Tuesday, May 27, 2008

South Africa - Mobile entertainment

South Africa: Mobile Entertainment 'To Be the Next Big Hit'

THE next best thing in cellphones is going to be entertainment-based, such as short movies and animation, says Emma Kaye, recently appointed Africa representative of the Mobile Entertainment Forum and CEO of Gate 7.

But she warns against adopting traditional models in SA.

That is because SA offers a unique market to this fast-growing segment of the industry.

The forum's members include some of the biggest entertainment and telephony companies such as Sony BMG, Nokia, Vodafone, Microsoft, Turkcell, Orange and Telefonika. It is the only trade organisation that represents key parties from the mobile entertainment sector, and its aim is to grow the industry.

In SA, cellphone penetration has reached more than 90% of the population, while the percentage with broadband connectivity is only 0,7%.

Kaye says that unlike western countries, cellphone technology in SA is leapfrogging traditional internet entertainment models such as fixed line and broadband. Therefore, new cellphone users going online with their phones cannot be expected to be as familiar with the internet as in other countries.

Because the cellphone is a communication and not a broadcasting tool, the aim should be to create indigenous entertainment and dialogue channels that users can identify with, she says. For example, the themes of the three top entertainment channels in India centre on religion, cricket and Bollywood.

The challenge is to find the characteristics in SA's multicultural society that individuals can identify with and communicate with as entertainment.

She says large corporations are moving swiftly to supply cellphone entertainment channels worldwide, using mostly re-purposed traditional entertainment . But Kaye believes this is being driven by people who do not necessarily know what SA's consumers, half of whom are under the age of 24, really want.

"One size does not fit all. It's like asking newspaper printers to write the newspaper."

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