World Cup 2010 to spur major growth of mobile content & apps market

The soccer world cup in South Africa in 2010 will see a massive explosion in the availability and adoption of mobile content and applications throughout Africa as consumers use every channel at their disposal to stay in touch with news about the tournament.

That’s the word from Ayodale Cole, founder and CEO of Cole Solutions LLC, an American mobile content and applications provider that has targeted SA for its services and products. He said that with a major handset manufacturer and a global mobile operator among the flagship sponsors for the tournament, 2010 is likely to be a showcase for mobile content and applications.

User-generated content, text and multimedia messaging-based news services, advergaming, mobile television, video clips and mobile web portals are just some of the content and application services expected to proliferate during the World Cup, Cole added.

The German world cup in 2006 gives just a taste of what we can expect for 2010. According to Fifa, it enjoyed more than 73 million page views on its mobile web portal after went mobile for the first time. And millions of European consumers accessed Fifa World Cup Soccer mobile content, according to research by Telephia.

Telephia’s research showed that 6% of Italian mobile subscribers, 4% and 3% of French, Swedish and British subscribers accessed World Cup content on their mobile devices. Global mobile operator, 3, alone had 740,000 users a week viewing World Cup clips. It offered video previews of every match, video clips of match highlights, SMS text alerts and a football talkshow.

Cole said, “At the time that the German World Cup took place, mobile content and applications was only a fledgling market. Since then, the industry has matured and consumers have higher expectations from mobile content providers. To compete, content providers will need to offer rich, high-quality content to subscribers.”

Cole pointed out that the African market, particularly South Africa, has massive cellular penetration and a large population of users already making use of mobile content and applications. For example, the South Africa Soccer-Laduma publication reportedly has three times as many unique users on its .mobi portal as on its traditional website.

With about 40 million mobile subscribers in South Africa and only about five million Internet users, there will be a massive demand for mobile world cup information and content, said Cole. There will also be a massive market among foreign tourists who arrive in South Africa with a mobile phone in hand. Fixture and match information by text messaging or on the mobile Web, multimedia clips, advergames, and social networking applications are all likely to be extremely popular.

One recent report from US-based research group, JBB, showed that the 2010 soccer world cup could give the mobile advertising industry in South Africa a huge boost. It said that the World Cup will spur on emergence of new advanced mobile user-generated services featuring advanced streaming video, mobile advertising, location aware, and social networking capabilities in particular.

Said Cole: “It’s important to remember that sports events are social events, and soccer fans will want to share information and opinions with their friends. Many South African football fans have no access to PCs, and most will be watching the big games at pubs, stadiums and other social venues with cellphones in their pockets.”

Cole said that technology has matured since World Cup 2006. Many more people in South Africa are now carrying smartphones with advanced Internet features, and the country has excellent EDGE, 3G and HSDPA coverage in its metropolitan areas. That means there are some strong opportunities for mobile content developers to add value.

However, it is important to remember that people’s expectations from mobile content are rising – they want rich up-to-the-minute content, commentary and rich media, Cole added.

“Time is running out for content providers to think about which services and content they will provide to their audiences, and for marketers to think about how they will exploit mobile opportunities from 2010,” he concluded.

“There is every sign that rich and pervasive mobile content will be one of the defining features of this tournament.”

Ayodale Cole