Universal Appeal?

Vivendi Universal today announced the launch of Zaoza (in France for now), a mobile subscription offering that gives consumers unlimited access to music (most majors on board), videos and games for just three Euros a month. A cynic might argue that at that price point you have to question just how much consumers would be willing to pay for music thereafter i.e. would they ever buy a CD album again. The DRM offers Comes With Music style DRM that provides permanent ownership on PC and mobile but no CD burning (if I were Nokia Iíd be wondering whether the advance Iíve paid should have been so high). But, as my colleague Ian Fogg points out, this assumes a high level of CD ownership amongst the (young) target audience. But for those youth that donít have CD players, CD burns are simply not a stimulus for paying more.

The 3 Euros price point and multiple handset operability look great on paper, but the devil will be in the detail. It looks like only a select (read Ďlimitedí) amount of content will be available to subscribers. Though it seems this selection will be rotated, it remains possible that it will be just that: a Ďselectioní.

Also, what does this say about mobile content strategies? My colleague Thomas Husson points out that this looks to be a scale game i.e. an acceptance that mainstream consumers (particularly younger ones) do not want to pay for content and that most mobile content revenues streams are stagnant (if that). So the assumption is: gamble on lots of consumers paying a little generating significantly more revenue than a few consumers paying a reasonable amount. Itís a gamble, but itís a time for high stakes.

Is it a winner? Quite possibly, but let’s wait and see how it looks in action with mainstream (non-beta) consumers.