XMediaLab: What’s your story? Part 2: Rajesh Rao, Jason Manley, Shinta Dhanuwatdoyo and Samuel Seow

XML Perth 2012 aims to explore how new digital technology impacts and enables storytelling.  My thoughts from the second part of the conference…

Rajesh Rao founded India’s first games company, Dhruva Interactive, in 1997 and is acknowledged as a pioneer of the games industry in India.  Rao described the scale of the market in India: 600 million Indians are below the age of 25.  India’s population is growing at 7-9% per annum, boosting “the great Indian middle class” with high disposable income (to 700 million people in the next 10-15 years).  Education is pushing computer ownership.  India has the fastest growing mobile market in the world: 900m mobile subscribers with the cheapest subscription and call costs worldwide.  And growth in 3G and 4G are pushing music, video and app uptake and production.  As voice calls are so cheap, telecommunication companies are investing heavily in higher-value content production.

The potential for content, and gaming particularly, is absolutely huge in this market.  As a result, Rao has seen this sector grow from one company in 1997 to over 110 game companies currently. The number of casual gamers in India is undergoing apex growth: some 5-10 million in 2008, rising to a predicted minimum of 120 million in 2015 (8x growth expected between 2010 and 2015).

Indian entertainment is now dominated by indigenous content.  Whilst it is an English speaking outward-looking nation, Rao believes consumers want non-imported Indian-produced content.  And he believes that due to social factors and infrastructures, the gaming fortune lies at the bottom of the pyramid: semi-urban and rural audiences.  And gamification of education is huge in India, allowing a new generation of consumers to discover gaming for entertainment.  Rao concluded that international content producers should begin looking to take advantage of this huge new market.

Next up was Jason Manley: President of www.theartdepartment.org, the online college of art and entertainment development. His talk focused on problem-solving or “strategic intuition”.

Next was an introduction to the unique digital landscape of Indonesia, from digital entrepreneur Shinta Dhanuwatdoyo.  Similar to Rao, she described a huge fast-growing market: a population of 237m people with 200m SIM cards, including 60m mobile internet users.  As broadband penetration improves, internet users are expected to triple by 2015.  Indonesia is now the No. 1 market in Asia for Twitter and Blackberry (affordable due to activity-only charging), and the No. 2 global market for Facebook.  Indonesia is another young population with 43% below the age of 20.  And niche content for this group is now driving hardware purchase (mobile handsets not defined by brand, but by content – “a soccer phone” or “a music phone”).  Relative to income and online access, Indonesia is experiencing a boom in ecommerce.  About 24% of the country’s online population now spending 10% of money disposable income online (growing towards the Asia-Pacific average of 35% of population).

And then IP specialist Samuel Seow led a (surprisingly entertaining) discussion on copyright.  In short, Seow clarified that while ideas are infinitely copy-able, a unique form of an idea can be protected.  He urged creatives to ensure copyright in their work through: 1) true originality; 2) recording in a non-transient, permanent material form; 3) separating existence from function (names must be protected by trademarking); 4) having a connecting factor to a WTO country (giving international protection); and 5) understanding different categories of work and underlying rights (including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, sound, TV broadcast, published editions).

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