23 February 2009

Andrew Bud, Chair of MEF, appears on Telecom TV Panel

While at Mobile World Congress, Andrew Bud, Chairman of MEF, took some time out to join a Telecom.TV panel discussion on 'Mobile Entertainment', alongside Julia Dimambro of Cherry Sauce.

The whole discussion is viewable below or you can find the original video on the Telecom.TV site here.

20 February 2009

MEF elects new EMEA board

Representatives from BBC, Comfone, Nokia, Orange and Qtel were voted onto the MEF EMEA board at the general meeting held during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new board voted to re-elect Gerard Grech, Orange, as Chairman and Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg, Comfone, as Vice-Chairman.

“I am honoured to be re-elected by MEF’s membership to the EMEA board for a further term so we can continue to engage with the EMEA membership and deliver even more member value on a local level. As we face challenging economic conditions, it is more important than ever for MEF to continue providing a platform for exchanging insight, entering new markets and showcasing innovation across the regions. I welcome the new board members who bring added regional diversity and new areas of expertise and I look forward to working with the entire board.”     

The full MEF EMEA Board 2009 is as follows:
  • Chairman: Gerard Grech (Director of Marketing & Strategy, Next.com, Orange Group
  • Vice Chair: Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg (EVP Sales, Comfone
  • Alberto Ciarniello (VP Service Innovation, Trial & Product Innovation, Telecom Italia)
  • Thomas Curwen (Planning Director, Publicis)
  • Ian Henderson (VP, EMEA Digital Business Development, Sony Music)
  • Emma Kaye (CEO, Gate 7
  • Mark Ollila (Director of Publishing, Games & Services, Nokia)
  • Berna Samiloglu Acar (Division Head, Partnership Development, Turkcell)
  • Richard Titus (FM Controller Audio, Music & Mobile, BBC)
  • Raghu Venkataraman (Executive VP, Corporate Strategy & Strategic Marketing, du)
  • Colin Yeh (Head of Group Development, Qtel Group)

19 February 2009

MEF launches ‘Smart Pipe Enablers Initiative’ to accelerate the growth of next generation mobile entertainment services

MEF has launched its global ‘Smart Pipe Enablers Initiative’ to create an industry-wide framework that will lay the foundation for the next generation of mobile entertainment services. The impact of this initiative will be more useful services, taken up faster by the industry.

The initiative has been founded by three full MEF members - the BBC, mBlox and Vodafone Group - and was formally launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Smart Pipe Enabler Services are to be provided by operators to third-party providers of content and services, enabling the delivery of a simpler, faster, more intuitive and more enjoyable user experience for the consumer. MEF’s initiative will make a major contribution to industry efforts in this area by devising a coherent, profitable and workable model for enabling services, and accelerating their uptake through education and promotion. Enabler services offered by network operators will deliver many capabilities to content providers, including age-verification, location, identity authentication, reliable phone applications, specific tariffs to consumers and delivery with specific quality of service. Enabled by these services, content providers can offer the consumer a better user experience, a key objective for much of MEF’s work.

“The mobile industry is at the dawn of a new era with many new services becoming available. As mobile content becomes richer and more sophisticated it is important for the industry to create common standards to enable the next phase of growth. Some operators are doing this individually or in groups, evolving into ‘smart pipes,’ but without a fully co-ordinated approach the market is in danger of developing a fragmented landscape that will inhibit the take up of consumer services. The MEF Enablers Initiative will address this and lay the foundation for the next generation of mobile operator services for years to come.”
Andrew Bud, Global Chair, Mobile Entertainment Forum

The MEF Enablers Initiative is fundamental to the future growth of the $32bn mobile entertainment industry, of which half is based off-portal. The value of creating a coherent and co-ordinated approach to enablers is highlighted by the enabling services that operators offer today, such as bulk SMS, premium billing, short code rental and location look-ups.

The Smart Pipe Enablers Initiative will create an industry-wide framework of business requirements for standards, complementing and supporting work in other bodies such as the GSM Association on the development of technical standards. MEF will form a working group with its members and will be liaising with regulators and other industry bodies to ensure the guidelines become the defacto reference point for enabling services across the globe.

