How the Cloud Can Help Carriers Sell Content

It was only a few years ago that network operators dominated the world of mobile content. The carrier deck was the most valuable real estate in the space, and users with feature phones spent large amounts of money on ringtones, wallpaper and games.

The rise of Apple’s (s aapl) App Store and Google’s (s goog) Android Market changed that. Carriers were shoved aside and, at least for the App Store, cut out of download revenues. But as I write in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, the emergence of the cloud could help carriers jump back in the content-distribution game.

That’s something Verizon Wireless (s VZ) should keep in mind with Media Manager, which enables users to access files in the cloud via a handset or computer for $3 a month. As Kevin noted last week, the service is similar to offerings from companies like Dropbox and Zumodrive, which essentially serve as digital storage lockers for consumers. Media Manager also creates an opportunity for Verizon to combine cloud storage with content sales: The carrier could sell songs, games or video content, guaranteeing users lifetime access to their stuff even if they switch handsets — but only as long as they stick with Verizon.

For Verizon and other carriers to leverage cloud-based content sales, though, they must be mindful of a few potentially lethal pitfalls. Here are three crucial components of cloud-based services that I discuss more thoroughly in the full post:

  1. Customers won’t pay time and again for the privilege of owning and accessing their own content.
  2. Storage must be rock-solid.
  3. Cloud-based services must be marketed effectively.

The emergence of the cloud provides a chance for carriers to generate revenues by selling content and reduce churn by storing it for their subscribers. That’s a huge opportunity for the handful of tier-ones who are watching their importance in the space fade away.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy Flickr akakumo.