28 September 2009

Reed MIDEM and MEF announce partnership at MIPCOM 2009

MEF will bring its expertise to MIPCOM with a line up of events on October 8th, including a keynote address by Javier Perez Dolset, Founder, President and CEO of ZED Group, a panel focusing on mobile applications and a breakfast workshop during which new revenue opportunities will be discussed. These events come as part of the MIPCOM 2009 connected entertainment conference programme dedicated to mobility of content and the impact of multi-screen content distribution in the home.

During his keynote, industry leader and MEF member Javier Perez Dolset will share his vision of the future of the multi-platform digital content business while discussing Zed’s experience as a premier mobile content retailer and highlighting new industry opportunities for content owners. Perez Dolset founded Zed Group 13 years ago, establishing it as a world leading mobile content company present in 60 countries with over 2,000 employees. He also founded Pyro Studios and Ilion Animation Studios making Zed Group a multiplatform digital entertainment giant.

During the breakfast workshop hosted by MEF, panelists from the BBC, O2, Vodafone, mBlox, MEF and Accenture will outline the opportunities offered by ‘Smart Pipe Enabling Services’ for future mobile content marketing and distribution.

“MIPCOM is an ideal partner for revealing the industry’s increasing focus on convergent media. We share a common view on the opportunities presented by the mobile platform and are delighted to collaborate with MIPCOM.”

Rimma Perelmuter, MEF Executive Director

Announcing the partnership, acting Television Division Director at Reed MIDEM, Laurine Garaude, said: “MEF is the leading global trade association for companies within the mobile entertainment value chain. Their expertise and insight will be invaluable to our delegates seeing as one of the main themes at MIPCOM 2009 focuses on rethinking the business. We are thrilled to welcome Javier Perez Dolset who plays a significant role in our Connected Entertainment programme.”

Headline speakers participating in sessions focusing on the explosion of mobile applications later the same day include: Tyler Lessard, VP, BlackBerry Global Alliances, Research in Motion, Nicholas Wheeler, Managing Director, ITN ON, ITN Ltd, David McDonald, Managing Director, Saffron Digital, Ian Henderson, VP, EMEA Digital Business Development, Sony Music, James Cook, Publisher & Editor, MobiAd News, Daniel Graf, Founder & CEO, Kyte, Sander Munsterman, Managing Director & co-founder, XS2TheWorld, Andrea Portante Ufficio, Head of New Media, RAI, Jon Williams, Chief Creative Officer, Grey London and Neil Wirasinha, Director International Advertising/Media, Universal Pictures International.

14 September 2009

MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit - Part 4

This is part 4 of 4 in a series that looks at the recent MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit, which took place on Tuesday 1 September 2009 at the Writer's Guild of America West headquarters in Los Angeles. You can also read parts 1, 2, and 3.

The second panel, moderated by Nielsen's Puterbaugh, was entitled Holy Grail or Holy Fail? Straight Talk on Mobile Entertainment. It featured Lawrence Harris (SVP/Analyst CL King), Bill Lowenthal (VP Limelight Networks), William Quigley (Co-Founder, Clearstone Venture Partners), David Shrehlow (Director Media Solutions, Huawei), Kevin Arnold (CEO IODA), Gary Schwartz (CEO Impact Mobile), John Orlando (CMO LiveWire Mobile). Again the topic really went out the window and discussion focused on the 4 areas outlined below:

Are The Carriers Dumb Pipes?
  • LiveWire’s Orlando sees a trend amongst more progressive players, like Sprint, to embrace more open systems. Generally the smaller operators are strongest value added service partners. Frustration with the big guys stems from lack of marketing support for mobile entertainment product
  • Arnold thought they were mostly dumbpipes, with a couple of non-US exceptions like Telefonica.
  • Leventhal suggested that mobile entertainment providers need work with the carriers to enhance the content experience over their networks
  • Schwartz said that to be a dumb pipe you have to be pretty smart (interesting point…it takes a lot for big companies to realize their limitations)
  • Strehlow advised that operators are hungry, rich and unloved…and that mobile content creators should use them now while they are desperate
  • Following up on this, Harris said Verizon's and AT&T's wireline businesses are declining. ARPU associated with voice is declining, and thus these operators are focussed on their data businesses. 30% of revenues are now come from data. With the US mobile market saturated, Data ARPU is THE growth area for operators
How Will The OEMs Participate?

