Saturday, May 20, 2006

FT Mob Conf - Jemima's Report - Day One

» @ FT Mobile: The $2 Billion Black Hole of Mobile Content

[by Jemima Kiss] London, Langham Hotel. It's chucking it down outside, and I've just realised that although I remembered my iPod/iTalk and my camera, I've forgotten all the relevant cables. Not a good start. And it's a manic first session; all the speakers sound like they are delivering a fifteen-minute speech in five minutes.
Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) chairman Patrick Parock sets the scene: "Mobile is already a $2 billion industry. These devices are like black holes sucking in different media types."
He said 5 million UK phone users have 3G handsets but that "mobile is pretty much the only medium in the world with a zero level of ad-fundedness". One of MEF's objectives is to identify how advertising combined with mobile entertainment in a way that will fit in with the consumer ecosystem.
– The panel agreed that the World Cup will generate more interest in mobile content, but that the full potential will be realised during the 2008 Olympics.
– At We Media last week I was grumbling about a conference hall with no tables and conference chairs with arms. This time my gripe is with the £5-per-hour wireless access. Not condusive to speedy coverage or a good mood.

» @ FT Mobile: Serious Content

[by Jemima Kiss] George Fraser, VP for sales and business development at Infospace, defined the key elements of mobile content. Where the web is about breadth, depth and a rich broadband experience, mobile is about immediacy, relevancy, being on the move and using content apporpriate to the handset.
Content itself he describes as infosnacking; 3 is experimenting with full-length films but Fraser doesn't think that's the way forward.
Something we've heard again and again today: subscriptions for unlimited use are the way forward: "No one would want to pay a one-off fee to see footage of the whale in the Thames," he said.
Looking forward, he suggests improving content to allow personalisation and localisation (like updates on local weather and events when visiting somewhere), more mobile-specific content and improved search.
Nicholas Wheeler, MD of multimedia content at ITN said the broadcaster's mobile channel is produced by a team of 35 multiskilled people working 24 hours producing news on a 15-minute cycle. He said it can be hard to recruit for the team because it demands such a unique skillset.
The carpet is starting to look like the one in the bar scene of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so it must be time to finish for today...

» @ FT Mobile: The Mobile TV Bit

[by Jemima Kiss] Channel 4 launched its own mobile channel on the back of Big Brother in May 2005 with ringtones, wallpapers and so on, but also launched its mobile TV site in November 2005 with full-length programmes. C4 obviously changed its mind though because it re-launched the service last week with five-minute clips of shows including Hollyoaks, Lost and Desperate Housewives. The core C4 audience is in the 16-34 age group but that's also the audience most likely to migrate to mobile and online, so the channel wants to be "ubiquitous across all platforms", said Paul Whitehead. C4 is the only commercial broadcaster in the UK with a public service remit and its content strategy is three pronged: distributing C4 content on new digital platforms, adapting existing content for mobile (Hollyoaks has an exclusive mobile story running concurrently, for example) and commissioning standalone content.
BSkyB's Stephen Nuttall said more than 100,000 people have signed up for Sky Mobile TV (run with Vodafone) and they streamed 70,000 clips in the first three months, although he said neither Sky or Vodafone wouold give more detail on user numbers yet. Sky offers two mobile TV packages; news, sports and factual with content from channels including Sky News, Bloomberg and National Geographic, and an entertainment package which features Sky One, Living TV and the Discovery Channel amongst others. Both are £5 per month for unlimited viewing - and that reflects comment from various other speakers that subscriptions are much more attractive to users than pay per view. In the next few weeks subscribers will also be able to access the Sky Guide through the service.
MTV's is exploiting its strong brands like Pimp my Ride, Jackass, Dirty Sanchez and Sponge Bob Squarepants. Angel Gambino said MTV's mobile TV doesn't compete with ‘real' TV because it's a very different kind of audience behaviour: "Users come in for two or three minutes at several points during the day when they are commuting, queuing etc. It's a healthy mix of existing TV content re-edited for the small screen, DVD extras and exclusive mobile content." She said MTV Mobile TV is making money and that, again, subscription payment has been far more popular with users than pay-as-you-go - which it sounds like they will ditch.

