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Little value in delivering mobile-only content: CTIA panelist

ORLANDO, FL ? An HTC executive on a Mobile Entertainment Forum panel at CTIA Wireless 2011 said that it is all about multiscreen delivery and there is little value in delivering mobile-only content.

The panel focused on the centrality of mobile and enablers?APIs?to an enhanced multiscreen content strategy. It was moderated by Rimma Perelmuter, executive director of the MEF, London.

?People understand that it is not really just about mobile?it is about ubiquity on every device, that ubiquity of content is less of a mobile content conversation is it more of a content-everywhere conversation,? said Shashi Fernando, chief content officer at HTC, Taoyuan City, Taiwan. ?It is absolutely about multiscreen, as there is very little value in delivering mobile-only anything.

?You have to deliver content across all devices and platforms that consumers use,? he said. ?One of my gripes personally is a company that looks at each screen as an individual environment, with one strategy for TV, one strategy on mobile, and they are not aligned.

?We have responsibilities to bring a multiscreen strategy to the business of digital entertainment?there has to be a paradigm shift to allow digital content to be accessible quicker, easier and across every screen.?

Mr. Fernando said that one of HTC?s goals is to help find business models that can work for everybody, primarily paid services, as he claims that his company?s ad-supported services are not making money, whereas its premium content model is working.

The mobile content space is moving form ringtones and wallpapers to really rich experiences for consumers. It used to be purely about cost and form factor, but now user experience is finally really driving to the forefront.

Samsung is focused on delivering an open content distribution mechanism to get these rich experiences to consumers across multiple mobile devices.

?It is a great time to be in mobile,? said Gavin Kim, Dallas-based vice president of content, data services and enterprise mobility at Samsung. ?There is a lot of great rich content that consumers can get access to on mobile devices in a very personal way, and we?re seeing a broader interest in not only trying to deliver the  content, but to figure out what consumers actually want.

?A priority is making enablers [APIs] value-added for the broader ecosystem?content providers, carriers and OEMs?and the MEF plays a role in that,? he said. ?Our core objectives are to distribute our content as widely as possible and engage consumers in different ways, including incorporating social media.

?Mobile devices are location-aware?you don?t have that on other platforms, which is perfect if you look at categories such as travel and atlas or mapping apps.?

Mobile is in a place where the industry has to make some really tough choices regarding business models.

Clearly mobile is on an explosive growth curve, and the expectation of consumers is to be able to access rich content on every platform they use.

?Premium does work?there are a lot of free apps out there, and that is one acquisition mechanism that might work for a particular company, but that doesn?t work for everybody,? Mr. Kim said. ?The strategy has to be cross-platform so there is some relevance when you are interacting with a brand.

?Consumers should be able to get the content on a mobile phone, on their TV, on the desktop and on a tablet so it all works seamlessly,? he said. ?TV everywhere is an important concept.

?It is not just about mobile anymore?it is about getting content out to multiple channels.?

Turner Broadcasting System Inc.?s CNN applications are very heavy with video content. Its audience wants to be engaged in real time, and the network encourages the submission of user-generated content via the iReport feature within the iPhone and iPad app.

Turner sees mobile and connected devices as the means to expand the content consumption experience from a passive viewing model to an interactive and engaging model. It is more about extending its core broadcast business through these new platforms.

?As a media company, our success depends on the size and engagement of the audience across our networks, and the specific mobile enabler [API] needs to depend on a specific audience for a particular show or character,? said Jeff Sawyer, vice president of mobile and connected devices at Turner Broadcasting, Atlanta.

?Our mobile offerings support our core business by supporting our core audience in size and scope, with content specific to that event, show and network,? he said. ?The industry is working very hard to put in place the right multiscreen strategy, with TV everywhere about being able to access the long-form content you are likely paying one of our distribution partners for on multiple screens.

?The folks that sell ads and the folks that buy ads haven?t quite caught up to the technology?buying and selling ads across multiple channels is a business problem.?

Nat Geo
The National Geographic brand is all about people consuming various types of content, and mobile devices are helping the organization reach a wider audience across mobile platforms.

?It is an exciting time, although from a content provider side, we would like to see reduced fragmentation,? said Aaron Kohn, vice president of corporate strategy and development at National Geographic, Washington. ?We are heading toward an HTML5 world, but you won?t see native app development go away.

?Certain things are not browsable, so you will see both apps and the mobile Web coexist side by side,? he said. ?I don?t see a world where fragmentation goes away and we?re all on the same platform.?

Mobile transaction network and aggregator mBlox is continuing to push out enabling pieces?APIs?to help brands interact with consumers on a one-to-one basis, in a way that is very private and confidential.

As we digitize our lives, people are really starting to focus on those privacy issues, so mBlox is putting out tools for app developers so they can be respectful of consumers as they deliver content to their phones.

?SMS is pervasive and has been wildly successful, but as smartphones become the dominant mobile device, we are providing a set of logistics tools like preloading data and sensing what type of network the device is on, as well as location-based, contextual, relevant and non-interrupting content delivery,? said Brian Johnson, senior vice president of global sales at mBlox, Sunnyvale, CA.

?You can get the location of the phone, and there are all kinds of companies that can provide data about a person by providing a mobile phone number,? he said. ?There are a vast array of contextualization and personalization capabilities given the right permissions and the new enabling features of the smartphones.?

There are about 10,000 new shows per day available to users on mobile TV, an industry that will generate $2.3 billion by 2013, per Sidebar.

The engine that Sidebar has created is really there to drive discoverability among users.

Having great content is fine?it is actually a necessity?but discoverability is the number-one issue that publishers must figure out to gain users.

?Discovery at the right place on the right device at the right time is key?we have to personalize that experience,? said Kieran Hannon, chief operating officer of Sidebar, Los Angeles. ?It is a very powerful enabler we?re bringing to various third parties right now.

?That screen on your smartphone is a very precious screen, and you may have 30 seconds to get someone?s attention,? he said. ?Give the user what they want, when they want it and how they want it, and don?t ever break their trust.?

The MEF panel at CTIA Wireless 2011 in Orlando

The MEF's Ms. Perelmuter

Final Take
Impact Mobile's Gary Schwartz asks Samsung's Mr. Kim a question