This emarketer brief says people are paying money for mobile applications like MapQuest (average of $3.99 / month) on their cell phones.
Wacky, when a lot of these things are free (like Google Maps Mobile which I use all the time) with an unlimited data plan. And with all the other useful things you can do on a cell phone with an unlimited data plan, I have to believe that mobile phones will mimic the web.
But then the mobile service providers also hold the keys to resolving the big problem with the mobile web (at a high level, there has to be better integration betweeen services and phone platforms… a separate post on this later).
What’ll it take for mobile service providers to give up their walled gardens?
2 thoughts on “Walled garden alert: people paying for mobile phone services”
What I think a lot of these service benefit from is the fact that once they get you to say yes to the charge (you get all excited and sign up on an impulse) the number of people who actually cancel is very low. It’s like the phone company and their “wire maintenance plan” – it’s $2.99 every month on a bill you hardly ever look at and need to pay to keep your phone.
I finally cancelled by Audible subscription – it was a nice-to-have but didn’t think I was getting $14.95/month out of it. I like listening to music and reading ink and pulp books.
The real question for the mobile apps business is how big could it be if it were easier for developers to release and distribute great products and services for mobile devices without having to go through all of the device/platform and distribution/carrier hurdles. Many a company has been bled dry of funding waiting for these issues to resolve themselves. Today, it seems like the carriers feel it is in their best interest to keep control of the markeplace even though it is constraining the market.
I pay $19.99 / month for unlimited GPRS access on my Windows Mobile phone and I get unfettered (ie non-walled garden) access to the Internet. And getting my phone setup to access useful sites was pretty easy… even considering that I’m a geek-type. Discovering useful services was the most difficult part of it. So, yeah, the carriers definitely have the power to distribute services to the mass market by pre-loading them on phones. But as consumer awareness grows, it’ll be like new PCs where people just ignore the crap that comes bundled and load all of their own stuff.