Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fast & Frolicious: Text Campaigns Big & Small

I think shortcode text marketing campaigns are a vastly underused/underappreciated form of actionable, location-based marketing...particularly in the US. For marketers who know anything about CRM these campaigns have the potential to provide supervaluable relationship marketing leads. It's shocking how few brands do anything with shortcodes and text (or mobile in general).

That said I learned about 2 campaigns on opposite ends of the reach spectrum this week. One supports a national movie release and one supports a hyper local customer relationship campaign by a frozen yogurt shop.

Text FAST to UFILMS (834567): Universal Pictures is once again running a major text campaign to support their Fast & Furious street racing franchise. The 4th installment, simply titled Fast & Furious, opens in US theaters on April 3rd. The shortcode is prominently placed on all outdoor media (larger than the URL). The shortcode returns a link to a content rich, graphically compelling WAP site featuring movie info, trailers, a picture gallery and downloadable graphics, tones and games. Consumers can also provide their phone # to enter a sweepstakes to win $10k or a Subaru STI (yes I entered). On the last Fast & Furious film (Tokyo Drift) Universal also tagged the product and advertising of many of the film's promotional partners with unique keywords...we'll see if that materializes this time round.

Text YOGURT to 69302: Froyolife, my local frozen yogurt 2.0 place is capturing the mobile #s of local shoppers so the retailer can send them updates about new flavors and sales promotions. If they know what they're doing on cold days they will blast messages compelling users to come into the store with 20% off coupons and on hot days they'll MMS foodporn images of icy cold mango yogurt. This is actually the smallest brand I've ever seen using a shortcode campaign...I wish them luck and I hope it starts a trend.

Sidekick is Most Jacked Handset

Perhaps further enhancing the street cred of the quirky IMtexterrific flip top from T-Mo USA and Danger, USA Today posted an AP story speculating that the Sidekick may be America's most stolen handset. Police say that thieves in Boston, NYC and Providence are deliberately targeting the device and in some cases perps are even following users to an opportune spot to do the crime. Besides the celeb cache of the device the story cites the device's portable SIM card (inherent on GSM network devices) and the fact the US carriers apparently do not share information with each other about stolen handsets, like they do in Europe, (gotta love learning something new from USA Today) as contributing factors. The situation has gotten so out of hand in Boston that police and students from Boston Arts Academy teamed to create a poster warning people to "Hold On To Your Kick".

Friday, February 27, 2009

KongZhong Rocks On

Major Beijing-based mobile content aggregator/publisher KongZhong (KONG) recently released an unaudited 2008 earnings statement.

Revs = $96.69mil a 31% increase over 2007
(Value added services = $86.91mil, mobile games = $7.74mil & mobile advertising $2.04mil)

Net Loss = $20.66mil...the company would have been profitable without hefty write down of goodwill (popular theme)

Subsequently it was reported that the company had taken a $6.8mil investment from Nokia Growth Partners. Smart move for Nokia (NOK) with a company that is becoming the dominant content player in market on the verge of a 3G roll out that has proven impossible to penetrate without a local partner.

Overall KongZhong's stock price has held up really well during the current economic meltdown (particularly compared to it's competition) and it's market cap is an impressive $179.22mil (2x Buongiorno (BNG) which has 4x the Rev).

I currently have these guys as a Top10 mobile content player worldwide, sitting between Thumbplay and Gameloft...anybody want to challenge this?

Whole Lotta Handset Hullabaloo

Two stories getting major play today across the trades and blogosphere:

1) Apparently DoCoMo has stopped sales of RIM's BlackBerry Bold in Japan, where 30 customers have complained about the keyboard overheating during the recharging process. Odd that this is only happening in Japan. Hopefully this won't derail RIM's nascent business in that market...where foreign handsets (including the iPhone) have had a hard time getting any market traction.

2) UK operators are reportedly freaking out about Nokia's plans to preload the Skype client in their highly anticipated N97 and future N-Series handsets. No one who reads this blog is surprised by this development, right? (Note the first bullet in my post from February 18th).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nokia Noodling Notebooks?

