My list mobile of content genres for mobile is a lot longer as I opt to split hairs looking deeply into niche markets that on the long tail would generate sizable volumes. However low hanging fruit in the mobile content sphere is in infotainment. Infotainment includes a wide range of applications, including:
- Games, both downloaded single player games and multiplayer games utilizing bluetooth
- Audio downloads, including full music tracks, podcasts, and audio books
- Video downloads and video streaming
- Information services, including weather, news, financial information, travel updates etc
Mobile Content Distribution methods
Just as there are multiple different business models, there are many different ways by which content is actually discovered by users and delivered to handsets. What they all have in common is the need to make the process as simple and easy to use as possible for the consumer, given the limitations of handset size, user interface and wireless network bandwidth.
There essentially two main ways of getting content onto ones mobile home:
- Download the content over the mobile operator network (over the air) directly to the handset. This is via sms and mobile internet
- WAP push. Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is an open standard developed in the early years of mobile data to allow handsets to access the Internet. In WAP push systems, the consumer receives a short message that contains a clickable link, not unlike a URL embedded in an email that causes the content to be downloaded.
- Short codes. Short codes are special short phone numbers (3 to 8 digits, depending on the country) primarily used to receive specialized SMS messages (usually keyword based), which in turn can begin delivery of content. An advert for a Bible verse service will ask the consumer to send the book an verse that they wish to read and send that over a shortcode 1234, the consumer then receives the requested content on their mobile phone usually within seconds.
- Quick Response (QR) bar codes are heavily used in Japan to promote content, especially music. QR barcodes are printed in magazine ads, posters, etc. Consumers take pictures of the QR code with their camera phones, which decode the information and take appropriate action, such as starting the process to download a movie trailer, wallpaper or ringtone
• Use of other forms of connectivity (USB cable, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or another short range wireless technology, or a removable memory card) to transfer content from another source, such as a PC or another mobile phone. This is termed as “sideloading.”
Wholesale distribution channels
Wholesale channels include companies that provide various intermediary roles in getting content from designer/developers to whatever retail outlet actually sells it to the consumer. These functions include acquiring content from multiple sources, testing and validating its technical compatibility with targeted networks and devices, promotion and advertisement, assembling packages of related content, and providing hosting and distribution services to retailers.
In Africa I am not aware of wholesale distributors save for Inmobia which has a working relationship with Zain Kenya.
The primary categories of retail outlets, through which consumers actually acquire content, are “on deck” and “off deck” (sometimes referred to as “on/off portal”).
This refers to access to content that is controlled by a mobile operator, whether directly through a mobile Internet site (Safaricom live) or through a conventional website managed by the operator. Operators that rely exclusively on the on-deck model are sometimes said to be employing a “walled garden” (defined in the words demystified section) approach. Operators can make users aware of on-deck content in many ways: a traditional website, or a catalog that is stored in the handset and updated over the air, or even by advertisements and printed bill inserts.
Off-deck content comes from a third-party source, such as an independent mobile content retailer (e.g. Kelele Mobile, Cellulant, IMS, Starfish Mobile) or a handset manufacturer, such as Nokia and Motorola (who signed up Jua Kali, a leading Genge musician with cult following among the youth in Kenya)