Live from KANZ 2011 – Leo Jun from SK Telecom – Screens are everywhere #kanz11

The final session at KANZ 2011 that I attended today was given byLeo Jun (@uberlab), director of the media platform diviosn in the personal media business at Korea’s SK Telecom. His presentation, Screens are everywhere, what about your content?, focused on SK Telecom’s hoppin service, which seeks to solve the problem of consumers being bombarded with too much content.

It’s solution is to enable users to move their experience for watching content from one device to another – ie, a program being watched on a mobile device can seamlessly be transferred to another screen as suits the consumer. The service can also make recommendations to consumers to help them find content based on their user behaviour, and they can also search based on emotional keywords such as ‘horrific’ or ‘heartwarming’.

The service also enables the mobile phone to be used as a settop box, with the TV just acking as a big, dumb screen. Using a cradle the phone basically takes over the TV with content automatically reformatted. It is also possible to get content information sent to your tablet PC as you watch.

Live from KANZ 2011 – David Gurney from Blue Rocket Productions and Evan Manolis from Samsung #kanz2011

The first session after lunch focused on digital media and entertainment, with the first presentation given by David Gurney, co-founder of Blue Rocket Productions. David talked about the company’s history developing multimedia entertainment, and how the economics of production have become harder as the media has become more advanced.

He also talked about the difficulty inherent in looking into the digital entertainment industry’s future.

“We are in a market where it is getting harder to tell the true innovators from the people who are just good marketers, and audiences are moving away from channel loyalty to brand loyalty,” Gurney said. “Audiences are slipping away from television into Facebook, or into World of Warcraft. So the advertisers know this and are pulling their money and putting it into online where they can quantify their results through use of metadata. So that leaves the broadcasters with less money for commissioning, which means the audiences are offered less and are moving even more online. As content producers we are constantly wondering how we can monetise a space that is becoming more and more fragmented.”

Furthermore, the new gatekeepers have not come from a traditional TV background- they are telecommunications companies and device makers.

There are upsides however.

“The future, particularly with faster broadband, will enable us to exchange ideas very quickly with international partners,” Gurney said.

The second presentation was given by Evan Manolis, group senior product manager for AV at Samsung Electronics Australia. He discussed the company’s three year process to bring convergence technologies and content to televisions. He said the television is now very much an entertainment hub, and his company has partnered with some of the biggest content partners in Australia. Moving forward about a third of Samsung’s televisions will be Internet-connected smart TVs.

He also talked about the Your Video function that is now embedded into TVs.  The service has access to tens of thousands of videos that can be bought as you please on a pay-per-view basis. In  Australia however there is a lack of content providers, can tie into freinds’ recommendations through Facebook, and also integrate your own video content.

He also described Samsung as one of the new gatekeepers described by Gurney. The company has brought sport to its TVs through its tie-up with Telstra Bigpond, and is signing up other content details across Australia. Eventually Samsung will enable Australians to watch foreign television stations live on its television over the Internet.


Live from the Korea-Australia-New Zealand Broadband Summit 2011 #kanz2011

I’m currently attending the annual Korea-Australia-New Zealand (KANZ) Broadband Summit in Hobart, and tomorrow morning will be giving the breakfast address.I’ll be blogging selectively throughout the day, and it is also being streamed live.

After a brief welcoming address from Professor Mike Miller, emeritus professor at the University of South Australia, the opening speech was given by Australia’s Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. The Senator talked about the long history of friendship between Australia, New Zealand and Korea, and the partnerships that have been formed, including one between Korea and CSIRO. The Australian animation company Crewjo also got a mention for its alliance with a Korean company for the production of educational content. He also talked about the partnership between Australia and New Zealand to reduce trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges.

He also talked about the start differences in the deployment of broadband between the three counties – Australia and New Zealand being in the middle of their next-generation broadband deployments, while Korea is recognised as a world leader in broadband. He said it was fitting that the conference be held in Tasmania, where the National Broadband Network first went live.

he also talked about how Australia’s productivity performance has slowed to 1.4 percent, from almost double that in the previous decade.

“Ubiquitous high speed broadband is the key to the nation’s economic and social future, and the key to participating in the digital economy,” he said. “(High-speed broadband) drives productivity. It will connect Australians to each other, and the world.”

His address was followed by one from Mr See Joong Choi, the chairman, Korean Communications Commission, who talked about the changes the have occurred in Korea as a result of the introduction of broadband technology into Korea.

