Mobile technology key entertainment sector growth area: experts

CANNES: Indian entertainment companies take heed. If you are not on the mobile promoting or providing an experience for your potential customer you are not there. At least that's the view of the two keynote speakers at the Milia/MipTV conference in Cannes, France.

News Corp senior vice-president content and marketing Lucy Hood said that while peer-to-peer dominated the mobile market place the next substantial growth will be in the entertainment sector.

She lauded the efforts of Sony's spin on the new Spiderman movie. The company has launched games for the mobile and has gone for a 360 degree experience in the wired and wireless world for consumers. She also praised the mobile experience that was put behind Lord Of The Rings and Finding Nemo.

But above all she highlighted the initiatives taken by Fox in America which had partnered with AT&T for a campaign for American Idol. She said it was a good example of product integration, with mobile phone voting encouraged through a television push.

"We set a US record for mobile-orientated messages," she said. The show brought in 7.5 million messages with 2.5 million on the last night.

She pointed out that it is not possible to get it all right and the evidence of that was Fox's experience with a show Todd TV. The main character of Todd TV got advice and directions from mobile users on what he should be doing next. Todd would read out their messages, giving their names. Then he would decide if he was going to follow through on advice such as contacting his mother, taking
a swim or just getting out of bed.

"(Our focus is) what you want, where and when you want it," she said. The mobile lets the company "combine mass media with viral media".

She then talked about Fox's initiatives with promoting movies for films such as The Girl Next Door, television shows such as The Simpsons, The Day After Tomorrow. Fox has offered invitations via SMS to sneak previews, developed MMS galleries for the Simpsons allowing users to send virtual cards etc,. She then talked about Fox's initiative to develop a direct to mobile series called Hotel Franklin.

The second keynote came from mobile-phone lifestyle strategist and IT investment specialist Joichi Ito, chief executive of Neoteny in Japan. He stressed that the key to the mobile was not so much the content but the context. The focus should be on the "state" of the user.

"Usually most companies have got it wrong. They have focused on content and the technology and not the consumer," he said. "People are not downloading too much video, instead they are using the mobile to stay connected with each other and forming an intimate community."

While people had "cyberspace" at home via the PC, "the mobile is a seamless part of your real life". He said he loved the quote to describe mobile use: "continuous partial attention".

He said there had also been an explosion of shared content. But digital rights were a concern as they could block viral marketing getting the message out.

He pointed out that many people no longer decided on evening activities well in advance. Now they used "voice" or SMS to chat and decide as they went.

Copyright should be balanced, he highlighted. "We have less rights to share content but the technology to do it is exploding," he said. He said companies had to change their attitude. "How are you going to market your product if you don't let people share it?" he asked. "We need to find a middle way that allows consumers to create on top of the content and to share the content so it is marketed virally," he added.

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