24 July 2009

MEF Leads the Way at Communicasia and via Singapore based Mobile Alliance group

CommunicAsia, 16-19 June 2009, Singapore

MEF brought some industry insights to CommunicAsia on “Pressing the right buttons --- Can Mobile Entertainment Meet the Consumer Desire?” Led by Colin Miles, MEF Asia Board Member & Executive Vice President of i-POP, the 4 panelists from SPB Software, Buko, Locatrix and Acme Mobile made the following comments:Localisation is key
  • Viral marketing works magic in Asia
  • Free apps will always exist
  • Asians are willing to pay for quality
  • Engaging customers creatively through different modes such as “try & buy” and making sure apps are easy to use
  • Operators are encouraged to:
- add value by helping the mobile entertainment players understand the customers better
- provide a fair revenue share to sustain the growth opportunities in mobile entertainment

CommunicAsia2009, in conjunction with BroadcastAsia2009, attracted 54,354 attendees, 1,923 exhibiting companies from 60 countries and regions last month.

MEF also hosted two exclusive networking and intelligence-sharing events – The MEF/KPMG Briefing to share the highlighted the latest report on Consumers & Convergence III and the MEF Connects Party on 18 June 2009.

Finally, MEF signed a memorandum of intent to help establish Singapore as “a vibrant and innovation-driven Hub for home-grown mobile content and application developers” as a founding member of the local Mobile Alliance.

17 July 2009

MEF regulatory workshops offer platform for industry consultation

MEF are holding our third regulatory workshop on Tuesday 21 July in London. PhonepayPlus will be presenting at this interactive session in an active step to seek industry input and feedback on the pre-consultation discussion paper (PDF download) for their 12th Code.

Dubbed “the most significant revision in the organisation’s 23-year history”, the phone-paid services UK regulator is asking for substantive comments by 1 August, although the discussion will be ongoing as the formal consultation will not kick off until the Autumn.

Following hot on the heels of MEF’s workshops on the CAP/BCAP Code and Ofcom Scope Review, the session will be hosted by international law firm and MEF member Denton Wilde Sapte and is open to all MEF members. Head of Industry Support & Policy at PpP, Mark Collins, will be presenting and taking Q&A.

PhonepayPlus 12th Code Pre-consultation
Date: Tuesday 21 July
Time: 9am – noon
Venue: Denton Wilde Sapte, One Fleet Place, London EC4M (Google Map)

“We now have a great window of opportunity to work with PhonepayPlus and Ofcom to ensure that the current regulatory regime evolves to meet the needs of consumers while also supporting an innovative and dynamic mobile entertainment industry.”
Suhail Bhat, Policy and Initiatives Director, MEF

“The development of a new Code of Practice is one of the most important activities that we undertake to ensure consumer protection in an ever-changing market. We welcome the opportunity to participate in industry discussions, such as MEF’s workshop, to ensure we’re canvassing the widest possible cross section of the industry. I very much look forward to next week’s session.”
Mark Collins, Head of Industry Support & Policy, PhonepayPlus

But be quick! Spaces for these workshops are extremely limited - please contact Sarah Roberts if you would like to attend. For more information about regulatory issues contact Suhail Bhat or visit our website.

13 July 2009

MEF Leads the Way on Mobile Entertainment and Mobile TV Debates

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the MEF team and following on from the recent success of MeM 2009 and the Meffys, we’ve been featured in some high profile publications for the work we’ve been doing on the Mobile Entertainment and Mobile TV debates.

Firstly, Reuters and the International Herald Tribune featured Andrew Bud, Global Chair of the MEF, and the global research that MEF conducted with KPMG into consumer satisfaction with mobile entertainment. In an article called ‘Apps a nail in coffin of broadcast mobile TV’, Andrew talks about the lively debate surrounding mobile TV versus mobile video. Andrew is quoted saying:
“Mobile TV is all about real-time, linear transmission ... where the timing of the programming was set by the broadcaster and the consumer would dip in and dip out.”

