Mobenta Industry News
Wine Spectator and Airborne Entertainment Announce Mobile Partnership
Mobile Users Will Get a Closer Look at the Good Life
MONTREAL, Canada and NEW YORK, New York- May 27, 2004 - Wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts are about to find guidance from a most unique source: their mobile phones. Wine Spectator, the world's leading wine publication, today announced a wide-ranging partnership with Airborne Entertainment, one of the world's leading mobile entertainment publishers. The agreement will bring several features based on the category-defining magazine to mobile phones around the world.
"As a wine lover, I am personally very excited about our partnership with Wine Spectator" says Garner Bornstein, Airborne's CEO. "This is a great example of an application perfectly suited for the mobile world. We expect strong traction and staying power for this product line."
The first Wine Spectator wireless product off the vine will be The Wine Spectator Mobile Companion. The innovative lifestyle application will tap into Wine Spectator's extensive database of more than 130,000 wine reviews, allowing users to refer to the world's definitive reference for wine, wherever they are. The Wine Spectator Mobile Companion is the perfect resource for users struggling to make a selection at a restaurant or wine shop or needing to make an informed decision for entertaining at home.
"We are very excited to be embarking into a wholly-new medium for Wine Spectator," says Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Wine Spectator. "Many of our readers have inquired about a new wireless data access service. Now they will have it available."
Published by M. Shanken Communications, Inc., Wine Spectator offers an exciting, insider's view of the good life, including fine dining, wine, travel and entertaining. Among the publication's over two million affluent readers are business leaders, trendsetters and connoisseurs. Wine Spectator has enjoyed uninterrupted circulation growth for the past 25 years, making it one of the most successful consumer magazines published.
Wine Spectator Online, the publication's sister site, also enjoys phenomenal popularity, attracting well over one million unique visitors each month and more than one million page views per week. The website has a membership of over 500,000 registered users, making it the most popular wine content site on the Internet.
ARC Group Bullish on Mobile Video
Mobile Video to Generate US$5.4bn by 2008 as the Stakes Hot Up
In a new report entitled Mobile Video: Worldwide Market Analysis and Strategic Outlook 2003-2008, industry analysts ARC forecast that the mobile video market will generate worldwide revenues of US$5.4bn in 2008. ARC Senior Analyst Rupert Reid, takes a quick look at recent developments in the mobile video space to ee how they measure up against ARC Group's forecasts and whether there is any substance behind the hype.
As the latest in a line of applications touted to turn around flagging ARPUs and kick-start the dawn of a new mobile multimedia era, mobile video has been much in the spotlight recently.
Whereas the adoption and usage levels of 3's much publicised video telephony services have not exactly set the industry alight in the early days of its launch, the underlying trends nevertheless point to a steady ramping up of interest in mobile video.
In the last 6 months, a flurry of activity across all elements of the value chain has witnessed the increasing momentum behind bringing mobile video applications and enabling technologies to market as players from platform vendors to content aggregators all attempt to carve an early lead in this nascent market.
Recent deals between Vodafone and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Mobilkom Austria and CNN and 3 Sweden and Endemol/Kanal highlight the growing focus placed on strategic partnerships between operators and content owners to target mobile video streaming, downloading and messaging services. By building up a rich ecosystem of branded content, 3G operators are clearly positioning their networks primarily as video-capable, and heavily promoting video streaming and video telephony services as a differentiator from 2.5G networks.
It is not just the 3G operators however who are pioneering video services as a number of 2.5G operators have launched video services of their own. For example, a number of European operators including Telefonica, TIM and O2 have launched a range of early video streaming applications through partnership with RealNetworks and its Helix Universal Platform. Likewise, the indications from Sprint PCS are very encouraging with PCS Vision customers having sent more than 100m picture messaging images and 15-second video messaging clips since November 2002.
Despite these promising early trends, there are challenges at every point in the mobile video value chain which must be resolved before video takes off on a mass market basis:
" Reducing the price of video-supporting handsets to gain mass market acceptance " Developing viable business models for video distribution which include content protection, " Resolving the interoperability, interconnect and roaming issues for such services.
