BREW 2005: Verizon Wireless puts up the numbers

Carrier indicates mobile games are growing more important to its 46 million subscribers.


SAN DIEGO--At the BREW 2005 mobile conference on Thursday, Verizon Wireless chief marketing officer John Stratton used his general session speech as a bully pulpit to laud his company's market-leading mobile content division--and to stress that mobile games remain a top Verizon priority going forward.

Stratton noted that Verizon added the largest number of new subscribers in 2004 among North American carriers, clocking in at 6.2 million fresh customers. Stratton went on to explain that the carrier was very satisfied not only with the quantitative growth of its customer base, but also with its increasing interest in mobile data services. According to Verizon's numbers, approximately 18 million of its 46 million subscribers are active users of mobile data--a number that points to Verizon's strong positioning in mobile's growth area.

"The average price of a voice minute has dropped precipitously," explained Stratton, "so we'll need to get our revenue growth from our existing customers through data services." Stratton mentioned that text messaging and mobile instant messaging were two success stories in mobile data. Verizon presently averages about 1.5 billion TXTs a month, and its IM service is expected to generate around $100 million by the end of 2005.

Stratton rounded off his presentation by highlighting mobile gaming's importance to Verizon's data strategy. "We believe that broadband wireless will do exactly what it did for desktop PCs," said Stratton, in a reference to Verizon's new V CAST service. Stratton indicated that rich, network-intensive mobile games will continue to drive uptake of broadband service, although the mobile games industry must work to provide the right kind of games to the right people. He pointed out the underdevelopment of the market for female mobile gamers as an example.

Stratton's comments were complemented by Verizon Wireless' release of some very positive statistics relating to mobile gaming. According to the company's numbers, customers have downloaded more than 50 million mobile games since the advent of the Get It Now retail service in September of 2002. Get It Now is presently available on 26 million handsets, which is double the number from a year ago. Of Get It Now's many sections, which include areas for ringtones, wallpapers, and messaging, getGAMES has remained the most popular, with 3D games "in the best position to skyrocket in coming months," said Verizon.

Verizon also released a comprehensive listing of the most popular mobile games on Get It Now, in total and by category. Jamdat Mobile's games currently occupy five of the top 10 best-selling mobile games, with its newly acquired mobile version of Tetris holding down the number one slot. Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man by Namco, Frogger by Konami Digital Entertainment, Driver 3 by Glu, and Phil Hellmuth's Texas Hold 'Em by Summus also have spots on the list.

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