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Pre-Commerce Wireless

Wireless Revenues

Here are two emergent revenue models for wireless web content providers; both relatively untested:

The size of the cellphone screen makes a traditional web "banner ad" unfisable. Sponsorship models might be more appropriate ("Quake Cheats, brought to you by Scope: the mouthwash that frags plaque."). Also, integrated content and advertising, ie, Eidos pays us to spam news of a new Tomb Raider game to our news subscribers.
If you look at what the other wireless gaming content sites are doing, they have sponsorship messages at the bottom of each of their articles and navigation pages: Sponsor: Check out The Place For All Things Voodoo. (from DailyRadar Wireless).

Revenue Sharing/Subscription
Whether they are charging by the minute, or charging a monthly web-access fee, the mobile phone providers make money when people use the web. Some appear willing to share these profits with the content providers that increase customers' wireless use.
In Japan, the content providers are able to add small fees to mobile service bills:

In Japan, the relative ease of collecting fees for wireless Internet services has created an entrepreneurial boom. Dozens of services, from restaurant guides to surf forecasts, have already captured large numbers of users and new ones are announced almost daily -- offering games, weather, traffic information, stock quotes, even cartoons.

While Internet companies in the United States struggle to generate profits, many Japanese mobile phone content providers are in the black within months of going into business. They simply add their fees, usually less than $5 a month, to their subscribers' cellular phone bills.
- Miki Tanikawa, Phone Surfing for a Few Yen, New York Times, August 19, 2000

This revenue model is being considered by wireless providers in the states. In a brief conversation with WebLink Wireless, they mentioned giving us a percentage of their income if users were spending time on our site through their device.
According to an article, Making Cash from WAP Games, there are five business models for wireless game providers: "minute-sharing, advertising, pay-to-play, subscription, and in-game product sales." I've lumped them together into two above, and not all of them suit us; still these five could be worth exploring individually in greater detail.

Other Players

The wireless web is young enough that no content provider has a sure strategy for moneymaking. Still there is money being thrown around. The gatekeepers, the large mobile service providers, they are charging fees to be listed on their in-phone web browsers:

The other carriers are not limiting access, but they are nonetheless charging Web sites fees to be listed in prominent positions in their cramped on-screen menus. Recently, America Online supplanted Yahoo as the top item on Sprint's menu after reportedly agreeing to a sizable payment.
- Saul Hansell, Wireless Web Has Big Promise but a Few Kinks, New York Times, July 10, 2000
Reading a list of SprintPCS Wireless Web Partners, there's everything listed there but games/gaming (there are wireless gaming sites out there, just none of them are partnered up with Sprint).

AT&T has a wireless web service, PocketNet. On their list of content providers they have one game oriented outfit: nGame; they actually make games, they don't distribute information about them.

WebLink Wireless
2-way email-web device
WebLink Wireless/
Motorola Talkabout
Last week as I was manning the booth at the XGames, I noticed WebLink Wireless at the booth next door. They sell a two-way email device, about the size of a beeper, with limited web browsing capabilities. The guy at the booth said we could probably get listed on their main menu of information providers without much hassle. WebLink Wireless and some of the other small/new wireless providers offer us the chance to experiment with a small audience and different revenue generation techniques. Hardy suggested that we "try 'em all."

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