iHollywood panel on off-portal content

Attended first panel at iHollywood, about on-portal versus off-portal content. A few carriers took part (VodaFone, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular), so pretty good discussion. It was called ‘What’s On Deck?’.

Some highlights:
– Carriers all seem to understand that they will have to offer off-portal content. But they need to be careful of Quality of Service. European models lead the way.
– Best scenario is when carriers assist with billing and consumer protection for off-portal content providers.
– Off portal and on portal are compatible. Analogy from Jeremy Flynn from Vodafone UK about the carrier owning a shopping mall (infrastructure), a leading store (carrier storefront), while leasing out all the other stores (off-portal content providers). Carriers help establish standards for store behavior, but don’t control the store.
– Jeremy cited an internal survey. Two groups of users, one with off-portal content and the other without. Both groups spent within 2 cents of each other on on-portal content. So off-portal doesn’t cannibalize on-portal significantly.
– Another remark from Jeremy: to build this market, all carriers need to cooperate for universal short codes and standards.
– Interesting thought: SMS will only remain the universal data access on hpones for another 2-3 years. What will happen when web access is near universal on handsets. [Will short codes be replaced by URLs? Or some hybrid of today’s SMS and Web.]

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