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This report provides analysis of Ovum’s recently published Global Carrier-Billing Forecast: 2017–22, examining market dynamics and future growth trends. Further to the forecast’s horizontal segmentation, Ovum has segmented the market into media verticals.


  • Full transactional revenue derived from direct carrier billing (DCB) will grow at a far faster pace than that derived from mobile operators’ core services (data, SMS, and voice). It will also overtake SMS revenue in six years’ time.

Features and Benefits

  • Find out where growth will be concentrated over the next five years and the underlying factors shaping the market.
  • Find out what share of the global carrier billing revenue pie is accounted for by the videogames, digital music, and OTT premium video verticals.

Key questions answered

  • Where will growth will be concentrated over the next five years and which underlying factors are shaping the market?
  • What share of the global carrier billing revenue pie is accounted for by the videogames, digital music, and OTT premium video verticals?

Table of contents


  • In brief
  • Ovum view
  • Recommendations
  • Definitions

DCB delivers badly needed growth to MNOs but tightening margins keep revenue small

  • Faster growing than MNOs’ core revenue streams
  • Will overtake SMS revenue in six years
  • Falling margins leave MNOs with small change
  • Operator take is not shrinking
  • Revenue benefits beyond plain billing
  • Recommendations

Carrier billing will seize growing share of music and video but games will remain at its core

  • Combined carrier-billed games, music, and video revenue takes growing share
  • Music leads in carrier-billing penetration and video is the fastest growing segment
  • Games take biggest slice of carrier-billing revenue throughout
  • Recommendations

Market takes off again after hitting rock bottom five years ago, but growth areas are the least profitable

  • Recovering fortunes
  • What’s growing, what’s shrinking
  • Elusive sweet spot
  • PSMS increasingly dwarfed by DCB
  • Recommendations

Games retain dominance on the back of app stores and online PC games

  • Mobile browser-accessed games lose market share and value
  • App stores take over
  • Desktop browser games continue to yield growth
  • Console games struggle to take off
  • Declining margin, recovering market share
  • Recommendations

Music surges thanks to bundling and a little help from Apple’s carrier billing debut

  • Disappearing ringtones and downloads market
  • Bundling is dominant but has peaked
  • Softer bundles and Apple Music loosen bundling’s grip
  • Bundling’s shrinking share of music revenue
  • Apple’s carrier-billing debut boosts app stores’ contribution
  • iTunes and Apple Music also come into the picture
  • Fivefold growth but halving margin
  • Recommendations

Video soars as OTTs turn to carriers for distribution partnerships

  • Flurry of partnerships
  • Bundling is not the main focus
  • "Off-store" is the main center of activity
  • Video subscriptions top the non-gaming app store charts
  • Meteoric growth at cost of margin
  • Recommendations

"Others" media segment shrinks but finds some growth through bundling and app stores

  • Mixed bag of handset personalization, SMS alerts, apps, and antivirus bundles
  • Up-and-down growth curve
  • SMS alerts suffer from changing consumer habits and litigation but still have a role in emerging markets
  • Recommendations

Physical-goods segment finds greatest mileage in East Asia and via life covers in emerging markets

  • Barriers
  • Mostly about “soft” physical goods
  • Microinsurance will capture biggest slice
  • Ticketing is a vintage segment with continued growth
  • Mobile stamps are a shrinking opportunity
  • Japan and Korea push the boundaries
  • “Hard” physical-goods transactions are rare elsewhere
  • Recommendations

App stores hog the biggest market slice largely thanks to Google Play and Chinese indies

  • Apple disrupts Google and indies duopoly
  • Apple imposes tougher terms on operators
  • Barriers to emerging market rollouts
  • Crumbling OS app store rivals
  • Indie stores largely about China
  • DCB rollout plays catch-up with apps explosion
  • Recommendations


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