Where The Value Is In Mobile Content

Alongside its puff piece about News Corp.’s entry into mobile content, The New York Times has a story detailing some new mobile services from CBS. This story doesn’t paint nearly as glowing a picture of CBS as the other one does of News Corp., but CBS is actually launching some marginally interesting services, rather than just selling ringtones and wallpapers (though it’s doing that, too, of course). What’s striking about them, though, isn’t so much what they are — alerts on news, sports and other topics featuring multimedia content, not just text — but how they’re being priced. Users wanting to keep up with the news can get up to five messages a day for 99 cents per month, while people wanting to stay really up-to-date with celebrity and entertainment gossip get the same quantity of information, but for $3.99 per month. That’s quite a significant difference, but more than likely points to the significantly different demographics at which the two services are targeted, and their ideas about pricing and value. The article adds that “nobody knows how much people will be willing to pay for content”, but execs have been encouraged by the growth of text messaging in the US and in the ringtone download market. That’s the sort of mentality that fuels the belief that people will watch anything just because it’s on a phone. While CBS’s early efforts aren’t earth-shattering by any means, they are going beyond just selling people CSI wallpapers and Survivor ringtones — which is a short-term cash cow at the very best — and not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to its mobile content offerings.

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