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GMIC2012: Emerging Mobile Business Models

Second to last before the grand finale of this year’s GMIC came some insight into one of the most important questions in the mobile Internet industry and what many have already wondered about – how do we monetize?

William Bao Bean, Managing Director of Singtel, Innov8, started the panel discussion by asking how companies can convert more people to pay more, especially in China where monetization is as low as 0.1-0.2%.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Chairman of One97 Communications, identified trust to be the most important. He said companies have to create trust among people. For example, a cash-back option in the gaming ecosystem will nurture trust among users. Danny Wirianto, Co-Founder of MindTalk, said quality is one of the most important factors when it comes to what the companies are selling, but they also have to put significant thought into who they are selling to. He added that for developing markets it might be harder to even sell an app for US$0.15 rather than US$0.99 like in developed markets, because for many in these developing countries US$0.99 may constitute the daily wage.

The panel also commented on their views of the advertising market for mobile. Here, trust also seemed to be a recurring theme. Atul Satija, VP of InMobi, said that you never know exactly which ad networks are going to work for you. What matters are your goals and what audience you want to reach. You need to find which ad network will give all of this to you. In regards to monetization, he added, you have to determine which ad network for your particular product in your own country works best. Christopher Kassulke, CEO & Co-Founder of HandyGame, said that it first depends on the product. A key point that he brought up was that “you have to make your advertising sexy” in order to attract the attention of users that are being bombarded with advertising in today’s world.

Bradden Wondra, CTO of Pearson Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong, spoke on education and how to monetize from it the new world. He said that this focuses on making education and people more successful. “When you complement on your education, that’s one place where spending won’t be a problem,” he concluded.

The panelists also discussed how in-app purchase is changing their business model. Mr. Satija said that it is far more important to adopt an in-app systems into your model if you truly want to make money. In Mr. Wirianto’s point of view, the key is making users addicted to your app first. With an emotional feeling that can be related, users will become more attached to your app. He views apps as alter-egos for people to brag about, so they will be willing to continue to pay for different features of the app if they can first be hooked to it.

Mr. Bao Bean also asked the panel to comment on how to improve the conversion rate to pay. Mr. Kassulke highlighted the importance of knowing about the consumer. If your game is too hard to play, you need to tweak and update it in order to your customer’s response. This is why many apps are constantly releasing updates. Mr. Shekhar Sharma also agreed on the importance of change. He said that you have to look at how consumers feel about a particular part of your app and think how you can enhance it. Additionally, he said that bringing a social element will get users to be more willing to pay.

The common theme of the discussion was: try a variety of different business models, market by market, and determine which one works specifically for you.

Edgard Duque


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