Mobile operators are expected to expand their battlefields in 2007 to free mobile airtime funded by advertising.
"Ad-funded services represent the most exciting, and potentially risky, area of new mobile operator service innovation in 2007," said Emma Mohr-McClune, an analyst covering wireless services for Current Analysis.
Start-up company Blyk is scheduled to launch an ad-funded service in the UK in 2007, and Vodafone is expected to follow later in the year. Xero and Virgin Mobile are planning a launch in the US for next year.
Subscribers will be required to provide a detailed personal profile and agree to be targeted with advertising.
Consumers in Europe should also expect further personalisation of mobile services. Operators have successfully launched several niche service brands tailored towards audiences such as young music enthusiasts offering specialised content portals.
Prices of mobile music downloads will drop, according to Mohr-McClune, to more closely meet the prices charged by Apple's iTunes media store and other digital music services.
Calling plans also are expected to start offering additional options that allow subscribers to tailor subscriptions to meet their airtime and data requirements.
Mohr-McClune predicted a broad adoption of so-called home-zone calling plans that offer discounted calling rates within a 1km to 2km radius of a subscriber's home.
Data backup services could also provide a windfall to providers, allowing consumers to back up address books, SMS messages and digital pictures to prevent data loss in a case of a lost phone or when the subscriber purchases a new device.
Following the success of social websites like YouTube and MySpace, user-generated content is poised to reach the mobile phone.
Such services could be modelled after 3 UK's successful 'See me TV' offering that has raked in 12 million downloads of user-created 30-second videos since October 2005. The service charges 50p per download, paying 1p to the video's creator.
YouTube has indicated that it plans to launch a mobile version of its service next year, and has already signed a partnership agreement with US provider Verizon to deliver mobile video to its subscribers' mobile handsets.
Advertising and personalisation set mobile agenda
By Tom Sanders on Dec 22, 2006 9:49AM