Both Digital Daily and Reuters have picked up on a YLE interview with Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in which he suggests that Nokia (NOK) might make a move into the laptop space. Kallasuvo suggests that it would be a logical extension of their business as the capabilities of smartphones and laptops converge (mostly in the form of netbooks). More likely this is a competitive reaction to computer makers like Dell (DELL) and Acer (2353) pushing into the mobile phone business where Nokia is currently the market leader. There is little doubt that Nokia could pull it off...the big question raised in the Reuters story is whether it makes sense for Nokia to compete in a much more commoditized product category, with much lower margins.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Does Paramount's iPhone Games Strategy Make Dollars & Sense? observes today that iPhone games based on Paramount movie titles are doing particularly well on the iTunes App Store UK paid App charts, with 2 titles currently in the Top 20. One key factor seems to be the bargain price point of £0.59 ($0.99). The same is true in the US and in addition to the titles that PocketGamer mentions, "Shooter - The Official Movie Game" (developed with Artificial Life & currently #5 in US) and "Iron Man: Aerial Assault" (currently #85 in US), Paramount is also doing extremely well with the library title "Days of Thunder!" (developed with Freeverse & currently #30 in US). "Days of Thunder!" is currently an App Store WHAT'S HOT title, loitered in the Top 10 all last week and is receiving solid reviews from the major gaming sites. This title was originally priced at $0.99 and increased to $2.99 this week (accounting for it's move out of Top 10)...which is actually a retreat from the original plan (according to IGN) to take it to $4.99 on February 8th. I have mixed feelings about the success of these titles. On one hand I'm glad to see that there is clearly an audience for quality movie based mobile games and I think this should help elevate industry perception of the genre (or at least of some titles from some studios). On the other hand I think Paramount's aggressive pricing strategy is contributing to the price erosion in the iPhone channel. Unfortunately we're seeing the price floor and ceiling of viable Apps converging at the floor, and I believe it's going to become increasingly difficult for publishers to successfully launch iPhone games at any price greater than $0.99.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

App Store Price Erosion Should Be A Wake-up Call For Publishers

Awesome story at The Business Insider highlighting the rapid price erosion that all of us are observing in the iTunes App Store. The average price point of a Top 100 paid Apps has fallen to $2.55 and there are now zero $9.99 Apps in that group. The story speculates that some developers may be making up for lower margins with higher volumes, but they are waiting for feedback from the community. They also, point out that Apple (AAPL) is probably unconcerned about the trend since under their inverse razor blade model they are using content as a loss leader (or perhaps break even) to help move hardware. As I've expressed before, the mobile content industry needs to maintain a healthy level of concern about the growing dominance of the iPhone retail channel, in terms of consumer and industry mindshare, given the divergent business motivations of its owner.

Q4 2008 US Carrier Metrics

Fierce Wireless posted a series of handy metrics today for the tier 1 US is a summary of Q4 2008 data with the addition of some Data ARPU numbers I reported earlier:

(Subs & adds in millions)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Could There Be A RIMSoft WindowBerry in Your Future?

Silicon Alley Insider suggested in an article today that Microsoft (MSFT) should purchase Research In Motion (RIMM), while the stock is cheap, if it really wants to be a serious player in mobile. RIM is trading near it's 52 week low at $37.42, down from the $150 range last June. The benefits to Microsoft seem pretty obvious given their inability to get serious traction with their Windows Mobile OS and their limited revenue opportunity per handset as a software only play. The primary benefit to RIM would be the ability to leverage Microsoft's financial resources in order to maintain or grow its position in the increasingly crowded and competitive smartphone market. Interesting idea...but I am very concerned that there could be a painful culture clash in a combined company that could stifle innovation on the device side. If not executed artfully, such a merger could create substantial opportunities for Nokia, Acer, Dell, etc.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rumors of Sprint's Death Have Been Somewhat Exaggerated