  • Quigley suggested that from his standpoint, if you look at management teams at handset manufacturers (or carriers), they don't have the right people to run mobile entertainment businesses... it's not in their DNA. He thinks there are real opportunities for big entertainment companies like Disney who want to work with handset manufactures
  • CL King's Harris suggested that you have to look beyond the established handset guys. The business is coverging with the PC business and vice versa…Nokia is making a netbook, Apple is making a tablet, HP & Dell are desiging similar devices. He believes there will be a lot of touchscreen devices, between a mobile phone & a laptop, well suited for video & ebooks.
  • Orlando said there's a new category of converged mobile/portable devices called MIDs (mobile internet devices). OEMs like Dell are looking at devices that use both wifi and sideloading (at kiosks or via SD cards), which can very disruptive. Handset manufacturers will play a big role in this space.
  • Leventhal said we're moving from the session based to an always connected internet, driven by social nets like Facebook or Twitter. Mobile networks are beginning push consumers to open internet devices that use these data heavy apps.
  • Schwartz complained that you can’t get all the content you want, when you want it in mobile. Convergence is hot topic…but handsets are not content companies…they're just using content as a vehicle to sell hardware. Content anywhere has to be OTA…but wifi is the best experience…better than expensive mobile data networks
  • Quigley raised an interesting issue, he suggested that carriers wouldn't have the networks to support the data usage if everyone had a smartphone; they're still using old technology.
  • Strehlow thinks Nokia bundling Ovi with handsets is a good example of an OEM driven content service not tied strictly to operators...but it's mostly happening outside the US. He reminded the audience that the World is a much bigger place than the US.

What Is The Most Exciting Area of Mobile Entertainment For Your Business?

  • Lowenthal said video is driving business for Limelight. He heard Bill Nygren of The Oakmark Funds speak recently about how devices are the window into media and the media kids were watching was video (not reading newspapers), therefore he was biasing his portfolio accordingly. LTE will make mobile video network
  • Quigley pointed out that there are lots of cool mobile entertainment businesses that make no money, but he thought mobile casual games have a real business model
  • Harris likes text messaging; most US consumers are doing it, teens are driving it and it still growing at 75%...SMS is still big opportunity
  • Schwartz thinks discoverability and CRM are the big opportunities. It's still a challenge to find content on mobile devices
  • Orlando still likes full tracks, ringbacks, tones, etc., but sold off deck. On deck there are 6 vendors (at least) starving trying to sell this content. LiveWire has had a lot of success with an off deck store where it can create its own rules and bundle content the way consumers wants it.
  • Arnold likes the rise of music subscription services. It's been difficult on iPhone because they've resisted services that compete with iTunes, but he's encouraged by the approval of Spotify (which bodes well for Rhapsody, etc. on that device).
  • Like Harris, Strehlow likes good old SMS because it has the best margins of anything a mobile operator sells. However, he’s also encourged by Uverse’s (AT&T’s landline IPTV product) demonstration that you can push a lot of data through old infrastructure. In mobile he thinks compression and sessionless video from Flash and Silverlight will overcome limits at towers and that wireless video via wifi and mobile networks is the future.

11 September 2009

MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit - Part 3

This is part 3 of 4 in a series that looks at the recent MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit, which took place on Tuesday 1 September 2009 at the Writer's Guild of America West headquarters in Los Angeles. You can also read parts 1, 2, and 4.

The subject of discussion for the first panel was meant to be how the entertainment industry ranked the mobile entertainment industry now that it's worth $32bil (according Nielsen), while theatrical boxoffice is $19.5bil.