Top of these challenges remains the perennial problem of video-capable handset availability and a lack of well-defined and established standards across the value chain which are essential for operators to build a full service that includes content, servers, applications and handsets.
Nonetheless, ARC is confident that ongoing developments in high-performance, low-power multimedia application processors coupled with continuing improvements in high-resolution CMOS image sensors and high-resolution colour LCD screens, will see the mass market penetration of video-enabled handsets by 2006.
As with any forecast, the purchasing behaviour of end-users remains the key variable in assessing demand and also the hardest to predict. Nevertheless, on the balance of evidence, ARC believes that the widespread availability of video-capable terminals together with high-bandwidth networks supported by a rich distribution network of branded and mobile specific content will result in a steadily growing market for mobile video services over the next 5 years.
Mobile Video, from the ARC Group, forecasts that between 2003 and 2005 there will be a relatively slow rate of adoption, as the market is in its launch phase although from 2005 onwards strong growth is anticipated, and by 2008 it is forecast that close to 250m consumers will use mobile video services.
Mobile Video also predicts that video messaging will remain the biggest application category throughout the forecast period.
In 2003, the figure of 5.1m users is mainly made up of the video clip messaging services that have been launched by operators in Japan. In Europe, initial video services have also been focused mostly on video messages, since user-generated content frees the operator from dealing with content copyright issues and content owners' DRM requirements. As MMS starts to enter the mainstream in Europe, it is expected that as camera phones in the European market evolve to support video, there will be a high adoption rate for video messaging services as an enhancement to regular MMS.
As a strictly a 3G service, ARC expect the total number of video telephony users to increase from 1.3 m in 2003 to almost 90m in 2008. Video telephony will continue to differentiate 3G networks from 2.5G networks, and the popularity of this application will rise as more possibilities become available to connect via video calling to enterprise video conferencing systems and consumer video devices in the broadband-connected home. This network effect of home, office and mobile video telephony devices will cause mobile video telephony to overtake video download services by 2007.
Nokia launches N-Gage QD in Europe
Nokia has started shipping its N-Gage QD game deck to markets in Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific.
N-Gage QD features a hot-swappable multimedia slot, longer battery life, improved gaming controls, brighter screen and smartphone features.
The device supports personal information management, an XHTML browser, email and the ability to download and install additional Series 60 applications. The device has an estimated 'street price' of ?49.99 with contract.
Nokia claimed that the new N-Gage Arena launcher will give users direct access to the N-Gage Arena community directly from the game deck.
Members can communicate with one another, download exclusive content, access ranking statistics and participate in events and activities.
The device supports existing N-Gage games as well forthcoming N-Gage titles like Ashen: Pathway to Glory and Pocket Kingdom: Own The World, and hits such as The Sims: Bustin' Out, Crash Nitro Kart and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004.
The units will be sold in specialist game shops and mobile operator outlets.
Mobile Scope reports profitable quarter
Meerbusch, Germany - May 28, 2004 - Wireless entertainment publisher Mobile Scope today reported its first profitable quarter since the launch of the company in 2001.
Revenues for the first quarter of 2004 went up more than 310 percent compared with revenues in the first quarter 2003, and approximately 50 percent above fourth quarter of 2003. The year-over-year increase for the first quarter was primarily due to shipments of European mobile game blockbusters such as Moorhen Kart 2004 and RTL Ski Jumping 2004 during the last year. Based on this first quarter results, the 2004 forecasts were increased to more than ?5 million (US$6 million).
During the quarter, Mobile Scope generated about 300,000 downloads of Java based mobile games, thousands of subscribers for permanent services, millions of pre-loaded games in handsets, and also derivative mobile entertainment products. Mobile Scope currently has more than 600 points of sale in over 60 countries, including global carriers such as T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica.
"We are delighted to report our first profitable quarter since Mobile Scope was founded in April 2001," said Juergen Goeldner, Chief Executive Officer of Mobile Scope AG. "The hard work, the dedication and enormous productivity of our global team in creating and distributing high quality mobile entertainment products and services has absolutely paid off. Our shareholder structure provides us with sufficient financial resources going forward. We are also excited about our latest license agreement with leading global movie studios, TV and videogame companies and look forward to release the first products in summer. I am absolutely encouraged by the potential of Mobile Scope and the growth of the global mobile entertainment markets!"