“Our three nations have a common goal of pursuing economic development and the advance of digital culture with high-speed broadband infrastructure,” he said. “The Korean government has established three mid to long term development projects since 1995 to roll out an ultra-fast broadband network.  These network upgrading projects will not only support the expansion of a smart society, but lay the foundation for the development of a digital economy.”

He also discussed the idea that unless Korea develops a culture of being able to capture the benefits of these network developments – it is the applications and services that are vital, and they must be the focus of ongoing development. Society must als be educated as to the issues of cyber-safety as more and more of its actions move online. Finally, he talked about the role that broadband can play in reducing greenhouse emissions through the use of ICT for energy saving activities, particularly the use of cloud computing.

The final opening address was given by Hon. Steven Joyce, the New Zealand Minister for Communications and Information Technology. Mr Joyce talked about New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband network deployment, which is occurring in partnership with the private sector and aims to deliver high speed broadband to 75 percent of the population by 2019.  The country is also deploying a rural network, the Rural Broadband Initiative, for high-speed access in regional areas, which aims to give at least 5 Mbps to more than 80 percent of regional areas. Altogether the two networks will give high speed broadband to more than 90 percent of the nation’s population.

Live from KANZ 2011 – Peter James and Andrew Wilshire #kanz2011

The opening address of the second session for the day was given by Peter Harris, secretary for the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, who discussed the new Convergence Review. He talked about how the NBN will change the paradigm of media delivery in Australia.

“The time has come to examine the regulartory structures that underpin the businesses that deliver services over these networks,” Mr Harris said.

To paraphrase, the impact of technology on the media sector has been stark. We are moving away from the age of the television and towards the  age of the intelligent screen. About 20 percent of TVs sold in the US last year were Internet-connected, and a third of US households will have Internet-connected televisions by 2015.

He also talked about the changes in content, and the desire of Telstra and others to get more access to live sports and other big-audience events. Netflix is taking on original content, telstra wants Internet AFL rights, and Hulu is looking at coming into Australia. There are now over 45 million IPTV subscribers in the world, and growth rates of more than 60 percent are being reported in some parts of Asia. He showed Nielsen figures that showed that Internet-connected Australians are watching 1.5 hours of video on mobiles, 2.7 hours of IPTV and 4.2 hours of ‘catch-up’ TV, and 5.5 hours of downloads.

The second presentation was given by Andrew Wilshire, the managing director of consulting company Tomorrow, who talked about convergence as being like a Swiss Army knife that is changing the way that businesses are operating adn allowing the reinvention of business.

He also talked about how the world is being indexed, with the data used to sell value-added services, such as by the website Foodspotting. Abstract business models are emerging that are creating new forms of monetising services. The changes are widespread – price comparison applications and bar-code readers make it easy for consumers to compare retail prices, classified advertising in print has been almost wiped out, and dozens of other industries face similar issues. Other trends include the better use of customer data and the need to stop thinking about owning the supply chain from end to end. Often it is the largest companies that have the greatest resources but have the most trouble with changing – all of this means looking outside for expertise.



Live blog at #V21 Melbourne – Robbee Minicola from Hybrid TV

The second presentation for the day was delivered by Robbee Minicola, the chief executive of Hybrid TV, the company behind the introduction of TiVo into Australia. Minicola started by talking about the evolution of YouTube into professional activities – longer form content, live streaming, professionally-produced content, and so on, and encouraged the audience to learn more about the professional side.

“YouTube is embedded in tens of millions of devices,” Minicola said. “LG have a suite of 140 devices – YouTube is embedded in those, YouTube is embedded in the iPhone. I’m talking ubiquity.”

She also talked about how 90 percent of televisions sold this coming Christmas will feature Internet connectivity, and you can be sure that YouTube will be a featured app. The big message was that people need to be thinking about the implications now – before they get squished by the elephants of the industry. She also talked about the great capacity for contextual advertising through new formats with advertising becoming more bespoke.

“You have to coalesce – the big brands are the ones that survive,” Minicola said. “Create a consortium – a consortium is going to make it work for you. You need to unite and fight. Come together and create a brand. If it is just you on your own it won’t work.”

Live blog at #V21 Melbourne – Geof Heydon from Alcatel-Lucent

Am currently at the V21 conference, an initiatve of AIMIA being held today in Melbourne. After a brief welcome from organiser Debra Allanson the opening address was given by AIMIA national president and managing director of PortableSimon Goodrich, who talked about the evolution of AIMIA and of people’s awareness of digital media generally.