It was moderated by Andrew Wallenstein (Hollywood Reporter) and featured Ron Czerny (CEO Playphone), Aaron Luber (Director Saffron Digital), Troy Carter (CEO Coalition Media), Doug Neil (SVP Universal Pictures), Steve Byrd (EVP STATs), Charles Slocum (Asst Exec Director) WGA.

I'm not sure that the panelists really addressed the issue at hand (kinda typical of panels frankly). The discussion ended up being more a series of anecdotes about what each company was doing or seeing in the space peppered with some frustrations:
  • There was a lot of perseverating about the iPhone (as usual)...and at one point Carter (who manages Lady GaGa) suggested that artists were currently really only interested in iPhone Apps when it comes to mobile
  • Byrd (who’s a sports content provider) said that mobile was becoming a bigger part of their business and he thought that highlights & full games will eventually drive a lot of consumption...he suggested the MLB.com At Bat application for iPhone was a good example
  • In response to all the iPhone/App Store froth Czerny made an amusing suggestion that it could be a passing trend...after all a couple of years ago all anyone could talk about were MVNOs
  • Luber agreed with Czerny, but said that iPhone was doing a good job of forcing the networks & OEMs to step up their games
  • WGA's Slocum said that iPhone was making video a better experience, but believed that greater adoption will come with original content made for mobile. He suggested that WGAmembers were eager to experiment in the medium, where they often have more creative freedom than in traditional media. He said that mobile was still waiting for its breakthrough content.
  • Neil expressed frustration with the difficulty in connecting a broad range of consumers in mobile (even with WAP) due to a variety of incompatible devices and networks...iPhone is good, but only one channel. He suggested marketers needed to be able to create campaigns/experiences with ubiquitous access for mobile to grow.
  • Czerny claimed that mobile was becoming a core part of studio film marketing and used the example of a High School Musical campaign Playphone ran for them as an example.
  • However, Neil's example of a free Bruno iPhone App promoted through Facebook that was downloaded by 100k fans contravened Czerny's that it's core...it seems more tactical for now.
  • Saffron's Luber suggested that one of the biggest barriers to growth for full length video content on mobile for entertainment companies is windowing. Studios refuse to risk current billion dollar businesses (like TV distribution) in order to "experiment" in a new medium. This will need to change if these companies want to see significant revenue in mobile.
  • Czerny said that revenue is still being driven by 1) ringtones, 2) games and 3) video...which is growing slowly due to network/device capabilities
  • Carter revealed that the 3 separate Lady GaGa iPhone Apps that his company deployed had 175k downloads over the last 90 days
  • Neil said that it is still difficult to figure out what the consumer wants in mobile since SEM and SEO are still pretty rudimentary in mobile...even Google doesn't have it figured out.
What was clear to me, despite Czerny's assertion, is that mobile is still (after all these years) pretty ancillary and mostly experimental for most entertainment companies. In other words, its still a pretty substantial opportunity despite the current size of the mobile entertainment market.

Read Part 4 in the series >>

10 September 2009

MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit - Part 2

This is part 2 of 4 in a series that looks at the recent MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit, which took place on Tuesday 1 September 2009 at the Writer's Guild of America West headquarters in Los Angeles. Part 1 was published here. You can also read parts 1, 3 and 4.

Next up was Eric Puterbaugh, Director of Client Services for The Nielsen Company, who presented 26 slides of data, which we've been promised a copy of. In the meantime, here are some broad strokes to whet your appetites:
  • The mobile content business continues to grow and is now worth $32bil worldwide
  • Premium off-deck services & applications are bright spots for carriers ...but carriers are losing significant revenue to iPhone
  • Rapid consumer movement to media ready smartphones is driving increased data usage
  • iPhone sets the standard for usability & iPhone is massively overindexing in data
  • Carriers benefit from higher data ARPU, the value of an iPhone customer to AT&T is $3.8k vs $1.7k for those with other handsets
  • Consumers typically look for the "Best Available Screen" to consume media
  • Young people behave differently on mobile...many more text, many fewer calls
  • Social networking and search are driving consumer adoption of the mobile web
  • Most consumers are watching streaming video on mobile through WAP sites, not apps
  • Most iPhone users download up to 5 paid or free Apps
Read Part 3 in the series >>

09 September 2009

MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit - Part 1

This is part 1 of 4 in a series that looks at the recent MEF Americas Mobile Leadership Summit, which took place on Tuesday 1 September 2009 at the Writer's Guild of America West headquarters in Los Angeles. You can also read parts 2, 3 and 4.