THQ Wireless opens Southern European office
Wednesday 2 June 2004, Woking, Surrey: THQ Wireless Inc. ("THQ Wireless"), a leading publisher of Java mobile games and a subsidiary of video game publisher, THQ Inc. (NASDAQ: THQI), announces the opening of the company's first office in Southern Europe and the appointment of a new territory manager.
Lionel Maestri has been appointed Territory Manager for THQ Wireless in Southern Europe. He will head up the new Madrid office, which will provide THQ Wireless with a centre from which to direct and manage activities throughout Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Greece.
Mr. Maestri has nine years experience in the mobile industry, four of these having been spent specialising in mobile entertainment. Prior to joining THQ Wireless, Lionel Maestri held a business development role for In-Fusio. He has also worked for RealTime, a Danish company offering messaging, gaming and multimedia services, and was in charge of Gemplus' mobile business unit for Spain and Portugal.
Commenting on THQ Wireless' move into Southern Europe, Adam Comiskey, General Manager (EMEA) said: "Lionel has outstanding experience in the mobile sector which will prove important to us as we seek to expand our presence in this region. He will be responsible for building the business throughout existing THQ Wireless distributors as well as developing new relationships with telecommunications companies, media organisations and handset manufacturers."
AG Mobile acquires K-Mobile
AG Mobile Buys European Mobile Content Company: AG Interactive, the interactive arm of American greetings, through its subsidiary AG Mobile, has bought out French/European mobile content company K-Mobile and its content brand Kiwee, for an undisclosed amount.
AG Mobile, a relatively late entrant into the mobile content market, has made some quick strides into the market: it recently bought out MIDIRingTones, and is tying up rapidly with media companies and telcos (it already has tie-ups with T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Cingular, AT&T Wireless and Vodafone) for distribution muscle...
K-Mobile will be operated by AG Interactive's newly-established European subsidiary, AG Interactive Europe, B.V. K-Mobile's catalog of content consists of 12,000 ringtones including movie themes and contemporary pop music and rap hits. The company also offers about 15,000 color images and 2,000 java mobile games.
With this acquisition the company is making a U.S.-Euro content play, a move which it hopes will help it rapidly expand into the sector. AG Mobile is going to stay away from the mobile aggregator business, as the margins in that business are bound to start shrinking, and instead focus on developing brands for media/entertainment companies themselves (it is positioning itself as a "mobile content studio").
AG Mobile plans to push mobile content through its network of sites such as AmericanGreetings.com, eGreetings.com, Beatgreets.com, BlueMountain.com and BlueMountainCards.co.uk. Parent American Greetings has more than 115,000 outlets, and expect mobile content to be retailed at these venues soon as well...
Besides the mobile content forays, the company is also venturing into the online-to-offline printing business, which has natural extensions into the mobile content/MMS area: it has partnerships with computer printer players HP, Avery, Dell, and other players like Kodak, AOL and MSN for its Create&Print service, where users can customize and print their own greeting cards.
I did a short interview recently with Josef Mandelbaum, CEO of AG Interactive, about the directions the company is taking in mobile content sector...
"This is a natural extension of our business and additional sales channel for us, as we look at where our customers are. Now it is getting to a point where you can actually do this stuff in U.S..
We're making a big play...[in U.S.] it is a very fragmented business, and a lot of smaller players. It is a land of the midgets at this point...Moviso [InfoSpace Mobile] is probably the biggest...the giants in the land of midgets. [Former Moviso head of marketing Bryan Biniak is heading the AG Mobile venture]
We think our core competency is how consumers use content to express themselves.
We know how to do licenses with content providers; we know how to deal with operators, because we have done that for retailers; we've carrier-grade technology; we have brands; and are willing to invest in the business.
The biggest challenge for us is how to raise awareness of mobile content in general...we have a very good marketing division we hope to capitalize on...
Where do you draw a line on which areas of mobile content to go in? We're in the expressive content business...ringtones, music, background, MMS, video, casual games etc. We won't get into sports or news...
