Mobile operators need to rethink the traditional approach to content - browsing and downloads - and look to boost traffic by facilitating contact and exchange between peers in an active and dynamic way via user-generated content (UGC).
'It's about personalization and reinforcing our affinities to groups,' said Neale Anderson, Ovum's research director for Asia Pacific, who spoke yesterday at the CommunicAsia2006 Summit. He said the phenomenon of UGC and social networking is creating a 'Cambrian explosion of content, similar to the proliferation of biological species 530 million years ago.'
Since the phone is a heavily personalized object and now a repository of far more personal data than the PC, consumers are likely to use the phone to upload time-sensitive material. 'It's not only news, but any information that updates our peers on our status, location or mood.'
While removable storage with increased capacity, improved interoperability and '3G journalism' are driving UGC, he noted that barriers such as inherent network asymmetry and a lack of familiarity uploading content are causing problems in the short term.
User-generated content is not new (MMS was launched in early 2002), but take up has been anemic, with, for example, just 12% to 15% of UK mobile subscribers using the service and sending an average of only three MMSs a month.
Anderson pointed out that forward thinking operators are lowering prices and incentivizing their partners. 'China Mobile has lowered the price to the equivalent of 4 US cents per message, and increased the share to content partners for MMS to 20%, compared to 15% for SMS. T-Mobile has been quick to rethink its MMS portfolio, discontinuing services such as greetings cards that have not proved popular. Ironically, it was the operator with the most unrealistic message pricing originally - 20 pounds for unlimited MMS.'