Players in mobile entertainment value chain need to work together to grow business

MUMBAI: One of the sessions on the last day of Frames dealt with Mobile Entertainment. The session was moderated by CEO Neeraj Roy. The speakers were Mauj CEO Arun Gupta, Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal, Qualcomm’s Vishal Gupta, Nokia Asia Pacific director rich media, music and games Jawahar Kanjilal, Tata Teleservices VP content and applications Pankaj Sethi and Mobile Entertainment Forum Asia chairman Stefan Rust.

Rust says that for the mobile business to fulfill its potential the various stakeholders - the network infrastructure providers, the content aggregators, gaming publishers - must work together. Engineering resources must work with studios to figure out the best devices to reach consumers.

Kanjilal said that while Nokia is known as a provider of mobile phones, to enable communication, it has developed a phone that can store 3000 songs and has a three mega pixel camera. In India, the company will introduce Visual Radio in the coming months . This allows a user to listen to radio stations. In this way there is a convergence of electronics and communication.

Sethi points out that Tata Indicom caters to both the premium segment and the lower end of consumers. “On the high end side, we have introduced audio and video streaming capabilities. We are looking by the end of the year to have a full length music delivery service.

Digital video delivery on the mobile will come to pass. Our low end customers have voice and SMS capabilities. So, we have introduced a voice station. Here, we take content from films, the stock exchange and reconfigure it in such a way that it sounds like a radio station. Gaming is a huge area. Even Tata Indicom’s prepaid customers download games like hell.”

Gondal stressed on the role that gaming will play on the mobile platform. “People from the Indian entertainment industry underestimate the potential of gaming. Every month a million games are downloaded in the country. Contrary to perception in some quarters, price is not the determining factor. In fact, users perceive a high priced game better. That is why our new Harry Potter game at Rs15 a play did so well. Gaming is being more in the smaller towns compared to the major metros. It is played during office time, college time and dinner time. The fact that it is played during dinner means that it is taking away time from television, movie viewing and internet surfing.

“The problem is that Bollywood movies are not conducive to making games from their films. We need to work out a creative way for this. India has an opportunity to provide services for international firms looking for ideas and execution of them. Our low cost and talent gives us an edge.”

Arun Gupta pointed out that the mobile is slowly becoming the third screen. It is a Rs 6 billion business. It is expected to grow to around Rs 45 billion in 2010. However, there are challenges. One of them lies in the fact that outside the CDMA network the number of handsets that provide ruich media content is limited. On the GSM side, the data network is weak. So it takes time to download a game. Another important area that needs improvement is customer care and customer education. In the UK, a study said that 60 per cent of mobile users want to access mobile content but do not know how to go about it. In India, the problem can be multiplied many times over.

Therefore mobile service providers and content publishers need to come out with ad campaigns to spread awareness. “I don't know if a game has ever been pushed. In South Korea, due to clever marketing some game developers are celebrities.”

Rust says that there are issues to be sorted in the arena of digital rights management (DRM). “I do not think of DRM as an anti-piracy measure. I think of it as enabling consumers to purchase music digitally. I don’t see why a person who has bought a piece of music digitally cannot play it on his iPod, computer and other devices. If it can be done with a hard copy then, why not with a digital one? Music companies needed to go beyond selling an album of 20 songs. They need to see how they can sell single songs and maximize each song’s revenue potential.”

Gondal said that Indian mobile firms are more intent on pushing the consumer. “We must focus on pulling the consumer in through killer content. That is what Apple did with its iPod and iTunes. It got killer content and did innovative marketing. The iPod is seen as cool to have. If this pull factor is not created then there is no incentive for the consumer to go in for handset that enables rich media features. When the photo scam came about there was a sudden demand for Bluetooth.

Pull will help the customer to go beyond just using the mobile as a voice tool”

As far as mobile TV is concerned, Kanjilal pointed out that DVB-H trials being done abroad by Nokia show that television on the mobile is often consumed at home. This helps channels to be seen. In the future, one might have a situation where there are five television screens at home. He noted that standardisation on the DVB-H system has helped. It is an open system. Therefore it is cost effective as a distribution medium.

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