Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bite talks about mobile entertainment

I recently did an e-mail interview with Šarunas Čomentauskas, marketinga manager of the BITĖ Group regarding their plans for mobile entertainment. This was research for an article I did for Kapitāls, the Latvian language business magazine that is part of the LETA group of information services companies that I work for. It is interesting enough to publish here (also easy, since our correspondence was in English).

Meanwhile, Zetcom, the company behind virtual operator Amigo (phone cards of the same name, use Latvian Mobile Telephone/LMT's network) announced a scheme to pay up to LVL 0.20 for downloads of user-generated content for mobile phones. This tops what Bite offers for its Foto Bazaar -- LVL 0.04. The Amigo platform is called Multivide.

Due to a copy-past from a Windows Word file, this could look a little strange...

What are the user statistics for Bite Plus, your mobile entertainment portal?

We have about 25 thousand unique users per month. Each of them opens up on average 59 pages per month.

What is the most frequently purchased service?

We have our own content and provided content. In total draugiem.lv and one.lv services (social networks for Latvian and Russian speakers, respectively) are absolute leaders. Concerning BITE content – games and polyphonic melodies are the most popular products, and they are 3 times more popular then true tone melodies.

Is it true that ringtones and games sales are not doing well (across the industry in Latvia/Baltics) because of piracy?


One.lv has largely left this kind of business and is using mobile for transactions and access related to its social network.

Popularity of games is growing significantly. Since the start of the year the usage of games has grown by more then 3 times. Certainly it is partly connected to BITE customers’ base growth, but people still like games on their phones.

What is the future trend -- mobile TV, mobile/online communities. a shift to user rather than commercially generated content?

Certainly there is a recent trend for user generated content. We have just recently introduced Foto Bazaar service – gallery with user’s generated pictures, where users can upload their pictures and share them publicly. New service is a unique possibility for TOXIC users which can even earn money 0.04 Ls for each picture downloaded by other Foto Bazaar user.

However we think commercial content will not disappear at all, it might become more localized. We also observe a new trend in the market - free content, which is supported by advertisement.

What will be the impact of eventual flat rate or near flat rate service?

BITE already offers flat rate services and we see that the customers like this approach. Flat rate allows to users have easier control on their expenses and they feel more secure when paying a certain fee monthly.

When most phones are HSDPA capable, will there be any boundaries between mobile entertainment and commercialized internet entertainment generally? That is, if I have paid a subscription (maybe by mobile banking) to "Sports TV" does it matter if I watch it over flat rate DSL on my PC, flat rate HSDPA on my laptop or the same HSDPA on my mobile (OK, maybe the system detects the device and adjusts the stream and/or download format to the screen).

We think that there is a big opportunity for services specially designed for mobile usage. Not just internet copy-paste services, but specially designed services for mobile phones. Certainly, mobile and internet integration will continue to grow, but in mobiles can gain more by providing unique mobile based services.

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