28 Comments

Summary:

Imagine a conversation between a person who only knows Norwegian and other who is fluent only in Swahili. Well, that precisely the relationship between mobile industry and its executives and the consumers. RBC Capital Markets at its Mobility Evolution Conference in New York conducted an informal […]

Imagine a conversation between a person who only knows Norwegian and other who is fluent only in Swahili. Well, that precisely the relationship between mobile industry and its executives and the consumers. RBC Capital Markets at its Mobility Evolution Conference in New York conducted an informal poll of 100 mobility experts, and found out that nearly 63% of those polled believed that consumers want to watch TV/movies on their mobile phones, while a whopping 72% believed that consumers would tolerate advertising on their cell phones.

This is the polar opposite of the findings of another RBC Capital Markets survey of 1,001 consumers released earlier this week. Only 23% of consumers expressed an interest in watching TV or Movies on their mobile phones. Only 20% of consumers said they would tolerate advertising, if an only if it lowered their costs. This is proof that consumers don’t care too much beyond – affordable and cheap voice plans, and simplicity. Experts picked price, wireless coverage network and necessity as consumers’ top three priorities when purchasing mobile technologies, while consumers cited price, compatibility and security.

My take on this: if you are a wireless carrier, might as well save those millions you plan to spend on music download services, or video services, and instead try and lure more customers with better (and cheaper) voice plans to your network. It seems to be working for T-Mobile USA, which attracted 4.1 million new users in 2005, despite its obvious lack of high-speed networks, and fancy offerings. Its unique selling point – despite spotty coverage – low prices.

Photo courtesy (via Flickr) Powerbook Trance

  1. The emphasis on streaming TV to phones beats me as well. Nice-to-have eventually, but why not test side-loading (Apple iPod style, using manual sync versus presently expensive over-the-air networks) with TiVO like functionality on consumers first? Much cheaper to test demand that way than to build an entire overlay wireless network which will only offer a limited number of channels to watch anyway!

    I’d say the carriers are being aggressively sold the streaming TV concept by Qualcomm and Nokia/DVB/Crown Castle. No one wants to be caught or criticised (by the Street, by their bosses, etc.) for not having a product, so they all are moving on it.

    Apple has already proven the side-loading concept and will do so again when they release the iPod wireless phone.

    Share
  2. I’ve lived the T-mobile dream for about 5 years now … and am extremely satisfied. Simple reason … great rate plans … who needs roll-over, etc when I get 1000 minutes a month and free nights and weekends for under 40 bucks?!
    And lets be fair about T-Mobile’s coverage … they are pretty good in all metro/urban areas.
    Also, their 24×7 customer service helps. Compare that to a few others that offer from 6am to 6pm.

    Also, as today’s article in the WallStreetJournal points out … Nokia is going back to the roots of simple phone design … why?
    Because unlike mobile video, tons of feeds, music on the go, etc … people want some things kept simple … if only to reign the price. If Nokia understands it, why can’t the rest of the industry?

    Might be, it will take a MVNO to work this out and provide a stripped down service (opposed to AmpD’s biz plan) to keep regular users happy.

    Share
  3. Patrick Mullen Friday, March 3, 2006

    Would be interesting to check the demographics of those surveyed. Myself, I can’t imagine watching movies or even TV shows on my phone, but then again, I don’t really get text messaging either. Doesn’t mean that younger generations are not or won’t be into it (and that in and of itself is kind of depressing for me.)

    Figures I have heard for desire for content like this is 2-4% of subscribers would want this delivered to a mobile phone. I could see that attraction of watching a live event like sports or breaking news, other than that, very limited attraction for me, but maybe I am not in the carriers target market.

    Share
  4. Patrick,
    Even the younger generation would be more in line with youtube.com on the cellphone, rather than the tv programming (that they already TiVo out of their lives)

    Share
  5. I have my phone to be a phone. (I am a T-mobile customer.) When I can be sure my phone will be able to operate as a phone for 16 hours, while playing multimedia for 8 hours, then I’ll become a bit more interested depending on the price.

    In any case, because of rebates and what not, I’ve had 400 minutes a month (free nights/weekends/Tmobile-to-Tmobile) with 2 lines for the last 2 years for just the cost of federal & state taxes. This year, I’m paying about $20 a month plus taxes for 700 minutes a month over 5 lines. Price is number 1.

    Share
  6. “This is proof that consumers don’t care too much beyond – affordable and cheap voice plans, and simplicity.”

    Om, you might have got this one wrong. this will all happen (watching TVs, mobiles, everything), soon. Remember, we are in 2006 already. hollywood will feel bad if it doesnt.

    Share
  7. Hollywood feeling bad is exactly what we want. Their business model is based on sending the MPAA and RIAA after users with threatening lawsuits based on extortion. They’ll fill mobile phones with crippleware, flaky DRM loaded with rootkits, etc. You’ll be sued for downloading their boring TV shows and mindless bubblegum pop music even though you don’t know how to do it and only wanted the device to make phone calls (which it wasn’t able to do because of all the bloated crippleware Hollywood’s lobbiests enticed the government into requiring). This is Hollywood’s vision of your mobile phone, this is what will make Hollywood happy.

    Share
  8. Living in the Seattle area, which is looking like the next epicenter of mobile content, I don’t see mobile content being big on this generation of phones.

    I think this will need to be revisited in a few years, when more powerful phones continue rolling out. I doubt many people considered watching movies on their computers a few years ago, before DVD and streaming became tolerable.

    Share
  9. I’m SO glad I came across your article today, as last night I embarked on the hunt for a new cell phone and carrier plan. I couldn’t agree more and many of the commenters here bring additional points to the table.

    Blog on!
    Sam

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post