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13th February , 2007

Europe : Just 20% of UK subscribers actually search for content on the mobile internet, despite an industry perception that 89% do, according to research released today, from the Mobile Entertainment Forum and Ovum.  The survey questioned MEF members including operators, content providers and technology enablers to gauge industry views, as well as 1,000 UK consumers.

Inset is Eden Zoller from Ovum quoted below.

Despite subscribers not searching on the mobile internet as often as the industry expects (only 2% searching on a daily basis), those that do are downloading premium material, rather than just surfing. Amongst consumers using mobile search once a month or more, the most commonly searched for content is ringtones (54%), closely followed by full track music downloads (47%). Of the top four types of content looked for ringtones, full track downloads, sports results and games all featured.

Ringtones, music tracks and games all command a premium and subscribers appear willing to pay for it – only 17% of respondents were put off searching by cost. This is particularly important with industry respondents citing ‘increased downloads’ (50%) as the most important quantifier of successful search mechanisms followed by return visits (31%). Interestingly, searching for mobile content isn’t purely limited to the 18-35 year old demographic with an average of 64% of those aged 35-64 searching for ringtones.

It is still early days for the mobile search industry and the primary barriers to uptake are cited by subscribers as not knowing how to use the search engine (23%) and not thinking about using mobile search on their phone (19%) – however, a huge 98% know where to find the search engine.  This suggests that the industry needs to promote the benefits of mobile search more actively as well as educating consumers on how to use it to find relevant content.

Claudia Poepperl, Head of the MEF initiative and CMO for MobilePeople commented:

“Effective mobile search is the lifeblood of the mobile entertainment industry – if consumers can’t find relevant content, they can’t use it. This research shows how crucial it is for the industry to actively promote mobile search to consumers to encourage further uptake of mobile entertainment. Putting the correct mobile search business models in place will boost download and usage rates and provide new revenue opportunities via advertising.”

Eden Zoller, Principal Analyst, Ovum’s Consumer Practice commented:

“It is still very early days for mobile search but the difference highlighted in industry and consumer understanding of mobile search is very telling. Although there have already been many advances in mobile search technology, there is still a long way to go in making users understand why and how they can use it.”

Patrick Parodi, Global Chair MEF added:

 “The mobile entertainment industry is now a multi-billion pound industry but there is still much work to be done to ensure its continuing success.  MEF is calling for cross industry cooperation on a major consumer education drive. It is vital that we work together to carve new roads into these emerging sectors for mobile entertainment.”

As part of its mobile search and discovery initiative, MEF will be producing a full white paper on the research results for circulation to MEF members.

The initiative was proposed by MobilePeople and is being supported by FAST (Fast Search & Transfer) and Qpass (Amdocs Digital Commerce Division). The initiative is supported by Ovum as the external research partner.

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