iSummit Diary: 3G Content and Machinima Marketing

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I attended, and was a speaker at, iSummit 2006, March 29-31, 2006 in Toronto, Canada. This entry is the first of two featuring my notes from the sessions I attended.

iSummit is described as "an international entertainment and media event dedicated to the business of digital content on interactive platforms." This was a lively and intimate conference focused more on interactive content rather the underlying technology. It was also a really diverse and international crowd made up of folks from the television, interactive, technology, and marketing worlds (or unusual combinations of each). Kudos to the New Media Business Alliance and the sponsors for putting on such a stimulating event.

The 3G Experience: Signals From Around the World

  • This session was devoted to the high-speed 3G mobile phone networks, coming soon (as early as this fall) to Canada but already quite popular in other parts of the world.
  • In Japan, teenagers account for 70% of the 3G network revenue, most of which is pay-per-use and pay-per-view service and data offerings.
  • One panelist suggested that Asia was ahead of the Australian market by 2 years, and that Australia was ahead of the US (and Canadian) market by 2 years.
  • In England there are already 3-5 million 3G subscribers, depending on who you ask.
  • In Italy, the most popular 3G content is ringtones (30%), ‘adult’ (25%), games (20%), TV clips (15%), music/songs (7%), sports info (3%), and ‘gossip’ content (2%).
  • Speaking of TV, short video ‘digests’ are the way to go versus long-form video.
  • Another interesting statistic: the typical mobile phone user changes their phone every 18 months.
  • One obstacle to success with 3G phones was said to be the user interface; the easier they are made to use, the more easily the revenue will flow.
  • We were shown a demonstration of Kemeleon, a very cool ‘animated messaging’ service that converts SMS messages into animated character video messages. Weird, yes, but also hugely popular with teenagers in Asia. (Apparently some of the most popular, and profitable, 3G services are completely ‘pointless’ from a rational or traditional point-of-view. Go figure.)

Machinima Showcase: Videogames as Filmmaking Tools

  • This session provided an overview of the emerging and fascinating filmmaking medium of "Machinima" whereby creators use videogame engines to create short films.
  • Machinima began as a grassroots effort; the most famous example is the popular series of films based on the videogame Halo, Red vs. Blue.
  • Heavy.com is paid by videogame publishers and console companies like Sony to make ‘films’ using their games. From a marketing point-of-view, this is a high-tech spin on product placement. The entire film is the product placement, so to speak.
  • SecondLife.com is an example of an online game that has migrated to being a ‘filmmaking’ tool. The ‘filming’ process requires real-time collaboration between many people, not unlike the offline version, however the ‘crew’ members can be located in different corners of the world and meet "in world" (in the online world) to ‘perform’ and ‘shoot’.
  • For more info about Machinima, see Machinima.com and The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences.

Here are some other stray tidbits from iSummit:

  • CBC will soon be launching a free, ad-supported video service at www.cbc.ca/video … doesn’t appear to be live yet, but keep checking.
  • Also, check out BiteTV, "Canada’s first interactive television channel" targeting 18-24 year-old males. It’s further proof the CRTC’s days are numbered.

For more about iSummit I encourage you to check out the iSummit blog and the iSummit Website.

In the second installment of my iSummit diary I will be sharing my notes from the sessions on Xbox Live and "branded entertainment" plus I’ve got a hot tip for everyone interested in blogging. Stay tuned…

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