Asian mobile players must think global

Mobile content providers in the region must aim for the global market, and provide a complete user experience to win customers over, says industry analyst.

SINGAPORE--Mobile content players in the Asia-Pacific region must think global and put together a complete user experience if they want to win customers, according to a senior executive at research house Frost & Sullivan.

Speaking at the Mobile Content World Asia 2007 seminar held here Tuesday, Manoj Menon, partner and managing director for Southeast Asia at Frost & Sullivan, said mobile content companies in the region need to bear in mind that they are up against "next-generation competitors" such as Skype, YouTube and MySpace, in a global market, and as such, they need to think global.

"They are not playing in the Singapore market, the Malaysia market or the Thailand market," Menon said. "Many of us when we do businesses, we try to play in our local markets and that in itself, [is] a tremendous disadvantage."

He noted that while localization is important, players from the region are up against companies that are competing globally so they must have a global strategy if they want to compete.

Because these global competitors play in a marketplace that is worth US$6 billion a year, he added that they work on a "completely different economies of scale" where they can push out services at a lower cost to customers in a vast market.

"The services that they provide [and] the cost of providing that service is very minimal, and yet, the value they're giving to customers far exceeds the actual cost of delivering the service," Menon said. This enables the global players to offer such services to their customers for free, allowing them to monetize the service using other means, he added.

The analyst also noted that the consumer behavior is changing. "In the past, we used to switch on the TV…and go to sleep," he said. But the new generation of consumers now "want to search, participate and personalize" the content they are consuming, he said.

"If a company wants to succeed in this market, it's not just about providing that service. You really have to be the orchestrator of that experience," he said, adding that telecoms service providers have the "best ability to execute it".

Players are not very successful today in the mobile entertainment space because they are "not really orchestrating that experience for customers," Menon said.

He cited Apple's iPhone and iPod audio player as good examples of how well-executed user experience.

"They've merely orchestrated that experience for [its customers], orchestrating the experience through content, through the device, and slowly manifesting itself and increasing their [market] roll out," Menon said. He noted that mobile content players should learn from Apple's example, and added that "it's extremely pertinent as we try to develop this wireless ecosystem with mobile content".