Xero Mobile ... Worth of a Wireless Carrier without Customers?

RCR reported on the sale of Xero Mobile today. Apparently, they are selling mobile marketing technology ideas/patents. The article didn't have much (not their fault - seems as though the company reported little) - just mentioned that they can see if a subscriber views an ad and can automatically bill advertisers.

It raises an interesting question of the value of technology without customers. The advertising would likely show up when the phone is powered on, when numbers are dialed, calls received, mobile content browsed, etc. However, there is no network or inventory without customers which typically are acquired at a high price. (I don't even want to go down the road of what ESPN must have paid per sub). If a base is built, is it a base willing to spend money on other products - just not cell phone service? If you're an advertiser, why wouldn't you purchase on a carrier's network where you can slice/dice an audience of 50 million subscribers - unless it's too expensive or not enough inventory (same problem). Will a carrier sell air minutes to a competitor who will increase the amount of available inventory?

Our consumer surveys show some interest in ad-sponsored models, but only those executed with extreme care. Will be interesting to watch.

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