The Problem With Free Mobile Content

When Barnabas Road Media launched the free mobile Christian music service CM1 last month it was unprepared for the effect of bandwidth cost on demand for its service.
“Our press release was picked up by over 500 publications worldwide, but still our download activity is sparse because few US cell phone internet users have the unlimited data transfer plans…We knew coming into the US market with a free download and subscription free broadcast would still be difficult, but we were unprepared for how low the response has been.”
While the bandwidth cost is unlikely to affect sales of small things such as images or even ringtones, videos can incur a large fee and streaming media turns that fee ridiculous ($2,300 per month ridiculous). This is a problem because it restricts the higher-end mobile content to those with enough money and/or clout to forge alliances with the telcos…and those deals normally require some form of payment to the operators resulting in a charge for the service. It was free, user-generated content which caused the explosion of the internet, and the mobile internet will require the same sort of driver to take off…but that is not going to happen if bandwidth costs preclude offering free content.
As CM1 writes: “The economic reality of mobile entertainment in North America will remain bleak until the entrance fee for small content producers is substantially reduced.”
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