After months of compiling data, the Seattle-based analyst company is launching its services today in hopes of taking some of the guesswork out of measuring the mobile-data industry.

Share story



The founders of M:Metrics have a saying: We are in the business of “quantification not pontification.”

After months of compiling data, the Seattle-based analyst company is launching its services today in hopes of taking some of the guesswork out of measuring the mobile-data industry.


Hundreds of analyst companies already produce data on the wireless market, and any number of them can say, for instance, how many people text message during a certain period of time.

Using a different measuring technique, M:Metrics says it collects and slices the data further. Not only does it track the number of people who use text messaging, but how many are between 25 and 34 [52 percent] or older than 65 [14 percent]. It also shows which carrier is leading the field [Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA].


“There was no reliable third-party market data,” said Will Hodgman, M:Metrics’ president and chief executive. “We are in the business of actually finding out what people are truly doing out there in the U.S.”

Hodgman said it is becoming critical to know more because more wireless companies are going public and receiving millions of dollars to develop video games and ring tones for cellphones.



M:Metrics


Seattle-based analyst firm providing information on the mobile data market.

Who: Will Hodgman, co-founder and chief executive, and Seamus McAteer, co-founder, chief product architect and senior analyst.


Products: Will provide research to customers through a subscription to its database available over the Web. Customers will pay per user per year. M:Metrics will also produce a monthly research report on some of the industry’s benchmarks.

Sample statistics:31 percent of females and 34 percent of males play mobile games, but 60 percent of men are more likely to download a game.


Source: M:Metrics


To justify these leaps, the companies need figures to back up their claims. The problem has been that the information is locked up in separate silos.

Cingular Wireless knows how many ring tones it sells, and content developers know which game of theirs is selling, but no one could see across the board, Hodgman said.


Robert Tercek, chief marketing officer of Mforma, a Bellevue company developing entertainment content for mobile phones, said companies make decisions mostly on instincts and rough market analysis.

“I come from a TV background, and there were eight kinds of research we would do a day on what the audience was thinking about,” he said.


As an early customer of M:Metrics, Tercek said he now has information he can use to make business decisions. Now that mobile games can cost up to $1 million to produce, it is critical to use a more measured approach. “When you get into that size of a bet, you can’t do it with gut instinct or anecdotal research,” Tercek said.

Hodgman, M:Metric’s founder, started Seattle-based AdRelevlance in 1998 to track data on online ad spending, placement and market share. He sold AdRelevance a year later to Media Metrix for $66 million in stock.


He said he first realized the need for a more accurate measurement system for wireless data as a consultant at Bellevue-based Wireless Services. He was hired to find out how text messaging had taken off in the United States. Another client wanted to find out the top-selling mobile video games.

In trying to answer both questions, he asked Seamus McAteer, a well-known wireless analyst who started The Zelos Group, whether he knew.


McAteer’s answer?

“He said, ‘You know what? No,’ ” Hodgman said.


Hodgman couldn’t believe it.

So he and McAteer decided to put their heads together to see what they could do.


“Like a good entrepreneur, Will jumps on a plane the next day to San Francisco,” McAteer said. “It was really that simple.”

The two concluded that a three-prong approach would produce the most accurate information.


• Make a database of all the devices used by U.S. consumers, a burdensome task given that each carrier can have as many as 150 different phone models.

• Make a list of all the content available for sale on carrier portals. That resulted in a list of more than 1,700 titles, including ring tone and wallpaper collections.


• Survey the habits of 10,000 to 12,000 subscribers monthly.

The result has been a fountain of information. M:Metrics can track how consumers use their phones with which capabilities and on which networks. With the information, M:Metrics can determine which carriers are tops for particular services and which video games are hot, or not.


“We are not in the business of spoiling a party, but we are in the business of applying honesty to the market and validate what [companies] believe to be true,” Hodgman said.

The company has five customers, including carriers and content developers, he said.


M:Metrics has raised an undisclosed amount of money from i-Hatch Ventures, a New York venture-capital firm, and has 17 employees.

Besides Hodgman and McAteer, the company has also hired Barbara Jarzab, the former chief of measurement science at Nielsen//NetRatings. Mark Donovan, vice president of products and senior analyst, was hired from RealNetworks, where he was the director of mobile services.


Donovan said he wishes he had the kind of data he has today when he was at RealNetworks.

“I’m in nirvana,” he said. “I’ve spent three years in the mobile industry without this data, and now having it revealed to me is the most dynamic thing ever.”


Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or tduryee@seattletimes.com