Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Subsidised mobile web access

Many in the mobile industry are realising that the idea of "mobile applications" as a category of software is losing its strength. At one point it seemed that a whole new software industry would arise around the mobile space. Of course, there are cases for mobile applications specialists, especially in verticals, but the trend now is towards Internet and existing applications to include a mobile appendage. Overwhelmingly, the Internet, especially in Web 2.0 world, is where the action is and where the case for mobile access will be made. This leaves out the mobile operators, who have been trying to defend their corner as value-added service providers and ward off the "decline" (is it really a decline?) to the role of dumb bit-pipe. However, they have mostly blown their chance to be anything other than a bit pipe by shutting the doors to the vast pool of innovative expertise that congregates around the Internet, or anywhere where they can find a place to sell their wares, but where else is there today other than the Internet?

In my last post I mentioned the idea of differentiated charging for net access, such as cheaper access to a particular site. An obvious one is Google Search, which could potentially be free of charge to access based on the assumption that using it will lead to surfing other sites, which is data revenue for the operator. However, an alternative model is offering free-of-charge access on the basis that Google would share some of the ad-click revenue with the operator. This would extend to access to the ad sponsor's site. In other words, given that mobile access to websites is a premium, then who should pay for the premium? Sometimes it should be the user, but sometimes it should be the site owner (or aggregator).

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