Tag Archives: Apple

Linux to Offer Seamless Mobile App & Content Sharing

Does Linux have a bright future in the mobile ecosystem? If you’re Andrew Shikiar, the director of global marketing for the LiMo Foundation, the answer is an emphatic yes. LiMo Foundation is an industryshikiar-21 consortium and non-profit corporation founded in 2007 and dedicated to creating an open, hardware-independent, Linux-based operating system for mobile devices. Shikiar sat down with MobilizedTV to talk about the foundation’s work and the future of Linux in the mobile ecosystem.image001

Which were the founding companies of LiMo?

The LiMo Foundation was founded by Motorola, Orange, NTT Docomo, NEC, Panasonic, Vodaphone and Samsung, a mix of operators and OEMs. All these companies that founded the organization had a history of delivering Linux-based handsets to consumers. What they quickly realized is that Linux is a powerful but fragmented technology for handsets, and that it made sense to find a layer of the operating system (O/S) on which they could collaborate while carving out room for differentiation and competition.

LiMo set out to create middleware part of the platform that would be common, that everyone could leverage and use, so that the rest of the mobile ecosystem could more efficiently create pertinent services and applications that would leverage that platform.

Give us some context to Linux as an operating system in the mobile arena.

There are so many operating systems, you can’t count the number of them in the mobile world. There are dozens of platforms. Your old phones had an input screen, they each had their own menu; the phone and O/S were one and the same. The idea you can implement a common O/S across devices really took root several years ago.There was no common platform until phones started getting smarter.

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Fox Reality Channel Launches On iPhone

Reality TV fans just got news that may have them rushing out to buy an iPhone. Fox Reality Channel, the all-reality, all-the-time cable/satellite network within the News Corp. with 50 million subs and climbing” just launched a WAP site for the first Apple iPhone mobile video service to feature reality-only content. “It was important for us to have video on the iPhone, which makes it easy to build community,” says Fox Reality Channel vp, business & operations, Ed Skolarus.

Fox Reality Channel is all about the video: Skolarus reports the channel does “over 170 hours of VOD on a lot of different platforms” including its exclusive partnership with Hulu and, for mobile users, a MediaFLO channel. “The iPhone is great for video,” he adds. “You can watch it and share it easily. Being in the video business, we’re about video advertising.”

That’s where Transpera, a platform for monetizing web videos on the mobile platform, comes in. “We power Fox Reality Mobile Video soup-to-nuts,” says Transpera founder/CEO Frank Barbieri. “They give us the videos and then we format them and deliver them to the iPhone along with targeted display and in-screen rich media ads like pre-rolls and overlays.” Current Transpera customers include MTV Networks, Discovery Networks, the Travel Channel, CBS News, Associated Press, and Accuweather.

Much of the content on the mobile Fox Reality Channel will be original, says Skolarus, who notes that they produce five original series a year as well as acquire content from Fox, CBS and NBC. Reality fans will get real-time updated information and original “bonus” content for original series “Battle of the Bods,” “2008 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards,” “Solitary,” “The Academy,” “Gimme My Reality Show!,” “Reality Binge,” and “Night Club Confessions.” A Send-to-Friend feature allows users to share their favorite video content mobile-to-mobile.

“Within the application, there are nine different categories, with 10 to 15 videos in each category, so it’s quite a lot of video,” says Skolarus. “My boss David Lyle, former president of Fremantle, understands that from the initial kick-off meeting you have to have the other platforms. involved. It’s not just repurposing what you have. It’s about having content shot for a lot of digital avenues.” Since its launch three years ago, Fox Reality Channel now has 2,500 digital episodes in the can.

For its original series, Fox Reality Channel has another crew working side-by-side the main crew, shooting content specifically for broadband, mobile and Hulu among other platforms. “It’s a big commitment,” he notes. “We’re lucky enough that reality is a good lean-forward experience with high engagement and it also skews well for iPhone.”

At time of launch, Skolarus and Barbieri declined to talk about specific advertisers, noting that many still play a wait-and-see game when it comes to new media. But Barbieri points out that mobile “gets higher engagement across the board.” “The mobile phone is such a personal device and commands so much attention of high-consuming audiences,” he says. “We see great recall numbers, great brand attribution numbers, much higher than on the web.”


