Editor's Corner

Live from MES: Content Goes Off Deck

Today, I am at the Mobile Entertainment Summit (MES) in San Francisco. The mobile content market is white hot and this show certainly shows it. The biggest topic at MES is off-the-deck mobile content, i.e., mobile content sold through channels other than the carrier. While carriers have been trying to keep consumers on their portals, people are now buying more mobile content off carrier portals than through them. Vodafone, for example, recently admitted that its subscribers buy roughly 60 percent of their mobile content through non-carrier sites or means (including premium SMS).

After nearly five years of endless cries to tear down the walled garden, consumers, not vendors, are the ones tearing down the walls. Some carriers are moving to embrace this trend while others think they can fight it. Let me be blunt: fighting this is impossible. The success of premium SMS proves that carriers will buy mobile content in mass and that they often prefer to buy it from someone else.

On top of this, most third-party content brands are stronger than carrier brands, especially when it comes to specific types of content. Some carriers, like Vodafone, are eager to work with third-party content providers and to leverage their brands. Other carriers, however, are sitting idly by. The time to embrace third-party content is now, and smart carriers are moving in this direction.

Later today, I will moderate a panel here at MES entitled "Market Segmentation: Keys to Success." We will discuss the role that segmentation is playing in the wireless market and ways that both carriers and content providers can use segmentation to build better, more targeted mobile data services.

I will report live tomorrow and Wednesday from CTIA IT. In addition, tomorrow morning I will be on a panel, the Mobiletec CTA Breakfast Roundtable, discussing the future of mobile content.

Also, don't forget the FierceWireless party, Ole, is Wednesday, September 28, from 7-10pm. Click here to register. - Stephen