The Mobile Entertainment Forum held its Mobile Leadership Summit Tuesday at the Writer's Guild of America West headquarters in Los Angeles. I presume the event met the organizers' expectations, at least in terms of attendence, because virtually every seat was full in a crowded room. The format of the event was 2 keynotes (one philisophical, one analytical) and 2 panel discussions.

MEF Americas Chair Jim Beddows kicked off the event with a story about his introduction to mobile 10 years ago while working on console gaming deals for Disney in Japan. At one point he was approached by an operator who wanted the company’s content for mobile devices, which left him wondering how Disney could ever make money doing that (clearly they figured it out). Jump to Helsinki in 2005, while at Microsoft, he found the pervasive mood very negative about mobile and the slogan du jour was “WAP is crap.” In spite of this, 18mos later he launched MSN Mobile and it exceeded everyone's expectations. Beddows claims to have been alternately confounded, excited, disappointed and surprised by the mobile entertainment space (as have we all). So, he started the conversation of the day… what's working, what's not? How is the value chain evolving?

Sam Sarkar, a senior executive for Johnny Depp's production company Infinitum Nihil, delivered the first keynote...which helped put the rollercoaster ride the industry has been on over the last 10 years into some perspective. His thesis was that fits and starts are inherent to emerging businesses. Furthermore, in the development of every medium the technology precedes the business model that makes it viable and the artistry that comes to define it.

Sarkar suggested that television didn't really begin to realize its artistic potential until the late 60s or early 70s, despite having public debuted in the late 1920s. He told an interesting story about how television’s inventor, Philo Farnsworth, was so frustrated by the vacuousness of the medium that he wouldn't permit the device in his home. It wasn't until the broadcast of the moon landing that he was able to concede that it was worthwhile invention.

Even on the internet, which has been a consumer phenomenon for almost 15 years, we've only begun to see traces of its potential as an entertainment medium with stuff like Will Ferrell's "The Landlord" for FunnyorDie.com and LonelyGirl15 on YouTube (which ended up being professionally produced). But these are one-offs and lots of companies have failed trying to recreate their success.

In mobile, the potential of the medium was first teased with the ringtone (a legit consumer phenomenon) and now again with the App Store...but these are still early stages of what Sarkar characterized as Alien (as in the movie) Evolution...I'm still trying to fully decifer this amusing analogy, but I think the gist is that it’s going to be a sometimes painful path, full of surprises, but ultimately the monster potential will be revealed. Sarkar reminded the group that the record companies didn’t invent Rock N’Roll…artists did, and similarly, he believes, artists will define the mobile medium.

Sarkar demonstrated several experimental iPhone Apps from a developer in Singapore, including a photo essay of life in the Swat Valley featuring the work photo journalist Kevin Coombs, a mobile manga version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and text-based Asian ghost stories augmented with photos and sound.

In conclusion he asked to audience to think about how to commercially make old stories new again in the medium and to imagine the new ideas and stories that will come to it and from it.

Read Part 2 in the series >>

07 September 2009

MEF boosts regulatory and initiatives commitment with appointment of Policy and Initiatives Officer

We're delighted to announce the appointment of Miranda Roberts as Policy and Initiatives Officer. The new appointment underlines MEF’s commitment to driving mobile entertainment adoption, shaping regulation and delivering competitive advantage to its members.

