Mobile content is finally ready for the big time – all it needs now is an open platform to support mobile advertising revenues.
That was the takeaway message from a panel of mobile content players at the CEO Perspectives session that kicked off the CommunicAsia 2008 Summit.
After years of hype and disappointment in the wake of 3G network launches at the start of the century, mobile content's prospects have suddenly become much brighter thanks to a number of trends and events that emerged last year, such as flat-rate data plans, Nokia's entrance into services, Google's Android operating system, and the iPhone.
The question, however, is how that translates mobile content into cashflow for everyone in the value chain. The options so far are paid content and ad-supported services. The panel consensus was that users will always pay for certain types of content, like ringtones and downloads, but the prospects for mobile advertising are less certain.
Niren Hiro, VP of business development at Admob, said that mobile ads are growing worldwide, and that Admob's Asian business accounts for 20% of its global revenues. Mauro Montanaro, CEO of Jamba, said he would happily increase his mobile ad spend three-fold if the market would support it.
What's missing, however, is the open platform approach that has benefited online advertising, and that's hard to do because of the fragmented nature of the handset business, said David Ko, MD and VP of Yahoo! Connected Life, Asia-Pacific.
"It's difficult now for third parties to write to different OSs and browsers," he said. "We need for the ecosystem to be more open."