UK-based mobile content retailer (Ringtones.com, MobileGaming.com, etc.), enabler and marketing services company Mobile Streams Plc (MOS) issued a trading statement yesterday, in which they announced that FY 2009 revenues would be in the $11mil range, representing a 20% year-over-year decrease compared with FY 2008. The company is claiming a positive Trading EBITDA... but their 2009 Net (which hasn't yet been disclosed) is likely to be negative. They also revealed that they currently have $2.75mil cash in the bank... down from $3.4mil at the end of June. Hardly a boffo result, so it shouldn't be any great surprise that the stock took a 5% hit in London trading today.
On a positive note, the company did begin to see an increase in revenue from its off-deck mobile internet businesses during 2009. According to CEO Simon Buckingham, "In 2010, these trends are expected to continue as we proportionately increase our revenues from retailing content and apps on the emerging mobile internet. This growth, together with continued cost control, will ensure that we protect our cash reserves in 2010, enabling us to take advantage of commercial and development opportunities as they arise."
But the future of Mobile Streams and its ilk is in some jeopardy. This is one of a handful of companies that sprouted up in the very early days of mobile content (back in 1999) to provide the immensely valuable service of gathering a diverse array of products (music, video, graphics, tones, games, etc.) and then, significantly, getting them all to work on thousands of handsets, hundreds of operator portals and tens of operating systems all over the world. While this is still valuable, especially in markets where feature phones still dominate, their recent revenue softness reflects how significant the shift of mobile content activity to smartphone app stores has been over the last couple of years. Assuming content owners and developers, in established mobile markets, continue to prioritize and publish directly to the top smartphone platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Ovi), the roles of aggregators and enablers will obviously be diminished. For Mobile Streams to survive, and perhaps realize renewed growth, I think they'll need to focus on opportunities in developing markets and perhaps the expansion of their mobile internet retailing activities around differentiated content, like adult, which the mainstream app stores don't sell.