"Mobile video is much more about video-on-demand. It gives the consumer much more freedom. It's also a little less stressful on the mobile networks."
The article also notes:
"A survey by KPMG and the MEF found that nearly 40 percent of consumers had at one time watched a piece of mobile video on their handset: 52 percent of them said the experience was satisfying, against 38 percent of a much smaller number of users who said they had tried broadcast mobile TV."
MEF was featured in another article on Reuters this week, entitled ‘Mobile entertainment seeking players and payment' that looked at MEF’s work on the second Business Confidence Index (BCI) compiled by KPMG:
“From social networks to games, images and music; online entertainment has increasingly moved to the mobile handset…

According to the trade association Mobile Entertainment Forum, the global mobile entertainment industry is now worth some $32 billion dollars.

According to a survey released in June by the forum and compiled by KPMG, the industry also remains confident that it can continue to grow strongly despite the current economic challenges, predicting average revenue growth of 28 percent for 2010.”
Both of these pieces highlight that MEF is leading the way on the mobile entertainment and mobile TV debate and is looking out for what’s happening to the industry in our own backyard. For more information about the MEF BCI, compiled in collaboration with KPMG, see http://www.m-e-f.org/news/mef_news/bci2/

07 July 2009

Regulation: the time is right for the industry to speak up, be heard and make a difference

  • UK mobile industry set for a record number of consultations
  • MEF calls for joined up approach to reviews from multiple regulators
The mobile media industry is being subjected to a record number of consultations from a variety of regulators across the globe. The UK is most immediately affected with five key consultations in 2009 alone:
  • BCAP/CAP consultations [recently closed]
  • Ofcom scope review [currently open]
  • Ofcom Audience Participation in Radio Programming – the use of PRS [currently open]
  • Ofcom Broadcast Codes Review [currently open]
  • PpP Discussion paper on Code [currently open]
There are potentially significant overlaps in jurisdiction between different regulators as recent MEF responses, written in collaboration with MEF’s UK members, show. These overlaps can create a lack of regulatory clarity for the industry, particularly when they seek to determine which regulations apply. For example, some of the proposed changes to the CAP/BCAP Codes clash with the PhonepayPlus Code. In the UK we have Ofcom, the ASA, PhonepayPlus, the OFT and the ICO all with Codes or regulations that apply to the mobile media industry. Any ambiguity is likely to cause serious regulatory uncertainty and as a consequence, the regulatory burden on MEF members runs the serious risk of becoming disproportionate.

MEF has established an EMEA Regulatory committee to deal specifically with the possible burdens imposed on our members and respond to consultations throughout EMEA that directly impact our members' business strategies and revenues. This year we submitted a consensus response written in consultation with our UK members to the PpP Activity Plan & Budget (08/09) resulting in no increased costs for our members. MEF has also provided members-only guides, written by MEF member Denton Wilde Sapte, on issues including the Unfair Commercial Practices and Audiovisual Media Services Directives, as well the PpP Consultation on Mobile PRS.

There is a real possibility that the Ofcom Scope Review coupled with the PhonepayPlus consultation could set a new and positive standard for regulation in the UK. Suhail Bhat, MEF Policy and Initiatives Director, comments: “The Ofcom Scope Review is essential for the industry as its aim is to ensure that the current regulatory regime meets the needs of consumers, affords an appropriate level of consumer protection and also supports an innovative and quickly changing industry. Coupled with the PhonepayPlus discussion paper, this is the best opportunity for the industry with MEF to make a real difference.”

PhonepayPlus has recently announced that the 12th revision of the Code will be among the most significant in the organisation’s 23-year history. Specific focus relates to regulating developments in a technologically fast-paced industry, such as the explosion of mobile phone-paid services, which have changed the face of the industry in recent years.

Ingrid Silver, Partner Denton Wilde Sapte, MEF Board Member and Chair of the MEF Policy and Initiatives Committee states: “There has never been a better time for the industry to join MEF and lead the way in ensuring that the regulations are fit for purpose, transparent and proportionate. The regulators are showing a genuine commitment to review the regulations and MEF will continue to work with them to secure a successful future for the industry and ensure that the consumer trust in mobile media services continues to grow.”

Upcoming meetings for MEF EMEA Regulatory Committee:

  • Ofcom Scope Review (Friday 10 July) featuring a presentation from Ofcom's Jeff Loan
  • PhonepayPlus 12th Code Review (Tuesday 21 July)

Spaces for these workshops are extremely limited - please contact Sarah if you would like to attend. If you would like more information about regulatory issues contact Suhail or visit our website.

