How our new approach won back mobile content customers

It's a win, win, win, win, win situation, says HyongSuk Kim, CEO of M-Biz Global

How our new approach won back mobile content customers
This article is a guest contribution from HyongSuk Kim, CEO and founder of M-Biz Global (pictured right).

Vodafone’s recent confirmation that it sees itself as anything but a dumb pipe - and that because of its ‘special’ billing relationship with the end user it feels some sense of total ownership over the customer - goes to prove how far the industry hasn’t come.

Back at the beginning of the noughties, the mobile industry promised to be an exciting space; the small screen was so personal it would enable all sorts of creative content to be delivered directly into the hand.

But the reality didn’t live up to the hype when it came to surfing the mobile web, and the poor consumer was left dazed, confused and damaged.

Every rose has its thorns

Around the same time, the operators decided that building walls around largely dull content and ensuring that consumers were directed there was exactly what they wanted. We were told that choice and exploration was a dangerous thing, and that for security reasons we shouldn’t venture out of the garden.

This approach had two significant effects.

Firstly, when the most tenacious consumers actually managed to arrive in the garden, they were left agog at the uninspiring content on offer.

Secondly, as it became obvious the operators wanted too much control and too big a slice of the action, content creators initially attracted by the promise of opportunity and riches went back to where they came from.

Fast-forward a year or so to March 2003, when 3 UK launched its network. Heralded as an antidote to slow connection speeds, its poor network coverage and large phones with poor battery life again disappointed.

Twice-bitten? Well, in April 2005, the infamous Crazy Frog off-portal ring-tone phenomenon burst on the scene. Not only did it offend with its genitalia, its misleading advertising meant that thousands of mobile consumers unwittingly signed up to a subscription, not a one-off fee.

As an industry then, we've been doing our best to put the vital ingredient, the customer, well and truly off.

Even now, with the changes happening within Vodafone’s Live!, mobile content is ridiculously difficult to find, clunky to download and quite frankly uninspiring when it eventually arrives.

In contrast, the iPhone proved that if you give clear access to applications and services then the end customer has an appetite for mobile content.

Let’s not forget that Apple App Store model has also done an excellent job of ensuring that those close to it are given a good piece of the pie, too.

I did it my way

I was so frustrated with operators making me go through a clunky ordeal to get mobile games I may or may not like that I started thinking how I could change things.

The focus of my plan was honesty. Consumers want to know what they are buying, and when they’ve decided they want it, they want to get it quickly and without fuss.

Our TryNBuy service, which we launched last year, pre-loads games onto handsets and offers the user a taster of a game, either via sample levels or time limits. If the user decides they'd like to purchase the game, they're simply sent a PSMS that unlocks the game in its entirety.

Typically we see 40 per cent of end-users going on to purchase a game having tried it with our service, versus just 15 per cent who follow the traditional download WAP link model. In EMEA alone we've seen sales of our listed games soar by 62 per cent in 2008, compared to 2007.

Going forward, I see packs of relevant content embedded on handsets. If an individual purchases a specific genre of game, then when they do go onto an operator’s portal they should be presented with a catalogue of content relevant to them.

From a compensation perspective, we provide a 'five-way win’ scenario that satisfies the developer, the handset manufacturer, the operator, M-Biz Global, and most importantly the end user.

It is those like us who are reluctant to follow the established rules that will eventually succeed in giving the consumers what they want, when they want it. With few exceptions, the status quo is broken. As an industry we should pull together and drive innovation forward.
HyongSuk Kim founded M-Biz Global in 2005. Through its partnership with Samsung Mobile, M-Biz Global is now a leader in supply and billing for the secondary games market. Previously HyongSuk worked for M-Biz Korea and for Samsung’s outsourcing firm. He has participated in projects with Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, and was also involved in Samsung's Developer’s forum.

PocketGamer.biz regularly posts content from a variety of guest writers across the games industry. These encompass a wide range of topics and people from different backgrounds and diversities, sharing their opinion on the hottest trending topics, undiscovered gems and what the future of the business holds.