At one time Sprint, now Sprint Nextel (S), was the content thought leader among US carriers and the data ARPU darling. They had a robust, community oriented games deck, innovative music apps and they were the first carrier in the world to stream full length movies over a 3G network. But their 2005 decision to merge with Nextel, which used an incompatible network technology and had a totally different customer base, proved to be an unmitigated disaster. One of the biggest problems was that in an effort to make the Nextel acquisition feel more like a merger management failed to retain many of the key people that had made Sprint a mobile content powerhouse. Frankly, the train has been off the tracks for the last couple of years. They have taken a substantial hit to their customer base, first losing many of their Nextel customers, and more recently core Sprint the benefit of Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility. In their 2008 earnings statement this week they announced they had lost 4.5mil customers during 2008, leaving them with 49.3mil subs. Revs were down 11% from 2007 to $35.6bil with a Net Loss of $2.8bil. But there seems to be some light and the end of the tunnel and many, including myself, think Sprint could be poised for a bit of a comeback in 2009. Here are the factors that could help turn things round at the #3 operator:
  • Overall Data ARPU is still strong, in 2008 it was $14.50 and CDMA (core Sprint subs) Data ARPU was $17.75 or 31% of total ARPU...that's substantially better than the $13.99 from Verizon Wireless and $13.50 from AT&T Mobility
  • Sprint has an exclusive partnership with Palm for the launch of the Pre...which has the potential to be a rockstar handset
  • CEO Dan Hesse has promised to improve Sprint's infamous and much maligned customer service
  • Sprint's 4G WiMax rollout (in partnership with Clearwire & Intel) is at least a year ahead of Verizon's 4G LTE initiative, with deployments live in Baltimore and Portland
  • Sprint launched Sprint Open Software Platform at the end of last year to help developers expedite the delivery of new services and applications
  • Sprint continues to field a solid range of data friendly handsets (including a planned Android device) and have the cheapest premium data plans
All this said, 2009 is a critical year for Sprint if it's going to continue as an autonomous wireless operator. They must continue to cut costs and pare inefficiencies while maintaining investment in the infrastructure (to keep it's data users happy) and elevating it's battered brand profile...all in the shadow of a super-rough economy, in a totally saturated market. No small task for Mr. Hesse.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

5 Things To Know Before Liquidating Your 401k To Buy Android Apps

Now that Google has started to accept paid App submissions from developers, and plans to sell the first Apps next week, the most important points from the Android Market Business and Program Policies have been distilled by Google Android blog androinica (say that 5 times fast!):

1) Apps have a 24hr return policy (hopefully this starts a trend)

2) App reinstalls are free (in case you lose or fry your G1)

3) Developer handles updates on Apps...not Android Market (we're just a pipe)

4) No Sexually Explicit Material (probably because there is no age-gating)

5) Disputes over Apps purchases are handled through developer and your credit card company (we're just a pipe)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not @MWC & Apparently Not Missing Much

OK I'm a little bitter that I'm not in Barcelona...but until my Adsense revenues turn into Adollar$ I am just not going to be flying, hoteling, conventioning and wine/dining/dancing like fool in Spain on my own dime...CTIA in Vegas, maybe. That being said the news out of the show has been pretty unspectacular donchathink?:

  • Nokia (NOK) announced it's widely anticipated Ovi Store for applications and announced that it would preload Skype on to upcoming N-Series devices (a move sure to piss off carriers)
  • Microsoft (MSFT) announced it's new Windows Marketplace for Mobile available with its new Windows Mobile 6.5 OS (does anyone aspire to have a Windows Mobile device?)
  • Besides a new HTC handset for Vodafone, Google's Android has been a total bust.
  • RealNetworks (RNWK) took over the backend of Verizon Wireless's V Cast streaming video service from thePlatform
  • Qualcomm's (QCOM) MediaFlo is sucking wind in the US and they vow to do things differently in Europe
  • Acer and maybe Dell are entering the smartphone fray
  • And the biggest story of all...the GSMA announced that 17 carriers and handset manufacturers were going to create a universal phone charger by 2012 (cue Kool & the Gang)
  • btw -- where hell has RIM/BlackBerry (RIMM) been hiding?...did they purposely keep a low profile at MWC because of their SEC issues?

Anything else I'm missing?

OMG Apple Killed Kenny!

Fierce Wireless is reporting (citing a Boing Boing story) that iTunes has rejected a South Park clip streaming, wallpaper, news and avatar iPhone App created under the supervision of show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, calling it "potentially offensive." Isn't that the whole point of the show?...which, btw is still being sold in episode form on iTunes with its full potential to offend intact.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

iShoot Guy Banks $600k in January

Wired reported last week that former Sun Microsystems engineer turned iPhone developer/publisher Ethan Nicholas made $600k this January during which his lone mobile game App iShoot dominated the #1 paid slot in the iTunes App Store. Super-awesome. This guy is on track to out earn many established, well publicized Java (irony alert) games publishers this year...unfortunately most of them won't be around to post 2009 results.

