Britain’s mobile Olympics

Britain’s mobile Olympics

Lord Davies

Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Davies of Abersoch

Ramping up for 2012 and beyond with the UK Minister for Trade and Investment

London 2012 will be a defining moment for the UK at the beginning of the twenty first century. It is an unprecedented opportunity to show the world that we are a modern, forward looking, innovative country. No industry demonstrates this creativity and dynamism better than the mobile communications sector. We want to use that knowledge and energy to give viewers a richer and more interactive experience whether they are at the event, on the move, at work or at home.

Interactive Olympics

We saw the beginnings of a trend with Beijing, being the first interactive Olympics. It gave us a taste of just what is possible, but perhaps more importantly it showed that there is a real appetite for cutting edge interactive coverage amongst consumers. Mobile content in particular proved to be more popular than many expected, with the BBC taken aback by the level of interest that was expressed for mobile updates on the Games.

It proved global events have the power to dramatically increase people’s interest in watching mobile TV. In research conducted after the Games’

opening ceremony, Telegent found 88% of mobile TV users expressed an interested in watching the Games on their phones.

The possibilities do not end with coverage of the events themselves. Technology to support the infrastructure in helping the organisers manage the flow of visitors is one. The potential for mobile communications to become the key enabler in sending remittances around the world is another. One British firm is already using mobile technology to develop m-commerce and m-ticketing systems, which would allow cashless purchases of refreshments, merchandise and tickets at sports venues, without having to pre-register or upgrade any mobile equipment.

This sort of innovative thinking will be at the heart of our Olympics. But it is just one of many opportunities now available to us. Other global sporting events such as the World Cup and F1 could also benefit, as well as music concerts and festivals.

 

Best of British

As a frontrunner in this field, the UK is certainly well placed to take advantage of the opportunities available. My trip to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last February highlighted to me just what a strong position Britain is in. The innovation and expertise demonstrated by the companies I came across provided me with the evidence to back up what I already knew; that this country is the ideal place to develop the technology and rich mobile content needed to turn these ideas into a reality.

We are leading the way in developing some of the world’s most innovative and forward looking mobile technologies and, perhaps more importantly, we have the skills, passion and creativity necessary to help deliver the best communications environment for major events such as the Olympics and Paralympics.

As a government we are committed to preserving and growing this culture of innovation. We want UK firms to explore what these events can do for their companies. Seizing these opportunities will help drive the industry forward, maintaining its impressive momentum and protecting it from the full effects of the economic downturn.

The Digital Britain Interim report published in January outlined a strategy for building a knowledge economy where our greatest assets are the skills and innovation that underpin our digital industries. The government is committed to creating the right polices and regulatory frameworks to ensure Britain is at the forefront of the shift towards a global digital society.

 

UK world leader

I believe the appetite for this technology is unlikely to be dulled by the recession, particularly in the UK. Our consumers are amongst the most sophisticated and technologically advanced and have historically helped to drive trends globally. There is plenty of evidence to back this up; as mobile phone sales have slowed, the propensity of the UK consumer to buy rich media content has maintained.

And those that have a smartphone spend more than twice the average. Research undertaken by Motorola into technology consumption habits suggests that media mobility is becoming increasingly important. Of the 1200 questioned, 81% wanted the option to shift content from a set top box at home to a mobile device and 61% would be interested in a three minute version of their favourite shows on their mobiles.

While it is important to be proud of the position the UK holds, it is not just about striving to beat the rest. Much is to be gained from looking for opportunities to collaborate with international partners. No nation has a monopoly in any field of science or technology and working together is even more crucial in difficult times like these. Today more than ever these are global events and global opportunities.

I believe the mobile content industry is poised at a similar position to the internet in 1999, with faster networks and improved devices creating fresh opportunities with greater scope to really drive the industry forward. We need to grasp these opportunities and continue to look for new ones if we want to maintain the UK’s place as a world leader for 2012 and beyond.