The mobile opportunity in Africa – part one

The buzz work in the tech sector since the landing of SEACOM, TEAMS  and rollout of data services from the operators has been content , content ,content. Begins to sound like an old song after sometime, especially when the results of the enhanced services are yet to be experienced or the existing experiences still leave a lot to be desired.
To fully take advantage of the opportunities that mobile presents especially on content, developers, designers and consumers need to be aware that user experience and execution differs from hitherto common or not so common mode of  pc internet access. More profound is the need to understand how the network operators treat this space and the control they have on distribution and use of mobile content .
The mobile value chain is driven by a revenue share business model with the key players being :

  • Content owners and producers, ranging from entertainment conglomerates to individual artists to you. Yes, you can produce and sell or share your own content.
  • Developers and designers, who prepare content for mobile distribution and use. Don’t assume that content that sits on your desktop is mobile ready. Best experiences on mobile are with content that has been adapted for mobile, one size doesn’t fit all.
  • Publishers and aggregators, who assemble, test, and promote mobile content
  • Provisioning and hosting providers, who provide the actual physical means for content distribution. Provisioning is a very important aspect of mobile content distribution and adaptation.
  • Marketing and delivery agents, which includes the mobile operators, as well as others who sell mobile content to end users

Business Models around mobile content
This relatively complex mobile content value chain implies that revenue from consumer sales has to be divided among multiple players. Given the relative youth of the industry, business practices for accomplishing this are still evolving. Content developers and designers looking to get into the mobile space in Africa have a number of different business models to consider each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

These range from:
a)    Simply creating content for hire for a publisher, which has relatively low risk but limited upside, to various revenue sharing models and even direct sales to consumers.

b)    Advertising supported content development. Revenue sharing practices in the value chain are far from standard, and vary with such factors as:

a.    The relative importance and strategic objectives of mobile operators
b.    The brand equity of the content
c.    The number of different intermediaries involved

As a general rule at least in East Africa, about 30 – 45% of gross revenues likely to be passed back to the content owner and designer/developer—this may be the same person in some instances

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.

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