Mobile Titans Espouse Openness at MWC...Not An Onion Post

CNET's coverage of a Walt Mossberg hosted panel at MWC today featuring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvu and AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega revealed a collective obsessive paranoia about the success of the iPhone/iTunes App Store as a mobile content delivery system. This paranoia is obviously making these guys delusional as they apparently spent much of the panel condemning Apple's closed ecosystem and advocating the virtues of openness and interoperability in the interest of spurring successful innovation in the mobile market...clearly forgetting everything their companies believed prior to the start of the panel.

Gameloft: 200mil Served and Counting..

Kotaku reports that the world's #2 mo'games publisher has sold 200mil mobile games since it opened for business in 2003. From experience I can tell you that the strength of the French publisher is the ability to distribute in every corner of the globe...but that may translate into their average wholesale price per game being lower than some of their competition that focus primarily on North America and Europe. I hope that this announcement compels EA Mobile and Glu Mobile to release similar stats. One note that was interesting/disturbing in the piece is that iPhone/iTunes App Store was Gameloft's biggest single distribution channel in 2008.

Fox Mobile Frustrated With App Store

Great piece on this morning reviewing a conversation they had with Fox Mobile CEO Mauro Montanaro that captures the frustration many content owners and publishers are having with the world's hottest mobile content distribution platform - iPhone/iTunes App Store. Reinforcing my favorite rant, Montanaro talks about the lack of editorial oversight from Apple and the difficulty in getting applications discovered in the clutter of 15k applications. Montanaro also brings up an interesting issue with regard to marketing...he mentions that Fox is frustrated by their lack of ability to market their iPhone applications either directly on the iPhone (with banner ads) or on other media in a way that is actionable (with shortcodes).

btw -- as a test I'd like to ask readers with iTunes to click on the hyperlinked title that follows and see it opens Fox Mobile's "very successful" licensed Marley & Me application in the App Store: FooPets Marley Puppy

Monday, February 16, 2009

MEF Confident $32bil Mobile Entertainment Biz Grows 27% in 2009

In a release today debuting their quarterly Business Confidence Index, the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) in collaboration with KPMG announced a bullish revenue forecast for 2009 and indicated that employment in the sector would grow or remain stable. Wow, this may be the most upbeat economic news I've read since last summer...let's hope the index proves accurate. The primary sectors driving growth will be:
  1. Social Networking
  2. Music
  3. Video
  4. Games
  5. Infotainment

2008 Brings Buono Fortuna to Buongiorno

In a pre-close earnings announcement today Milan-based publisher and ondeck/offdeck services provider Buongiorno (BNG) offered a taste of its 2008 financials...

Revs = 315mil euros ($402mil) +80% from 2007
EBITDA = 40mil euros ($51mil)

Growth was driven by their acquisition of iTouch, increase in recurring subs to BlinkoGold services and mobile lottery hosting for Telefonica's Movistar services in Africa & LatAm.

Assuming these numbers hold Buongiorno maintains its #2 position in the mobile content space by revenue behind Spain's ZED.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Store Wars: The Clone Wars

The pre-Mobile World Congress buzz is that everyone and their mother is going to make some kind of application store announcement at the show. I think that many of these companies are going to learn the hard way that D2C mobile content retailing is not for the faint of heart...and that it takes real merchants (not engineers) to pull it off artfully. The best outcome may be that this trend keeps pushing Apple to enhance their offering. Anyway, keep posted to Cabana Mobile for more details on announcements that may or may not come from:
1) Google/Android
2) Samsung
3) Nokia
4) RIM/BlackBerry
5) Qualcomm
6) Palm

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vivendi Vets Grant & Fasulo Bring Game To Sonic Boom is reporting today that mobile games industry veterans and Vivendi Games Mobile alums Josh Grant and Lou Fasulo have joined the New York City based publisher Sonic Boom (fka Sonic Branding, fka as COO and SVP of Publishing respectively. The move signals a more aggressive push into the mobile gaming space (their strength has been in music apps) and an initiative to further ramp distribution beyond the US carrier channel. The combination of (one of my favorite) larger-than-life personalities, Sonic Boom CEO David Danon, with the proven operational discipline of former banker Grant and carrier vet Fasulo (two other great guys) will undoubtedly create one of most interesting companies in this business. I expect great things...and I better be invited to all of their parties.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

1.8mil YouTube Views of Nokia N97 Demo

This is a crazy amount of traffic/interest in a non-iPhone handset demo video, right?...AND btw, there are more than a few other N97 videos with pretty decent traffic on YouTube. Someone (not me) should put together a regression analysis of the correlation between demo/fan videos of handsets and sales, or perhaps the time would be better spent watching the many random quasi-sexy & RickRoll'd videos tagged with popular handset names.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do They Call Facebook Faithbook or Libro De La Cara in Barthalona?

