Once in a while mobile-ent.biz posts a feature editorial and we post a reply to said editorial. The most recent feature on me is titled “ROUNDTABLE: One year on, what has been iPhone’s impact?” There have been roughly 6 million iPhone’s sold since the device launched 12 months ago and today we examine the impact it will have on the industry
The roundtable discussion had some interesting questions and responses, so I thought I would just insert some QB commentary as though we were part of the discussion.
Q. Has the iPhone been a good thing for the mobile content business?
Hugh Griffiths (MSN Mobile): Generally yes. It has made browsing much easier and in doing so introduced new users to the mobile internet, while extending the usage of existing users.
Dave Evans (SurfKitchen): Not really for sellers of ringtones, wallpapers and games. They’re not particularly relevant to the iPhone. However, it has shown how to achieve high service usage through flat rate data.
Ray de Silva (Vodafone): The positive impact on the content industry may be even further away given that to date apps have been offered by Apple for free, which means that only browsing revenues are created – all of which is shared between the MNO and Apple.
Dave Moreau (Fonestarz): It has set the benchmark for functionality but has been limited in its ability to download content from anywhere else other than iTunes.
Andrew Bud (mBlox): Undoubtedly. It has focused attention on the phone as an entertainment device, and shown how much good UI matters.
Anil Malhotra (Bango): It’s made no difference. Mobile content doesn’t work on the iPhone because it can’t use the features of the mobile web to identify users. Some companies think they may not need a mobile site and that their web site will work fine on iPhone. It doesn’t. It doesn’t look good on screen and the site will support features (Flash, print commands, etc.) that don’t make sense on mobile.
Kyle (QuicklyBored): From a consumer standpoint, the iPhone is breaking the consumer education barrier to entry in the mobile entertainment industry. Most consumers are either unaware about how to download content to their phones or have been scared off by poor pricing and quality. On the other hand, they completely understand the web space and how to entertain themselves on the web. The iPhone has bridged this gap and will hence push the whole space forward.
Q. Will iTunes become a viable storefront for OTA mobile content, rather than just sideloaded music?
Anil Malhotra: Probably not, because Apple only has rights to distribute music through the iTunes model in a number of cases. If the iPhone footprint gets big enough, maybe.
Hugh Griffiths: I think downloadable music is a niche and that sideloading will be the ‘norm’. I don’t see the iPhone really changing that model.
Ray de Silva: The reality is that Apple’s model drives sideloading. I don’t see this changing in the near future even with the introduction of a 3G device.
Dave Evans: I can see opportunities for over-the-air mobile content as part of an on-device portal on the iPhone from, from either operators or dedicated off-deck providers. For example, the iPhone would be an ideal platform for an on-demand movie rental company.
Dave Moreau: Over-the-air downloading via wi-fi rather than over the mobile internet will strangle the proposition.
Andrew Bud: Apple’s discontent with traditional operator revenue share models is well-known. But the iPhone is still too small a phenomenon to have a material impact on the business model of the big D2C players, and the issue of data charging models may bear on iPhone in future.
Kyle: Fo sho! Distributing content via iTunes provides a level of visibility for content that completely trumps the carrier deck model. It also provides a marketing edge that the carriers have been unable to provide. Rather than browse through content looking for names we recognize, we can view a wide range of screenshots, reviews and potentially demos, all neatly packaged in Apple’s zen-like graphic design.
Anil Malhotra, SVP of marketing and alliances, Bango
Hugh Griffiths, director of mobile, Online Services Group, Microsoft UK
Dave Moreau, CEO, Fonestarz
Andrew Bud, chairman, mBlox
Dave Evans, CTO, Surfkitchen
Ray de Silva, principal product manager, Vodafone Group
Kyle MC, EIC, QuicklyBored.com