06 July 2009

Reflections on an industry preparing for the future at MeM ’09 and the Meffys

One week since the MEF official annual conference – the Mobile Entertainment Market – and we have an opportunity to reflect on what a busy and informative few days it was. The global economy may be facing unprecedented challenges, but it would have been difficult to recognise within the conference centre as MeM made a powerful and recession-busting return to London; attendance was up 26% on last year, the exhibition space was completely sold out weeks in advance and the panel discussions were without fail focused on future growth.

The tone for the 2-day event was set during the opening presentation from MEF Board Member and KPMG Director, Mark Harding, who presented the exclusive findings of the second MEF Business Confidence Index (BCI), compiled by KPMG, as well as the Consumers & Convergence study. With the BCI predicting average revenue growth of 28% for the remainder of 2009 and growth areas predicted in Social Networking, Games and Video, the industry is showing its resilience and ability, through robust business models, to protect and sustain the $32bn market.

Throughout many of the panels, two topics continued to be raised – applications and their role in future entertainment enabling services and the impact of the iPhone. The Apple device along with flat rate data plans have clearly had a profound impact on the ecosystem and raised consumers’ expectations; it is acknowledged that this has been primarily through the outstanding user interface, but with only 1.4% of the market (Gartner) this is still a niche, predominantly western, experience. Apps stores are the latest topic de jour and companies across the value chain, from networks to OEMs, are leveraging this new opportunity. However, as James Parton from O2 Litmus commented, the most important thing to consider is the consumer experience – if the market creates further fragmentation whereby we end up with 3 apps stores on a device, this will cause confusion and impede ecosystem growth.
The panels on day 2 which focused on content categories, including music, games and video all highlighted the importance of addressing new business models for delivering enhanced, rich content services to consumers. The MEF Smart Pipe Enablers initiative, discussed during a panel on day 1, will be a vital part of this process as we ensure content owners’ requirements are addressed when developing these new business models. MEF will be announcing in the next few weeks our first webinar on the Enablers Initiative, which will allow both members and non-members the opportunity to understand why this is such an important topic and the significant effect this could have on the value chain. Content owners and content providers are particularly encouraged to register to learn how these new business models, if developed in a coherent and workable manner with your involvement, could have a profound and positive impact on your bottom line.

The need to ensure consumers can access content where and when they wanted was also a focus of the multi-platform discussion and it is clear that mobile will play a fundamental role in this future development. Richard Titus – formerly of the BBC and now CEO of Associated Northcliffe Digital – remarked that the mobile is becoming the “personal remote control” which runs and organises the lives of consumers and acts as an interface for their other digital devices, enabling content to be delivered at a time, place and platform of their choosing. Mobile also presents tremendous opportunities for advertisers and content owners to engage with niche relevancy with consumers in a manner that online could never achieve.

With such a diverse conference, the strength of the MeM event is its ability to address all the key areas that will affect our industry and the opportunities that will deliver future growth; from new content categories and methods of delivery, to the impact of regulation and the importance of growth markets. MEF drive the agenda with kind assistance from our advisory committee, which ensures the key topics are set by the industry, for the industry and this delivers essential learning and business development opportunities for all.

The Meffys

The 6th annual Meffys awards, dubbed the Oscars of the mobile world, are the industry's foremost celebration and global benchmark for recognising success and innovation. This year’s event was massively oversubscribed and saw over 350 of the industry’s most senior–level executives from 25 countries come together to celebrate the nominees and winners. As @JMacdonald tweeted on entering the event “At floridita #meffys - the entire industry is here”! The awards were hosted by the writer, comedian and TV/radio presenter, Hardeep Singh, who entertained the audience with his quick wit and encouraged interaction throughout the night. Twitter was alight with comments and congratulations for, as @princess17 put it “definitely top 10 parties attended in 2009!” and you can read some of the Tweets and chatter here and here.

Rimma Perelmuter, MEF Executive Director said: “In these times of economic uncertainty, MEF is proud to celebrate a $32 billion industry whose relevance and focus continues to inspire innovation and growth. The 2009 Meffys are a testament to the industry’s robustness and the role that mobile is playing in engaging and entertaining consumers around the world."

