By Sean Williams
The world is hungry for digital media on-the-go. But is mobile content a must-have, or are the Middle East’s major players simply keeping up with the Joneses? Digital Broadcast speaks to two people in the know to find out.
Santino Saguto, partner, Value Partners
As is the case across the globe, local, relevant content is of
primary importance. In this region, Arabic language content remains in relatively
short supply. Ventures such as AppsArabia and du’s Media Lab represent efforts to
stimulate content production in the region; Nokia’s announced release last week
of Arabic support for its Apps Wizard is recognition from one of the big players
of the need to address this gap. Meanwhile the rise and rise of social media in
the region - 40% of UAE population now on Facebook - shows the local appetite for
creation of User Generated Content.
Globally, the big-money purchases of mobile advertising firms
Admob and Quattro Wireless by Google and Apple, respectively is representative of
the growing confidence in mobile as an advertising platform. Closer to home, Etisalat’s
announcement at GITEX that “mobile advertising is now essential to the foundation
of any successful advertising campaign” is one increasingly shared by major brands,
with a growing number of advertising agencies specialising in digital media growing
aggressively to meet demand in the region.
While advertising will undoubtedly remain the business model
of choice in the digital space from a consumer perspective, the success of paid
apps on Apple’s Appstore, which now makes up 70% of the portfolio, is the latest
illustration of users’ willingness to pay for the right content. The next step will
be to see if content producers are able to move app pricing away from a single one-off
payment to a subscription model that would represent much greater revenue potential
Winning mobile platforms so far are indeed iPhone-iPad/Apple,
Android, RIM and possibly Nokia. The battle will continue for some time. Apple is
indeed winning on the application side, but it remains a closed platform. Given
the speed of development of these devices, we may well expect some additional innovation
within 6 to12 months. All the applications which are location-based or that can
leverage on m-payment/m-commerce plus m-advertising, or even with all type of sensor-devices,
still need to penetrate the market.
Medea Nocentini, director, corporate development, OSN
Mobile handsets are now part of the entertainment consumption.
Potential opportunities in the region are multiple, thanks to a high penetration
of mobile phones, exponential growth of mobile broadband and significant proportion
of the population being under 25. Platforms that are already shaking up the global
market are Google Android and over-the-top (OTT), while behavioural targeting platforms
are changing the mindset of brands and marketers.
We recognise the importance of the mobile platform in the years
to come, and the opportunities for convergence in our business models. Both subscription
and advertising models will contribute to the mobile content and services market’s
sustainability. At OSN we believe that subscription and VOD models will make the
highest contribution: key success drivers will be relevance, exclusivity, appeal
of content and reliability of the ‘anytime anywhere’ experience at the right price.
Mobile advertising is a nascent market in the region, with multiple
opportunities for all players along the value chain. The OSN business model is subscription-driven,
and naturally we focus on the opportunities to personalize the consumption experience,
to target our audience more effectively (through interactivity and localization)
and to better measure audience preferences. Into the future, we will continue to
leverage our wealth of exclusive content to expand existing relationships with telecom
operators, and selectively invest in services that substantially improve the subscriber
consumption experience. We have identified platform synergies and will leverage
convergence to enhance content delivery across platforms, including mobile.