The average demographic buying mobile content is much younger than those buying online greetings, so that's a big opportunity for us on the editorial side to develop content...and for us, we need to follow these consumers on how they express themselves throughout their life cycle..
Branding: We'll probably be using BlueMountain as our main mobile brand for the consumer...it has a strong consumer recognition..."
SK USA creates new mobile entertainment company
Fort Lee, N.J., May 26, 2004 - SK USA, Inc. today announced the launch of SkyZone Entertainment, a new international wireless media and entertainment company. SkyZone Entertainment creates fun and exciting original and premier-branded entertainment for mobile devices. The company is defining mobile entertainment and driving next generation content with enhanced games, mobile-enabled portals and multimedia content for mobile devices.
Bringing together a stellar team of wireless telecommunications, entertainment and applications experts more than a year ago, SkyZone's offerings are already a major force in the industry and the company is quickly emerging as a leader in the mobile entertainment marketplace. The company has already introduced a stable of more than 17 mobile games as well as compelling wallpaper images including premium-branded and original titles, such as Duke Nukem, Agent Cody Banks 2, T-Rexx Hunter, and 3D Hunting: Trophy Whitetail. SkyZone is also set to launch a novel new sports-themed game centered on a well-known Pro Bowl football star and another branded game with a boxing theme. The company expects to have more than 30 games available by year's end.
"We are fortunate to derive a rich heritage and advanced market knowledge from our affiliate company, SK Telecom, a Korean-based world leader in mobile entertainment," said Michael Lee, CEO, SkyZone Entertainment. "Leveraging that legacy, we are able to continually launch new and imaginative products that delight consumers with a surge of amusement and pleasure to break-up their day or fill short periods of boredom."
Blue Lava hooks up with G-Mode
HONOLULU AND TOKYO - June 2, 2004 - Blue Lava Wireless, a leading developer and publisher of mobile games, and G-mode, a top wireless entertainment publisher from Japan, today announced a cross-licensing agreement between the two companies to distribute their respective content through each others' network of wireless carriers and operators in the U.S. and Japan. The agreement represents another milestone for Blue Lava Wireless' co-publishing efforts with major international mobile entertainment companies that provide immediate access to new mobile game markets for both Blue Lava Wireless and G-mode.
Blue Lava Wireless' portfolio of games, including the Tetris® franchise, are currently available through Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, Alltel, AT&T Wireless, Nextel, US Cellular, Western Wireless, Midwest Wireless, and Metro PCS while G-mode's mobile content is available through Vodafone, NTT DoCoMo and au in Japan.
"We selected Blue Lava Wireless as our initial content partner in North America because we believe the company's market leadership and high quality reputation among wireless operators and subscribers will benefit the G-mode library of games," said Takeshi Miyaji, President of G-mode. "We look forward to fostering the growth of Blue Lava Wireless games and aspire to raising them to the same level of success in Japan as they currently enjoy in the United States."
"G-mode's leadership position in the Japanese marketplace will give Blue Lava Wireless a substantial voice among millions of savvy mobile gameplayers," said Henk B. Rogers, President of Blue Lava Wireless. "This agreement marks an exciting new chapter of global distribution for Blue Lava Wireless, and we are working closely with G-mode to showcase our games in Japan as well as building an international customer base for this enlarged international catalogue of award winning games."
In-Fusio garners prize at 1st MEF mobile entertainment awards
London - June 3, 2004 - IN-FUSIO, a leading mobile games service provider and publisher in Europe, U.S. and China, today announced that The Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) has awarded the company 'Best Contribution To Mobile Games 2004' at its inaugural Mobile Entertainment Awards held in London last night at the Mobile Entertainment Market conference and exhibition.
The accolade, awarded by an independent panel of judges, recognizes IN-FUSIO's overall contribution to the mobile game industry including its technical and commercial innovation, the quantifiable business benefits of its service, proven success in the market and evidence to support the building of user communities through sustained interaction.
"With the introduction of an annual award which recognizes key achievements and acknowledges those who have made a significant contribution to this emerging sector, MEF is significantly helping to raise the profile of an industry which is just beginning to take off" said Giles Corbett, co-CEO, IN-FUSIO. "Receiving this award is clear recognition that IN-FUSIO is at the top of its game, and we are delighted that an independent panel has recognized the effort and advances we have made since we launched the first downloadable mobile game service in 2001".