Crunch Gear is speculating that Facebook is on the verge of announcing some major preload/WAP linking partnerships with the handset guys (notably Nokia & Palm) at the Mobile World Congress (fka 3GSM) in Barcelona. I guess the Facebook crew is beginning to take the mobile space seriously, now that 13% of their 220 mil users (~30 mil users) log on to the site via their handsets. Actually if they were really serious about mobile (or making money in general) you'd think they would be trying to monetize all that traffic with some advertising on their decent WAP site or their sucky downloadable app.

The Guardian Recommends 5 Java Games...Wait, There's a Platform Other Than iPhone?

Keith Stuart at The Guardian in the UK recommends the following games for the hundreds of millions who don't have an iPhone:

1) PacMan (Namco)
2) LuxorQuest (I-Play)
3) Tropical Towers (Real Arcade)
4) Metal Slug 4 (I-Play)
5) Chuck Norris: Bring The Pain (Gameloft)

Mobile Content = $23.9 bil in 2008...Really?

Mobile Entertainment cites a Portio Research study that claims the 2008 market for mobile content worldwide was $23.9 bil and will rise to $47 bil in 2013. Here's the breakdown by geography and category:

APAC = 42.5%
Europe = 34.2
North America = 16.9%
ROW = 6.4%

Music = $11.7 bil (tones & tracks)
Video = $6.7 bil
Games = $5.5 bil

None of this seems right to me. Which companies are recognizing all this revenue from content in APAC? Who is successfully monetizing mobile video, anywhere? I'd love to hear readers' thoughts.

Frankly I've always been interested in trying to reverse engineer these analysts' numbers by looking at the revenue of firms involved creating and delivering mobile content. To that end, I would like to solicit Cabana Mobile readers to help me put together a database of the revenues (or best estimates) of mobile content firms worldwide. I've got a preliminary list built...once it gets a little more scale I'll post it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gameloft Breaking Blox with Twistbox

According to a Mandalay Media (MNDL) press release the company's non-adult Twistbox Entertainment division has reached a deal with Gameloft (GFT) to create a version of the French publisher's Block Breaker Deluxe using Twistbox's proprietary play-for-prizes platform (which it acquired from Infospace in January 2007). The platform will allow users in the US and Europe to play against other subscribers and win prizes from retailers including Starbucks, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and Apple.

Glu Mobile 2008 Earnings...Hoping For a Less Sticky 2009

I look forward to Glu Mobile's (GLUU) quarterly earnings calls like kids look forward to Christmas. Because they are one of the larger public mobile pure-play companies the calls are a great barometer of the overall state of the mobile games business and always feature lots of valuable mobile business data points. Moreover, I think all of us vested in the health of the market for mobile games based on entertainment IP desperately want to Glu Mobile to succeed. Here are the key take-aways:

  • Q4 2008 Rev = $21.6 mil Net Loss = 37.8 mil
  • FY 2008 Rev = $89.8 mil Net Loss = 107 mil (ouch!)
  • 34% increase in Revs over 2007
  • Top 4 carriers = 42% of Revs, Verizon was a whopping 23%
  • Non-carrier business (iPhone, Android, N-Gage) was insignificant in 2008
  • 54% North America 27% EMEA 19% Rest of World (10% China)


  • Q1 2009 Estimate Rev = $18 mil to 18.5 mil Estimated Net Loss =$6.7 mil to $7.1 mil
  • FY 2009 Estimated Rev = $76 mil (15% decrease!) Estimated Net Loss = $16.6 mil to $19.6 mil
  • $19.2 mil in cash on hand at end of FY 2008
  • Plan is to be Cash Flow Positive in 2009 (Profitability is clearly off the table)
  • 75% - 80% of IP for 2009 games will be licensed...big movie titles for 2009 are Watchmen & Ice Age 3
  • Glu Mobile will release fewer titles in 2009 than 2008 (more like 2007 volume)
  • The Dark Knight: Batmobile (co-Published with WB) got as far as 8th place in the iTunes App Store giving Glu Mobile the ability to model Rev potential of a Top 10 title in that channel
  • 30% to 40% of Glu Mobile's development capability is focused on iPhone, N-Gage and Android
  • Headcount is currently 560

