Thursday, October 09, 2008

The time for mobile ads is now

What happens when the economy collapses? Everyone cuts costs. The enterprise do it (and they go for open source solutions). Consumer do it as well.

What sells when the economy collapses? FREE...

How do you offer free services, still making money? Advertising.

The time for ads in mobile is now. This market is the only - in my view - that has not been affected by the economy (yet). People still want the latest cool gadget, and services. But they want to pay for them less and less.

The real issue is that nobody knows how people will react to mobile ads. I personally believe consumer won't be bothered by a micro-banner, if it is not intrusive and it is even made useful (e.g. an offer for a taxi ride with a single-click to call, when I really need it).

At Funambol, we are in a unique position to try it out. We provide the #1 application for mobile devices: messaging (remember, the phone is a communication device, you talk or message, 95% of the time). We have tons of users. And a free demo site, where we try the latest and greatest stuff (ok, sometime it makes it a bit unstable, but it is a demo site in beta ;-) called myFunambol.

Therefore, we have decided to launch mobile ads on myFunambol. The goal is not to make money on it (you do not make money on a demo site... and we are making lots of money selling the stable and complete version of it to service providers). The goal is to try it out and see the users reaction. Get a feeling if our email client is used less because of it, or if nothing changes. And check how frequently people act on ads. Gather all this info and share it back with the market.

If you have a Nokia Series 60 or a Motorola V3XX phone and you want to participate in this effort, sign up on myFunambol (or download the new client from the configuration page).

Initial feedback seems pretty good. I believe this comment from a user on Ostatic sums it up:
"Funambol offers a great service. Need to keep them going. A few ads never hurt anyone, as long as they don't start texting crap and making users pay."
Making open source free. I just love it ;-)