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How to Mobilize Existing Content

From the Mobile Content & Marketing Expo

San Jose, CA–Kevin Davis, president/CEO of Hollywood.com, Russ Lujan, president/COO of New Media Broadcasting Company and Nitin Bhandari, CEO/co-founder of Skyfire, moderated by Mark Jacobstein, CEO of iSkoot, talked about one of MobilizedTV.com’s favorite topics: how to mobilize existing content.

Russ Lujan and Kevin Davis

Russ Lujan and Kevin Davis

The panel discussed the best examples of mobilized content. Davis lauded a competitor, Flixster on the iPhone. “What they do effectively is give context around a transactional decision,” he said. Bhandari, a self-described sports nut, praised ESPN’s mobile offerings on his phone. “It doesn’t just give you scores but engages me with other information,” he said. Lujan liked the Twitter mobile solution, which incorporates the community aspect of dynamic media.

With regard to revenue models, Hollywood.com is advertiser-supported. Davis pointed out that iPhone applications are hot for sister company MovieTickets.com. “A graphic ad gets lots of click-throughs because it’s the only graphic thing on the ad, but that will change,” he said. “If it’s the one graphic thing on the page, people will click.” Bhandari said that long-term, advertising has a lot of potential. “I think there is no reason why CPMs and CPAs can be as good as those online,” he said. “There’s intense personalization and you can do click-to-call. As I see it, there is so much inventory, people are experimenting. It’s not a line-item budget. Everybody is aggressively optimistic that that model will work.” Lujan noted the shift to IP-based communication. “The business model is monthly re-occurring revenue and revenue sharing which could be ad-supported or subscription based for premium content,” he said. “There’s a whole new set of opportunities for the IP-based content, where you by-pass the telco structure.”

Technical and business changes in the next 12 months that will impact mobile content include all-you-can-eat data plans, pointed out Jacobstein. “You take advertising, and add context and already your CPMs are higher,” said Davis. “Technologies that know where you are and can give you something based on that have tremendous potential. The more accurate and behavioral we can get, the better.” Lujan noted that content collaboration, with mash-up capabilities for users to co-create with professional content and pass it a long, is a game changer. “In addition to that, how do you manage all your content?” he said. “You can synch your data, but how to you access it, store it, collaborate with it. This goes to key areas.” The open handset is focusing every other manufacturer to open up. “When the Sony Ericssons and Nokias sell those, it’ll be interesting to see what they open up to,” said Jacobstein, who noted that these manufacturers’ handset sales dwarf Apple’s.

Is the mobile phone a PC in your pocket? Jacobstein asked the panelists if they agreed. “This is a fundamental question,” said Davis. “We went through a major re-design, and even on this most amazing device that changed my life [the iPhone], it doesn’t work. We have to decide where this fits into our business model.” Bhandari joked he should try it on Skyfire, to laughter. Lujan said the PC and mobile phone are converging in some ways but not all ways. “We’re nearing earlier generation PC platforms on the handset,” he said. “It does have the mobility factor. If you’re a professional content producer, you still have to tune the content for the different devices, and there has to be a content management system to get it out to all those different devices. We’re probably a generation or two out from the mobile phone being what the PC can provide.”

“The technical answer is that the mobile phone is absolutely a PC,” said Bhandari. “It’s not as good as the PC of today that we’re all used to. But then part of me thinks that thinking of it as a PC is a failure of imagination. It’s so much more. It’s always on, always with you, nobody else uses it. It’s way more than a PC.”

In a discussion about creativity and the mobile phone, Davis said he foresees something scary in the future: mobile stalking. “It’s not unforeseeable,” he said. “The paparazzi culture is already out of control.” The possibility of instant communication has been used to great and positive good in places like Southeast Asia. “But instantaneous can be a problem too,” agreed Jacobstein, noting the panic on Wall Street.

Education, training and other potential uses of the mobile phone were also touched on. “Why give the child a laptop when you can give them a mobile phone?” noted Davis. “Information services where time-to-market is important is another area of content for the mobile phone,” added Lujan.

