Offshore opportunities

Tony Hughes, UK Trade & Investment
21 Jun 2010

The sweeping changes in technology - along with the shift to greater consumption of entertainment, information and data while consumers are on the move - is creating significant opportunities for mobile phone app developers and creators of content.

However, the challenge for all market players, which have been competing in saturated markets such as Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, is to find opportunities to expand internationally. As increasing numbers of Asian companies seeking to profit from the rise of mobile content pursue offshore expansion, the UK is positioning itself as an attractive location for growth, creativity as well as R&D, and as a gateway to consumer markets in Europe, the US and even India.

The opportunity is huge. According to Gartner, the number of mobile app downloads has risen from 2.5 million last year to 4.5 million this year, with a $2 billion increase in revenue from app downloads to $6.2 billion in 2010. By 2013, total sales are expected to hit $29 billion. The UK's mobile content market alone is worth $1.5 billion.

The widespread availability of smartphones with easy access to downloads is fueling the rapid shift in how people use basic services, such as directory or location-based services that help locate people or places, as well as how they consume content, especially with smarter phones, larger screens and dramatic improvements in user interfaces.

Japan and South Korea are at the leading edge of this evolution. Their early adoption was based on network technology such as 3G being available at an early stage. Now that the UK, with nearly 100% 3G coverage, and the US investing heavily in next-generation networks, operators, app developers and content generators are expected to lead consumers into the age of the handheld internet.

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