09 July 2010

3-Days Which Traced a Decade of Progress and Defined the Next 10 Years of Mobile Entertainment

The British calendar records Monday, June 21 as the longest day of the year. For MEF it began three of the busiest and most productive days in our 10-year history.

The week began with our inaugural MEF CEO Summit, an invite-only event for the business leaders of MEF membership, sponsored by the investment bank Jefferies and the law firms Denton Wilde Sapte LLP and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP. The exclusive, closed-door event was a huge success with 70+ CEOs in attendance. Illuminating stimulus presentations were received on the Future of the Mobile Operator by Professor Mike Walker, (founder of Vodafone), the Future Role of the Mobile Device by David Wood, (co-founder of Symbian) and Consolidation and Growth activity in the mobile sector by Andres Pieczanski, (Jefferies’ Managing Director Technology Investment Banking). The intense discussion that followed drew out some fascinating insights. Particularly inspiring was the realisation that both network spectrum capabilities and the mobile device are developing at such a pace that the mobile will quickly become the preferred platform to access the internet, triumphing fixed-line access for usability, ease and speed.

Continuing the afternoon at the Paramount Members Club, courtesy of Omnifone, we moved to a review of MEF’s activities over the past year during the AGM and the elections for our Global Board. Two awards were presented for the first time at the AGM to recognise outstanding commitment to MEF and the industry at large. The Member of Distinction was received by Alex Haffner of Denton Wilde Sapte, whilst the Board Director of Distinction was presented jointly to MEF North America Chairman Gary Schwartz and MEF EMEA Chairman Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg. During the elections that followed representatives from EA Mobile, Omnifone and Telefonica were voted onto the MEF Global board for the first time. In addition, directors from both KPMG and Shazam were re-elected to the board, with Andrew Bud also re-elected as Global Chairman and Pete Wood elected as Global Vice Chairman.

MEF Global Board 2010
  • Chairman: Andrew Bud, Executive Chairman, mBlox
  • Vice Chairman: Pete Wood, VP International Mobile Business Development, Sony Pictures
  • Ron Czerny – Founder & CEO, Playphone
  • Mark Harding – Media and Digital Content Director, KPMG
  • Gerrit Jan Konijnenberg – VP Interstandard Roaming, Vodafone
  • Rob Lewis – Executive Chairman, Omnifone
  • Luca Pagano,Vice President Publishing – EA Mobile
  • Patrick Parodi – Board Director, Shazam
  • James Parton – Head of Developer Marketing, Telef√≥nica
  • Neeraj Roy – MD & CEO, Hungama Mobile
  • Gary Schwartz – CEO, Impact Mobile
  • Billy Wright – Head of Sponsorship, Nokia

After a busy day of illuminating discussion it was time to celebrate at the 7th Meffys Awards and Gala dinner, supported by Dolby, Buongiorno, Symbian, 7digital, MTS, Quickplay Media and Vodafone, to honour the most influential players in the mobile entertainment industry from across the world.

Held for the first time in the regal surroundings of the Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, with 400 of the industry’s most influential figures in attendance, entrance to the hall alone was a grandiose occasion. With mobile entertainment having experienced 10-years of evolution, this was a worthy celebration of an industry reaching a new apex of prosperity and success.

The winning entries of the seventh annual awards once again provided an insight into the wide range of innovative products, services, applications and projects which are shaping and defining the evolution of the mobile media industry. Rimma Perelmuter, Executive Director of MEF commented: “MEF is proud to celebrate a diverse $36 billion mobile media industry which continues to innovate and thrive. This year’s Meffys winners highlight the industry’s true coming of age with an array of content-focused applications, cross-platform media and mobile commerce offerings. The Meffys have become the global standard for measuring success and serve as a window to the industry’s future.”

Big winners on the night included CBS Mobile, with 3 awards, Flirtomatic who won for Social Media – taking their tally of Meffys to an impressive and unmatched 3 awards in the same category – and our Outstanding Contribution winner, Dr Andrew Hsu, inventor of modern touchscreen technology for mobile handsets. View all of the Meffys winners’ interviews, which Ewan of Mobile Industry Review conducted immediately after they came off stage, on the Meffys website.

The following day, the 10th MeM conference began. MEF Chairman Andrew Bud picked up from the previous evening by highlighting within his opening keynote (members: download the presentation) the seven very different winners of the Meffys outstanding achievement award. This set the tone for a look back at key moments over the last decade of the mobile media industry, from the Crazy Frog and Snake up to the modern-day apps and touchscreen devices. To conclude this positive address Andrew made some predictions for the next ten years of mobile entertainment. These included flexible materials and form factors; feature films, 3D and Augmented Reality; True multi-channel delivery and the mobile becoming the media centre of our lives. New business models will have to be invented to address the challenges of the next decade, however he foresaw “ten years of juggernaut, exciting-as-hell, rollercoaster growth”.

