The Buzz About Wireless Content

Everyone, it seems, is focused on figuring out ways to add wireless content to mobile offerings, believing that there’s a ton of money to be made. This reminds me of a few years back, when everyone was rushing to create WAP offerings that never went anywhere. This time, though, everyone is drooling because of the reports of how much money carriers are suddenly making off of content, believing that now’s the time for mobile content to reign. Of course, as someone points out in the article, the vast majority of that money is coming from ringtones, and not other types of content. I also think that many of the carriers are deluding themselves into believing this is a sustainable market. As the wireless connections and the phones get better, you’re going to have full internet access on your phone, and free content will become prevalent. It will be nearly impossible for carriers to keep a closed garden. As for ringtones, the same issue will show up as well. It won’t be long (if it hasn’t happened already) until there’s a “Napster for ringtones”, letting users trade ringtones for free, cutting the bottom out of that market. While the carriers may be able to make some initial money off of per-use content, it’s a very difficult market to sustain. A more sustainable, and more reasonable, offering is to provide flat-rate access to optimized content. When you’re charged per each bit of content, people have the incentive to look for the same content elsewhere. When it’s a flat-rate, and the content is compelling enough, people are willing to pay for the ease of access.

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