Mobile content firm Zamano focuses on diversification


NEW SERVICES and new markets are the focus for mobile content firm Zamano as it tries to stay ahead of the global downturn. The company is hoping that diversifying will cement its position in the mobile sector.

The firm’s latest results showed revenue at the firm was up in 2008, despite the economic slump, although the group made a pre-tax loss of € 3.6 million for the year.

“We have seen some decline for example in the Irish and UK markets, but we are making up for that by increasing exports into other territories. So we’re seeing growth in the US and Australia,” said chief executive John O’Shea.

The company, like many others, is feeling the pinch from the weakness in sterling, leading to the decision to review the value of subsidiaries and take a once-off impairment charge, which reduced revenue by more than €7 million.

“The acquisitions we made in 2007 were companies whose major revenue sources were in the UK,” explained O’Shea.

Zamano’s expansion into other markets, such as the US, has gone reasonably well, O’Shea said, with the firm using one of their purchases, Red Circle, as a foothold in the territory.

“If you put the right proposition in front of people, the right content, the right form of interactive services, people will buy because it’s a reasonably low-cost expenditure level,” said O’Shea.

With data charges falling and network speeds increasing, O’Shea said he can envision a scenario where the mobile will become the interface to the internet, albeit a slimmed down version”.

“We have a vision that everything that can will go mobile,” says O’Shea.

This has already started, with mobile banking proving a popular service among Permanent TSB customers, and other services, such as Ryanair’s flight updates, giving Zamano a foothold in the business-to-business market.

One area that is proving unexpectedly robust in the mobile market is adult content. According to Juniper Research, the market is expected to be worth $4.9 billion by 2013.

It’s an area in which Zamano has a small presence, due to its round of acquisitions. “It’s a very small element of the business, but one that I feel would be remiss of us to pull out of just because of any Irish morality issue,” said O’Shea.

“It’s par for the course in the UK market.”

The services are subject to strict age verification, O’Shea said, using postcodes, credit cards and other methods of identifying customers.

However, Irish regulations currently prohibit the provision of such adult services through mobile phones.

Zamano, meanwhile, is turning its attention to web 2.0 as the future of its business, focusing on widgets to help download information to phones.