Mobile Entertainment: Let advertising drive adoption

You know how on Super Bowl Sunday people talk more about the commercials more than the on-field action? Expect CTIA I.T. Wireless & Entertainment 2007 to unfold pretty much the same way. With so many mobile video, music and gaming deals already in place and virtually every major content player in the mix, the burning question now is the role that advertising support will play, said Eric Berger, vice president of mobile entertainment for Sony Pictures Television.

"Data fees are still pretty high for mobile TV services, so everyone is looking at alternative models to bring fees down and spur consumer adoption," Berger said. "The industry is exploring ad support for both specific pieces of content and data platforms as a whole, and looking at whether and how to bring subscriber costs down with ads. The challenge is triangulating the demands of consumers, content owners, advertisers and carriers all together."

Despite the overwhelming volume of content now available to mobile subscribers, providers are still rolling out new services and platforms as well. Berger said Sony Pictures Television will introduce at CTIA two new networks in conjunction with an as-yet-unannounced carrier deal, while Island Def Jam Music Group and mobile multimedia provider mSpot will descend on San Francisco to launch IDJ Radio, a new urban-themed streaming music and on-demand video subscription service.

mSpot, Nokia and Island Def Jam will use next week's conference to showcase some innovative new technology during a party hosted by the three companies on Oct. 23 at Ruby Skye nightclub. Invitees will receive a barcode via SMS to their handset before the event. That barcode will then be scanned and used to gain admittance. Kamar Shah, global head of industry marketing at Nokia said that the company will be displaying its Internet Tablet, the N810 at the party to show people its MOSH mobile sharing service. Nokia also will have a film crew following Def Jam entertainer Ne-Yo, who will be performing at the party, and it will upload that live streaming content to the MOSH site.

On the gaming front, expect to hear lots at CTIA IT about the continued transformation of device makers into content providers. With its recent entry into the digital music download business, the resurrection of its N-Gage gaming platform and the debut of its Ovi web services portal, handset giant Nokia is brokering more deals than Howie Mandel, and emerging as a major player in mobile multimedia. And, of course, this CTIA represents the first major industry event where Apple's iPhone is actually in the hands of mobile execs and mobile consumers alike--for such a small device, it promises to cast a large shadow across the convention floor. -Jason