Archive for June, 2008

Flash Content Provider – Open Source business plan!

Given the figures that there are now more flash devices outside Japan than inside I’ve been thinking about Pikkle’s overseas expansion.

Chatting things through with some of the other folks who have been breaking rocks trying to start a flashlite business gave me a good overview of some ideas. In the spirit of “a rising tide floats all boats” I thought I would throw open this thinking. What do you think is the best way to make a business out of mobile flash content?

Here are some options:

* mobile ad funded content
go for a purely ad-play. This really needs volume to make money, but there maybe some showcase deals around through an amobee or admob than has a client that wants to do a rich-media only promotion – probably more for the hype value than ROI. RedBull? Nike? Someone who wants to reach geeks – Sony Bravia?

http://www.admob.com/

http://www.amobee.com

* iPhone story
With openscreen i guess anyone can write a flashplayer for iphone – I heard theres one from barcelona that works well. So, just go after iPhone with flash content. But this would have to be fairly deep apps to sell through the apple store, and some odd hacks to get flash to play on the iPhone despite his Steveness’ will. Medium investment.

* focus on just 1,2 operators full-bore
on-deck route. There seem to be just verizon, and talk about telefonica and orange. Getting on verizon is a long-shot for an indie content provider. You could rent a helicopter in Vegas and try and fly them around town (true story).
Or go through aggregators, which will leave you with a slice of a slice. Long shot unless your uncle is Rupert.

* FlashCast
Verizon dashboard and CHT (taiwan)
focus on content for flashcast. this seems to be for little clips, weather etc. and not really a way to deliver meaty flash content, yet. Good if you’re a media company looking for another channel to push stuff down.

* Project Capuchin
Sony’s java wrapper for flash content. Should at least enable flash content to pass through the same channels as j2me content, so can use the operators same billing system. But only works on sony phones, and operators always insist on support for a wide range of handsets before they’ll let you on-deck…

* flash marketing apps
many flash developers seem to be workin on B2B projects for brands – drinks companies etc. Like the talented guys from BreakDesign, now setup shop in Singapore. this is a way to pay the bills and build up experience til the market arrives, but its not a scalable business.

http://breakdesign.com

* focus on something really unique
if you’re a one-man shop, you can create your own niche. even though flash-games maybe a bigger market, something unique means a smaller group of more passionate users may find their way to you. This all depends on your creative idea! A good PC to mobile messaging app could take off for example, or the next tamagochi…

* embedded deals

Since the handset guys need to differentiate there is always the chance to launch embedded apps, which are covered as part of the handset cost. Unless you are able to come up with some type of app that has carry on sales (eg you give away a flash game and sell levels), this is a simple one-off deal.

* work through other aggregators
there are a ton of channels, everywhere from taiwan to turkey selling off-deck content with SMS billing. If you have a catalog of offline playable content, this seems like the low-risk way to launch a business, but its more of a throw mud and see what sticks approach. But it’s jumping into a mosh-pit of other providers with the same idea, with low-barrier to entry.

* become an aggregator
combine with other content providers to produce a larger offering.
by having a larger catalog we can spread the costs of business development, and get more attention from operators. United Artists!
- aggregate a collection of flash games, screensavers, menus and other content.
- shared location expenses for european languages
However, even with scale, there aren’t many developed channels as yet.

* integrated portal

A full-flash portal around a brand may work if you can find money to gain a good license.  Flash is well-suited to screensavers, menus as well as games. Could be a lot of work, and supporting users who aren’t familiar with flash screensavers, and patchy implementations.

* handset maker channels
nokia, sony-eri have their own channels like Nokia Download. At least this gives you a targeted channel to reach users that can actually play flash content.
Can anyone with experience here say how big these channels are? What kind of price points? I like this approach as it seems you won’t have to deal with lots of accounts, even though the overall numbers maybe slow. http://www.download.nokia.com/

* desktop app with mobile billing
FMC (fixed-mobile convergence). Habbo hotel did this really well in their early days; using SMS as a billing channel, but playing the content on the desktop. Another benefit of this is you have a full-connection to your users on both desktop and mobile, and a billing connection, and can upgrade the mobile experience as more functions become available (or even persuade your users to upgrade their devices to a flash phone!). The billing can be off-deck through SMS aggs, or through official carrier deals. Build up an audience and you have a better chance of getting that Verizon or Voda deal.
This will take a lot of investment, but seems the high-risk, high-reward strategy. Throw in widgets and this is by far my favorite option.

