M:Metrics recently made public some data from January 2008 in terms of mobile data usage (table below).
It offers two interesting takeaways:
- The most successful applications are still related to communications, i.e. multimedia messaging and emailing, followed by internet browsing, music and gaming
- The US are now a mature mobile market, and Europeans can't assume anymore they are at the leading edge when considering mobile content and applications. Sure there are still some discrepancies (still trying to understand why music is not big other there) but usage data are fairly aligned. Worth noting is that the US have a lead over Europe when considering the most advanced applications such as internet browsing, emailing or social networking. Seems the American mobile users went straight from the old clunky basic cellphones to the advanced smartphones such as the iPhone or the Blackberry Pearl/Curve, while other here in Europe, users still tend to value fashion - less advanced - phones that can only offer a limited internet user experience
In my previous post, I highlighted the potential of mobile RSS readers. There is of course a clear threat for mobile operators, as this is another tool that could transform us into a simple pipe, i.e. we only provide the connectivity/data transport while others make money from value added services. Though being a pipe is not all bad - you make reasonable money out of a steady stream of cash flows - it won't help you improve your valuation and offer strong growth perspectives. Just compare the market cap and valuation multiples of Google, Yahoo!, AT&T and Verizon in the US and you will understand what I mean...This is a major concern and Orange CEO's Sanjiv Ahuja recently raised the alarm at CTIA Wireless in Florida.
We should not discount this threat. However it is also an opportunity. First because mobile data usage has not yet delivered and any opportunity to do so is welcome. Moreover, the internet and content consumption on a mobile remains different and mobile operators are the best positioned to offer unique functionalities that enhance the user experience, leveraging on our platforms and end-to-end control. This is why at Vodafone we signed all these partnership agreements with the internet players - Yahoo!, Ebay, MSN, YouTube, MySpace and Google announced at 3GSM - because an integrated mobile experience will be better than a plain vanilla one, for us, the internet/content players and the end users...
Of course, depending where you are positioned on the mobile content value chain, you might think differently, so share your views.