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At IAMAI DE08: Should Content Be Made Separately For The Mobile?

Should content be made separately for the mobile, and separately for the television? A hint of a disagreement between Manoj Dawane, CEO of Mauj, and Viren Popli, SVP & Head of Mobile Entertainment for STAR. Popli said that no one today is producing content for Internet or mobile – they’re producing content for the cinema screen and the Interent is just getting leftovers. “We do the numbers, in terms of downloads, but how much money do we make? We don’t want to make content specific for this space, because we won’t make the money back.” Dawane, however, was of the opinion that content is not made for a medium, but for human beings. People who make content for celluloid may be experts in their medium, but they don’t produce content for the medium.

My take is that content consumption patterns of different media are different – you may sit and read an article in a newspaper, but you more likely to skim it on the Internet. You may choose to watch a clip on the mobile, while you may be patient enough to view a 30 minute show on TV. The attention spans vary according to the medium, and while compelling content on one medium can be compelling on any – the form, the camera angles and approach to the content needs to vary. For the Internet and Mobile space, you may prefer to cut to the chase – to follow the Inverted Pyramid approach, unlike more traditional forms of media.

More comments from the Mobile Entertainment panel at the IAMAI Digital Entertainment Conference, including comments on 3G:

Manoj Dawane, CEO of Mauj:
— VAS of yesterday is a commodity of today, and VAS of today will be commodity of tomorrow.
— How do you monetize and advertise content? Is there an application that can engage the customer, which is interesting to the network customer? Is the traffic that you build monetizable?
— Matrimony, real estate, vehicles…these classifieds are evergreen, which suggests that mobile apps can be developed around them.
— Content is agnostic of bearer, monetizability, and feeding that as a channel for more content. Are we using bearer technologies at its best?
— Content is produced for human beings, not for the medium.
— Telecom networks act as sachets for delivering content, in the form of ringtones, clips and monotones etc.

Srinivas Gopal, GM (VAS) at Idea Cellular
— Is the structure that we have today condusive to creativity and new businesses? Bearer is not a limitation for the consumption of content. With a large number of people not having a color phone, there’s a pull towards caller tunes. Voice portals is a very profitable, and in demand
— We sometimes offer free download of content, but it isn’t sustainable
— Idea has a service called Idea radio, which works for B&C class towns that do not have FM. They experience near FM kind of radio.
— More carriage for voice, and we’ve done significantly good numbers for voice for Rajshri’s Akbar Birbal Remixed. Content like this can really make money…we need saas-bahu wars on the mobile phones.
— Idea has a hindi wap portal, and it has high traction. We have local language prompt, and the astrology services do quite well.
— Alerts – mandi prices have been tested, and just a matter of time before it is launched. We can crack SMS in Devanagri. The minute there’s a local demand for local language handsets, we’ll get the content.

Probir Roy, Coruscant Tec (Mukta Arts)
“I’m not happy with the structure right now – I sold my company to Mukta arts because they’re a big media company. With Mukta, my share will become larger. We’ve gone backwards in the value chain and been acquired by a content provider. We have to relook at the value chain.

Viren Popli, SVP & Head of Mobile Entertainment:
— If you look at Mukta arts, they’re looking at the mobile as a means of driving incremental revenues. And then we hear things like mobile is going to destroy other media – we’re shutting doors for ourselves. Most content owners say this is a future threat.
— Concept of size of screen – YouTube is watched in a 2-3 inch screen, and that’s the size of an average mobile screen.
— How do we deliver a 1000 channels. No dth network in india can deliver 1000 channels.
— The challenge is to make people buy data in bundles, not pay as you go.

Salil Bhargava, CEO of Jump Games:
— We went to an operator in APAC, and was giving to give us an MG for ManU game exclusive. In India, the operator wanted us to spend Rs. 5 crores to promote it.
— Responding to a question from Navin Mittal, he mentioned that last quarter, the iStore was the largest revenue generator above any operator.
— The line between Internet and mobile is blurring when it comes to gaming. Guys like Popcap games are doing stuff on facebook. India is not a gaming country. It’s going to take time. I’m not competing with a console.

On 3G

Ajay Khanna, GM (India) for Electronic Arts: 3G is around the corner. Will it go to everyone, or because of the huge bids?
Viren Popli (personal opinion): You are going to see obscene bids for 3G. I’m counting on GPRS prices dropping off, rather than 3G itself in the initial phase.
Manoj Dawane: in 2002, UK went for 3G bid, and 4 players bought licenses. 3 of them returned it or sold it, while one used it for voice. My guess is that there’s a tempation to use it for voice. Data carriage will happen over wimax. We’re a bandwidth strapped country, and I would put my recommendation on voice, rather than data.
Probir Roy: if you use the same for voice, will that give you the margin to amorize the capex that is going into the 3G? I don’t think so.
Manoj Dawane: that’s where tariff plans come in. I would give a voice plan based on 3G. It will probably go into the business segment.
Srinivas Gopal: 3G will drive user generated video content. A lot of people who cant log on now, but video is the killer app on 3G.
Tanla mobile exec: A sanity check on 3G expectations based on the UK – the problem is that it’s not viable beyond the carrier decks, but works on portals – 5 TV channels for Rs. 800 with around 20 minutes brought to your mobile. There have been huge errors in securing lucrative rights – the Premier League rights haven’t worked for mobile operators. Any new initiatives have to unleash a higher tariff and higher rebates to content providers.

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