» @ FT Mobile: The Music Bit

[by Jemima Kiss] -- EMI's prediction is that global revenue from digital platforms will grow from less than one per cent in 2003 to 25 per cent in 2010. Thomas Ryan, SVP for digital/mobile strategy, said EMI has a three-pronged approach (at least this conference has been good for lists, and we like those). Those prongs are: A&R, distributions partnerships and innovation, and embedding digital throughout the company. Their mantra is: "Digital music must be made available everywhere consumers want it".
On the partnerships front, Ryan said there will be more and more important deals like the shared-revenue-on-all-platforms deal between EMI andT-Mobile for Robbie Williams' tracks.
Jamster is quite excited about being sued. MD Markus Berger-de León said a German band is suing Jamster for not doing enough promotion of their single as a ringtone. Jamster doesn't like the case, but it does rather likes the point that digital downloads are becoming recognised as a crucial element of music industry sales. The band claims it would have sold something like another 50,000 if the ringtone had been pushed more.
Omnifone director Rob Lewis predicts mobile phones will be much bigger than the iPod in a relatively short period of time. "The mass market is about devices that can do everything for the consumer without having to know about synching" and so on. More advantages over the iPod/iTunes system are one-touch billing that consumers love, phones are with us 24/7 and by Q1 2007, most people will have a mobile that can play and store music.

» @ FT Mobile: Women Are a Mystery - Unless They Are Naked

by Jemima Kiss] David Warga from Naked News is having trouble with women. If they are naked (or semi naked) that's fine - people pay to see that. But when he launched a new service featuring naked men, more women watched the original show with naked women. Confused?
"Men want sports, women, games and gambling. What do women want? Frankly I have no idea..."
Female users also wouldn't pay for the mobile content (be interesting to see how much time women actually spent on it) but gay men would - so the naked men show ended up being gay-orientated and that's working well.
He defined four priorities for mobile content creators: on demand services, multi-platform portability, compelling and entertaining content and a simple pricing structure.
Mobile is "an advertiser's dream - more person directed and more network controlled than the PC". He suggested that content could be fr*ee if users agreed to something like receiving four pushed-out ad messages as well as the, erm, naked stuff. At the moment, all Naked News content is charged for. Sex and death always sells, doesn't it?

» @ FT Mobile: The Boys' Toys Session

Erm, this session covers games, girls and gambling. I thought that meant guns, breasts and poker (shall we tag those?) so didn't expect to be in the target audience. But speakers have repeated that there isn't much difference in behaviour between the genders, and one of the first stats was that 40 per cent of Yahoo! Games users are female, if you think that's any kind of significant yardstick.
LaNetro Zed regional MD Richard Hancock outlined three types of mobile games user:
- the casual consumer who goes for simple, known concepts and is a fickle user, often put off by confusing pricing and bad usability.
- users loyal to specific brands and games, and to those related online communities.
- hardcore users who want mobile games to be as close as possible to the real thing. These are low users of mobiles because the user experience isn't good enough.
Sebastien de Halleux of Glu (publishers of Ice Age 2, Sonic the Hedgehog amongst others) showed a video of responses from mobile users on why they don't download games on their mobiles. Users said they don't know how to, don't have time, don't want to pay more money, one had a faulty download and lost their money and several people said they play online instead.
– I was about to disagree when Hancock said that mobile has the opportunity to deliver content to a new audience because people don't have access on other platforms. Only he was talking about Asia and Pakistan in particular; web penetration is less than one per cent but mobile is in the mid-20s and growing. Fair enough.

» @ FT Mobile: The Predictions Session

I just saw a very large mouse run down the side of the conference hall.
MonsterMob CEO Martin Higginson said the company is investing in emerging markets and has put $200 million into China; he predicted 2 billion mobile handsets in Asia Pacific by 2011. Some stats from rapidly developing markets: 420 million mobile users in China, 86.2 million in Brazil and 100 million in India.
Higginson said at the end of 2005, one billion people worldwide were online compared with two billion phone users. Although many of those aren't "using their phones properly" (as in not using web functionality), by 2011 there will be four billion mobile users and most of those will use them fully.
On user-generated content, Higginson said he expects that will account for 30 per cent of turnover and that it is essential to make sites sticky by providing a platform for people to share their material. He pointed to the strength of peer recommendation on sites like MySpace and YouTube.
He said broadcasting to mobiles will be limited because people want to snack on content rather than watching full programmes, and later questioned whether T-Mobile could make money from the World Cup because it paid so much for the rights.
– A barrage of statistics expertly delivered by Ralph Simon, chairman of Emeritus and MEF founder; of those, one was that 825.5 million phones were sold globally in 2005 and that's predicted to rise to 930 million in 2006.
Pop Idol helped boost the popularity of SMS in the US; the market is now about 4-6 months behind rather than two years and around 10 million SMS are sent every month.
He pointed to the success of Sprint's recently launched $2.50 download service - 300,000 downloads in one week sent simultaneously to the user's PC and mobile. Major corporations like Disney and Viacom will increasingly look at mobile platforms and cross-media delivery, he predicted.
Mobile penetration by market is interesting: US 69 per cent and Ireland now at 100 per cent.
And new jargon alert: apparently there will be a degree in ‘mociology' in the next couple of years.
One day I'll cover a conference and remember to collect the last lines from everybody's speeches. Higginson's was: "By 2015 the mobile will be the most important medium channel the world has ever seen."

No comments: