution," says Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Vikrant Gandhi. "Additionally, applications for open smartphone platforms will be increasingly distributed through operator storefronts and there is a clear opportunity for mobile operators to leverage unique, strategic assets to develop and deliver compelling applications to consumers and enterprise segments."
Apart from the iPhone, almost all other smartphone applications can be distributed through operator storefronts. Further, mid-range, integrated 3G mobile phones that run on platforms such as Java or binary runtime environment for wireless (BREW) will continue to represent a significant opportunity for premium mobile content.
However, mobile operators will be challenged to deliver enough value through operator storefronts to drive adoption and counter the increasing competition from off-deck or independent storefronts that have become prominent largely due to smartphones. They will also have to justify the significant cost investments to take their premium mobile content offerings to the next level.
"Mobile operators are forced to expand their content catalogs and yet are not able to increase the data plan rates to justify this expansion," notes Gandhi. "At a certain 'tipping point', it may become unfeasible to continue doing this without exploring other revenue sources, such as mobile advertising."
It is not easy to rapidly launch new devices and long product development cycles further complicate the matter. Mobile operators will have to find a way to raise their average revenue per user (ARPU) without being drawn into a race to blindly add new services, devices, or network technologies.
Operators also need to look at the value they bring to the smartphone application store ecosystem, as they could again be turning into connectivity providers that mainly provide access to third-party or 'over-the-top' services.
"While it is important to always seek new technologies, the question will remain – do network technologies drive content, or does the promise of delivering next-generation content drive investments in the network?," questions Gandhi. "To compete successfully, mobile operators need to look at multiple strategic factors, including cost and service pricing, network technologies and devices, content lineup, quality of service and customer care, the enterprise segment, and geographical coverage."
For example, mobile operators could classify mobile content into various tiers and match them to their customer demographics to determine the optimum mix for their decks. That is the first step. Then, they need to market contextually relevant services through intelligent techniques and leverage the significant amount of data they have about the subscriber base. They should also look to enhance the growth of their developer community by facilitating application development, distribution, settlement, and reporting. The enterprise segment also represents an important opportunity for mobile operators.
2010 U.S. On-deck Premium Mobile Downloadable Content and Applications Markets is part of the Mobile & Wireless Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: U.S. Mobile Advertising and Mobile Search Markets, Global SMS Infrastructure Markets, U.S. Mobile Financial Services Markets - Mobile Banking and Mobile Payments, U.S. Mobile Social Networking Markets, Advanced and Trends in Mobile Video Services, U.S. Off-deck Mobile Content Markets, U.S. Mobile Messaging Markets, U.S. Mobile Video Services Markets, and U.S. Mobile Connection Aggregation Markets, and others. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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2010 U.S. On-deck Premium Mobile Downloadable Content and Applications Markets / N769