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News Corp To Mobile: You Need Us

CTIA, Los Angeles: News Corp’s COO Peter Chernin is certainly getting a lot of attention this week after emphasizing MySpace’s weight in the web 2.0 world. This morning, however, he was concentrating on Mobile as part of his keynote at the CTIA wireless convention in Los Angeles.

Chernin talked a bit about News Corp’s recent purchase of a controlling share of mobile company Jamba and how bullish the company is on mobile as an entertainment medium, but his most interesting comments dealt with the harsher realities of the mobile content business in the U.S. Finding mobile entertainment on cell phones is basically a joke right now, he said, adding some reality to the mobile lovefest going on in the convention hall.

His perspective coming from the entertainment industry: we’re selling something no one really needs so companies have to work hard and figure out a better way of making people want that content.

News Corp’s wireless push will likely be good for more than just the company’s bottom line. The mobile content ecosystem in the U.S. needs a heavy weight like News Corp to counter balance the carrier-centric system. And of course Chernin had a few ideas on how to improve it: The industry needs better and more simple business models, more attractive marketing, much easier ways to find the content on or off phones, as well as more standardization between handsets, Chernin says.

Any consumer who has tried to download ringtones or mobile games, would heartily agree. I test this stuff for a living and sometimes being able to just access and find the content is like pulling teeth. What do you think? Any mobile entertainment experiences you’d care to share?

4 Responses to “News Corp To Mobile: You Need Us”

  1. Katie,

    The tone of some of the statements coming from Peter Chernin are alarming. I wonder what the poor users of Myspace are going to be subjected to in the coming months.

    From what I see, Jamba/Jamster is a typical mobile content vendor, it only SELLS product to customers. The trend amongst these customers in Europe is to look for alternatives to the shop fronts of companies like Jamba and the mobile operators – free download sites, mobile UGC sites and mobile social communities.

    Jamba’s bullish turnover is built on massive TV/ marketing budgets [a BIG cost of aquisition], it will be a lower cost when you sell the service into the Myspace crowd of course. But I was expecting News Corp to actually announce a creative approach to the mobilisation of Myspace, instead what I see is a platform to sell mobile products only to the same users – to exploit the short term gains.

    In the USA you may not be aware that their has been a backlash to the sales practices of the mobile content vendors. We even have a regulatory decision against Jamba and its partner Mblox in the UK for misleading sales practices related to mobile content subscriptions :

    Selling subscriptions [repeat downloads] to customers when they thought they were only agreeing to a single download purchase has caused the industry to suffer badly in the UK and Europe. I have seen big falls in company turnover due to regulatory action related to this [an example is Monstermob in the UK].

    I can fully expect that in the USA the same effect can happen in the future where one vendor creates a problem related to subscriptions and the knock on effect will cause waves amongst the whole of the market.

    On a positive note, I do believe that News Corp trying to shake up the walled gardens of the mobile operators [carriers] is a good thing. The situation in the USA must go off-deck to allow for mass services to operate in the market and for the carriers to benefit from their position in the value chain but also to increase the market size.

    On a final note I do not think that Peter Chernin understands mobile customers/users. If he thinks they are buying something they do not need and his job is to help make these same people want that same product he is in for a very short journey with his customers. He makes me think that the whole exercise is marketing only and whatever you put in front of the customer he/she will buy.

    I do not see Long term relationships being built with Myspace customers if this is his strategy.

    PS The product inventory in Jamba is so poor as well…

  2. I feel that paying for ringtones wallpaper etc is retarted, I dont mind paying for data / connection to my mobile but content should be free.

    I use this app, and convert and send ringtones wallpaper.

    Also I love using opera mini and google maps best tools around.

    myspace is really strong, but wonder how helio is doing? is myspace strong enought to get them a crap load of customers?

  3. steve_ray

    I was at the MECCA billboard event (a pre-CTIA conference), and can definitely attest to the industry’s insanity. Carriers think that a value add for consumers is making it easier to search for ringtones that they’re selling. There was NO talk about opening the platforms up and stimulating development/growth in a manner similar to the web. Each one just wants to be the ’95-AOL of the web, and forcing all innovation to come in the form of channel partners. Someone needs to disrupt that model.

    The main take away was that EVERYONE in the mobile industry is working to make the carrier happy, not the consumer. And carrier happiness seems to be measured simply by how many more $2.99’s they can get from the subscriber.

    It’s laughable that you have to spend more money on a ringtone than if you were to buy the actual song – READ: YOU HAVE TO PAY TO DO MARKETING FOR THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. I could go one for at least six more paragraphs :)

  4. I have used Slingbox for sometime now, and I really like it. Live TV on a mobile phone is very hot, and companies such as MobiTV are trying to cash in on this up and coming segment of the market. As for ringtones, I simply use mp3’s from my own collection instead of paying for a bootleg midi version.