So in light of all of the active Berggi discussion s going on at Mobilecrunch. I have been actively thinking about how wise a download dependecy is for a mobile service offering in the current US market. Based on "collective wisdom" it seems that the consensus is that in US markets consumers are definitely not interested in downloading anything to their phone.
However i was surprised to find data from Telephia that is showing a growth in mobile game downloads. Check out this report for yourself.
13.5 million subscribers braved the carrier decks (top 4 MNO) and downloaded in Q2 06. This is a significant growth and already a significant segment of consumers, one that could drive further strong growth by achieving critical mass for creating a viral behavior. Although the casual gaming genre seems to have wider appeal then more "true- gamer " titles i still think that gaming will never reach the penetration of more basic needs like communication ( so its viral potential is limited). Pardon the tangent.
It seems that with that many consumers willing to not only download an application (largely J2ME apps???) but also deal with the painful carrier decks (layers upon layers of menus) there is a good niche market out there. You would have to take out out the portion of users that do not have data plans, however i suspect most of the 13.5 MM users that downloaded games have a data package. Either case it seems that if Mobile Service providers could solve the marketing targeting problem of reaching the 13.5 million users who download games they would be open to downloading an app. Especially an app that addresses a communication need like Email.
However in Berggi's case it seems that they plan to be deeply integrated with the carrier as the billing is integrated into the carrier bill, and it works with and without a data plan but requires a "data connection" for all of your email needs. Meaning they charge you on a per SMS message bassis to power it ? or does the operator allow Berggis app exclusive data access to a Berggi server box in their data center? I dont think they pulled all that off, so it seems then they dont care if their consumers run up their data bills via their "data connections" with no data plans. Ill be very impressed if they got a unique carrier arrangement though.
An interesting approach would be to factor in regular messaging use and data traffic that are in essence using the Berggi App as a selling point for data services then they would have all of the 13.5 MM brave subscribers as their market and more. This type of bundling and marketing technique is not unique and was employed by Helio with their Myspace mobile app " Unlimited access to myspace mobile".
However i do think that charging 3.99 is a bit overboard (so they changed it from 9.99 ehh :) ). A free solution would be much wiser approach to encourage early adoption IMHO, the free trial for 3 months does earn them some points back. In their defense Verizon offers Wireless Email Sync for an outrageous 19.99 , (I cant imagine that being a hit for them). So the price may be actually competitive???. However i think both are missing the ideal price point to encourage user adoption, that price point can be nothing short of FREE.
So do plans like Berggi's have a chance ??? I think that there may be more to it then appears since you have to factor in their behind the scenes bundling tactics ala their carrier partners. So im going to hang back and see if Berggi can solve the marketing and targeting problem necessary to reach the niche of consumers in the States that actually have a clue about mobile downloads to pass judgement. As well as can they pull of the necessary Bus Dev maneveurs to convince the USA carriers to launch this aggressively enough? Also i would expect some pushback from the more established players like OZ , Openwave etc.
I wouldnt put my eggs into one basket though, where is the WAP or SMS offering that increases their funnel ? Smart phone client in the pipeline ? plans to cover Danger, Blackberry platforms?
All questions that needed
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