If mobile commerce and mobile content services are going to take off, received wisdom has been that it will be by mobilising services that are already useful to people, just as much as inventing new behaviours altogether.
Alongside that, operators need to deliver services on platforms and technologies that are compatible, without having to customise a service across different territories.
A good example of both these approaches is the recent contract won by Volantis to mobilise the eBay service. Volantis will provide software that will send eBay users alerts when they have been outbid, and allows them to make a counter bid over a GPRS connection. With 8million users in the UK alone, eBay is an example of a mass market application mobile operators can benefit from.
Mark Watson, ceo of Volantis, said that the feedback he has received from large content providers is that they have been trying to put in place the Japanese model for delivering and commercialising mobile content. But in Japan, through the efforts of NTT, there exists a near homogeneous environment. Europe is a much more heterogenous marketplace and even a top level Tier One provider has different approaches within its affiliates.
“What we are trying to do,” Watson said, “is create an abstraction layer to allow people to write applications to the whole European market. And it’s also about future-proofing that so the infrastructure and content can adapt separately.” An example Watson gave was the way 3 was able to develop content services even whilst the handset market was still in flux.
Content delivery tools such as Volantis’ are designed to help operators launch not only their own services, but support a food-chain of service providers and content providers. They will be increasingly important to operators as more sophisticated handsets hit the market at the mid-level and more applications are mobilised.