While smaller than ring tones and games in terms of revenue, the market for commercial graphical content - comprised of wallpaper, caller ID graphics, screensavers, and special use graphics - is poised to grow from just under $150 million this year to over $1.1 billion by 2008, according to IDC.
While adoption of ring tones moved to the mainstream in 2003, graphical content has only now begun to make similarly dramatic strides in the market. Color screen phones, richly animated graphics, improved user experiences from a network and accessibility perspective, and fresh new content are coming together this holiday season to rapidly accelerate customer adoption.
"Graphical content such as wallpaper is phenomenally popular, especially among youths and young adults," said Lewis Ward, senior research analyst in IDC's Wireless and Mobile Communications program. "Our survey data found that members of this demographic group are five times more likely to pay for and download graphics than are their adult counterparts. Furthermore, bundling graphical content with other similarly themed content should become prevalent over the next few years, as will tying such content to movie and album releases, all of which should propel revenue through the content ecosystem."
Despite these emerging opportunities, growth in graphical content will be constrained by relatively low penetration levels of advanced handsets (those capable of supporting graphical innovations such as rich animation and full-motion video), a lack of digital rights management (DRM) standards, a lack of cross-carrier shortcodes that could be utilized to easily deliver "impulse buy" graphical content, and relatively low user awareness of the availability of such content.
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