MySpace Sees Gold at the End of the Mobile Rainbow

MySpace has learned how to monetize the mobile platform and wants to help mobile developers in general figure out how to as well.

MONTE CARLO-MySpace has learned how to monetize the mobile platform and wants to help mobile developers in general figure out how to as well.

John Faith, vice president and general manager of mobile and wireless technology at the social networking powerhouse, gave a talk for developers at the Nokia Developer Summit here and noted that development for the mobile environment has never been so lucrative as it is now and it will only get to be more lucrative as the market for mobile applications increases.

Indeed, by 2012, Faith said the market for mobile content will be worth $45 billion, the market for mobile gaming will be worth $9.6 billion, the market for mobile messaging will be worth $14 billion, and the market for mobile display or brand advertising will be worth $1.3 billion.

"There are many monetization opportunities," Faith said, noting both a subscription model and a branded model. "I encourage you to raise the level of understanding" about advertising and process of driving revenue from various sources, he said. "We're looking into CPC [cost per click] revenue and CPA [cost per action] driven revenue, and in applications coming, in cost per acquisition in application storefronts."

Added Faith: "The opportunity is huge. It is decision time. You have to develop your distribution strategy and technology infrastructure to be complementary to one another. Connected experience is the future."

Faith said in 2008, MySpace saw a growth rate of 450 percent in mobile usage of its social networking platform and the site passed more than seven billion downloads a month via mobile devices. MySpace went from less than 10 percent of its traffic coming from mobile applications to more than 35 percent in the past year. "And we see a trend toward smartphones," although gaming consoles and other devices have played into the equation, he said.

Moreover, although many people expect an application built for a full screen, "We expect in the next two years that 50 percent of our traffic will be coming from mobile devices. In addition, he said he expects even more growth in the space, to the point where mobile penetration will rise from 46 percent in 2008 to 95 percent in 2013 in emerging markets, with China and India leading the way. He said China is adding six million new mobile users each month and India is adding 10 million. And by 2013, 34 countries will account for two-thirds of the mobile market, growing from 2.1 billion users today to 4.3 billion in 2013.

"When developing your product, think of what is going to drive users to come back and use the product again and again," Faith said. "Use metrics reviews to drive product. Don't fall prey to the long tail."

Faith said for MySpace, 32 percent of the mobile users are visiting the site to address their profiles, 19 percent come to read messages and another 19 percent come to send or access photos. Meanwhile, 12 percent of users visit MySpace to send messages, 7 percent visit to add profile comments, 4 percent update their status or mood, 4 percent do bulletins, 2 percent do searches, and 1.4 percent are making friend requests.

Meanwhile, among the leading "exciting" trends he said he sees impacting the mobile space today, Faith listed: technical collaboration and confluence; location, presence and persistence; and cloud computing and services, among other things.

Faith said using traditional Web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS, "to me, dramatically reduces the overhead to enter into the mobile space." He added that location, presence and persistence represent "the sharing of narratives, centered around a concept that is uniquely mobile ... and it gives you the ability to subscribe to content no matter where you are."

Moreover, regarding cloud computing, Faith said, "as mobile developers we're given this unique opportunity to create mashups with all the data available in the cloud. The value of cloud computing is as a developer I now have access to huge amounts of data. This phenomenon is just starting to be tapped. What it all means is there is great opportunity in the mobile environment right now. There is great opportunity to build disruptive applications."

Meanwhile, Faith said a MySpace application for Nokia WRT (Web Runtime) "will be available very shortly to Nokia developers."

He also said MySpace is involved with the Symbian Foundation and its effort to open-source the Symbian code base.

"We hope the foundation will benefit from our understanding of the social experience and mobile devices," Faith said.