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Was thinking on what might be the impact of the exploding number of mobile users and I did come up with some thoughts. Would love to get your feedback on this.

1980-1990 (shift it by a few years forward or backward depending on where you are in the world)

Mobiles were probably just getting introduced, and it will not be hard to realize that during the initial years owning a mobile was itself a big thing. Nobody used it for anything other than just making calls and it was used for necessities only. Landlines were still probably the preferred mode of communication.

(shift it by a few years forward or backward depending on where you are in the world)

Mobile usage became more rampant, and people were spending more and more time on the device. It started getting used as a device to remain in touch rather than just being used only when a need came up. Text Messaging started picking up too. In summary people started spending more and more time on the device.

What did this do - the calling minutes and text messages that users sent out was able to subsidize for the device itself. Operators were able to come out with schemes where device would be offered free if the subscriber could commit a certain usage for a reasonable length of time. Well well, I agree that churn was also an important factor in driving these schemes but the I still think that usage was able to subsidize the device to a large extent.

Today (2006)

Device capabilities are going up and more and more devices are moving to support multiple forms of media support and communication support. Can calling minutes still subsidize the device - a definite no for the high end devices. But in my opinion the day is not very far when advertising for example can subsidize the high end devices. Some challenges would definitely have to be tackled before this can become reality

a. People need to master the art of marketing to the highly segmented mobile user group.
b. Advertising on a small screen is a big big challenge
c. Difficult to decide if there is a need to pay for ad's on a mobile device - the price / device will fall anyways - the time to market pressure will always play on all participants in this chain (price of a Razr is now a fraction of what it was introduced at)

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