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Partnerships key for pushing content

ORLANDO, Fla.-The day two keynotes at CTIA Wireless 2007 were all about collaboration. And, of course, money.
From music to video to m-commerce, Wednesday’s speakers hammered home the need for content providers and financial institutions to partner with carriers to push mobile data services and boost average revenue per user.
“Given the striking similarities in the paths our two industries have traveled, it is only natural we have arrived at a moment of convergence,” said John Philip Coghlan, president and CEO of Visa U.S.A. “The opportunity is there to create enormous value for every stakeholder.”
Coghlan unveiled several initiatives during his address, including a strategic investment in .mobi, a wireless-exclusive top-level domain that has drawn considerable criticism from those who claim the suffix will serve only to confuse consumers. Additionally, Visa announced an alliance with Ecrio, a mobile software developer that specializes in barcode technology, and said it is working with Qualcomm Inc. and Kyocera Wireless Corp. to put its mobile payment platform on CDMA and W-CDMA handsets.
Coghlan also cited some eyebrow-raising figures from an online survey commissioned by Visa. More than half the respondents were interested in mobile payments, he said, and would much rather pay m-commerce charges on their credit-card bill than on their wireless statement. That claim surely didn’t go unnoticed by the carrier representatives in the room, who are eager to bill for m-commerce transactions themselves.
“We need to work together,” Coghlan said. “It will take tremendous collaboration from us to realize (the market’s) potential.”
EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli took up the collaboration theme, too, urging carriers and other players to improve the consumer shopping experience for mobile music. The wireless industry needs to look beyond eye-catching technology, he said, and focus on making things simple and compelling for wireless subscribers.
“In my humble opinion, we will not reach our goals if we just carry on as we have been doing,” Nicoli stated. “We’ve all done too much talking. We need to do a lot more listening. . We need to get back to basics.”
Viacom Inc. CEO Philippe P. Dauman kicked off the morning by announcing mobile advertising deals with Pepsi Cola North America and Intel Corp. The companies will be the first sponsors of a new initiative by Viacom subsidiary MTV Networks Inc. to sell advertising across its entire mobile portfolio, Dauman said.
The executive also showcased a new SpongeBob SquarePants channel, which is slated to debut on Amp’d Mobile Inc. this summer, and a content partnership that will see Sprint Nextel Corp. become the largest carrier of MTVN content. Sprint Nextel will offer 10 channels of on-demand video as well as streaming video from MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central and wireless Web sites from MTV, Comedy Central and VH1.
“We want the access you provide to 2.3 billion subscribers in our target demographic,” Dauman told the audience. “The wireless industry has arrived at a moment of truth.”
Dauman was introduced via a recorded video from Comedy Central host Jon Stewart, who noted the two high-profile keynote speakers that will take the stage this morning.
“Those are some big guests,” Steward said of presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton. “I can only guess you’re paying them in ringtones-perhaps some polyphonic “My Humps?”

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