In her new role, Miranda will be providing support and engaging with all stakeholders on key MEF initiatives and policy work. Miranda brings extensive experience of regulatory affairs and project management gained in her previous role at PhonepayPlus, the UK premium rate regulator, and will be working closely alongside Suhail Bhat, Policy and Initiatives Director.

The appointment comes after MEF established an EMEA Regulatory committee which comprises 30+ members to provide an effective mechanism for shaping policy so as to protect member revenues and ensuring a positive consumer experience. As part of its regulatory remit, MEF has also recently taken a leadership role in mobile media regulation in Asia, established a US Sweepstakes initiative with Masur Law and published extensive ‘how to guides’ compiled by member DWS to complex EU legislation, providing members with cost-effective vital intelligence and representation.

“Miranda’s hire highlights MEF’s dedication to regulatory and policy work and our focus on member engagement. Her experience into the world of regulation, mobile content, policy development and stakeholders’ relations offers an invaluable addition to MEF and its members, uniquely bringing together a team with a combined 19 years of regulatory experience.”
- Rimma Perelmuter, Executive Director, MEF

“I’m delighted to come on board with the MEF team and look forward to supporting MEF’s policy and initiatives work and the continuing development of the mobile media market.”
- Miranda Roberts, Policy & Initiatives Officer, MEF

Additionally, Kim Arazi has been promoted to Member Relations Director, in recognition of her work in this area and as Meffys director. Ksenia Arkhipova, also joins as Office & Marketing Coordinator.

03 September 2009

MEF Announces September In-Market Regulatory Tour of Asia

The Mobile Entertainment Forum will tour four key Southeast Asian countries to foster collaboration between regulators and members and create an environment conducive for the mobile media industry’s continual growth and vibrancy. The two week tour, from 7th- 18th of September, will cover Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India.

The mobile media industry is subject to a considerable number of regulations globally. It sees a variety of content (games, music, video, ringtones) all accessed on the mobile device. Regulators and the industry alike have been trying to ensure that any regulatory regime meets the needs of consumers, affords an appropriate level of consumer protection and also supports an innovative and rapidly changing industry.

“MEF is building on its regulatory successes in the Americas and EMEA by assisting both the regulators and the industry to ensure that regulations are fit for purpose, transparent and proportionate. The industry is showing a genuine commitment to work with MEF and with the regulators to secure a more successful future to benefit everyone, including the consumers, in the value chain. MEF recognises how fragmented the Asian market is and hopes that its efforts to conduct this tour on a country-by-country basis will deliver more positive outcomes for the industry.”
- Neeraj Roy, MEF Asia Chair and Managing Director & CEO of Hungama Mobile

“I am very excited to be leading this crucial work for MEF. India and Indonesia are two of the fastest growing markets in the world, with 0.5 billion subscriptions between them, growing at 10m per month, whilst Singapore and Malaysia are defining the commercial and creative shape of 3G / mobile broadband consumption. Underpinning this growth and the future success of the mobile entertainment industry as a whole is the essential consumer trust in mobile media services. MEF is at the forefront of liaising with the industry and regulators alike in many different territories globally and want to spearhead similar successes in Asia.”
- Suhail Bhat, MEF Policy and Initiatives Director

In April 2009, MEF Americas announced the completion of the first phase of its Mobile Sweepstakes Rules Initiative with the launch of “The Sweepstakes Rules Map: US”. This interactive map of the United States is the first ever to outline the applicable rules and laws governing mobile promotions and sweepstakes on a state-by-state basis. The map was compiled by MEF Americas in partnership with MasurLaw, a leading venture law firm specialising in technology and entertainment.

In July 2009, MEF held three separate workshops on proposed regulatory changes in the UK. Written by MEF member and law firm Denton Wilde Sapte, MEF produces Guides to key pieces of legislation such as the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. In addition MEF EMEA has established a Regulatory Committee comprising of over 30 member companies with meetings held every 6 weeks to discuss regulatory issues of relevance to our members.

If you like us to incorporate your relevant concerns during this tour or simply want further details about the MEF Asia tour, please contact Crystal Chua at crystal@m-e-f.org.