Internext Report: Mobile/Wireless/SMS

LAS VEGAS - Appropriately subtitled "The Future is Closer Than You Think," the mobile technology seminar at the January, 2005 Internext Expo in Las Vegas revealed the growing gap between the forward-thinking technological "haves" and the slow to respond "have nots" - as evidenced by the fairly sparse attendance at the event.

Moderated by 3ob.com's Katie Smith, the seminar's panel included Lee Ali from Opera Telecom, AEBN's Director of Mobile Operations Harvey Kaplan, and Python's Paul Benioit.

The seminar was positioned to give an introduction to the state-of-the-art in mobile marketing - or as the seminar's description read: "Why, you ask, should you care about mobile technology and how it affects community lifestyles? Because knowing will give you insight into why investing in a mobile strategy will make you money. But only if you do it right."

Surprisingly, there were relatively few folks in attendance trying to gain an insight into what promises to be the next big frontier in adult entertainment. For those who did attend, a wealth of information was made available, starting with a presentation by Lee Ali that provided a basic rundown of the mobile scene.

With 1.3 billion wireless service subscribers worldwide, and an expected increase to 2 billion by 2007, marketing to mobile technology users is a growth industry, Ali said.

While currently deployed mobile technologies are being stretched to their maximum, the roll out of third generation (3G) systems promises to unleash a new wave of opportunity for content marketers.

Consumer demand for access to rich multimedia content is driving technological advances in the mobile arena. While many domestic adult entertainment providers see mobile technologies such as SMS as merely a convenient billing option to monetize European traffic and other international surfers, mobile-centric products such as wallpapers, ringtones, and Java-based games can provide direct revenue streams - and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to AEBN's Harvey Kaplan, "The adult Internet industry has hit a plateau, making the mobile market the next logical step."

Python's Paul Benioit agreed and shed light on the appeal of the mobile market.

"With the Internet, you have to have the customer at his computer, but with mobile, they carry your content with them," said Benioit

Kaplan revealed that, "Images are the most popular content available for download today, with 30 second video clips coming fast behind as bandwidth increases."

Opera Telecom's Lee Ali chimed in and said that one of the company's biggest revenue generators in 2004 was an 'orgasm' ringtone and Benioit commented that Python has been using SMS as a successful billing mechanism, indicating the range of ways in which the mobile market may be monetized.

Europe and Asia are far ahead of both the U.S. and Canada in the deployment of advanced mobile networks, limiting the current reach of content available today.

Complicating the issue is the reluctance of the major domestic carriers to allow adult content on their networks.

While the panel agreed that demand and dollars would rule over the final status of domestic mobile porn offerings, caution and restraint was urged as a means of making the phone companies more accepting of our wares.

Another topic brought up in the seminar was the issue of spam sent across mobile networks. While some feel that abusive marketing techniques like spam would create further roadblocks to the telco's allowance of adult material, a key difference between the Internet and the telephone system was pointed out by Kaplan, who said that, unlike the Internet, the telephone company knows who's sending what, and would be able to quickly shut down any spam operation.