Here are some
further notes from today's Stanford Symposium on new networks and
content models. The Symposium was broken into four panels. This is panel 3.
Mobile Media: Can You Hear And See Me Now?
Bill Wolfe of Openwave opened with the operator view: voice is maturing, prices are eroding, how to make mobile media both higher ARPU and lower churn (sticky). Answer lies in customized handset ie. carrier defined UI, and services. On services, he misapplied an analogy to the Rule of 3, and his example lost the audience, but in essence said the goal is to offer voice+two other services to make it sticky, services that are not out of core industry, such as voice+banking or voice+media. Noted that VZ is about voice, Cingular and tmobile about cheaper voice+data, Sextel is advanced data, and DoCoMo is voice+advanced data+media. Says OpenWave is about mobile marketing+data/voice/video communication. If y'all are confused about how this fits together, so was the audience - coughing and rustling was beginning to drown out the speaker. He seems to be saying OpenWave is trying to do social networking on cellphones as a way to market content. His one example was multiplayer games.
Next Dr. Hara of TeliaSonera gave
the carrier view direct from the source. With the restless audience and his
pronounced accent the biggest challenge was following his argument. The
audience quieted down and strained to hear his words, or tuned out and worked
on their laptops. He said voice and messaging are dropping in revenues and the
future is services and content. The examples were vertical apps - medical and
similar. No killer app. Just multiple services. Not Hollywood - too bandwidth intensive until
we get (a) cellular broadcast, which is coming, and (b) bigger screens, such as
the rollable epaper from Philips. Bandwidth will be solved by WiFi and WiMAX
for rich content. In the future you won't know or care about the access
technology. I guess 4G won't be CDMA. Time to short Qualcomm? He also
complained of "terminal diversity," which creates a challenge to ensure
consistent service delivery across different types of mobile devices. He
dissed open platforms for content as lacking sufficient assurance of consistent
Andrea Goldsmith, Stanford EE Prof, gave a talk on 'can you see me now?', nice riff on the VZ tagline. She just flew in from Korea (and as the joke goes, boy are her arms tired) and speculated that going the way we are going with 3G and 4G cell networks and WLANs, we might never get to where we want to be - like Korea I suppose. Her answer: cross layer networks. Now, she noted the great advantage of the Internet was it separated the transport from the app layers, allowing parallel innovation. Now she wants to break that progress for mobile media over wireless networks, and go back to the future. Too much kimchee? Maybe. Her first example is MIMO, which is not cross layer but within the link layer. Her next example is mesh networks. No argument there, but it can be done at link layer or MAC layer, or at the network layer, not cross layer. Her main point turns out to be to define app types like video vs voice and optimize the lower layers around the app. Good idea - wireless MPLS? A mesh can be designed with multiple states around which to optimize - latency, jitter, caching, battery drain, etc. - depending on the traffic. She ended by extolling cognitive radios to optimize cross spectrum. She got her point a-cross.
Greg Ballard of mobile
game company Sorrent did his best to save this panel from terminal
inanity. Core problem of mobile media - how to merchandise on an
extremely limited screen. Compare that to retail, where you are inundated with
info, samples, etc and can be sold new items. Hence he believes the future of
mobile media is to market it via multiple channels: cellphone/carrier, web,
retail, handset OEMs. Will go from 95% carrier to 50% carrier. (Already
in Europe mobile content is sold 50% 'on
deck' and 50% 'off deck', so likely he will be proven correct.)
Every platform has been driven by a killer game that exploited the core improvements of the platform. Pong/Atari. Super Mario Bros/Nintendo. Sonic/Sega. Halo/Xbox. Resident Evil/Playstation. (Is he kidding? Better choices would have been Tekken or Ridge Racer on the PS1, Grand Theft Auto on PS2. Sony may be an exception to his rule; the playstation won due to incredible 3D graphics rather than any one game. Steve Race who set up the launch in the US made sure he had at least two 3D games in each of the five major game categories.) We have not seen that killer game yet on mobile. He does not know what it will be. It is not from the consoles - been there, flopped. Not Snake. Not Pac-Man. Not Jamdat Bowling. It will use unique aspects of the phone - Camera? Messaging? Mobility? Location-based? Interesting is that the most obvious aspect, connectivity, he dismisses - he does not believe in multiplayer games. Maybe short Sorrent on IPO.
Q&A: will the US ever catch the Koreans/Japanese? Inane answer by Bill from OpenWave that we drive more here. General agreement that mobile media is not linear content - will be short snippets. Greg gave insightful comment that we wouldn't play those vaunted Korean mobi games over here not because of culture but because the graphics suck. Implication is we already are eclipsing them. (When everything is built in China, we will still have Hollywood!). Greg got on a roll, dissed a long-tail new mobi media company emerging, dissed multiplayer games, and didn't really need a faster better network. Q&A ended with an MIT prof challenging the Stanford Prof on power consumption over UWB vs. WiFi vs.WiMAX. What this had to do about mobi media was completely lost, but the right coast prof was so animated he even moved seats to get his killer question in. Ah, the risks inherent in an academically-sponsored conference.