North American wireless operators need to emulate their European and Asian counterparts’ wireless entertainment and gaming strategies if they are to make any money, a conference in Toronto last month was told. During a session on Entertainment: The International Experience, panelists outlined some aspects of a successful mobile entertainment strategy, including the different opportunities represented by games and data. Michael Doherty, VP of the North American telecoms practice for British research firm Ovum, said wireless data services continue to represent an important chance for companies to add to their top line. Data services will continue to take an increasing percentage of overall revenue, he explained, pointing to the Korean experience where 60% of packet traffic comes from music, games and adult content. But the prospect for wireless games is less promising, Doherty said. Up to 85% of wireless subscribers will never play a wireless game and "that’s pretty sobering," he said. Despite the apparently bleak outlook, carriers continue to forge ahead with strategies aimed at the youth market. "But at the end of the day, it’s a very small piece for any given operator’s market." North American brand manager for Mobile Entertainment Europe Paul Cebo said that operators in Canada should look to Poland as an example of how to successfully deploy mobile entertainment. Carriers in Poland are able to generate 30,000 game downloads per month compared to about 600 in Canada. This, he added, comes in a country with similar penetration rates and subscriber numbers, but where the average monthly income is just a third of that in Canada. Cebo said one way to generate greater games traffic is to develop games and other content around timely events. As a first step, ringtones and wallpapers would be rolled out, followed by the more difficult content such as games. He added it takes four or five months to develop a game, but the problem in Canada is that it can take four months just to reach a decision to take the first step. "To make mobile entertainment happen," said Vivianne Gravel, president and CEO of LIPSO, "we have to consider three key elements, which are technology, content and marketing. In North America, many focus on technology. In Europe, they focus on both technology and content, and some energy on marketing. But in Asia, they take into consideration these three key elements. To launch mobile entertainment, they really focus on technology, content and marketing."