Research Notes

MMS will lack real content until a standard Digital Rights Management system is implemented

On top of all the other challenges facing MMS before it can become the success that the mobile operators are hoping for and boost non-voice revenues to new heights – one issue stands out that is crucial for the content providers before they even think about publishing and selling content via MMS – Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Without some form of DRM, anybody who receives content in a MMS, can forward that content to as many friends as they like. Those friends can again forward it to others. So a content provider is getting paid once for their content, that is then being shared between maybe hundreds – or even thousands – of mobile users, for free!

MMS opens up lots of new possibilities for content providers to offer innovative premium mobile services. According to Strand Consults report “How to make money on mobile services” a picture of the current & future Market for Mobile Services in Europe which has just been published, future killer applications for the mobile services market will be:

·Adult services
·Contests, competitions, lottery

Looking through this list, which is explained in detail in the report, it is not difficult to see that without a strong DRM system that has been implemented across all mobile operators, most of the above content will not be offered by the content owners. In fact, the content owners may as well start a “Napster” for mobile phones and put their content there for free, instead of trying to make money without any form of DRM.

Basically, the DRM system will allow a consumer to buy a mobile service, for example the latest weather forecast. Without DRM, he can freely send the forecast to his friends with a note attached saying “how about the beach on Sunday?” With a DRM system in place, the content owner can freely choose what the consumer can do with the forecast, choosing between options like:

1.he cannot send the forecast to anyone else
2.he can send it for free to 1 person
3.he can send it for a smaller fee than he paid himself to as many as he likes
4.he can send it for free 24 hours after he received it
5.any combination or variation of the above

With DRM, the content owner or service provider can decide for each individual piece of content for sale as a mobile service, if and how that content can be distributed from person to person, after it has left the the content owners domain.

Of course, some content will be available even without DRM. All the content created by mobile users themselves, e.g. personal photos etc, advertising content like movie trailers that promote new films in the cinema and so on, will be free. For that type of content it wouldn’t matter that it gets sent to as many mobile consumers as possible and therefore a DRM system would not be necessary. However, even free content is still costing the consumer money in the form of traffic fees to the mobile operator. If the mobile operators one day wanted to share that traffic generated by e.g. free movie trailers with the film studios, they would still need a DRM system to track how much traffic the movies have generated, as they get sent from person to person.

DRM systems for the mobile world have already been developed, but until a standard, cross platform DRM system is up and running, both the mobile operators and the content owners are going to miss out on that part of the mobile services market, estimated at Euro 23 billion by 2005.

The mobile services market today – and all the prerequisites for achieving this market growth in the coming years are explained in detail in Strand Consults new report “How to make money on mobile services” a picture of the current & future Market for Mobile Services in Europe. Together with a number of other challenges, DRM is vital to achieving success and ensuring a smooth rollout of 2.5G and 3G mobile services.
More information on the report

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