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Mobile Gamers go Direct to Carriers for Content

  |  December 2, 2005   |  Comments

Mobile carriers' walled gardens now allow outside in, but their customers stay inside.

While mobile games publishers ready offerings for direct-to-consumer sales, data from M:Metrics finds most cellular platform gamers rely on their carriers to notify them when new games are available for download.

Top game publishers in the mobile market include Jamdat, with a 14.4 percent market share and Mforma, which holds 10.8 percent of the market. Additional publishers THQ, I-Play and Gameloft each hold about nine percent share.

One issue faced by publishers of mobile content outside the walled garden is compatibility. "It is imperative that the publisher correctly identifies the handset, and not all games will work on all handsets," M:Metrics senior analyst, Seamus McAteer, told ClickZ Stats. "These issues stymie the ability to promote 'off deck.'

The "deck" refers to the content users see when they access the Internet from a mobile device. On the first page seen on small screens, real estate is crucial.

McAteer said he expects publishers to build their own malls with merchandising interfaces. Publishers currently market games directly by including links to new games within games a user downloads.

"Jamdat was an early innovator. It offers links to download Jamdate titles within iterations of Bejeweled that come loaded with handsets on Cingular," said McAteer.

Mobile users don't recognize content outside of the offerings by mobile carriers, requiring marketing to educate users of the availability of content available just beyond the wall.

"Downloadable games currently appeal to less than 10 percent of mobile subscribers, and our data clearly shows that they take what is on offer," said McAteer. "The importance of placement has been well documented. So even when walled gardens come down, it will take a lot to motivate users to seek out alternate sources."

M:Metrics conducts a monthly survey of continually refreshed samples of nationally representative mobile phone consumers to create a benchmark for the mobile industry. The data reports summarize market size; device reach and key demographic and mobile phone usage characteristics.

U.S. Mobile Subscriber Monthly Consumption of Content and Applications, October 2005
Activity Projected Monthly Reach (000s) U.S. Mobile Subscribers (%)
Used text messaging 57,989 32.0
Retrieved news and information via browser 17,140 9.5
Used photo messaging 15,504 8.6
Purchased ringtone 15,669 8.7
Used personal email 12,143 6.7
Used mobile instant messenger 10,310 5.7
Used work email 6,614 3.7
Purchased wallpaper or screensaver 6,410 3.5
Downloaded mobile game 5,331 3.0
Note: M:Metrics Benchmark Survey: Data based on the month ending October 31, 2005, n=11,846 U.S. mobile subscribers.
Source: M:Metrics, Inc., 2005

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Enid Burns

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