Content Drives Success For Australian Carriers
By Carlo Longino, Tue May 17 23:30:00 GMT 2005

Two Aussie carriers are seeing big benefits from their mobile content offerings.

For a long time, operators made a lot of noise about their mobile content, but usage and revenues didn't show a lot of life. The action has gradually picked up and mobile content's certainly become a viable, if not yet lucrative, business, and news from two Australian carriers shows how content, reworked with new technologies and the lessons of previous efforts, is creating success.

i-mode Business Strategy reports that a Telstra exec told a mobile content conference last week the subscription rates for the operators' i-mode service is 500% higher than for its previous WAP service, and that 87% of its i-mode users actively user the service's portal, compared to just 10%-12% of its WAP users. And 3 Australia says its content offering centered on the Big Brother television show, including constant live video feeds, has proved a great success, with 5,000 subscriptions sold on the first day it was available. This, and the success of other content, means 3 should break even in the country on an EBITDA basis by the end of the year.

One interesting metric from 3 is that is said the migration of service revenues from its 2G operations to 3G would accelerate in the second half of this year, but that 2G service revenue levels would remain flat -- the implication being the operator's being successful in getting 3G users to increase their level of spending, with much of that going to content. Telstra, too, is confident that its 3G launch later this year will drive the number of i-mode users even higher.

Walter Adamson also highlights how the Telstra exec referred to "lessons learnt in Telstra's 'last 5 years of failure' before they launched i-mode," particularly how the operator now lets content providers take a leadership role in the ecosystem, rather than taking all the control on itself. When many carriers are still reluctant to give content providers a meaningful place at the table, it's refreshing to see how Telstra's figured out that by enabling the success of its content providers, it's laying the groundwork for its own success as well.