Yesterday, for the academy awards ceremony, Apple released its first ad for the iPhone. Enjoy...
Ok last post on 3GSM. Just wanted to mention some small tech firms that I discovered while walking around in Barcelona.
Cerkle: social networking site with a twist. This site is thought from the ground up as fully integrated internet and mobile with both .com and .mobi addresses. As other players such as MySpace or YouTube struggle to mobilise their user experience, this is an interesting approach. So far, the web side is quite poor but let's see how it develops
Shozu: applet that you download on your mobile phone and enable you to easily upload videos and pics online. Great technology as it runs on the background and let do other things on your phone. Also, some rather smart file compression ensures your phone bill does not suffer too much. It is already compatible with several social networking sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Blogger or Typepad and - leveraging RSS support - could be used with almost any site
Inka: Korean company that developed a solution to transfer DRMed files across platforms. For example, it will enable you to play a song purchased on iTunes (AAC protected) on Windows Media Player or SonicStage (and vice versa) while keeping all the copyright protection. Even though Steve Jobs and some European governments are starting to raise voices to kill DRM, I am sure it will still be around for a while, so such a solution - if properly implemented - can provide additional freedom and flexibility in how we use the music we bought online
At 3GSM, I attended a panel about mobile gaming (more out of personal interest I have to admit...). Panelists included execs from Real Networks, Gameloft, EA Mobile, Telefonica and Orange. It was an example of the kind of discussion where people are willing to maintain the hype about a topic and refuse to admit that, unless something radical is done, penetration of the given service/application will remain low...I feel rather free to express my views about mobile gaming and its relative failure (even with all the buzz around) because I am (was) a pretty involved gamer and experienced the rise of this form of entertainment from niche teen geekitude to mass market with a size larger than the movie box office ($30bn and rising)....
Some statistics to start with. 40% of mobile users use the games they have on their phone. But only 5% will purchase games, and out of this 5%, only half will do more than one purchase. What is clear here is that even though a lot of people (40% in markets in Western Europe where penetration is close to 100%) play snake or solitaire (pre-installed) on their mobile while on the tube or waiting for a friend, only a negligible fraction (2.5%) is generating value out of mobile gaming ! How do you build a healthy ecosystem out of that where all participants can have a profitable business ? Hiding behind aggressive forecasts sizing the market at $10-15bn 5 years from now won't solve some very basic issues that block the widespread adoption of gaming, i.e.:
- User experience on a mobile phone is pretty bad. If you are used to a console or even a PSP or DS Lite, a numeric keypad won't do it (even the N-Gage was not good enough). Therefore heavy gamers will rather avoid convergence and have a dedicated device for gaming in addition to their mobile
- The bulk of the market is therefore formed of casual gamers that play on a very low frequency to "kill time" and fill boring moments. Snake will do for them and, though they might get a new game once in a while, you can't build a valuable ARPU business out of them
- Mobile games are just (very bad) ports of traditional games (like a 1995 version of Doom) and don't leverage of the mobile specificities (communities, LBS...). Hence for a mobile operator the only revenue out of mobile gaming would come from the sale of the game (e.g. mobile retailer) and none from the usage
As long as we (as the mobile and gaming industries together) don't find a way to fix these problems, i.e. improve user experience to attract high ARPU gamers, increase game portfolio and buiild on the mobile specificities, mobile gaming will remain a vertical with a negligible contribution to mobile content and overall mobile revenues. Easy to criticise, but I don't have the answer either...but at least let's try to be more realistic
Not everything is lost though. I am looking forward for the new reincarnation of the N-Gage platform on Nokia multimedia phones. Also Nvidia showcased at 3GSM their mobile graphics card enabling pretty impressive 3D graphics (a rarity on mobile games so far). In addition to more advanced positioning and presence solutions, could it support the real take off of mobile gaming ?
I spent the week in Barcelona at 3GSM. A couple of impressions on my side - in addition, you can browse the photo gallery below for some views of devices and booths, or share your impressions either by commenting this post or using the forum at the end of this page.
- After a couple of rather uninspiring years, handset manufacturers were again driving innovation. There were a lot of very cool handsets, especially by Samsung (widely considered as the best booth) and its Ultra collection. I was particularly impressed by the 3G handsets working as a phone on one side and as an MP3 player or TV set on the other, while not being that bigger than an Ipod mini. Kudos also for the latest walkman phone from Sony Ericsson and for the Prada phone. Nokia keeps on packing even more features in rather bulky devices (I think they are not yet convinced that the Razr has changed the focus forever on fashion and size...) and Motorola can't do anything else than new RAZR, RIZR, KRZR....Fair to say also than none of these phones was as attractive and sexy as the iPhone (not present...), so must be good news for Apple as competition won't have caught up by the time the iPhone is launched in the US
- The industry had no new new thing this year, but sensible progress occured for the old new things such as mobile TV, mobile advertising, payments, etc...Good to see that there is finally (some) traction for some of the new opportunities we have been working on for years now !
- Where is VoIP ? Seriously except a rather unimpressive booth for Truphone in a secondary hall, I havent seen any VoIP player...Following the acknowledgement by one of the Skype top guys a couple of months ago that they could not compete in the mobile field for now, I think it is an additional proof that this overhyped threat is losing some momentum. Any diverging views ?
- Following the announcement of a certain M&A transaction in India (...), emerging markets were the stars of the congress with executives from Vodafone, Orange, Orascom, Bharti, Telenor, Vodacom and more spending a fair amount of time on the topic
I also attended a panel on mobile gaming. I will expand on this specific topic in its own post...
OK so I work in the strategy team at Vodafone. Because of that, there are two key guidelines I will be using on this blog:
1. Most of my work is related to rather sensitive and confidential issues. So do not expect me to comment about any topic that is hot at a given time at our company
2. This blog is about the mobile industry in general, not about Vodafone in particular. So people only interested by rumours about the company or the opportunity to do some bashing should look elsewhere...
So that's it, first post of my blog ! I had been thinking about setting up a blog for a while, but never had the courage to make the move. This time, I have three good incentives to go for it:
- I finally found a blogging/community tool - i.e. WEBJAM - that actually is powerful and easy enough to enable me to do what I want
- My partner is one of the starting employees at webjam, so I have enough pressure not to procrastinate !
- I just came back from 3GSM, so I have some interesting content to share
As a rule of thumb, this blog will focus on the mobile industry. I have been working in that field for more than 7 years now and gathered quite a lot of insight that could be worth sharing (I hope...). By sharing, I indeed mean sharing, so I hope, readers will actively comment and post on this page. But more importantly I am passionate about the mobile industry, and all things TMT in general, and did benefit a lot from the insight of other enthusiasts (cf. the guys at paidcontent/moconews and engadget whose RSS feeds I use on this page) so I thought it would be great to step in!
So wish me luck and let's see how it goes....