Ad-Funding Whinge

Informa’s Mobile Media (no link, it’s hard copy) reports from the recent Off-Deck Conference about a speech given by a Mr Oswin Eleonora of Acision (formerly known as LogicaCMG), in which he attacked the way that the mobile market has “become obsessed with the notion of ‘free'” and ad-funded content and services.

His point is that service providers shouldn’t offer for free what people are used to paying for. He had a special go at Blyk, the MVNO launching in Europe in the second half of 2007, which plans to offer free calls and sms to its 16 – 24 target audience. I bet they’re quaking in their boots.

It strikes me that Mr Eleonora is missing the point completely. Indeed, if the point in this case was represented by speeding bullet, it’s not only missed the target, but has been fired in the wrong direction.

Because the actual point here is that it’s the market that’s setting the pace, capitalism will do that you know, and whingeing about it is as constructive as complaining about the existence of wasps – the best that you’ll achieve is to make yourself feel a little better, but the wasps will still be there. And a call for whatever Mr Eleonora is suggesting will be just as fruitful.

I mean, is he seriously expecting the likes of Blyk to think “Yikes…so we should like….charge for our service and completely change our business model, thereby abolishing our USP and strategy…. because we don’t want to upset any apple carts around here, do we?”.

One of the main challenges for businesses today is to react quickly and positively to changing market conditions and that’s what we’re witnessing happening here. A significant shift is in progress and business must adapt quickly, or die. And appealing to the new, disruptive entrants to play by the old rules is not a remotely effective way of adapting.

Obviously, there is going to be a place for paid content and services for quite a while yet, but when the dam bursts, it always starts with a little trickle.

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