Multimedia obstacles

Abigail Ho
10 Mar 2008

Multimedia is no novelty. It has been around for a few years now. While that is true, operators are still scratching their heads, trying to find the best way to encourage subscribers to use multimedia more and to squeeze more cash from the technology.

According to a survey sponsored by 3ple Media, operators are pessimistic about their future in the multimedia ecosystem, lacking confidence that they will be more than just 'bit pipe' players for mobile broadband ISPs. The survey was completed by 106 operators and 1,090 mobile subscribers in the Asia-Pacific and EMEA regions. APAC accounted for just over 50% of the results.

As many as 86% of operators think becoming bit pipe players is highly or quite likely in the next few years. The pessimism is quite pronounced in Asia Pacific, where 35% of operators believe this path to be either a certainty or highly likely. Only 14% of operators in this region see the bit pipe future as unlikely.

But 3ple Media CCO StJohn Deakins assuaged these bit pipe fears, saying the results of this survey clearly show that operators have what it takes to be in the middle of all the mobile multimedia action.

'There's currently a debate within operators between resigning to a fate as mobile IP connectivity provider, or taking a more ambitious and rewarding path to become the mobile multimedia service provider of choice,' he says.

'This survey confirms that mobile operators are front runners in the ongoing race to be at the heart of the new mobile multimedia ecosystem. However, there are still technological, educational and behavioural hurdles to be crossed if operators are to translate their current advantage into a win,' he adds.

The survey shows that operators need to be more aware of the other challenges that they face in their bid to become the main player in the mobile multimedia space.

The findings show that 27% of subscribers simply do not know what services are available to them. And even if they do know what services they can use, about 32% believe multimedia offerings will make too much of a dent on their wallets.

Operators clearly understand this, with 88% seeing subscribers' perceived cost of using data services as the biggest obstacle to boosting uptake of multimedia services. This was followed closely by a lack of multimedia education among subscribers, with 86% of operators saying this was a major or occasional impediment. Handset configuration issues were their third biggest hindrance (84%). Other key obstacles were a lack of compelling content (77%), the anticipated investment costs to expand to all subscribers (70%) and capacity limitations (65%).

Looking at the types of content that will drive multimedia revenue, operators expect banking and financial services, sports info and music to have the biggest potential.

As to who in the value chain will benefit most from new multimedia services, 54% of operators see themselves as the key benefactor in the short term, but by 2010 only 29% hold the same view. While operators expect direct brands and media content providers to reap the same level of benefit over the next three years, they feel mobile ad agencies and advertisers will pick up the majority of the benefit lost by operators.

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