Ovum comment: Orange UK takes bold step with launch of media usage index

Ovum/Eden Zoller & Jonathan Arber
16 May 2007

Orange UK today launched a consumer digital media usage index; the first of what it hopes will be an ongoing report examining trends in Orange customers' consumption of digital media. The initial index is primarily focused on mobile services including messaging, games, music, TV and the mobile Internet. Going forward it will include the whole range of Orange's entertainment and communications services, including home broadband. The first index covers data collected from the Orange UK customer base between 1 January and 31 March.

Ovum analysts Eden Zoller and Jonathan Arber comment:

We applaud the move by Orange to release details of its customer usage and consumption patterns. Mobile operators, and in fact service providers in general, are typically very reluctant to provide information about customer usage patterns. The little that is made public is bare bones KPIs (key performance indicators) buried in financial results. This might have been OK as a metric of performance and market trends couple of years ago, but is no longer adequate in a mobile market where the dynamics are shifting from voice to data and richer content services.

In terms of the actual results, multimedia messaging services (MMS) appear to be doing well for Orange with an average of 3.5 messages per month per user, which is good compared to many other operators. The index also shows that the Orange World mobile Internet portal had just over two million unique visitors each month, and 70 million page impressions per month. This underscores a wider trend in terms of growth in mobile Internet services and it is interesting that the mobile portal now attracts half as many visitors as the fixed site (4.8 m).

The index didn't reveal too many surprises for mobile TV and video - films and particularly sports was the big hitter particularly if based on live events. Sony Ericsson and Nokia handsets were by far the most popular brands for consuming TV and video. However, there were no overall numbers for how many mobile TV and video subscribers Orange UK has, which was disappointing and something we would like to see in the future index.

Orange has revealed that around 700k games were downloaded in Q1, which equates to about 0.05 games per user in the quarter. Encouragingly, Orange has also reported that the average downloader is aged 30, which would seem to indicate that mobile games are moving beyond the youth market and into a wider demographic. The music download numbers are fairly robust at just over 250k downloads per month. However, that figure is for ringtones and videos as well as full tracks. It would be very interesting to see more granularity here, particularly on the split between ringtones and full tracks, and how this is changing going forward.

Most operators lack the confidence to lay them selves open in the way that Orange has with its digital media index, but we hope that Orange has set an example that others will follow. It is only by making public this kind of data that the fixed and mobile broadband industry can get a proper handle on the growth, or lack of it, of new multimedia services.

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