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GCDC Keynote: Nokia's Shah On Mobile Brilliance

As the first-day keynote at the GCDC in Leipzig, Germany, Kamar Shah, the head of industry marketing of Nokia, presented an intriguing lecture entitled 'Mobile - The Mult...
As the first-day keynote at the GCDC in Leipzig, Germany, Kamar Shah, the head of industry marketing of Nokia, presented an intriguing lecture entitled 'Mobile - The Multimedia Computer', dealing with Nokia's vision for the future of cellphones. Shah discussed the evolution of mobile technology, market growth, and the firm's upcoming strategies for mobile gaming "hot spots," among other topics. Shah started off by asking who in the room has a multimedia computer in his pocket, laughing that there still weren't big enough pockets for this to be the case. The Nokia exec noted that we're using today's modern computers not only for crunching numbers, but as multimedia machines (to play music, games, videos, etc) and for communication (Internet, email, VoIP, and so on) The only problem with this convergence of functions, it was argued by Shah, is that the computer is not always with you, not always powered on, and that it lacks instant voice communication. That´s where mobile phones come in. He then went on to talk about how mobile gaming had evolved from simple games like the old Snake to immersive MMOGs. Shah showed statistics saying that there are 180 million consumers that play games on their mobile phones. 85% of the owners of a mobile phones have played a game at least once on their device, 25% play on it every day, and 25% have downloaded a game at least once. Analysts believe that revenue in the mobile game market is due to rise from $1.4 billion in 2004 to around $10.4 billion by the year 2010. Shah continued by showing stats indicating that the users of 3G phones with UMTS transfer twice as much data per online session as users of GPRS phones, and this will increase even more as the devices evolve. The way to increase the market, Shah indicated, is to make the consumer experience easier. This is what Nokia are working on by adding new channels to game distribution, and enhancing consumer experience. The oft-maligned N-Gage, now re-engineered as a mobile distribution platform for multiple Nokia phones, provides this new channel of game distribution, and would be making games more easily available to all. According to Shah, Nokia's new online gaming strategy would be over the air (OTA), meaning availability at certain hotspots, over the internet (OTI), for easy uploading from PC via USB, and out of the box - either preinstalled on new cellphones or delivered on the CDs shipped with them. In addition, a Nokia-hosted portal would allow gamers to have communities around the games, and share their experiences with each other. But the first step is for a free demo download with limited time use, somewhat like Xbox Live Arcade demos. If you like it, you could buy the full version, get charged via your phone bill, and then share your experiences with other players in forums, ranking the titles. Shah called this strategy "Try, Buy and Review". Another way to enhance consumer experience would be making mobile games more customizable for the players - Shah showed a demo of a new Nokia-published title where the players can create their own characters - what he calls user-created content. This could also be uploaded and shared with the community over the portal. Shah's conclusion was that we can reach this enhanced, larger market through creating new channels using OTA, OTI and out of the box to provide more accessibility - starkly different from Nokia's former retail-heavy aspirations for the N-Gage.

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