We congratulate all the Meffys winners for 2009. A slideshow of photos from the night is also available on our website for your enjoyment and to help relive the night. Further coverage of the Meffys will be released over the next few weeks, but for now you can sample a flavour of the event through the footage taken by our media partner, bnetTV.

MEF Global AGM

Before the glamour of the Meffys and the illumination of MeM, there was the important task of electing 3 members to join the prestigious MEF Board at our global AGM. Denton Wilde Sapte graciously lent us their impressive 9th floor offices and - after on opportunity to catch up with other members over canap├ęs and drinks - we updated members on our results for the year and provided a forum for input on the future planning for your trade organisation. It was then time for some impassioned speeches from the nominees and a closed election which saw Andrew Bud of mBlox re-elected as Chairman, joined by Billy Wright from Nokia and Pete Wood from Sony Pictures. They in turn join the following, existing board members:
  • Jim Beddows, MEF Americas Chair
  • Mark Harding, Media & Digital Content Specialist, KPMG
  • Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg, MEF EMEA Chair & EVP of Sales, Comfone
  • Miguel Lopez-Quesada, General Manager, Zed TV
  • Patrick Parodi, CMO, Amobee
  • Neeraj Roy, MEF Asia Chair & CEO, Hungama Mobile
  • Seth Schachner, VP, Digital Business Latin America, Sony Music Entertainment
  • Ingrid Silver, Partner, Denton Wilde Sapte
After 3 days which took in over 80 speakers, 15 panels, 11 ½ hours of passionate, positive and intellectual debate, numerous networking sessions and serious business development – and that’s even before we mention the jubilation and unbridled enthusiasm of the Meffys Awards (!) – it was hard to believe we are in the midst of a recession. The mobile entertainment industry is not immune to global challenges, however it is an industry that has weathered and prospered through hard times as well as good and 2009 is a year in which almost a decade of investments and experience deliver returns. The MEF organised events over the last week proved how proud we should be of this industry and excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead.

MEF will continue to provide competitive advantage for its members, through the sharing of insights and experience at events such as MeM; we will continue to offer member connections and an opportunity to praise at gatherings such as the Meffys awards; we will continue to inject the industry with the appropriate levels of fun and excitement; and through it all we will continue to address the key issues to drive future growth for our members and the industry.

We hope you had a positive and illuminating experience at MeM ’09 and the Meffys and we are looking forward to addressing the challenges and opportunities ahead with our members to shape our future agenda. We are always keen to hear suggestions for how we can improve the event for all the attendees so please contact Stephen, MEF’s Marketing Director, with any comments and suggestions.

Thank you for participating, demonstrating the resilience and positive attitude the industry has to its future and we look forward to welcoming you to the next MEF global conference in 2010.

- The MEF Team

02 July 2009

PhonepayPlus Forum – A Report

Yesterday PhonepayPlus (PpP) held its quarterly Forum to report back on industry developments and to start garnering views on its proposed 12th Edition of the Code of Practice. It was a good, productive Forum and the PpP proposals sparked considerable and positive debate. I sensed a real desire from both PpP and the industry to consider significant changes to the way paid for services are regulated.

There are four main changes set out in the PpP discussion paper:

  • That the new Code could be a more goal based rather than being overly prescriptive
  • That more than one company in the value chain will assume an appropriate degree of responsibility for the provision of compliant services
  • That there could be the creation of a database on which all service providers and information providers will be registered for due diligence and risk management purposes
  • That providers must have in place adequate customer care facilities to ensure consumers are able to register a complaint and seek redress.

None of these proposals are quick and easy wins but then nothing worthwhile is ever easy. They will require significant consideration and thought on how the proposals will apply in practice. For example, having a more goal based Code is certainly easier to manage in the fast changing mobile media industry. However, many service providers want absolute confidence that services are complying with the Code and this can only really be achieved by prescribing exactly what needs to be done and by which party in both the advertising and operation of a phone paid service.

I welcome the opportunity to work with both the regulator and our members on how responsibility for compliance can practically be applied to the culpable parties. This has long been a source of contention – aggregators are often found in breach of the Code for services and advertising they are not responsible for. In practice this challenge is going to be difficult. It will require careful planning and possible wholesale changes to the way cases are investigated, reported on and appealed. It could increase regulatory costs and the length of time to investigate a case to a successful conclusion. However, it is of fundamental importance that the culpable parties are held accountable so I relish the opportunity to work with our members to ensure processes are put in place that deliver on these promises.