Rimma Perelmuter, general secretary, MEF, commented, "The inaugural MEF award is recognition of IN-FUSIO's contribution to the mobile games industry."
Reuter's Surveys Mobile Games
LOS ANGELES/TOKYO (Reuters) - Koichi Okamoto's phone rings. Looking at the email message that appears on his mobile phone, Okamoto smiles and shakes his head.
"This guy again? I've taken him down three times this week," Okamoto, a 26-year old waiter, says and then launches into a game of "mah-jong" with his latest challenger.
Forget the big-ticket home consoles and hot new handhelds, Okamoto -- who spends 500 yen ($4.50) a month on games -- is part of a legion of loyal customers making mobile phone gaming the fastest-growing segment of the $25 billion video game industry.
The global mobile phone gaming market more than doubled in 2003 to $587 million from a year earlier and is expected to grow six-fold to $3.8 billion in 2007, according to estimates from Informa Media Research in London.
The graphics may be simple and the game play sometimes cumbersome, but mobile phones have become an ideal platform for gamers looking to pass the time. They have also attracted fans who long for the days of less time-consuming games.
"Where you would play a cell phone (today) is kind of where you used to play an arcade machine," said Keith Robinson, president of Intellivision Productions and one of the pioneers of the early 1980s home console business.
The potential of the market is seen as so strong that Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research) , which saw poor sales in 2003 of a gaming phone called the N-Gage, has come back this year with a new model and a wider slate of games.
Nokia targeted serious gamers with a handset aimed at the device that dominates the market, Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s (7974.OS: Quote, Profile, Research) Game Boy Advance, but analysts say the expectations from most users for mobile phone games aren't that high.
"It's still very cheap commodity games and not particularly sophisticated, but users are happy with that," said Hiroshi Kamide, analyst at KBC Securities in Tokyo.
FRAGMENTED MARKET The dominant players vary from market to market, but many are start-ups funded in part by seed money from investors like Intel Corp. (INTC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , a shareholder in companies like G-mode Co. Ltd. (2333.Q: Quote, Profile, Research) , Japan's largest mobile phone game developer.
Linktone Ltd. (LTON.O: Quote, Profile, Research) , unlisted Jamdat, Mforma, Sorrent and Gameloft (GLFT.LN: Quote, Profile, Research) hold strong positions in the U.S. market, which has been slower to develop than Japan.
Growth rates in Japan -- where one in every nine people has played a video game on for their mobile phone -- are starting to flatten, but the U.S. market is beginning to take off.
One U.S. wireless carrier, Sprint PCS, has had 3.5 million game downloads already in 2004, and it expects to have its first phone to support three-dimensional graphics sometime later this year.
"You'll see hardware become more gamer-friendly," said Jason Ford, general manager of games for the carrier, a unit of Sprint Corp. (FON.N: Quote, Profile, Research)
Against the backdrop of continued growth, market players say that consolidation is likely, given rising development costs and a growing number of companies looking to cash in.
"I think (over) the next six months, things are going to start to happen that'll force the issue," said Mitch Lasky, chief executive of Jamdat.
Larger game publishers also see the mobile phone market's potential and firms like Square Enix Co. Ltd. (9684.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and THQ Inc. (THQI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) offer full-fledged wireless businesses that include everything from games to ring tones.
Part of the challenge for smaller firms, analysts say, is that various phones sold by wireless carriers often run on different software platforms with different button arrangements that require developers to cater games for each model.
Another challenge for the industry will be to protect the intellectual property rights of people who develop and own content to prevent the kind of digital theft that has plagued the music industry.
"It struck me that a business model based on downloaded games is excruciatingly vulnerable to piracy," said Matt Railo. a partner at the law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp. "The industry is so nascent that it still has time to react," Railo said. "If you don't get this issue, I can't imagine how many things you don't get." ($1=110.90 yen) (Additional reporting by Lucas van Grinsven in Amsterdam) <!-- article text ends -->
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