Monetization would be the Key Challenge

Date:   Thursday , September 03, 2009

In the last two years, the mobile handsets have matured to become a viable development platform. Today, one can leverage the touch screen interfaces, GPS, accelerometers, good quality video capture, Wi-Fi access capabilities and build very sophisticated applications. Secondly distribution is also there, thanks to the proliferation of marketplaces like Apple App Store, Nokia Ovi store, Android Market place and so on. In just around two years, iPhone has thousands of new applications and growing.

On the other hand, two years back, most of mobile users were using the phones to call or text someone. Now if we look at the mobile users, they know what mobile apps are and are choosy about which they use without their carrier involvement. Many are free, so itís easy to try new applications Ė and to discard them. In fact, most of the new applications have very limited use and the user never gets to use them after the first few tries. This ability to build sophisticated applications, distribute easily with out going through a lengthy carrier process and get consumers to try them out is creating an unprecedented opportunity for mobile application vendors.

Over the next few years, we will see consolidation of the Software platforms (iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile) for mobile handsets. In addition the intense competition among the handset vendors will drop the prices considerably making it very affordable for most people.

This creates a phenomenal opportunity and a challenge for entrepreneurs in this space: Itís crucial to be innovative both in product development and in how we monetize. On the product side, engagement upon first use is crucial. Customers need that rush of excitement the first time they open the application. On the monetization front, customers are looking for solutions that bring value to their lives. Value can be something that solves a problem or something thatís fun. Entrepreneurs have to be very creative on monetization as they are competing with other individual creators with zero overhead and equal access to global mainstream consumers.

Ramu Sunkara is CEO, Qik Inc. Qik is a mobile live video streaming platform, which enables anyone to stream video live from their mobile phone to anywhere in the world. The company is based in Redwood City, CA