In the US, the latest eMarketer numbers show that messaging still leads the non-voice category and will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. By 2010, there is a decent chance that entertainment services and content might equal messaging as a non-voice revenue generator. But that is a long way off in mobile Internet years.

More to the point, if we look at how US subscribers are actually using their mobiles, we see that different flavors of messaging, text and photo overshadow other categories. It seems that despite the best efforts of wireless marketers inside and outside of carrier organizations to convince consumers otherwise, most people still believe and act as if the mobile handset is a communications device after all.

Thus, by 2010, the preceding charts suggest that the pure-play mobile content sector will account for about 3% of total wireless revenues. Conference panelists can dress it any way they want. But the carriers are not being conniving when on the one hand they say that mobile content is very important to them and then do little to follow it up. If they say that content does not count, they have painted themselves into a corner to where they are mobile voice providers — no more and no less. This will make life very uncomfortable for certain operators that spent billions on 3G licenses on the idea that people would use their mobiles for content. Strategic maneuvering aside, the fact is that non-messaging-based mobile content as a stand-alone source of revenue is and will remain trivial to the mobile carriers.

For that bit of industry gloom, marketers should only give thanks. The inability of both mobile carriers and content providers to create a substantial, sustainable, transaction-based mobile content market means that they need to work with brands to make mobile Internet work. Most of that work will involve messaging of some kind or another.

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