I’ll see you all on Facebook!

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engagement = media * (creative ^ 2)

or, E=mc^2

A gem from kevin barenblatt’s GSP-East presentation:

Creative is much more important than media spend in social marketing.

I remember when i had an ad-agency clients in SanFrancisco, the creative spend always seemed like a tiny blip compared to the money spent blaring out the campaign on media. But in social media, interesting things pick up, where traditional interruptive marketing just gets ignored – hence the 0.0x% CTR on facebook ads.

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speaking at Infinity Ventures Summit

The “DEMO” of japan, Pikkle has been invited to present. This is a big deal and our coming out party :)   http://venturecapital.typepad.jp/blog/2008/05/infinity-ventur.html  

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New DoCoMo 906 series – decome anime

The new docomo 906i phones are in stores this week. flashlite 3, and a new feature for allowing flashlite to be viewed inside your email client. This is called “decome anime”. (japanese demo)

Viewing flash content right inside the mailer is going to lead to a boom in viral flash content I think, and flash will be a communications platform as much as an animation playback engine.

I’ve been playing with them all, and I think I’m personally going to get the Sony this time… very fast animation playback and some nice keyboard shortcuts (!!)

more info on decome-anime here: http://imode-press.jp/imode/top/decome_anime/index.html

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what do developers want to know?

Pikkle is now a medium sized flashlite publisher and distributor here in japan, and I’ve been asked to write some articles for developers.i wonder, what might be of most interest to people?

my personal feeling is that tech issues are pretty well-covered. most “developers” are more interested in how they(we) can actually make money with FL or persuade bean counters to invest. This maybe cos the FL developers are mainly 3-4 ppl companies, where the lead engineer is also often the guy signing the cheques.

Outside of Japan, the bizmodel still seems vague enough that generating the next $XXk of business is more pressing than solving tech problems.

any other ideas appreciated too but initial thoughts:

1) differences between US + japanese phones

eg network access requiring a user click. flash inside the browser vs. standalone. key access. download limits per URL (100k on docomo).

2) beyond the emulator

what you can do (and not) with screensavers, chakuflash, inside thebrowser etc. differences between carriers implementations. things adobe don’t tell you that stop flash working seamlessly between devices.

3) flavors of flashlite

decome anime, FLV on the phone, i-channel: the things that are beyond just playing back a movieclip or downloading a game.

4) bugs and workarounds

eg flash9 makes files bigger than FL8. embedded fonts dont work in 1.1/osx etc.

5) openscreen project

what it means to you. (what does it mean to developers? you can write your own flash player?)

6) access statistics

we can share some of our stats on what type of devices are accessing our services. whats the breakdown of FL 1.1 vs. 2.0 and 3.0 handsets.

7) flashlite 1.1 is almost dead! so what’s new?

if we all get together we can kill the vampire that is 1.1. I’m the first one with a wooden stake. No more nights dealing with obscure font-encoding bugs in shift-JIS.

But, whats the difference? is there anything you can really do with 2.0 that is new to the user, or just makes things easier for developers?

eg – you can change the color property of a sprite. read XML data.

anything else?

8) full-flash!

moving from html sites w/ inline animations to full-flash sites. how best to convince a client to adopt! the questions we get. stats around ROI, page conversion rates, results.

9) flashlite ROI

why bother? FL is more expensive compared to XHTML, but cheaper than java. so is FL just limited to cheap mini-games?

10) 906i – all new!

docomo just launched the 906 series phones, which have some stunning new flash functionality. A run down of what’s now possible (decome anime, FLV etc). Finally the FL 3.0 that was meant to be!

11) decome anime in detail

A piece just on making decome anime templates.

Any other ideas? what do you think are hot topics? what would you want to ask a company with 2~3 years experience running mobile flash services?

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