“The big picture is, are there ways that we can help facilitate the community aspect?” said Davis, with regard to strategies to monetize Hollywood.com. “We see devices much differently than younger people. Long-term we need to think about more ways that content can be used. My job is to look at the ways that people are using phones that I don’t myself.”

For Skyfire, it comes down to feasible tests, said Bhandari. “You can get anything on the web onto this mobile device, but we want to do more,” he said. “Killer apps are entertainment, communication through social networks and email, and transactions. Those are the three things we focus on. We’re content agnostic. YouTube is a big site for us, but so is NFL.com.”

With regard to the NFL, Bhandari noted that NFL.com made a big deal with Sprint, making the games only available to Sprint subscribers. “We think that’s wrong,” he said. “Information wants to be free.” The moderator said that discovery was a big driver for him. “Finding content is key,” he said. “There’s a lot of great content and applications and a lot of people don’t know how to get to it.”

One audience member asked Bhandari why we need a proxy-based browser in the mobile world. “I feel over the last two years, browsers have come a long way,” he said. “What’s happening is that it lowers the cost of development. The 90/10 rule applies here: 90 percent of your engagement comes from the top 10 percent of devices. I feel like everything moves into the browser because it makes discovery easy, development less expensive. It’s expectations. We talk about mobile as a PC, and then you expect it to behave like a PC, and it’s not. That’s why we think that at least for now, the proxy browser.”

Jacobstein disagreed with Bhandari, noting that he didn’t think the browser would be ubiquitous on mobile for some time. There are intrinsic limitations to what browsers have access to, even on the PC, he added. “I would argue that the most interesting services that people will build will be completely integrated. The coolest thing on iPhone is that level of integration, and that takes more than a browser.”

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Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab

USC’s Entertainment Technology Center has a history of being in the right place at the right time. Created as a consortium funded by the major content, technology, CE and service companies, ETC’s stated goal is “to understand next-gen consumers and explore new opportunities for reaching them with digital content. ” ETC was the main player, for many years, in the efforts to arrive at a standard for Digital Cinema. With that task behind the organization, ETC and its CEO/Executive Director David Wertheimer have now turned their attentions to the Anytime/Anywhere Content Laboratory (AACL).

Anywhere/Anytime Content Lab

Anywhere/Anytime Content Lab

MobilizedTV had an opportunity to speak with Wertheimer about the lab and how it might help vendors to improve the state-of-the-art of mobile TV/video. Here’s what he had to say:

“We’ve been working on the lab for several months now but it’s just now coming to fruition as a place where we can gather people and have a critical mass of state-of-the art devices to show how content moves across platforms through the home and to consumers on the go. it gives us a real opportunity to provide context for the industry-shaping discussions we have at the ETC between content providers, systems operators, technology and consumer electronics companies.

The technology is changing every day. And so we and, importantly, our member companies came to the conclusion that it would be great to have a place where we could not only know that we could follow the state-of-the-art and see content as consumers would see it, perhaps before they’d see it in many cases, but use it as a opportunity to talk about where things are headed and how we can work together to make sure that consumer experiences are as good as we want them to be.

The AACL builds on the model and the success of the Digial Cinema Lab where people from multiple industries were able to come together and hash out how Digital Cinema could work and come into existence.

For the AACL, our executive sponsors include major content partners from Disney, Warner Bros. to Fox, Sony Pictures and Lucasfilm to companies like Sharp Electronics, Volkswagen of America, Cisco, and Alcatel- Lucent. Project sponsors include Dolby, SanDisk and LG Electronics. In addition to that, we have lots of companies that have donated hardware and software to the lab, to be represented there.

One of the things we’re doing in August and into September is building out the 3D home part of the lab. We’re largely looking at the technologies that either encode, decode or display 3D video. That said, we have a working group looking at 3D end-to-end.

We’re just beginning to build out the relationships and technologies from the mobile side. Alcatel-Lucent was the first board member to join us and they and we are interested in bringing in companies from the wireless service provider space to be a part of the discussions we have. We’ve talked quite a bit about the state of the market, what’s working and what’s not and what we can do better in terms of making things better.

