SFR & UMG Launch a Limited, Unlimited DRM-free Service

The big news headline French mobile operator launches unlimited DRM-free music offering in partnership with UMG - the only thing is, it's anything but unlimited. Yes, it is DRM-free, and it is "all you can eat" but the content available is limited to Universal and to just three genres (Rap/R&B, Pop/Rock, Clubbing/Electro) and it's limited to 60,000 potential customers.

So it is in fact a pretty limited, unlimited service. But cynicism aside, this is another step in the right direction and, as with the Datz offering, should be considered as a "Beta" version to gauge consumer receptivity and usage. It is also launched in the more important context of "Creation and Internet" law debates that have started in the French Senate. France's government has taken a leading (and sometimes controversial) role in digital copyright public policy and the outcomes of the debates will be worth watching carefully.

Juxtaposition

I'm not sure I've ever seen the words "long-awaited remake with Keanu Reeves" in the same sentence before.

No Justice

Fox cancels "King of the Hill" and keeps "American Dad?" Best family sitcom for some time now, even though it's animated and the brainchild of Beavis & Butthead. Hank Hill will be missed.

King_of_the_Hill_alley.jpg

How Not to Make the Silicon Alley 100

Sigh. A bad, bad year. I didn't make the Silicon Alley Insider 100 this year. (I did, mysteriously, in 2007.) And here I thought being kinder to Henry Blodget was a surefire guarantee. Well, the heck with that.

Blind Leading the Blind
Blodget on Martha Concludes
Is Henry Blodget Still a Moron?
But Is Henry Blodget Any More Rational?
Where Technology Really Comes From

European Mobile Forecast 2008-2013, part 3

After part 1 and part 2, JupiterResearch just published the latest piece of research on long-term mobile trends in the European markets: "European Mobile Media Forecast, 2008 to 2013: Identifying Revenue Growth in a New and Challenging Ecosystem".

Key Takeaways:

Increasingly, consumers will not pay a premium for mobile content they can access for free online through a more convenient PC/laptop experience. As a consequence, mobile paying audiences will represent a limited share of the overall mobile content audience.

Mobile content will thus increasingly transition to use of ad-funded revenue models.

However, due to numerous niche audiences of core users of mobile video, TV, music, and games, mobile content revenues will grow to €5.4 billion by 2013. Despite having significantly tempered forecast on specific content categories, these forecasts are based on assumptions made about consumers' potential spending before the financial crisis during the third quarter of 2008. When moving into the consumer economy, discretionary spending could be hit, thus having some downward impact on non-core telecom spending. As the global economic crisis continues, Nokia's head of gaming Jaakko Kaidesoja just said he expected that the overall gaming market is likely not to grow in 2009. In an interview to Reuters, he however stated that some segments would grow--including pre-loaded games, emerging markets,and iPhone, not to mention N-Gage (naturally).

With mobile content revenues only partly compensating for the decline in short message service (SMS) revenues (decreasing by €5.3 billion from 2007 to 2013), mobile operators have no choice but to increasingly focus on mobile data access, mobile broadband and new communication revenues.

Updated on Nov 8th: I will be on paternity leave until end November, so I will reconnect early December

Japan & Mobile

Conventional wisdom in the mobile industry is that Japan and South Korea are the most advanced mobile markets worldwide. Just need to look at Japanese facts to be convinced: 3G penetration over 80% (with the announced launch of Super-3G in 2010 by NTT DoCoMo; that is to say 9 years after the initial 3G launch), ubiquity of mobile Internet usage, use of mobile phones as wallets, QR-codes environment and many many other innovative services such as "mobile books". Last one I am aware of is the launch of mobile phones that will enable you to open your car ("digital mobile key" to be launched next year in partnership between Nissan, Ntt DoCoMo and Nec).

Needless to say there has been endless speculation in the last few years about how to extrapolate trends in those markets into Europe and the US. Is Japan (or South Korea) only a few years ahead of the mobile innovation curve or is there something specific in the Japanese culture as often explained? It is an extremely complex question and I think there are many different factors to take into account. Indeed, it might well be that Japanese are spending much more time in public transport (vs the US "car" culture) and that they may have a specific relationship with their "keitai". However, there are also plenty of other factors to take into account, among which:

Read more

Who's using QR codes?

