Saturday, May 20, 2006

FT Mob Conf - Jemima's Report - Day Two

FT Mobile: More Statistics on Trends and Models

[by Jemima Kiss] Day two of the FT Mobile conference in London.
– Sony BMG's VP of European digital business Ole Obermann gave figures on the company's mobile/online revenue share by country. The US, UK and rest of Europe are all almost 50/50, but in Asia the split is 70 per cent mobile and in Latin America 80 per cent. For mobile music businesses to succeed in these lesser-developed markets, Obermann said there needs to be inv*stm*nt in the technical infrastructure, penetration of music-enabled handsets, billing solutions for different payment methods, customer awareness about legal services, and legislation to protect artists' rights.
Tony Cooper, partner at Deloitte's telecommunications practice, described a 'reinforcing media loop' process as part of convergence: improved technology... creating a better experience... that allows consumers to access and purchase content in new ways. He said companies tackling convergence need to focus on five key areas: product innovation, brand trust, a flexible business model, partnerships and effective digital media management.
– Openwave CTO Marc Levant said mobility and personalisation will be key to delivery of information, and the holy grail is to determine what is relevant to the customer. Recommendation tools are an effective way to 'get to know' the consumer and also inform new services.
Mark Selby, Nokia's multimedia VP, said the company is focusing on radio and TV, and talked about the results of its DVB-H trial. In the UK, people had spent an average 23 minutes each day watching TV on the handset in one or two sessions, compared with 20 minutes in Spain, 18 minutes in France and between 5 and 30 minutes in Finland. Seventy-six per cent of UK users were prepared to pay compared to only 41 per cent of Finnish users.
– Wonder if they've got that mouse yet.

» @ FT Mobile: Regulation and Stuff

Simon Gall of Otodio demonstrated how their product turns print into an audio service for mobiles, a tool being developed in consultation with the RNIB. Otodio recently worked with the FT and the Evening Standard to introduce an audio version of their newspapers and the demo of the FT product combined journalist Lucy Kellaway reading her column with rather painful text-to-speech navigation of the menu. Users can also change the language and speed of the speech, and once they've downloaded the file they don't need to stay connected to listen to it. He presented the tool against a background of stats on the decline of print newspaper readership, saying that consumers describe themselves as "time poor in a media rich environment" and want simple, reliable and immediate access to content wherever they are. I think they also want it to sound a bit better than an evil robot though, but that might just be me.
– The regulatory implications of user-generated content are "terrifying", said George Kidd of ICSTIS. It does publish guidelines on decency and on not inciting violence or racist behaviour for example, but ICSTIS only regulates paid-for content which carries extra responsibility for the publisher. "As soon as you start charging for content you can no longer say you're just a conduit."

» @ FT Mobile: Handsets of The Future

TTP MD Tom Milbourn said the handsets of the future won't be 'swiss army knives', but more like phone plus one - a phone plus a camera, a phone plus web browser and so on. He also predicted that new mobile applications are likely to be adaptations of successful desktop programmes like iTunes and Napster.
– Incidentally, at lunch I met a telecoms guy working in Kuwait. He told me that in conservative Kuwaiti families the convention is that teenage girls and boys don't mix, but kids are using bluetooth to introduce themselves by discreetly sending their phone numbers to each other. "Do you want to receive incoming item 'possible love'?" I rather liked that. Online networks like MySpace are increasingly being used for the same thing.

» @ FT Mobile: Touching on DRM

– Summary here of some DRM issues that the Mobile Entertainment Forum flagged up. It estimates that a lack of effective mobile digital rights management will cost the industry Euro 3.5 billion in 2006 - that would equate to more than half the industry's entire predicted turnover for the year. Research by Frost & Sullivan puts the level of illegal phone content at about 80 per cent, most of it copied from websites via bluetooth, memory cards and external storage. MEF favours setting up a new open mDRM framework that would encourage content sharing through a legal P2P system, rather than trying to block users from sharing content on current network.
Sissel Henriette Larsen of DRM specialists Beep Science said mobile has some advantages over rights management online. A payment structure is already built in and users are accustomed to paying for content.

» @ FT Mobile: Everyone Here is Too Old

I want to launch a guerilla strike against this conference. Yet again, the most interesting discussion takes place outside the conference hall because, bar a few jazzy PowerPoint presentations and some footage of skateboarders, there is very little energy here.
At the Guardian's Changing Media summit in March, Fru Hazlitt of Virgin Radio stood up and shouted at the audience that they just didn't get it. "You are all just too old," she said, and she was right. I'm currently in a panel about determining the future of mobile and I want to shout the same thing because there's not one 'digital native' here. After that, I'm going to go outside and drag a posse of 15-year-olds in here. How have you used your mobile this morning? How many downloads have you got? Do you use the gaming tools or web applications on your phone, or do you prefer to do that at home? What do you hate about your phone? How could it be so much better, so much more addictive, so much more exciting?
I'm not suggesting that we turn the conference into a market research session but really - we would learn far more than we are gleaning from sunny side-up product overviews and some very cautious predictions on how the mobile scene is developing. And I'm still sulking about not having web access.
– Right, well I did stand up and tell the panel they were all too old and should be replaced by 15 year olds. They might have thought I was a little rude for describing the discussion as sterile. Jim Holden of Google said that kids' behaviour is unpredictable and changes very quickly, and Andrea Casalini of Buongiorno Vitaminic said that not all their services are for young people. Still think I'm right.
– Wireless at last. Praise be for the Apple Store.

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