Cutting The Operator Out Of Content

The last big battle between mobile operators and handset vendors was over branding — whose brand got bigger placement on phones, and who “owned the customer” — and the carriers pretty much won. The tussle before that was over content like ringtones and wallpapers, and yes, again, who “owned” the customer. Manufacturers just sort of assumed that since the stuff went on phones, they’d be the ones to sell it. As they’re wont to do, the operators said not so fast, and proceeded to take the vast majority of revenues from personalization content for quite some time. There have been spotty efforts here and there attempting to get around the carriers, but they’ve stayed on top of the food chain, where if they’re not selling the content themselves, they’re billing for it and taking a cut. Now, Nokia’s announced its “CoolZone” content delivery channel which routes around carriers by using Bluetooth for local distribution. The first trial is in a record store and coffee shop in Helsinki, where users will be able to download content from EMI Records artists and coupons from the shop. The service can be customized to fit a particular shop, reflecting its brand and whatever mobile content it wants to sell. It’s an interesting concept if only because it uses Bluetooth to cut the mobile operator completely out of the content loop, particularly for mobile music, something for which they have high hopes (and prices). Let’s just hope it’s not bluespamming.

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