The first presentation was given by Geof Heydon, the vice president for the digital economy at Alcatel-Lucent in Australia (and also quoted in A Faster Future). He talked about how it is the digital content innovation that needs to occur to take initiatives like the National Broadband Network, because a lot of the technology of the networks themselves have already been developed. He also talked about the power of faster networks and compression, using the example of how our ability to download a movie that has come down from 800,000 hours to an expected 30 seconds by 2012. He also pointed to how less money is being spent on advertising as digital media allows the spend to be more targeted – we can stop s[ending the half of the advertising budget that is traditionally wasted.

He also talked about the future of applications will be all about hiding the complexity that lies behind them. For instance, the browser will become less important, and phone numbers will become irrelevant – we will just connect as people to other people. He also suggested that the operating systems that are on phones will become the operating systems that will run on televisions. He also talked about the possibility for new business models that are barely being thought of today (one of the main themes of A Faster Future) and the need for people to be thinking about these possibilities in the future. He also talked about how there will be no one big killer application – instead there will be a killer environment made up with many smaller important applications.

Finally, he talked about the architecture of the NBN and its importance in terms of underpinning the development of the digital economy. Industries must learn to deal with many business models, and the devices and applications will hide the complexity. He also stressed that these changes will creep across every sector (another theme that we explore in A Faster Future in great depth) – indeed, everywhere apart from the telecommunications technology sector.

“The technology is advancing quicker than the consumers can consume it from a network infrastructure point of view,” Heydon said. “Every major department and industry sector must find ways to innovate. And we have done a lousy job of teaching people what megabits per second means … and see the excitement on how it’s being used.”



Responses to questions from last week’s Innovation Series lunch #iveseries

The Innovation Series lunch forum held last Friday in Brisbane saw myself, QUT’s Prof Simon Kaplan and CSIRO’s Dr Cecile Paris discuss a range of topics relating to social media and its rise through online channels around the world.

My presentation focused on many of the themes contained within A Faster Future, and sought to remind the audience that while technology moves quickly, it is important to consider the fundamentals of the business before making any decisions regarding emerging fields such as social media. The session generated a lot of questions from the audience, some via Twitter, of which many couldn’t be answered in the time allotted.

Hence the organisers asked me to respond to those unanswered questions, and I have attempted to do so below:

Q:Why did you publish a book rather than via an online channel?

A: My co-author and I were keen to write something at the length of a book, to capture a large swathe of ideas and string them together around themes. The intention was that it be read in a short period of time rather than as an evolving work over many months. Many of the people that we want to reach with A Faster Future are not those that currently use e-reader devices, hence the decision to go with a paperback book. Rest assured, an ebook version is currently being prepared and will be announced soon. We are also considering using online channels to further the book’s evolution over the next year, but no firm decisions have been made.

Q: Do you think journalists have become lazier since the start of social media and why?

A: That presupposes that journalists were lazy to begin with, which I don’t agree with. If anything, the rise of online media and the need for journalists to produce stories for immediate publication online (often creating multiple versions) has made them busier than ever. What social media has done is augment the news-gathering work of journalists with a plethora of (often gifted) amateurs, leading some publishers to take on a role that curates external content as well as generating their own. Social media has also provided a direct response mechanism whereby those who wish to comment on a story can do so immediately. This tears down some of the barriers that have existed between journalists and their audiences, making them more accountable.

Q: To generalise… journalists seek truth, marketers seek to resonate – is there a book in that?

A: There is a book in anything, although some books are more interesting then others. From my experience journalists seek two things – accuracy and a good story. Marketers have a very different remit, which is to drive sales (or some other result), and many of the best do so in an accurate and compelling way. That said, the two professions are often poles apart, if not directly at odds. Whereas a journalist does not care of a story boosts or denigrates a brand, a marketer certainly does.

Q: Do you agree with Simon Kaplan’s view that it’s a social media evolution rather than revolution? and Why?

A: Social media existed before the Internet, we just didn’t call it that. Talkback radio is one version of an old-style social media mechanism. People have always talked about brands amongst their peerrs, and word-of-mouth marketing is considered one of the most powerful forms of marketing. I think Simon also pointed to the coffee houses of 100 years ago. There are dozens of variations in between. Hence I agree that online social media is an evolution of something that had already occured, albeit it a radical step forward in that evolution. But as social media already had foundations offline, I don’t see it as a revolution.