Mobile entertainment in recovery or triage?
The flattening of mobile entertainment revenues has put a damper on the 3GSM World Congress--particularly in Hall 7 where the GSM Association has provided a dedicated mobile entertainment zone. When I visited that hall on Wednesday, the traffic was light and the mood was glum.
That same feeling prevailed at the GSM Association Awards dinner last night. Although I was fortunate to sit with mobile content firm I-Play, which won an award for best made-for-mobile game, many of the people I spoke with in the crowd were bemoaning the growth plateau in mobile entertainment, particularly in certain segments such as gaming.
And I can see why. It's still difficult for consumers to trial a game before they purchase it and unless the game play is obvious--i.e. consumers understand that "The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo" is a racing game--most people aren't going to pay to download the game, let alone pay a monthly subscription fee.
What will it take to bring mobile content to the masses? That's a good question and I've heard lots of discussion about it. Yes, the user interface is key and people need to be able to purchase content without requiring 15-20 clicks, but I also think that prices need to be realigned. I don't think mobile games or other types of content will ever become mass market if they are going to cost $5 to $7 to download. At that price, the content is no longer an impulse buy nor is it going to appeal to the mass market. Perhaps an advertising-sponsored model will help drive mobile content usage--I think we'll see more of these models develop as the year progresses.
I also think content companies need to focus on quality, not quantity. Build compelling, well-made content. Stop buying licenses for content that doesn't lend itself to the mobile platform or isn't going to be intuitive for the customer to want to purchase. Get back to the basics and stop all the hype. It's time for mobile entertainment to return to the exciting and innovative industry it once was. -Sue
P.S. It sounds like several people in the mobile content industry are not pleased with the GSM Association's planned Mobile Entertainment and Advertising Summit set for New York on March 30th (yes, that's the day after CTIA Wireless 2007). Does this industry really need another conference?