Wireless World: Free cell phones for all?

Apr 07, 2006
A woman uses her mobile phone to send an SMS text message

Broadcast television has always been free for consumers -- courtesy of advertising sponsors, ranging from the makers of Alka-Seltzer to the purveyors of Viagra and Propecia. Now that mobile phones are as integral to American culture as television, isn't it about time to think about making them similarly "free" of cost for consumers too? That's the question that advertising -- mobile-phone company -- executives are debating now, experts are telling United Press International's Wireless World.

If things go according to the current speculation, ads for all sorts of bodily dysfunctions may be financing the functionality of your mobile phone, PDA or pocket PC very soon.

"The industry is sorting out the economics and how it will impact everyone involved," a spokeswoman for the Mobile Entertainment Forum, an industry trade group based in London, told Wireless World.

A survey released this week of members of the MEF indicates that advertising sponsorship of mobile services and content is a "growth opportunity" for the industry. Only 19 percent said advertising on mobile phones would be disruptive to consumers, according to the "Ad-Funded Mobile Entertainment" study.

Survey respondents anticipate that mobile-content developers will generate the largest share of the revenues. Producers are expected to obtain 42 percent of revenues, while mobile operators gross 27 percent. This will lead to completely free mobile content, or mobile content that is nominally priced, the survey said.

"The consultation highlights the clear need for cross-industry collaboration to tap this new revenue stream," said Rimma Perelmuter, executive director of the Mobile Entertainment Forum.

Experts tell Wireless World that with the right systems in place, consumers could be targeted precisely with ads on their mobile phones and be given a "response path" to follow if they wish to purchase goods or services immediately. "We believe that these benefits will drive significant ad-spend in the future," said Jessica Sandin, head of the mobile practice at the consultancy, Fathom Partners. "Advertising will cut prices for mobile entertainment."

The survey was based on input from 48 leading industry executives and was conducted during the last week of March. The industry -- led by MEF and members like France's Alcatel, Fathom Partners and Upsteed -- is planning to develop a white paper to continue the dialog on advertising sponsorship of mobile content.

The survey comes just as other developers are announcing ways to facilitate mobile commerce. The San Jose, Calif.-based online banking service PayPal this week introduced PayPal Mobile, a text-messaging-based service that allows consumers to send money anywhere, at anytime, from their mobile phones. "With the overwhelming popularity of mobile phones, the time has never been better for the merging of e-commerce and wireless devices," said Jeff Jordan, the president of PayPal.

Companies like 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Bravo, MTV and the NBA Store are already offering items especially for purchase over mobile phones and will accept PayPal payments, a spokesman for PayPal tells Wireless World. Charities like UNICEF, Amnesty International and Starlight Starbright are also accepting donations through PayPal wireless.

Right now, PayPal has more than 100 million accounts, across the globe, for consumers to purchase goods over the Internet, at outlets like eBay and Amazon.com. "Now, making payments is as easy as sending a text message," said Jordan, who announced the new service this week at the CTIA Wireless Conference in Las Vegas.

The future is emerging -- free, or nearly free, advertiser-sponsored mobile phones, which enable you to spend your money, not on monthly wireless charges and overages, but on purchasing products from marketers.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: US official: Auto safety agency under review

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Review: Better cameras, less glare in iPad Air 2

Oct 22, 2014

If I've seen you taking photos with a tablet computer, I've probably made fun of you (though maybe not to your face, depending on how big you are). I'm old school: I much prefer looking through the viewfinder ...

Review: Apple Pay in action

Oct 21, 2014

If there ever comes a day I can ditch my wallet and use my phone to pay for everything, I'll look back to my first purchase through Apple Pay: a Big Mac and medium fries for $5.44. That wallet-free day won't ...

With Z3, Sony brings phones to US faster

Oct 09, 2014

A new version of Sony's Xperia Z3 smartphone will soon be available through Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier. It joins a model coming to T-Mobile. The phones are hitting U.S. stores on the heels ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

12 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

Oct 24, 2014

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0