Once upon a time, circa 2000, in Korea, I fell upon a website called Cyworld that took my breath away for its audacity, revenue potential, and ingenuity. It was, though the term hadn't been coined then, a prime example of the Freemium model, and a forerunner to social networks, apps, and games such as those by Zynga.
You could build your own virtual world, for free, invite your friends to visit you, network, chat, game, and if you wanted premium/paid content, you purchased a virtual currency, acorns, for hard cash. This you then spent on presents for friends, exclusive items for your crib, and a multitude of other funky bits and bats. I thought it was genius, and I so wanted the best mini hompy amongst my new Korean friends, and/or to re-purpose the site for the West.
But my Korean was sadly lacking, even to use the site to its full potential. My attempts to contact the owners using a Korean translator tracked down in Singapore by a London telecoms lawyer for me, yielded nothing like the EU-wide exclusive ownership deal I wanted. Today, I wish I had been more dogged as the potential was there for everyone to see when you took away the anime-type culture that is so Far East, and far less European or USA.
Now, in 2011, we are seeing indications, from CES, GigaOm, tech commentators and so on, of the likely movements during at least the first quarter within the mobile and broadband industries concerning revenue generation. And they clearly reflect Cyworld's early, pioneering attempts to build that world in what was even then the planet's number 1 broadband-enabled country.
Here's a few examples of recent news:
In-app payments and freemium gain ground
Time Warner realise the need to dump the additional device (set top box) and just send their films over IP
Is this the end for PCs and 'truck-sized' devices? (see my post on Broken Computers
And CES - well, lots of links, go surfing!
Whilst this may seem an abstract collection of links, it isn't. What I am endeavouring to illustrate (by leaving some leaps of the imagination to your good selves) is that a) the need for devices is changing dramatically b) the mode of delivery is changing and c) the revenue streams are changing. All so that consumers have CHOICE.
What we are not yet seeing (in the UK) is a full comprehension of this shift. And it is, quite clearly, a paradigm shift because the reality is that it is becoming far less an 'operator' world, and much more one where the consumer has control. Grasp that nettle, and you may be on the bandwagon. Attempt to avoid it by continuing to place your bets on behemoth warhorse-type corporates who must have control to survive, and you may find yourself staring despondently at similar graphs to those behind this analysis
all too soon.