MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year

MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year according to the Communities dominate brands blog

Tomi and Alan say ..

The fastest-growing type of digital service, by revenues, is social networking on mobile phones. Every CEO of a Flickr, YouTube, eBay, Skype, MySpace, Worlds of Warcraft, 2nd Life etc will need to immediately launch mobile extensions, variants, access methods, sharing systems and/or alerts to their online social networks, or else their more nimble rivals will shoot past them.

The full text of the article they refer to is below:

Source: The International herald tribune

A cellphone sideshow: YouTube-like content is going mobile By Doreen Carvajal International Herald Tribune

Published: October 22, 2006

PARIS Gather around, “towners,” for a glimpse of Hot Dog Boy – “quickest frankfurter eater in town!” Or take a twist with the Pretzel Girl, “real-life office contortionist!” Feast your eyes as often as you want – the carnival is coming to your mobile phone.

Towners is the carnival term for a sideshow audience, but in the cellphone industry, the towners could be people who operators hope will create a powerful revenue stream by uploading amateur photographs and video clips for fellow customers to download and gawk at.

Google reaped international attention for its purchase of the top video- sharing Web site, YouTube, but phone companies in Europe, Asia and the Americas are also exploring the territory for “user generated content,” tantalized by the prospects of making money with low-cost, effective entertainment.

Hot Dog Boy and Pretzel Girl are among some of the sensations that have emerged in the year since the mobile operator 3 created “See Me TV.”

More than 100,000 amateur videos and photographs have been submitted, resulting in more than 12 million downloads, according to 3, which in keeping with this new form of entertainment calls itself a “mobile media company.” But the medium has its limits. To reach all of 3′s some 3.75 million customers, See Me TV acts are warned to avoid swearing, racist comments or making faux horror clips that are just “too gory.”

Phone companies are working furiously to develop systems that will allow social networking or the sharing of material with a layer of human control to filter submissions. “We definitely think there is a long-term business model around it,” said Daniel Winterbottom, a senior analyst with the research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. “Anytime you create a community it’s a way of driving the up-selling of content.”

With the growing popularity of sophisticated telephones, Informa forecasts that globally, operator revenue from such services will rise to more than $13 billion by 2011 from $3.45 billion this year. Asia is the most active region, with revenue from “mobile community services” of $1.8 billion this year, followed by Europe at $721 million, according to Informa. Leading the way are companies like Cyworld in South Korea, a creation of SK Telecom that allows cellphone users to share pictures, clips, music, ring tones and games.

Orange UK started a service this year that asks Britons to submit photos of themselves that could then be shared and voted on in a contest, “Buff or Rough.” They recently increased the degree of difficulty by asking contestants to submit photos with Bollywood themes. The winning entrant, who was to be announced Monday, is Ishrat Jabeen Sharif, a 21-year-old newlywed. Her prize will be a bit part in a real Bollywood movie.

“It’s cheap for the customers and it’s cheap for us because the content is generated by them,” said Alistair Johnston, director of multimedia and marketing for Orange in Britain. “We laugh at it, but we were staggered by the response, with more than one million votes per week. The average use is high, with people browsing through 50 pages and customers going in two or three times a day. The behavior is all about boredom busting.”

Users pay differently for downloading material based on their monthly plans or “bundle” rates; one option is £1, or $1.88, for one day of unlimited use. So Johnston said it was difficult to calculate how much revenue the services are creating, but he said it was clear that “Buff and Rough” and chat forums were the “main motors” behind the company’s growth.

Last week, FremantleMedia, a production company that is a division of the European broadcaster RTL Group, teamed up with the U.S. phone company Sprint to create a subscription mobile channel called Atomic Wedgie aimed at tantalizing young men with recycled video fare like “Baywatch Babes.” The venture is not ready for video sharing because, according to Olivier Gers, general manager of FremantleMedia CQ Licensing Worldwide, “we’re still trying to learn what the medium is about and what people like and don’t like.”

Many operators are asking start-ups to manage mobile video applications. Gilles Babinet, a founder of Musiwave in Paris, which advises operators about how to sell music tracks, has created another company, Eyeka, that provides mobile video and image service along with vetting controls. The biggest concern is posting information “that involves any legal issues or porn stuff or violence,” Babinet said. “Telcos won’t accept that.”