13 November 2009

MEF Connects South Africa

Undeterred by the unseasonable clouds and rain, the South African mobile entertainment sector turned out in force for the MTN-hosted MEF Connects event in Cape Town on 10 November 2009.

Emma Kaye, MEF EMEA’s sole African board representative, welcomed over 80 guests to the Lightbox Studios (with stunning views of the city, a cloud-enshrouded Table Mountain and the iconic Green Point football stadium) before handing over to Chairman Gerrit-Jan Konijnenberg to MC proceedings. Gerrit thanked MTN for sponsoring the evening as well as the speakers who had all flown in especially for the event.

With the 2010 Championship fast approaching, Gerrit pointed out that sporting events are proven in driving mobile entertainment usage. Recalling the experience of the 2002 World Cup when (although at the time groundbreaking) fairly rudimentary technology brought goals to your mobile, GJ observed that this had often led to bill shock and a dead phone battery. Fast forward 7 years, the speed and capacity of networks can deliver a much richer experience like the award-winning video goal alert service offered by Turkish operator Turkcell.

Sony Music’s Ian Henderson described MEF as a ‘global networking forum’ through which he was able to meet new business partners and said that mobile was a bright spot that enabled labels to monetise content in regions where they could previously never even have sold physical product.

When asked about exciting mobile trends, Ian pointed to Europe as a “hotbed of innovation: as well as an explosion in smartphone platforms, you’ve got subscription services such as Spotify (originated in Sweden) and TDC (the Danish telco)". Spotify offers free streaming with upselling of mobile access via paid subscription, whereas TDC has been bundling a free music subscription service with their overall customer offering as a successful customer retention tool. “We need the free tier to attract users then combine it with different levels of service that customers will hopefully pay for,” he added.

When asked about Nokia’s ‘Comes with Music’ project, Ian admitted that, despite a slow start, Nokia remain extremely committed to making it a success. Concern was also raised by an audience member about the lack of margins on music sold via premium rate, but Ian was confident that other business models will lead to lower billing.

Mobile advertising specialist 4th Screen’s Mark Slade talked about the possibilities of targeted mobile marketing where customers opt-in to a database which can open up a whole range of user information.

MTN’s Sharoda Rapeti stated that MTN had joined MEF to send out a clear message about the operator’s commitment to entertainment. She referred to 2010, saying, “The 2010 tournament has simply accelerated the planned infrastructure development required to cope with increased capacity.” With exclusive 2010 mobile rights and a partnership for DVB-H with MultiChoice, MTN is poised to offer subscribers an array of rich media content around the World Cup.

On the question of handset functionality, Sharoda pointed to good market growth in low cost smartphone handsets and MTN’s increased marketing efforts around application stores to encourage users to experiment more with mobile entertainment.

We’d been warned that Capetonians don’t go out in bad weather and, if they do, that they’re tucked up in bed by 9pm. Fortunately neither claim proved correct and MEF members and guests networked till late in the evening.



the speakers do not speak their mind and hide behind a tremendous amount of pr speak ..take the corporate hats off and give straight answers . To be honest Arthur Goldstuck from Johannesburg would have done a better presentation. Some of the speakers did not impart any meaningful take home info..sorry being honest

MEF said...

Hi Martin,

Many thanks for your feedback on the event.

We’ve passed on your comments to our team in South Africa and will bear them in mind when organising future industry gatherings and activities.

The MEF team