Consumer research conducted by the messaging agregator, mBlox has published a study which finds that nearly three-quarters of mobile phone owners who buy mobile content via their handset are not aware of the existance of "off-portal" services.
The survey, which questioned consumers in the UK, France and Germany, found that 30 percent had bought mobile content in the past, of whom 60 percent had purchased ringtones. However, despite these positive adoption figures, many remain unaware that they can buy content from sources other than their mobile operator's portal. A surprising 72 percent of mobile content buyers stated that they didn't realise that content is available off-portal as well.
Extra data download charges threaten price transparency
Although the survey found that most consumers understand that they are being charged for content, 74 percent said they were unaware of the extra data charges incurred by downloading. Half of the consumers questioned (50%) said they would expect the extra data charge to be no more than £1 a time, with one person realising the charge could be as high as £20. These results highlight the risk of angry reactions from consumers when they find out how much more downloads are costing them than they expected.
The cost of content was a recurring theme throughout the research, with over a third of surveyed consumers (36%) stating that their reason for not downloading full tracks and mobile TV is because they are too expensive.
Andrew Bud, executive chairman of mBlox, said: "This survey delivers some strong messages. On the one hand, it shows that the huge scale achieved by the off-portal content industry in Europe over the last three years is just the beginning. With over 70 per cent of the market unaware of off-portal downloads, the direct-to-consumer industry need only reach out to those consumers, who are hungry for richer media content and will respond to the variety, choice and dynamism of its off-portal offering."
"Yet while this survey says that the off-portal industry has generally done a good job of marketing its pricing transparently, a danger lurks. We know well that consumers do not tolerate unpleasant surprises, and operators must spare their customers from pricing shock. They can do this while still sharing in the value created by the off-portal market."
mBlox's research showed that an impressive 22 percent of consumers had already tried downloading full-track music or mobile video/TV content, an indication of increasing market adoption of rich media content. Consumers also said they would be willing to pay a fair price for mobile content such as full track music and mobile TV if the costs were lower. 59 percent of consumers polled claimed that they would like to download more full music tracks to their phone if pricing was, indeed, cheaper. The vast majority (85%) of survey respondents said that they would happily pay around the £1 mark to download a full music track, which is more in line with the standard price associated for downloading music from the internet.
Bud continued: "In a bid to solve this pricing issue and lower the cost of mobile content, mBlox has been petitioning for a bundled data charging model for off-portal content that can work across the industry. During 2006, mBlox worked closely with a major operator to launch a wholesale data charging model that offers service-specific data tariffs to content providers that are low enough to allow the data to be bundled with the cost of the content. This model provides all consumers with a single cost for both the content and the download, allowing any consumer to download content off-portal without getting unexpected charges on their mobile phone bill. Only when we have industry alignment on this will the content industry begin to gather more pace."
The research was conducted in January 2007 and polled a representative sample of 340 consumers across the UK, France and Germany"
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