With regard to mobile, we’re looking at questions such as, Are there opportunities for us to build towards more common formats, since there are hundreds of video formats required to service the various handsets? How can we help drive a movement towards sanity? I think this is an opportune time to be doing this. People have seen some excitement about mobile but cost is going to be important in the mobile space. So doing things efficiently both for the service provider and content provider are going to be really important. People weren’t focused on that when they were just excited to get content on the mobile device. How, now, will we encourage the right things to happen so we don’t have to produce 200 versions of a movie or TV show, but a much smaller number and make sure they look good?

In the lab, we have lots of portable devices, from Apple iPods to iPhones to LG Voyagers, which Verizon is an affiliate sponsor of. I think a lot of these guys are headed in the right direction. This game is far from over. If you look at where the iPhone is, it’s got a lot of people excited about video on portable devices which is good. But the field is still wide open. I think that if people are smart about creating devices that are easy to use and really good at providing a quality user experience, I think there is still a lot of room for people to make inroads.

In the lab, our goal is to see how consumers are consuming on the leading edge and how that changes how major content producers and those who have to build the big systems to enable it are going to do what they do. Trending is important to us, but we don’t need lots and lots of people sitting around the table with us to fully understand that. The reason we bring smaller companies together with our larger partners is it is important to have that dialogue. The next big distribution company might be a name we don’t know today. We need to continue to be out there looking for how things are changing technologically and from a consumer behavior point of view, and what that means for content and consumer electronics.

Currently, our lab is not open to the public. The use of our lab is one of the sponsor benefits of being part of our organization. We are exploring right now how to involve smaller companies. Traditionally, ETC has been a non-profit organization funded by very large industry-shaping organizations, because it’s been frankly the power of those organizations that have been able to move the needle. That said, in today’s world, where smaller companies can have more and more influence, we are constantly and are currently evaluating how we open it up for those kinds of companies to be involved.

We do several events such as Tech First Look where we invite start-up companies to make a presentations and have a dialogue with the member companies and other industry analysts and so forth. We do those events a couple of times a year. So we have ways to get those companies in front of our member organizations, but we don’t currently have a way for them to join.

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Apple Love Fest at Digital Hollywood Panel

Monday, May 5, 2008–Today was the first day of Digital Hollywood, appropriately enough in the heart of Hollywood at the new Highland Center complex. For the next couple of days, I plan to post from the conference (or slightly thereafter)

First up, a panel on the Mobile Platform 2.0 – Establishing the Personalized Video, Music and Communications Experience, moderated by Sharon Wienbar, managing director at Scale Venture Partners, was an Apple love fest.The panel featured speakers from Nokia Interactive (Jeremy Wright, global director of mobile brand strategy) and Motorola (John Hallman, manager of market development for video and mobile television) as well as reps from Universal Music Group (Julie Lee, vp, biz dev) and AOL (Jai Jaisimha, vp of mobile technology and product development). Also present was Rick Doherty, co-founder/director of The Envisioneering Group.

Panelists both praised the iPhone for the fact that “it just works” – and the fact that if it doesn’t, Apple’s customer service will replace it, no questions asked. The 3G phones will kick up the game a big notch, but Wienbar noted that Apple’s 25-year old problem is delivering on time after an announcement.

Mobile phones are also huge in developing nations in Asia and Africa, although the features of an iPhone are not useful for these users. Over time, Hallman said, Nokia and Motorola will look at iPhone features, just as Apple will look at what works in Africa and Asia.

Panelists all concurred that the disruption of iPhone is positive for the industry, even as new features such as the touch-screen moves onto center stage.“That’s what we need – competition and the freedom to compete,” said Wright,pointing to progressive de-regulation. “Everyone has opportunity in the wake of the iPhone,” said Doherty. “We’ll see a flood of applications.” Wienbar agreed that the developer environment is “very fertile.” Currently, because Java- or Brew-enabled handsets are not heterogeneous, Apple has the biggest footprint with 5 million users – and thus the most fertile ground for developers.

And Google’s Android? Will this take advantage of the door opened by Apple? Jaisimha stressed the importance of platform heterogeneity. “Google Android is a placeholder, not a finished toolkit,” said Doherty. More important, said panelists, is that Google and Apple have awakened developers that handsets are “it” [as in, the “it” platform for development], whether Apple or not.

