Mobile report: Multimedia leaves voice behind

The money is no longer in voice for Australia's mobile operators, according to new research by IDC.

As prices for voice drop dramatically, facilitators, content aggregators and developers need to work together to provide higher value content services, said IDCs research manager for wireless and mobility, Warren Chaisatien.

His research found that spending on non-voice services this year will total $1.53 billion, and will grow 10 times the rate of the voice market over the next five years.

"With the cellular market now exceeding natural saturation, Australian carriers must become innovative and competitive beyond messaging," noted Chaisatien.

Chaisatien added that the 3G services expected to hit Australia before the holiday season will see consumers expecting multimedia rich consumable content such as music videos, mobile video "mobisodes" and internet on the mobile handset.

Associate Analyst Jerson Yau said that while there are enough players in the facilitator and aggregator markets, there is definitely more room for content developers.

"The Australian market is highly competitive with four carriers offering retail and wholesale services. The only real growth opportunity for facilitators lies in wholesaling their network capacity to mobile virtual network operators, as exemplified by companies such as Virgin Mobile and SIMPlus," he said.

Yau said that any new aggregator may have a hard time entering the market due to the strong relationship current aggregators have already established with carriers and developers.

"In terms of developers though, it is an open market as content creation is not limited to any one party or entity so there is plenty of room for growth," he said.

The key requirement for the health of the industry, according to IDC, is that all three players work together to share revenue and provide quality and innovative material to the end-user.

Yau believes the main barrier to parties working well together is usually about equitable revenue sharing.

"Content facilitators generally retain the largest amount of end-user mobile content spend and distribute the rest to the aggregators and developers," he said.

"Another barrier involves the mobile content itself, such as downloading digital music to the mobile handset. Digital rights management (DRM) issues will affect not only the facilitators, aggregators and developers, but will also become a concern for mobile handset manufacturers," he said.

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