Not the affluent over 40s, it seems.

The terribly BCBG "Precious" magazine offers lots of glossy images promoting expensive European brands, with nary a QR code to offend the delicate eyes of its precious readers ...

Dsc_0183

The somewhat younger and less elitist "STORY" magazine contains four QR codes...

Read more

The Beatles Go Digital - Just Not Quite How You Might Have Expected

Apple Corps have announced a partnership with MTV Games and Harmonix (the team behind Rock Band) bringing the Beatles content into a new console game. This isn't how many expected the Beatles to first come to the digital world (myself included) but it may well pave the way for digital distribution. (Though given Apple Inc's relationship with Apple Corp it wouldn't be an utter surprise if iTunes don't get first bite at the small round fruit).

I'm not quite sure how much we should read into Ring Starr's quote that the Beatles ending up on a console game is the "natural progression into the 21st century". Is he really saying that licensing to download stores is not a natural step? Or even that selling music formats is yesterday's game?

I have one other key question mark over this announcement: who will buy the game? It's one thing having 30 somethings reliving their denim-clad youth riffing along to AC/DC. But how many of the Beatles core fans have xBoxes or PS3s? The counter argument is Paul McCartney's hope that the game will "broaden the appeal" of the Beatles. Perhaps. But strumming along to "I want to hold your hand" doesn't have quite the same excitement as hammering out the riff to "Highway to Hell". Given both those considerations, the Wii might be a more natural fit for the fruit of this partnership.

Orange Q3 results

France Telecom just announced its Q3 results. Looking at European mobile data results, it looks like the market is still growing quite significantly:

France:
- 9,9M so-called mobile broadband customers out of an installed base of 24,5M subscribers
- data arpu growing by 18% yoy (vs Q3 2007) to 79 euros on a rolling annual basis. Non-voice represents 21,4% of total revenues. 53 percent of data revenues are now generated by non-SMS revenues. That is a significant metric to bear in mind, even though the majority might be driven by data access revenues and business customers
- 216,000 3G iPhones were sold during the quarter vs 150,000 Edge iPhone in 8 months. Just curious to know the overlap between the two segments.

UK: data ARPU growing by +11% to 82 euros / year / sub with 2,88M so-called mobile broadband subs.

Spain: data ARPU growing only from 38 to 39 euros / sub / year...Non voice representing only 13,1% of total revenues

As stated below, Spain is the main European market impacted by the crisis: "except for Spain and a few emerging markets, as of today no sign of a significant impact of the economic slowdown on other Group activities".

On a global perspective, Orange counts now 117,000,000 mobile subscribers.

European Mobile Forecast 2008-2013 / Part 3

After part 1
http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/husson/archives/2008/08/euro...

and part 2
http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/husson/archives/2008/09/euro...

, JupiterResearch just publshed the latest piece of research on long-term mobile trends in the European markets. The report "European Mobile Media Forecast, 2008 to 2013: Identifying Revenue Growth in a New and Challenging Ecosystem" is available here:

http://www.jupiterresearch.com/bin/item.pl/research:vision/525/id=100671/

The key takeway is as follows;

Increasingly, consumers will not pay a premium for mobile content they can access for
free online through a more convenient PC/laptop experience. As a consequence, mobile paying audiences will represent a limited share of the overall mobile content audience. Mobile content will also increasingly transition to use of ad-funded revenue models. However, due to numerous niche
audiences of core users of mobile video, TV, music, and games, mobile content revenues
will grow to €5.4 billion by 2013. Despite having significantly tempered forecast on specific content categories, these forecasts are based on assumptions made about consumers’ potential
spending before the financial crisis during the third quarter of 2008. If the financial
situation filters down to the consumer economy, then discretionary spending could be hit,
thus having some downward impact on non-core telecom spending.

With mobile content revenues only partly compensating for the decline in short message
service (SMS) revenues (decreasing by €5.3 billion from 2007 to 2013), mobile operators
have no choice but to increasingly focus on mobile data access, mobile broadband and new communication revenues. They should also enable creation of an open ecosystem in which they are trusted enablers.