Our industry then heard for the first time from one of the major publishing houses who are taking a considered approach to their digital content strategy. Fionnuala Duggan, Director of Random House Digital, gave a keynote address that was both informative and open. Beginning by pointing out that, in the UK, the books industry is bigger than music, she said that e-books accounted for around 6% of US trade book sales in the first quarter of 2010, however this was the early stages of a considerable growth curve. Industry forecasts suggest that e-books may account for between 7-10% of US trade book sales this year, rising to as much as 25% in the next five years.

Publishers have to be able to balance their existing business models with new digital opportunities, with the example given of the success Random House achieved when launching the Nigella Lawson Quick Collection recipe app. Fionnuala talked about both the risks, through piracy, and the opportunities that publishers face when planning their strategy for mobile and digital publishing. She concluded with an open invitation; "We would like to work more broadly with the mobile industry. We would love to talk to people who are able to bring books to the wider market. I recognise that there is more to the mobile industry than the iPhone App Store."

The day two keynote from Dr Tero Ojanpera, EVP Services at Nokia provided a look into the future potential of the mobile device, echoing some of Andrew Bud’s comments and themes which had been discussed at the CEO Summit earlier in the week. Tero’s vision was not of a mobile device running apps in individual silos, but of a ‘predictive context device’ – a handset which can track your location, that of your friends and family and the circumstances that surround you and reacts accordingly. His example, of a handset alerting you to a delayed flight, finding a local coffee shop to watch the World Cup, calculating the time from your location to the airport and then ordering a taxi from your preferred supplier in enough time, seemed one of science fiction, but the insight over 2 days at MeM made you realise that this was a much closer reality than we might expect.

Outside of the keynote presentations, MeM provided a wide range of panels, reflecting the diverse make-up of MEF membership which represents the entire value chain of mobile media and entertainment. It was a unique opportunity, in two days, to immerse yourself in every facet of the modern mobile media business.

Other insights of note included a fascinating panel on Creating a Multiplatform Experience where Gracenote’s Ty Roberts discussed their work with car manufacturers to add connectivity to vehicles. This will enable content services, including social status updates and far more accurate, location-based, traffic information, etc to be delivered – hands free - to the dashboard.

In the Growth Markets session, all the panelists warned against basing your strategy on the smartphone as penetration levels are still low. Neeraj Roy, MEF Asia Chair, indicated that the emergence of low-priced, good quality devices capable of supporting data services are driving the market, along with the growth in ad-funded mobile entertainment content in India. MEF LATAM Chair, Ron Czerny also spoke about the predominance of premium-SMS as the billing mechanism in Latin America, predicting carrier-billing to be another 5-years away as a viable solution.

Finally, in one of two sessions on the Apps phenomenon, the most hotly debated topic was the role, responsibility and remuneration of the operator in the apps value chain. Representatives from Vodafone, Telefonica, Getjar, Polar Mobile and Shazam discussed whether the 70/30 revenue-share model was appropriate when the operators’ primary business is selling tariffs, with content developed by innovative apps publishers used as a market differentiation opportunity.

As the needs of the industry and those of our global membership continue to evolve we aim to meet these requirements by providing a variety of opportunities for business development, insight and industry profiling. In 2000 MEF created - with our event partner Informa - the MeM conference, the definitive gathering of the world’s mobile media industry; in 2003 MEF launched the Meffys - the industry’s most coveted awards and recognised benchmark for measuring success and rewarding innovation. Now, in 2010 MEF launched its inaugural MEF CEO Summit – an exclusive, invite-only event for the business leaders of MEF members.

At every MEF event a key objective is to connect the value chain, to facilitate business development and provide competitive advantage to our membership. Over the course of our 3 events, MEF brought together 175 leading companies who are driving revenues in the $36bn mobile media industry. With our global footprint we were pleased to welcome companies from each of our operational markets; from Asia, LATAM, North America and EMEA. In particular the CEO Summit provided high levels of engagement and with four other operational chapters this is an event we believe can scale and deliver value at a local level, as well as globally. The inaugural MEF CEO Summit was a great first step and is a brand we intend to build over the years to come.

Three days in June defined the modern mobile media industry. MeM provided an insight into the business models, challenges and opportunities our industry currently faces. The Meffys celebrated the industry’s finest success stories, who have earned their position over the last 10 years of progress. And the CEO Summit pointed to an exciting and abundant future. MEF will continue to provide our membership and the industry with similar opportunities in the future – no matter how many hours are in the day.

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