(Running notes from the 6th Communication Days conference in Bienne, Switzerland)
Karim Taga is a partner with Arthur D. Little in Vienna and talks about "Mobile TV, dos and don'ts". He expects that DVB-H (the technology allowing to bring broadcast services to mobile handset, turning them basically into digital TV receivers) is going to be be adopted rapidly, primarily in Europe and in Asia. Operators in several countries are planning to launch DVB-H in 2008 (Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany, Spain). To be successful -- also considering the experiences already made by H3G in Italy and by BT's Movio, respectively a success and a failure -- a number of dos and don'ts need to be observed:
- need a sufficient variety of attractive handsets, at reasonable price
- need an attractive programme (content) bouquet, including premium sports and adult entertainment content
- "right timing" or market launch, leveraging mass events such as the Euro2008 and the 2008 Olympics
- good outdoor and indoor network coverage, including at home, and on main commuters' routes (subway, trams, etc)
(BG: this is exactly the same list that applies to any new tech launch, from Internet TV to the X-Box: attractive devices, attractive content, reliable service/experience, and competitive money-for-value pricing).
Claus Sattler, executive director of the Broadcast Mobile Convergence Forum: There are currently 70 pilots and services of mobile TV worldwide, using half a dozen different technologies. Here the data on some, showing that Korea, Japan and Italy are currently the leading countries on mobile broadcasting:
Key success factor according to Sattler for mobile TV -- he agrees with Taga:
- Open end-to-end standards (worldwide)
- Good reception characteristics, also indoors
- Attractive content (brands, specially-made)
- Interactivity for successful business models
- Good choice of terminals
Alexandra Reich is the COO of Sunrise, Switzerland's second-largest telecom operator: people want simplicity. Look at the success of SMS texting: it's straighforward, cheap, prices are low and transparent. The same applies to mobile TV and other mobile applications such as instant messaging etc.
Giovanni Conti, COO of Swisscom Broadcast (which recently got a DVBH license in Switzerland) agrees: Users are going to benchmark the new systems versus their TV at home, so they must be simple and reliable. Swisscom Broadcast is developing a neutral platform, that will be open to content suppliers who can use it as partners -- a model similar to the one that was implemented years ago already by NTT Docomo in Japan for their hugely successful iMode platform (described in my book "Roam").
Bruno Bucher, CEO of Mobile TV Switzerland (which also applied for a license but didn't get one), is of those content providers that may be able to leverage Swisscom's DVBH platform -- if they get direct access to it. "MobileTV is not television, is close-vision" (need to be close to the device to see anything), he says, and "we want to develop the new content for this new media, together with brands and companies".
Harri Mannistö is the director of Nokia Nseries Watch New -- for "watching something new". "All media is going digital and mobile". Newest mobile devices are truly computers. They are native programmable devices, can add applications. They are multifunctional devices, they have cameras, music players, multiple radio technologies that can access diverse networks, and they are fully Internet compatible. We see the Internet no longer as an information repository but as a social phenomenon where people get connected in new ways. Mobile devices will become the primary interfaces to the Internet and social networks -- he points to the Nokia N810. People use mobile devices for multiple experiences: use camera, listen to music and radio, play games, browse internet. Nokia recently launched a new brand, OVI -- a full content, communities and services strategy. In this scope, Nokia has also bought Twango (multimedia sharing company) and Loudeye (music company) and Navteq (mapping), and is making sure that sites like YouTube and Facebook can be accessed seamlessly on the new Nokia devices.
Markus Ruoss, tech consultant cuts through the hype reminding that several operators have already pushed mobileTV during the football World Cup (last year), mostly unsuccessfully, and warns against getting euphoric again around the Euro2008 and the Olympics.
Jürg Bachmann of Goldbach Media moderates a panel with all of the speakers mentioned above.
First day's over. Tonight: show with multilingual comedian Massimo Rocchi.