Nicoli: Mobile industry lacks consumer focus

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DENVER -- Put a label head in front of a wireless industry audience these days and they'll be happy to tell you what's wrong with mobile music.

EMI Group CEO Eric Nicoli, keynoting at the CTIA Wireless 2007 convention, spent most of his speech praising the opportunities of mobile music but then bluntly pointed out the limitations holding the market back.

"This has the potential to be one of the most exciting growth stories of the century," he said of the convergence of music and mobile technology. "(But) in my opinion, we will not meet our goals if we continue to carry on as we have been. Just as there are important opportunities, there are important challenges we need to address."

He pointed out three areas of improvement: Wireless phone and services should be easier to afford, use and understand. Nicoli pointed to Apple as the role model for these features, saying the company succeeds most by listening to consumers and giving them what they want, not what the technology can provide. "Being consumer-focused shouldn't be Apple's privilege," he said.

Nicoli also pointed to the desire for more sophisticated mobile music applications, including preloading full artist catalogs in new mobile phones on-demand at the point of sale as well as mobile ticketing and other uses.

Perhaps as a first step to that goal, Nicoli unveiled a partnership with Nokia under which the label will be the exclusive provider of music and artists inside Nokia retail locations and will promote EMI artists on Nokia handsets as well as in other Nokia-owned properties, such as its concert venues and theaters.

"If we just present (consumers) with what we want, when we want to, that won't do it," Nicoli said. "I'm merely (saying) we all have room for improvement."
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