@ AOP: Mobile Publishers Disagree, Find Different Fortunes On Open Web

FT.com: FT.com is now getting 97 percent of its mobile traffic from off-portal sources, having almost entirely ditched relationships with network operators.

“We’ve gone thoroughly commando,” FT’s mobile business development head Steven Pinches told an Association of Online Publishers conference audience. “We’re seeing massive growth on the mobile web, very strong this year particularly.” But the publisher launched with a Java applet because it did not regard the mobile web proper as a reliable delivery mechanism.

Pinches said the iPhone was a “complete breakthrough” in consumer navigability of the off-portal mobile web: “But, for the time being – certainly for the next two years, we’re stuck … we’re not going to have that experience on the majority of clients.”

Emap (LSE: EMA): Emap Mobile creative director Mike Burgess appeared to disagree:” The most important thing is to be on the homepage of 3 or Vodafone (NYSE: VOD).” He said UK flat-rate data tariff adoption was slow but saw growth for the open mobile web thanks in part, and somewhat ironically, to the growth of desktop broadband: “People will expect to consume the same brands that they see (on the desktop) on their mobile – and probably for free.”

Que Pasa: Hugh Burrows, marketing director of Que Pasa, the company that manages the mobile portal for Channel 4, disagreed even more strongly: “Go open web all the time and avoid Java.” He reckoned applets and the downloading process made that channel too complicated.

Research: Mobile research firm MediaCells forecasts 40 percent growth from UK mobile data revenue over 2007/08. Previewing its forthcoming research report The Mobile Game 2007/08, MD Brad Cells said operators were moving from referring to “data ARPU” to “adjacent markets”, which is almost saying ‘we’ve tried to make money off content, we can’t do it. Rees also reviewed the time taken to find weather reports on a variety of off-portal services (BBC, four clicks, CNN, no clicks, Google (NSDQ: GOOG), over four clicks, T-Zones, seven clicks) and charted costs for downloading a 50p Hell’s Kitchen video via a range of carriers (Orange £2.50; Three, £2.50, Vodafone, £6.30; O2, even more; T-Mobile, £16).