Friday, March 10, 2006

ARCchart: Content may be King, but the kingdom vaults are empty

Bill Ray at ARCchart looks at the market for mobile content, and asks while the mobile indusry drives to provide more of it, are consumers willing to pay for it? He cites a number of examples, such as wriitten content, music, TV, movies, where consumers expect free and/or are not willing to pay a premium.

In the case Sony, Ray wrote that the company "believed that customers would buy movies to watch on their PSP (Playstation Portable), and worked with several studios to make sure a range of content was available, but sales have been so disappointing that even Sony Pictures themselves are “scaling back” production of the proprietary UMD (Universal Media Disk) content. Sony have blamed piracy for the disappointing sales, and given the availability of various utilities for copying DVDs onto a PSP it seems likely that users have baulked at paying for content they already own, just to be able to watch it on the move."

While he discusses the low value placed on content, Ray states:

All this isn’t to say that content can’t be sold for mobile consumption, but what customers won’t pay for is traditional passive content made up of film studio back-catalogues and TV channels repackaged for mobility. The mobile phone is an interactive device, not just a mechanism through which content can be consumed; content which will sell is interactive content designed for the handset. Games sell well on mobile phones, as they make use of both their mobility and interactive capability, but trying to sell passively consumed content to consumers is a dead end business, regardless of the technology used.
In the end, Ray concludes:
To sell content to mobile customers it will need to truly be mobile content: offering more of an experience than a simple linear consumption. Narrowcast video (VOD) can create interactive content which can’t be reproduced anywhere else, and time-critical information such as sports scores or share prices will remain valuable, but operators and companies betting their future on providing content will need to find some way to finance that content because consumers are increasingly expecting something for nothing, and generally getting it.