Content kingpins call for simplicity, better UI

At this morning's keynote session, several top entertainment executives voiced their concerns about the industry and challenged the wireless ecosystem of carriers, handset makers and others to join forces to streamline mobile content purchases.

Edgar Bronfman, Jr., chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, cited a 2006 study conducted by Warner Music that found that only 8.5 percent of subscribers with mobile music devices were using it to buy music over the air. "It's expensive, complicated and slow," Bronfman says. "As partners in this industry we have to do what we can to change this. We need to make it affordable, easy and quick to download music to mobile phones. Until we achieve that, we are falling short of potential and leaving billions of profits unrealized."

Specifically, Bronfman pointed toward ringtone downloads, where he said the average ringtone download session takes 2.5 minutes and about 20 clicks. "If you could make that 2 or 3 clicks or 10 seconds, the amount of revenue that would unlock would be extraordinary. And that is just for the ringtone market."

The need for simplicity was echoed by Mika Salmi, president of global digital media for MTV Networks. "We are concerned. For teens and young adults--our core audience--it's not that easy. There are so many technical challenges and business issues."

However, Salmi pointed to a few techniques that he believes could improve the consumer experience and uptake of mobile content.  For example, he says that MTV is a fan of embedded content on the phone. "Embedded content really shows off the phone. It encourages users to get more content," he says. "It's good for the operator. Good for us and good for the handset manufacturer."

But it's about more than just embedded content, subscriptions and pricing. Lucy Hood, CEO of Jamba!, says that content firms need to create better content that will engage consumers and drive usage. "Only a small fraction [of consumers] are enjoying entertainment. It's a billion-dollar business, but it could be so much more."