Who will dominate the mobile internet?

Over the past 12 months major industry players have revealed their hands with regards to mobile media. Traditional media owners such as News Corp are challenging new media owners such as Google and mobile operators like Vodafone. Established content creators such as Disney are going head-on against mobile content creators such as Jamba. Big agency networks such as WPP as well as digital marketing agencies such as AKQA see mobile as the next major growth area. But who will dominate? News Corp announced this month that it had acquired a majority stake in Jamba for 100m, hot on the heels of acquiring MySpace for 333m. These acquisitions show that media owners are taking multimedia to a new level and that while the battle of the PC-based internet is hotting up, the battle for mobile supremacy has also now begun.

Google Mobile and Yahoo! Mobile launched over a year ago and most major dot-coms have either launched a mobile offering or are talking about launches. But you would expect that, wouldn’t you? However, now that News Corp has entered the mobile market – and I wouldn’t expect it to stop with Jamba – expect to see other traditional media owners start creating their own multimedia offering.

But what of the mobile operators? They control mobile connectivity to the internet and 80% of traffic currently goes through portals such as Vodafone Live! and Orange World. However, users can set their own home page on most networks and there is a strong argument to suggest that mobile browsing will reflect PC-browsing habits. So, will consumers set Google as their home page, teeing up the search community to mirror its success on the PC-based Web? Many believe that the operators will go on the media and content acquisition trail too. However, they may tread carefully after seeing Telefonica struggle to integrate Endemol’s content expertise with its core telecoms operations following a 4bn purchase at the height of the dot-com boom.

They say that "content is king", so perhaps existing content creators could extend their dominance into mobile. Initial evidence suggests that they will, with ITV, MTV, Endemol and Fremantle all creating bespoke "made for mobile" content that has shown strong results.

However, with 3G operator 3’s SeeMeTV and newly launched Kink Kommunity achieving great results, it may yet be the consumer who ends up dominating mobile.

Dan Rosen is head of AKQA Mobile

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