DATA NUGGETS (all this is from Glu Mobile's perspective)

  • The global economic downturn is hurting mobile games business as consumers curtail new handset purchases (most games purchases happen in first 90days of ownership)
  • Consumers are migrating to Smartphones (see Cabana's Trend Watch)
  • 17 mil iPhones Worldwide (additionally iPod Touch is a factor in App Store games). iPhone has the highest tie ratio to games purchases of all handsets (2nd is BlackBerry Pearl)
  • Richer merchandising environment in iTunes App Store means non-established brands can flourish
  • iPhone App Store is allowing smaller publishers enter the business, but ultimately larger companies that stay focused on the platform will consolidate market share (as happened on carrier decks)
  • Executives at the carriers are paying more attention games due to there success on iPhone, but this is not yet being reflected in marketing initiatives

Nevermind What Haters Say...They're Just Living Their Artificial Life

Failing to heed Rihanna's call LA-based (HK production) mo'games and mo'apps publisher Artificial Life (ALIF) chased major paper in 2008 and grew revenue 287% to $22.4 mil according to their earnings release today. Net increased a whopping 945% to $10.6 mil. 57% of revenue came from games. The company which does a lot of work with studios, networks and brands only launched their first iPhone game in December. I must say this and some other recent mo'games publisher announcements might force me to remove "Flat Mobile Games Market" item from my Trend Watch.

Monday, February 9, 2009

France 24 Partners with Actimagine to Launch 1st Live Broadcast App for iPhone

The French newscaster launched its free France 24 Live application in the iTunes App Store over the weekend. The App streams using the Mobiclip software video codec created by Paris-based Actimagine. Users can watch the live broadcast in French, English or Arabic on either the iPhone or iPod Touch and view popular segments VOD. Currently the service works exclusively on WiFi, but 3G certification is on the horizon. I predict that live streaming broadcast applications for iPhone will quickly become a trend amongst news, weather, business and sports broadcasters worldwide.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blogosphere Specularumorizing About Nokia App Store

According to this Techcrunch post citing sources, that cite other obscure Russian sources, there is some thought that Nokia (NOK) will announce a Symbian-based applications store for its devices at the 2009 Mobile World Congress (Feb 16-19) in Barcelona. This doesn't seem too far-fetched given their overall Ovi strategy which already includes a music store (launched in UK late 2007), N-Gage 2.0 (opened April 2008) and a planned movie store. Oh yeah, and the fact that some California outfit is said to be having success with something similar. If this is true, the success of the initiative will be, as it always is with Nokia, all about executing on the user interface, marketing and device integration. If they do launch this applications store it's critical that they find a slick way to integrate all the Ovi experiences so it makes sense to real human, consumer folks beyond the walls of the Powerpoint Palace in Espoo.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So Now How's A Schlub Like Me Supposed To Get Invited to Playboy Parties?

Playboy's LA based digital media VP, mobile guru and all around good guy Chris Petrovic announced yesterday in an email to friends and colleagues that he is leaving Playboy Media after 3+ years. The move is a result of the consolidation of digital media operations to Playboy's Chicago HQ.

Petrovic was Playboy's first dedicated digital media hire and during his time there he greatly expanded the global scope of the business, introduced new business models and exec produced the original digital series "Playboy Show and Tell".

Petrovic, who is a lawyer by trade, was previously at American Greetings Interactive and at one time played briefly for a New York Mets farm team.

