October 26, 2009...7:55 am

Flirting With Success

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As I write this, I am in the midst of a cross country, big city jaunt on behalf of one of my mobile technology clients.  We are presenting to about three conference rooms per day of buttoned-up (and not so buttoned-up) marketing, advertising and technology executives.  The one thing they have in common, though, is that when the meeting starts, most place their iPhones, Blackberries and assorted other smart phones on the conference room table.

What a stark contrast to a conversation I had just last week in a San Francisco tenderloin district bar with an executive of the mobile web site Flirtomatic.  I remember a few of the comments he made as he explained why his site was continuing to successfully build its revenue base and further its run of profitability.  First, he told me of his Freemium model, where access is free and consumers buy additional ‘tokens’ to in order to experience an even greater level of fun, interactivity and enjoyment on the site.

Here’s an example.  Since the site is about flirting, not dating or actually being set up to meet people, the activity is all about the back and forth, the interaction and the joy of flirting.  Sometimes, however, a shy person may want to participate, but not know how.  Flirtomatic has a solution for that.  The shy guy can buy a basket of tokens and use some of those tokens to get access to a few ‘flirt bombs’.  Flirt bombs are prewritten flirting messages that he can send to twenty or more girls with whom he would like to flirt.

This executive shared with me a somewhat ribald example of a flirt bomb.  Having a similar reaction to many of my smart phone carrying friends, I replied that I wasn’t sure any girls would appreciate that type of message, let alone respond to it.  He said over 30% of flirt bombs of that nature generate a positive response!  Really????

The conversation continued.  Over 50% of his audience in the UK uses their mobile phone as their only access to the internet.

I think you misspoke, I replied.  You must have meant a statistic more like 50% of the audience didn’t have landlines.  Oh no, he assured me.  Most of his audience does not own a Mac or PC.  Most of his audience works an hourly job.  Most of his audience is part of the working class or lower classes.

How do you get revenue with such a downscale audience, I asked.  That isn’t an issue, he replied, because his overall monthly ARPU is on average, $12 per month.

Well, that woke me up out of my smartphone induced haze of mobile apps and video downloads and buttoned up conference rooms and high minded talk about big numbers from the advances of technology and the future of mobile.

Mobile today consists of primarily of feature phones and the masses of people who use them.  And the people who have those feature phones may not have as much money as their smart phone toting counterparts across town or across the continent, but they are willing to spend the money they have for an enjoyable experience and the realization of value.

There seems to be quite a business in giving people what they want, when they want it and the way they want it, on the mobile device they already have.

I’m not sure I’ll bring that up while sitting at the next smart phone laden conference table in the next big city tomorrow…or maybe, I just might.


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