It was a positive Forum and I look forward to ensuring that the regulatory regime moving forwards is good for the industry, the regulators and, of course, the consumers.

MEF is holding its meeting on the Scope review on Friday 10th July from 9am to 12.00 to discuss the Ofcom Scope Review which will have a direct impact on the PpP consultation. Soon after, we will host a meeting on the PpP discussion document.

For further information, please contact me.

- Suhail Bhat, Policy & Initiatives Director, MEF

MEF leadership and activities point the way to a robust Mobile Media future

Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) Global held its prestigious board elections and AGM on the eve of its 9th annual conference, MeM09, in London last week. Andrew Bud, Executive Chairman, mBlox, returns for the second consecutive year as the Global Chair, having been a founder and driving force for MEF since its launch in 2000. He is joined by Billy Wright, Global Head of Media and Games Partnerships, Nokia, who has been elected as Vice Chair and Pete Wood, VP International Mobile Business Development, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

They join existing Global Board members:

  • Jim Beddows, MEF Americas Chair
  • Mark Harding, Media & Digital Content Specialist, KPMG
  • Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg, MEF EMEA Chair & EVP of Sales, Comfone
  • Miguel Lopez-Quesada, General Manager, Zed TV
  • Patrick Parodi, CMO, Amobee
  • Neeraj Roy, MEF Asia Chair & CEO, Hungama Mobile
  • Seth Schachner, VP, Digital Business Latin America, Sony Music Entertainment
  • Ingrid Silver, Partner, Denton Wilde Sapte
Upon his re-election to the Board, MEF Chair Andrew Bud, said “I look forward to working with this exceptionally strong Board to support our $32 billion industry whose mood, as measured by our latest MEF BCI, is impressively optimistic. In this time of change and opportunity, our mission to improve, inform and protect the market for MEF members, both globally and nationally, is more vital than ever. I would also like to thank outgoing MEF Vice Chair Marco Argenti for his invaluable contribution to the board over the last 2 years.”

The new Global Board identified as its key objectives continued support for
  • initiatives which accelerate and change the industry such as the recently launched Smart Pipe Enablers initiative;
  • regulatory and policy activities which represent the industry and protect revenues and consumers;
  • trade development activities across EMEA, Asia and the Americas and greater localization to support the growth of the mobile entertainment industry in these markets, commencing with the launch of an Italian chapter; and
  • MEF metrics and intelligence which illuminate the industry and provide competitive advantage to members.
The week commenced with the unveiling of MEF’s 2nd Quarterly Business Confidence Index (BCI) compiled by KPMG showing that the industry remains confident despite the current economic challenges and predicting average revenue growth of 28% for the coming year. The industry’s confidence was further reflected in two days of celebrations and deal-making at the sold-out Meffys Awards, attended by 350 of the industry’s top executives from over 25 countries and MeM, MEF’s 9th annual event, which saw a recession-defying comeback to London with a 26% increase in attendees.

MEF responds to latest mobile services complaint figures released by PhonepayPlus in the UK

MEF warmly welcome the mobile services complaints figures released today by PhonepayPlus, one year on from the introduction of new rules following its 2008 Mobile Review. The fact that total complaints regarding mobile services are down by over half since June of last year is wonderful news for mobile entertainment and reflects the hard work MEF and the wider industry has undertaken to increase transparency and improve the consumer’s experience. The findings are mirrored in the Consumers and Convergence study recently undertaken by KPMG in association with MEF, in which we found that consumer satisfaction with mobile music services had grown globally from 26% in 2007 to 66% in 2009.

Consumer trust in mobile services underpins the future success and growth of the mobile entertainment industry. It is encouraging to see that this trust is on the rise and to observe the impact that this is having on the companies offering these services. In the most recent MEF Business Confidence Index, compiled by KPMG, the organisations in the mobile entertainment value chain surveyed were confident that their business would continue to grow despite the current economic downturn, predicting an average revenue growth of 28% over the next year.

- Suhail Bhat, Policy & Initiatives Director, MEF