Google Makes 1.5 million Books I'm Never Going to Read Available for Mobile

Google announced on it's Inside Google Book Search (yawn) blog that it will make all 1.5 million public domain books that it has made available for it's web search product available for iPhone and Android devices through a downloadable application service. Apparently optimizing the scanned text for easy mobile reading was a non-trivial engineering task. Cool I guess...but other than those interested in enhancing their nerd cred by claiming to have read a 300pg Sherlock Holmes mystery or an old textbook about silkworms on a G1, why would anyone want to do this? Is there an economic model here, or is this just a Google "Do Good" initiative?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

EA Mobile Still Top MoGames Publisher

EA Mobile's revenues initially look somewhat positive within the bleakness of Electronic Arts' (ERTS) fiscal Q3 09 earnings announcement yesterday. GAAP revenue for the quarter (calendar Q4 08) was $48 mil, which is 23% growth year on year and 3% from the previous quarter. The release did not break out profitability by platform. EA Mobile continues to face stiff competition from Gameloft (GFT) which last week posted Q4 08 revenue of just over $43 mil with 31% year on year growth. For calendar 2008 here's how the competitors stack up:
EA Mobile = $181 mil
Gameloft = $143 mil
Notably, Gameloft has far more games available for the fastest growing gaming handset - the iPhone. Currently they have 28 titles in the iTunes App Store, while EA Mobile only has 10.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NBCU Grabs 11% of US Mobile Video

According to Wireless Week the recently released Nielsen Mobile Video Report (featuring lagging data) reveals that the NBC Universal television group's aggressive push into mobile video seems to be paying off. The net more than doubled its share from 5% to 11% of the total US mobile video viewing market during the first half of 2008. Nielsen attributes the growth in market share to a comprehensive channel offering and a large volume of content from premium shows. 60% of views came from smartphones.

Digital Mouse Droppings

Nikki Finke is reporting that Disney (DIS), in an after hours release of its Q1 earnings, broke out numbers for the Disney Interactive Media Group for the first time. The group is home to the console, online and mobile games businesses for the studio.

Revenue = $313 mil
Operating Loss = ($45mil)

According to the accompanying Disney press release the loss was attributable "to a decline at Disney Interactive Studios as higher sales volume was more than offset by an increase in unit cost of sales and higher marketing expenses in the current quarter."


Q4 earnings released today indicate that the once mighty handset division of Motorola (MOT) continues its sad and spectacular free fall.

· Sales plummet 51%
· Marketshare is down to 6.5% (from 12.4% a year ago)
· Q4 Operating Loss of $595 mil
· Moody's cut Motorola's debt rating to Baa3 - the lowest investment grade level
· Dividend suspended

...but the analysts quotes sum it up best of all:

“They better hurry and fix mobile devices or it will become irrelevant” Mark Sue (RBC Capital Markets)

"...their luxury line-up is a hot mess” and "gruesome" Tero Kuittinen (Global Crown Capital)

“I feel their position in handsets is awful and will get worse” Simona Jankowitz (Goldman Sachs)

“Their handsets right now are stagnant, and there’s no sign of a new product cycle coming until maybe the end of the year” Samuel Wilson (JMP Securities LLC)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Crazy Facebook Getting Crazy Mobile Traffic

4 mil people access Facebook daily through it's mobile applications and 25 mil users access the mobile website per month according to AllFacebook - which is amazing! The crazy part is that neither the application nor the WAP site feature any advertising, so they are obviously not monetizing all that traffic. Perhaps this is another component of their strategy to realize the greatest negative ARPU of any company in history.

THQ Wireless Almost Finnish?

THQ Wireless (a division of struggling THQ) is going to focus exclusively on games for smartphone platforms and will move all its production to its Universomo studio in Finland according to IGN. The move will result in 100 layoffs in the US, UK and Germany. Currently the division generates about $20mil in revenue and is not profitable. The frenzy to jump on the smartphone bandwagon is becoming worrisome...and it makes one wonder how many games publishers those platforms can sustain and whether some companies stand to benefit by continuing to support Java & BREW platforms.

2 More Reasons For iPhone To Dominate Industry & Consumer Mindshare

1) Information Week is reporting this morning that Apple is planning video conferencing applications for the iPhone. Cool...if this is true it'll be like Japan 4 years ago! Wonder what the monthly tariff from AT&T will be on that service?

2) Consumer adoption of the iPhone and other smartphones (one of my TREND WATCH items) is apparently behind a 17% increase in downloads of mobile games in 2008 according a ComScore release last Friday. The iPhone accounted for a whopping 14% of all mobile games downloads in November 2008 with 32.4% of iPhone users having claimed to have downloaded at least one mobile game in that month...which is pretty impressive since the average across all device users is still a paltry 3.8% in a month.