This annual report offers a wealth of information on the key market segments that are evolving in the interactive online media market. It provides on overview of the developments within each of these sectors. The report includes analyses, statistics, forecasts and trends. It provides a comprehensive insight into the progress of the Online Interactive Services market and examines the key issues and opportunities.
Subjects covered include:
BuddeComm’s annual publication Australia - Digital Media - Online Interactive Services profiles the market sectors in the online interactive services market. The report provides market statistics and analysis on the services and companies involved in the online music market, online gaming, virtual worlds, social networking and the products and services of the mobile media market.
In the next few years the global entertainment and publishing industry is expected to be worth more than $2 trillion - driven in particular by a wave of growth in online video games/gambling, music, social networking/UGC, online video, etc. Online video consumption is also beginning to produce promising results and advertisers have begun to give it serious attention. Pay-to-own downloading is particularly popular and new business models in this area are expected to emerge over the next few years. Travel, gambling, gaming, adult content and health services are also in demand, with more growth expected.
The market is led by Internet media companies such as Google/YouTube, Yahoo, eBay/Skype, AOL, Microsoft, News Ltd/MySpace. They have been at the forefront in shaping the developments in digital media for the last five years. Despite being challenged by the telcos they maintained the upper hand. In future the battle will be between the traditional media and the Internet media companies, and this will continue for some time.
The music market
Music has been the key driver behind the early developments in the digital media, both in mobile and fixed networks. In recent times sales of digital music, mostly via the Internet, have increased by more than 30%. Sales of CD and DVDs, on the other hand, continue to decline.
While mobile is the preferred technology for listening to music, the business models are not conducive to helping people become accustomed to using these networks for music delivery. Most will use free or cheap Internet sites to gain access to music.
A totally unprepared music industry has suffered greatly from the switch to e-music, and it is only now beginning to recover. MP3, or podcasting, has gone well beyond the music application, and millions of podcasts (some in video format) are downloaded daily. All this is also a fair indication of the future direction of the video entertainment and wireless broadband (mobility) market.
Online games and gambling
The global online gambling industry continues to grow, despite regulatory restraints and the economic downturn. Online gambling operations are cheaper to operate than traditional establishments and so are better placed to weather an economic downturn. In addition, the number of Internet users around the world continues to grow, resulting in an ever-expanding customer base. Online games also remain popular and in-game advertisers are taking note, especially as there is evidence that free online games are becoming more popular in the current economic environment.
As speed and capacity increase, a whole new range of applications will be entering the market over the next decade. Console games have changed dramatically, with games, music and movies all merging and integrating. Growing penetration of broadband and mobile 3G networks will also promote growth in online gaming. A record growth year for video game sales in Australia in 2008 saw Australia’s video game industry produce $1.5 billion in sales.
Social networks and UGC
It is natural for people to want to communicate and the Internet has always provided a forum for user generated content, from the early bulletin boards to today’s video blogs that allow for new levels of interaction. In recent times social networking has been dominated by industry leaders MySpace and, in particular, Facebook.
Other competitors are now scrambling to capture market share and social network services are evolving and looking at further innovations to maintain users’ attention. Mobile social networking services are being developed also. In 2009 the economic downturn is expected to impact upon advertising spend in this sector.
Virtual worlds are just one example of the developments occurring as part of the Web 2.0. The most high profile of these is Second Life; the popularity of this virtual world has exploded over the past couple of years from around 1.5 million users reported in 2006, to nearly 13 million registered users in 2008. However the departure of some high-profile companies in 2007 and 2008 has left the industry wondering whether its growth will continue unabated, and attention is turning towards its competitors such as There.com.
Mobile media market
Business models for content providers utilising the portals of the mobile operators remain shaky, with operators still charging a hefty 30-50% of revenues. With capped data access, services will move ‘off deck.’
By 2009 over a million users were bypassing the portals. Ringtones and wallpaper still dominate the portal market followed by music and games. ‘Off deck’ will see increased use of Internet-based services and email instead of SMS. However, mobile operators still hold the key to a powerful tool - mobile billing.