What Services Are Driving Mobile Internet Usage?

Mobile content services and data usage are growing faster than ever before. Yankee Group predicts the 2006 worldwide market for wireless data will be approximately $104 billion. The worldwide infotainment market, defined by Yankee Group as premium entertainment and information mobile content, is predicted to be approximately $35 billion of that $104 billion. Within the infotainment market, ring tones account for approximately 40 percent of the total, followed by gaming, graphics, video, and audio/music. One key factor for market growth is consumer interest in device personalization, entertainment, and fun. But what types of services and approaches are driving mobile Internet usage?

On Deck and Off Portal

Most of us are familiar with the mobile Internet “on-deck” portal services offered by carriers. On-deck features are the brands and information carriers choose to showcase directly on their mobile Internet home pages to provide consumers access to them. A carrier’s on-deck content services usually must have mass interest and appeal to be placed and are generally sourced from the largest media and entertainment brands. On-deck services help drive overall data-service adoption.

Another factor currently driving mobile Internet use is “direct-to-consumer,” or “off-portal,” content. Direct-to-consumer mobile sites are usually 100 percent brand-owned sites that enable new revenue streams, control of the content offer by the third-party provider, and a direct interactive relationship with a consumer via the mobile device. The direct-to-consumer channel has become the fastest growing segment of the mobile content market. Anil Malhotra, SVP of marketing at Bango, says content providers can now reach their consumers directly via the mobile Internet to provide users with greater choice, including specialist and niche content, which may not be available on the carrier’s deck.

Direct to consumer isn’t about bypassing the carrier network to reach the consumer directly, however. It continues to utilize the carrier’s infrastructure for delivery, support, and billing. It’s simply a channel for content providers to market through carrier networks.

On deck and off portal aren’t mutually exclusive, says Malhotra. Both are fundamental to the business and marketing models for a brand, and content providers should determine what works best for their target consumers, given their content. Bango’s platform enables both major entertainment brands and minority interest content providers across sports, music, and other genres to provide off-deck mobile sites.

Off deck allows consumers to browse the Internet from their mobile devices and find the services that appeal most to them. I came across an off-portal service recently called Q121.com. It offers services similar to MySpace.com in that it provides a place to share information. All services offered on the Q121 Web site are free. Users are encouraged to post their favorite photos, tones, videos, and so on to share them with other members. This content can be shared across the Q121 community, giving consumers access to all the information on the Web and allowing them to connect with communities of interest.

According to Andrew Stollman, president of Q121, the services help encourage adoption of mobile Internet services and work to blend the experiences of consumers in both the mobile and Internet worlds. This personalization ability will help to drive overall adoption of the mobile Internet.

Productivity Services

Another driver for mobile Internet services are those that focus on increasing a user’s productivity. Go2 provides directory assistance and navigation services to mobile power users. I spoke with Lee Hancock, CEO of go2, who told me their services are used by people who use the go2 mobile services to get around, obtain information, and ultimately increase their productivity. These services will also be key to driving adoption of the mobile content market, particularly for the business/power user.

Each of these service types will be critical to driving mobile-channel adoption and provide brands a means to target their consumers. For consumers, these options help provide ultimate flexibility and experience, providing access to the information they’re seeking at the time they need it and giving them more opportunities to use mobile devices in their daily lives.

Work with your partners to determine the best approach for you.

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