When attendees weren't pining for the sunshine outside on the French Riviera, they debated revenue share and advertising models, bypassing mobile operator portals with direct-to-consumer plays, whether mobile operators will become "dumb pipes" or "smart pipes," and whether the mobile Internet should replicate the fixed Internet.
"The easy money is over and now we have work to do to make the mobile entertainment experience easy, reliable, and fun," said Andrew Bud, vice chairman of the MEF and executive chairman of complink 3312|mBlox Inc.}. "Whatever the mobile Internet is going to be, it's not going to be just the Internet on mobile. The sheer scale of the mobile industry gives us the obligation to make up the mobile Internet."
This year will mark an inflection point for the mobile Internet, according to some delegates, mainly because mobile operators are starting to offer all-you-can-eat, flat-rate data packages and getting away from the "walled garden" approach to content.
While these moves by mobile operators are encouraging, the MEF issued a stark reality check and a new initiative for improving the user experience. A recent MEF survey of 3,000 mobile entertainment users in the U.K. and U.S. finds that just 26 percent are satisfied with the experience. The survey finds, generally, that service reliability is low and users are put off by hidden costs. (See MEF Tackles Users and Bazalgette's Mobile Dis-Content.)
That's the big picture. Here's a glimpse of the action from the show floor:
"If a mobile operator works with MSN or Google, it will be in competition sooner or later with that constellation," says Kurt Hornburg, vice president of business development at JumpTap. The company was founded in 2004 and has nine operator customers, including Cingular, Alltel, Bell Canada, and Rogers Wireless. Hornburg says JumpTap will soon announce a European customer.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung