Mobile apps, World Cup and Xbox motion controllers to define media in 2010

12 Jan 2010

The last year of the first decade of the 21st century will be epoch-making in terms of the changes that it will herald across the media landscape, a new report suggests, with mobile apps, motion control and the connected home being at the centre of change.

According to Screen Digest, 2009 was the  worst year ever recorded for advertising. All media categories saw falling ad revenues, with TV outperforming other traditional media – despite being down 13pc on average.

In 2010, the return of economic stability will be mirrored by a stabilisation of ad spending to -1.2pc on average in Europe.

Recovery of ad spending

However, Screen Digest’s econometric model suggests that a minimum GDP growth of 2-3pc (at current prices) is historically required to trigger any advertising spending recovery – and economic forecasts from IMF remain short of this figure.

“Although business confidence indexes have been improving since March 2009, the ‘green shoots’ heralded in Q4 for TV advertising failed to materialise,” Vincent Letang, head of Advertising Intelligence at Screen Digest explained.

“With no advertisers expected to bring their expenditure to pre-2009 levels, Screen Digest remains cautious about the prospects for 2010. However, for TV the picture is different; ad prices hit an all-time low in the second half of 2009 and will gradually recover during 2010. This, combined with the positive benefits of the World Cup, suggest TV advertising will outperform other traditional media.”

The year 2009 was the most successful year for mobile content ever, primarily due to the success of Apple’s App Store, which Screen Digest forecasts to generate €890 million in revenues and 4.4 billion application downloads in 2010. Not all application stores will achieve the same level of success and the business model will take some time to reach mass-market adoption.

“Despite the success Apple has enjoyed with its Apps, we believe the exploding number of application stores and corresponding development platforms poses a danger by creating unnecessary market fragmentation,” Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst at Screen Digest explained.

“Market consolidation is a long way off. The huge corporations behind those application stores – Apple, Google, Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft, Vodafone and Orange – will be happy to compete with each other, and the sheer size of the market will offer enough room for them all to co-exist.”

New motion-control technology from PS3 and Xbox 360 will help reinforce the unique gaming proposition offered by console.

Increase in games markets

The year 2009 was noteworthy for the continued rise of games markets beyond the traditional console business – especially social-network games and app store sales for smart phones. The year 2010 will herald a new phase of technological development on consoles as manufacturers seek to maintain their market dominance.

Not only will new motion-control gaming solutions for both PS3 and Xbox 360 elongate the life cycle of the high-definition consoles – giving manufacturers and game publishers more time to realise a return on their investments – but it will allow them to compete more directly with this generation’s leading console, Nintendo’s Wii.

Screen Digest forecasts that online games markets will be worth an increased 24pc of a combined physical and online market in the US in 2010, up from 18pc in 2009.

Screen Digest head of games, Piers Harding-Rolls, said: “Physical retail still dominates in market-share terms, but with heavy growth in games content consumption on alternative devices and platforms, competition for gamers’ spend is growing steadily.

“Motion-control games offer a unique respite for console platforms. They are as yet unique and can’t be replicated by alternative platforms or on-demand solutions and so they represent an important development for both Sony and Microsoft.”

Making a connection

Online video content will continue to move closer to the TV as the “connected” home becomes a reality 2010. Connected games consoles, set-top-boxes and TVs that connect directly to the internet are making it easier than ever to get online video content to the television.

European broadcasters are actively looking to deliver content directly to the TV – with Project Canvas in the UK and HbbTV in Europe leading the charge. This is in direct contrast to the US, where the broadcaster networks have limited their over-the-top ambitions to the PC.

The leading connected device in the living room will continue to be the games console. By the end of 2009, 20.2 million Xbox 360s were actively connected to the internet. By the same measure, 20.1 million PS3s and 25.8 million Nintendo Wii’s were connected online.

“We are only at the beginning of the digital living room as TV sets, Blu-ray players and other set-top boxes are increasingly getting connected to the internet and providing services that people are actually going to use,” said Dan Cryan, head of broadband at Screen Digest.

“For the moment, games consoles have a significant lead in getting internet content to the TV as their processing power and significant local storage makes them easy to upgrade and add new services,” Cryan said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: The Xbox 360 Elite. Moving into the future, the leading connected device in the living room will be the games console, a report by Screen Digest suggests

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years