The panelists also talked about LBS (location-based services), which they recognized is in its earliest days in the U.S. market. Although the conversation first turned to privacy concerns (Wright reported that in the U.K., the carriers must seek permissions from users), the focus quickly changed to a discussion of LBS’ biggest competition in the U.S. market: the automotive navigational system. If you’ve got a GPS in you car – and in the U.S. (especially in L.A.), you’re always in your car, why do you need it with your cell phone?

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Mobile Monday – End of 2007 Musing & Predictions

Mobile Monday is the grassroots powerhouse organization for those engaged in all things mobile. The very robust Los Angeles chapter, which is run by Sarah Miller of Axis Marketing & PR, asked Interactive TV Alliance CEO Allison Dollar to help put together, and to moderate a panel, reflecting back on 2007 and looking forward to 2008. Along with a group of venture capitalists and analysts, I was on that panel. I didn’t have a tape recorder, so alas, you won’t get the wisdom of the other panelists, but here’s what I had to say. Please drop me a note to let me know what your predictions are for 2008.

Coal in the Christmas Stocking – Allison asked us all which companies, features or applications deserved coal in their stockings and why.
My choices were all the carriers for doing such a miserable job of educating the public about their mobile TV offerings. You can go to a website, enter a store and still have absolutely no idea that mobile TV even exists. Apple, which exists because of its insanely loyal customers, did a bad thing when they dissed their own customer base. I know I’d think twice about my loyalty if I’d stood in line in the cold for days to be the first to buy an iPhone, only to see the price lowered a few weeks later. What’s up with that, Apple? And while I’m at it, what’s with the telcos agreeing to participate in warrantless wire-tapping? Shame on them.

What were the most useful “gifts” the mobile industry received in 2007? I’m enthused about the big breakthrough in broadband video this year. Not long ago, the idea that people would actually watch video, much less TV programs, on their PC seemed ludicrous. This year, that’s all been proven wrong. That’s good news for the mobile industry, which is following the same path to wide adoption. Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz’s “quarterlife” was another gift: although it’s a broadband show, not a mobile show, these two savvy Hollywood producers showed everyone else how it’s done. High production values; guild signatories; stories that attract an audience. Listen up, mobile producers.

What were the most popular “gifts” mobile consumers received in 2007? Yes, I chastized Apple, but I also need to give them kudos. Although I was a hater, I have to say that the Apple iPhone was truly a great gift. Everyone I know who has one, loves it madly. Doesn’t that say it all? Apple has really set the bar for the competition. I think a series like “Afterworld” was another gift: made simply so it can easily conform to any handset’s requirements, this series is pretty much the “digital crack” that its creator wanted it to be. Aside from that, I would say that 2007 was a pretty sad year from the point of view of the consumer, who really got the same not-so-great level of service combined with high prices and a chaotic landscape for content offerings.

What were the newsworthy events of the year? The demise of the Disney MVNO was big news. If Disney—one of the most powerful brands in the world—can’t make an MVNO work, who can? Combined with the demise of Amp’d and ESPN’s MVNO, the Disney disconnect leaves MVNOs in a perilous position at the end of 2007. Google’s Android platform is also exciting. Although now it’s merely an SDK (software developers kit), that’s still exciting to me. SDKs bring brilliant Bulgarian math grad students out of the woodwork. This Open Handset Alliance move is a step in the right direction. Also of interest: I read that recent research shows that college students’ number-one Web destination is….social networks. Not porn, which usually drives any new media platform. Social networking it is, then. Nota bene, mobile content producers.

What’s on your wishlist for 2008? I’d like to see the carriers market their mobile content more aggressively. I’d like to see more handsets competitive with the iPhone. I’d like to see the 700 MHz spectrum auction stir things up in a way that speeds the dismantling of the walled garden. And I’d like to see more definitive research on mobile audiences, which results in more impetus for advertising-sponsored content.

Share your predictions for 2008. It’s going to be an interesting year. Verizon’s bid to create an “open” network is just one salvo in the evolution of the struggle between the closed and open networks. The 700 MHz auction will liven things up, but the carriers will work hard to maintain their position. The consumer will continue to be lost in the shuffle…for now. Although I don’t believe that at least the first half of 2008 will show any mobile TV breakthroughs, by the last quarter of 2008, we may be able to reap some of the benefits of a rocky start to the year.

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