Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mobile operator share of content market plummets

ENGLAND: Revenues from mobile content, monetised through direct carrier billing, is expected to rise from $2 billion last year to more than $13 billion by 2017, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The report observed that operator storefronts and portals now accounted for just 6 percent of content downloads worldwide, with Google Play and Apple's App Store now comprising nearly 70 percent between them. Indeed, the report noted that the increasing popularity of OTT (Over The Top) stores had led to many operators closing their own storefronts.

However, the report - Mobile Content Business Models: OTT & Operator Strategy & Forecasts 2013-2017 - found that by offering carrier billing to third-party storefronts, operators could more than offset the continued decline in portal revenues. According to the report, storefronts which have already integrated carrier billing solutions have seen a 5-6x increase in conversion rates compared with credit card billing, together with an uplift in average transaction values.

It observed that the implementation of carrier billing allowed storefronts and developers to monetise the unbanked/underbanked regions and demographics for the first time.

Dr Windsor Holden, author, said: "While many operators have now abandoned the own-brand storefront approach, by leveraging their billing relationship with the end user they can retain a foothold in the content play. Simply by offering consumers a billing choice, monetisation rates will rise dramatically."

However, the report cautioned that carrier billing for higher value content would be less effective amongst prepaid users given the relatively low top-up levels in most markets.

Other key findings:
* While Google has surpassed Apple in terms of app downloads on an ongoing basis, monetisation levels of Android apps are markedly lower.

* Although in-app billing and freemium has become the prevalent business model, there is still a role to play for PPD (Pay Per Download).

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