Colour displays, wide range of functions of mobile handsets and high-speed Internet-connection form an attractive ground for downloadable content. As a result, mobile content sales also increase.
Mobile connection penetration in the Eastern Europe is reaching 75% to 80%, which means the mobile market is close to saturation. Thus, it will be difficult for mobile operators to use the factor of extensive growth to stimulate revenues increase. As the revenues from voice services keep declining, mobile operators seem to become more focused on new data services and value added services.
We had a chance to discuss the situation directly with major players in Ukrainian mobile content market present at the first Mobile Monday conference in Kiev on the 25th of September. One of the guests, a representative of a large Ukrainian mobile operator shared his vision of mobile content market in Ukraine:
“Currently, mobile operators are more interested in introducing all sorts of content services and are open for co-operation with content providers on mutually profitable basis. Obviously content delivery gives a great opportunity not only for content developers but also for wireless operators. Besides, we should not discard emerge of new technologies, in particular the launch of 3G network in Ukraine at the end of 2006, which has been successfully presented at Mobile Monday by Oksana Ferchuk from Ukraine Telesystems. We are definitely going to use the present state of things to our advantage.”
Generally, the Eastern Europe mobile content market is more of an entertainment kind. The share of business applications is not large at the moment. One of the main elements of this market is the segment of handsets customization which includes ringtones, realtones, images and Java games. Different content gives different profit: maximum revenue (71%) comes from the sale of ringtones, logos and Java games. Interactive services (SMS-games, quizzes and chats) produce 22% of general revenue, 1% - info and 6% - media projects. According to the research company iKS Consulting (Russia) the mobile content market volume in 2005 exceeded 51 mln. USD in Ukraine and 340 mln. USD in Russia (VAS generate 11% of total income of wireless operators in Eastern Europe, while in Western Europe it is 15%-20%). Compared to voice services the sales volume of mobile content is quite modest, however the growth rates of this market are significantly higher.
Yet, why is there a slight recession that we observe now in this market segment?
We asked a content provider representative who was also present at the first Mobile Monday Ukraine event to comment on the situation. Here is what our responder says:
“The recession is caused by the lack of innovative types of content which can get under customers' skin. Obviously, there are very few well-known and recognizable trademarks in our market yet. However, people are more interested in the essence of applications than in the name of a provider – customers just want unique and original content. Although our company pays great attention to the variety of content we offer, we still feel that our assortment is somehow limited while many other Ukrainian content providers present even worse choice.”
Another question of our investigation is ‘What are the latest trends in mobile content?’
As for mobile games, those written in Java, especially card and casino games, become more and more popular among game downloads. It is a very perspective trend, since game developers and publishers are not bound geographically and can sell their products all over the world. However content developers and providers should not forget about the age of their customers. Statistics says that most of the users, who download content, are still very young – 10 to 25 years old, so they demand constant innovations. However the advantage of this age is that once chosen, a game or an application is spread easily among so young users.
Now customers can get their favourite games, even desktop ones, directly to their pockets. Software developers with special stress made on mobile application development and porting, e.g. QArea, not only develop mobile games but also port desktop games to mobile phones. Andrew Kudryashov, a technical director of QArea mobile development department described the company activities in the field of content development and expressed his team expectations as for the new orders:
“Whether you are going to create a flexible and easy-to-deploy mobile game or willing to expand the target market of an existing game, our J2ME team in QArea will be happy to provide you with development, porting and testing services. For example, we can offer non-conventional gameplay approach for traditional game categories as Arcade, Fighting, Shooter, Puzzle, Online Casino etc., as well as porting of games to different platforms. Also in our department, we have designers performing high quality 2D and 3D graphics and vivid animation. Broad experience allows our software engineers to develop successfully both client / server games and simple mobile games (single or multiplayer).”
*ARPU - Average Revenue per User
In conclusion we suggest that to win the customer, content providers should offer only the best, tried-and-true and top-quality products in every respect. So we wish the next trend in this area (especially regarding the Eastern Europe region) would sound something like “INNOVATIVE mobile content explosion!”