Bronfman: Tech must untangle


BARCELONA, Spain -- Warner Music chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. warned that the mobile and music industries are losing out on "billions of dollars of revenue" because of poor customer experiences.

In a keynote address at a heavily attended session at the 3GSM World Congress, Bronfman said the customer experience is too time-consuming and unwieldy.

"It's remarkable that we have made the amount of money from digital that we have, given how complicated the whole process is," Bronfman told an audience of mobile-telecom operators and entertainment executives. "We need to do everything to change that. Until we achieve that, we're leaving billions of unrealized potential dollars. Just imagine what we could do if it was fun and seamless."

His points were reiterated in comments from Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTV Networks, and Lucy Hood, CEO of News Corp./Verisign joint venture Jamba.

"I concur with Edgar on the simplicity issue," Salmi said. "It's everything from the technical side to the business models -- how do you pay (is a huge issue). We are also concerned that it is just not that simple for our core users; most of our customers are teens, and they are quite tech-savvy, but it's still difficult."

Hood added that content aggregators have to work hard "to engage customers."

Bronfman used the opportunity to unveil strategic partnerships in the Middle East and Africa with leading Egypt-based Middle Eastern telecoms operator Orascom and Telenor in South Asia.

Bronfman acknowledged that Warner Music is in a process of transforming from a business based on physical and legacy infrastructure to a new business model dominated by digital revenue.

"We've been one kind of business, but now have to think of ourselves as another kind of business, and the mobile industry has to do the same," he said.

Warner Music announced last week that its first-quarter net income tumbled 74% to $18 million.