The MEF Enablers Initiative is global in scope and the first phase will be the production of a white paper, due in June 2009, so if you would like to find out more please visit: www.m-e-f.org

16 February 2009

Mobile entertainment industry confident in face of economic downturn

MEF has launched the first quarterly Business Confidence Index (BCI) for the $32bn global mobile entertainment industry. It reveals that the industry is confident it will continue to grow despite the economic downturn, with MEF members predicting an average revenue growth of 27% in 2009.

The MEF BCI, compiled in collaboration with KPMG, is the first of its kind and was undertaken to gauge the confidence of the mobile entertainment industry and to highlight specific trends over time. Every quarter it surveys MEF members across the globe, representing the entire mobile entertainment value chain.

News of the BCI has already appeared in publications such as Mobile Entertainment and mocoNews.net,  and the report can soon be accessed by MEF members at www.m-e-f.org.

"I believe that the BCI’s positive outlook reflects ROI that our industry expects to see in 2009 and beyond after almost a decade of investment in mobile media. With growth anticipated across key segments of the industry, MEF will be working with our members to help them capitalise on new opportunities and address existing bottlenecks presented over the next twelve months.”
Rimma Perelmuter, Executive Director at MEF

As well as being optimistic about the growth of the industry as a whole, the MEF BCI identified a number of areas within mobile entertainment which are set to grow throughout 2009. The top five areas of growth were cited as:
  1. Social Networking
  2. Music
  3. Video
  4. Games
  5. Infotainment

When asked whether demand for mobile entertainment consumption would be impacted by the credit crunch, over half of respondents said they saw mobile entertainment as a 'feel good' affordable purchase and it would therefore be resilient to the effects of the downturn.

The MEF BCI also reveals the spread of mobile entertainment revenues across the globe, with China and Central & South America being seen as hotspots over the next twelve months and respondents predicting growth in excess of 50% in both regions.

“We believe that the quarterly BCI will make a great contribution to the industry, at a time when companies face great uncertainty in their forecasting and budgeting. It is an example of how MEF offers leadership in illuminating the status and trends of our industry. We appreciate the support of KPMG in running this large scale and highly confidential operation.”

Andrew Bud, Global Chair of the MEF

The MEF BCI will be conducted on a quarterly basis moving forward. A report on the findings of the first Business Confidence Index can soon be accessed by MEF members at www.m-e-f.org.

05 February 2009

MEF goes to NATPE

MEF recently returned from NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) annual conference, which is normally a whirlwind of TV programmers, producers, sales execs and new media mavens.

With the weak economic climate – and the tendency for most of the suits to be tucked away in suites – it was a quiet Show Floor. MEF Americas did its part to liven things up when Jim Beddows, Board Chairman, was on the Mobile and Viral Video panel. The panel was on the show floor, hosted by always gracious and amusing Frank Chindamo, and included the Fine Brothers (Benny and Rafi) who showcased their popular satire web videos. By the end of the session there were dozens of railbirds that came over to enjoy the panel – all the seating had already filled up. It was the only full room MEF saw all day.

In his comments, Jim reported several findings about mobile video - here’s a 6-minute clip of Jim, followed by the Fine Brothers intro and spoof video:

NATPE once had an entire conference day dedicated to mobile – with a separate admission — and this year the mobile entertainment content was placed into their regular programming. MEF consider this a sign of the mainstreaming of mobile video into all discussions related to TV production, distribution and marketing.

Next from here is the Mobile Video Initiative, and the directive MEF received from our in-person meetings was that Content Reporting is a primary issue, along with Business Models, User Experience, and Standards. Those are the four main components to the Mobile Video project plan that will be reported on in the coming months.

Next up for MEF on Mobile Video is the NAB Show (also in Las Vegas) – mark your calendar for April 20-23. MEF met with our NAB contact and she was pleased to report that delegate registrations are UP from the same period a year ago. Please contact Mike Navarra for the opportunity to be in the MEF-hosted Mobile Video Pavilion on the NAB show floor. It’s in a great spot and for a fixed-fee you’ll have a turnkey exhibit opportunity at America’s biggest trade show for Film and Broadcast.

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.