04 February 2009

‘MEF Meets’ networking breakfast, 26 January 2009

As a follow up to the inaugural ‘MEF Meets’ networking drinks hosted by du last November, MEF EMEA organised a breakfast briefing at the offices of Denton Wilde Sapte in Dubai to kick off regional activities for the coming year.

DWS Partner and MEF board director, Ingrid Silver welcomed guests with an overview of MEF and current initiatives, stating, “As the mobile entertainment value chain becomes ever more complicated, it’s better described as an ‘ecosystem’.”

Panelists from across the ecosystem were then invited to share their views on the mobile entertainment industry in the region and where it’s heading.

Some of the key challenges according to the panellists and guests:Operators lack the marketing expertise to promote new services and should outsource marketing activities.
  • The operator!
  • Complexity of the mobile device
  • Poor discovery and consumer experience
  • Getting consumer attention
  • The prospect of inappropriate and cumbersome regulation
  • Short code pricing transparency
Chris Appleby, DWS Partner, highlighted five regulatory and legal issues that companies needed to consider: the digital dividend & spectrum allocation; regulation of mobile content; content liability; privacy & data protection; and mobile payments.

Raghu Venkataraman, du’s EVP Corporate Strategy and EMEA board director gave a fascinating presentation on du research into mobile content consumption in the MENA region. The operator’s research covered 19 different countries, with wide variations in GDP and mobile penetration, representing a total population of 333m (and growing fast) and a young demographic (70% under 40 years old).

Raghu made the point that mobile entertainment revenues are often relatively insignificant, representing a “rounding error” in telco accounts. New services need a 5% adoption rate to take off and the vast majority (90% mobile entertainment services) never make a profit. He gave the following reasons for this:
  • Data charges do not offer good value for money
  • Operators lack the necessary marketing skills and resources to promote services properly
  • There are too many ‘me-too’ mobile portals with walled gardens and identical offerings
Yousef Mugharbil, President of Rotana Digital Media, warned that “Only the paranoid survive” and asserted that voice is a declining service so companies needed to continually adapt. “Business models must change,” said Yousef, “and there needs to be a partnership between the content owners and service providers. We have to offer our customers flat rate data, subscriptions and cheaper content.” Rotana media group is in the enviable position of owning 85% of all Arabic music repertoire and 70% of all Arabic film content, so if the operator won’t ‘play ball’ then Rotana takes their content elsewhere.

Neeraj Roy, MEF Asia Chair and MD of Hungama, which has worldwide exclusive rights to 70% of all Bollywood content for mobile and online, gave his views on the industry from an aggregator perspective. “We’re undergoing a period of experimentation with new business models, and with this disruption comes new opportunities,” said Neeraj, adding “Convergence is a continuing trend and consumers need a good user experience that works cross platform.”

MEF EMEA is committed to holding regular local events in the region, to provide competitive advantage for its membership through opportunities to network and share regional and international insight.

You can find details of upcoming MEF events here.

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