Easy Asia, the joke could soon be on you

Brandon Amber
25 Apr 2007

For years in the US, there have been barriers limiting the adoption of mobile phones as anything other than basic communication devices. These barriers have ranged from a lack of true standardized technology, to a lack of advanced handsets, to the availability of only a few high-speed networks. Now, whenever I head back to the US for business, I find cool handsets with multi-megapixel cameras, tons of memory, high resolution screens and advanced networks.

Just take a look at Helio and Amp'd Mobile in the US - start-ups focused on providing leading edge customers with a mobile entertainment device. With an average content and data average revenue per user (ARPU) that has exceeded US$30 a month (compared to an industry average of $6.80) and total ARPU well over $100 a month, Amp'd Mobile is outperforming every other US carrier, based on these indicators.

Mobile entertainment is driving this, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the $30 of data ARPU (contrast that with the industry standard of around 25 percent). Subscribers have to date downloaded or streamed more than two million paid videos of which 39 percent is Amp'd original content. They've also streamed or downloaded more than one million paid songs, music videos and radio streams - and they're downloading more full track songs than ringtones. More than one third of the Amp'd user base downloaded at least one game in 2006 and the total number of downloaded games and applications for the year averaged out at more than 2.5 per subscriber.

Based on numbers such as these, it seems clear that the demand for mobile entertainment has been there for some time in the US. What was needed was the technology. High speed downloads are becoming more available in the US and new exciting applications are coming out.

Asia, ironically, has the technology and high speed networks, but it doesn't have the content, or at least good, readily available content. The US has 500+ TV channels, internet dominance, movies, games and produces more user-developed content (YouTube, MySpace) than any other region.Asia doesn't have the same depth and breadth of content, and it will take time to develop.

Another problem is that Asian carriers still don't know how to reach the customer. Marketing new entertainment offerings is different to, "Here's your voice/SMS plan". They still don't get it.

Both Helio and Amp'd have shown early signs of success by tailoring content to a specific group.

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