Italy

“The e-content market was re-born thanks to the Internet and has shown a positive trend all over the world”

How would you define e-content in your country?

From the practical point of view e-content in Italy should be subdivided in five main categories:

1) Entertainment, the most consistent one, it includes: mobile entertainment services such as logos, backgrounds, screensavers, ring tones, and other customization services for mobile phones.
2) News that means only prime news and financial news (i.e. delivered on 3G phones)
3) Culture & Cultural Heritage, that includes investments related to online/digital museums and libraries.
4) Education that includes educational publishing in digital format (CD ROMs & Internet) and educational software (follow up of CBT)
5) Tourism that is limited to web sites providing information for tourists, maps, basic info on accommodation and food.

“The good news is: thanks to media convergence and “enabling” technologies a number of “potential” content creators are now on the scene.”

Apart from the five main categories there are, as usual, “underworld” content and services such as adults, audio visual piracy and peer to peer sharing and a relevant sector that feeds off the “ground”: communities, blogs and wikis.

In addition, major part of the true market is related to new devices (audio/video players, smart phones, 3G phones, etc). Following the success story of iPod, audio/video players are going to became best sellers. Convergence is having a positive effect both on the development of hardware and software

What’s the status of e-content in Italy?

The Italian e-content scenario still includes both traditional content producers and owners, –newspaper, paper music & video publishers, radio and television, and more — newcomers like telecom operators, on line services providers, software houses – and creative people like industrial and web designers.

One of the key aspects in the digital domain relates to ontology. Digital objects are a completely new category of objects. Of course there are some “oasis” like e-Books and e-Objects that will never make real books obsolete. In such “turbulence”, property and intellectual property is a relevant issue and sometimes one of the bottlenecks in the harmonious development of the market.

We are still not clear how the e-content added value chain will shape up. The main difficulties will deal with accessing quality content and agreements on one side and effective distribution on the other.

The e-content market, from the technical point of view, means all the content we can interact with through new appliances such as cell-phones, pc, palm-devices, smart-phones, game consoles, digital television sets and more. In terms of connectivity, apart from the Internet and broad band, wireless connections are playing a relevant role even stimulating the creation of new applications ad hoc designed for WiFi, WiMax, Bluetooth (info services, infotainment, games, etc).
The good news is: thanks to media convergence and “enabling” technologies a number of “potential” content creators are now on the scene. We are still in an evolving phase of the so called “digital revolution”. It has taken more than sixty years to move from manuscripts to books to “print revolution”. Last but not least some sectors have not found effective market models such as e-culture)

The e-content market was re-born thanks to the Internet and has actually shown a positive trend almost all over the world. In Italy, it is delayed not because of the lack of infrastructure or technological development but because of the shortage of national content creators.

The value of the production of national content includes the acquisition of content and rights from abroad (300 million euro per year) in order to be integrated and merged with national content (270 millions euro per year). This means 1.140 million euro per year thanks to the synergetic factor.

Thanks to soft-technologies like “Macromedia Flash” a huge amount of content has been created in many sectors including games, delivered on different platform such as PCs, palm and phones.

To conclude, we can say that there is a delay, there is a strong need for national content, there are potential content creators but they must be supported to enter the commercial added value chain to opening up a real market that is now difficult to enter.

Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in your country?
E-Government: The impulse provided by the creation of the Ministry for Innovation this sector is now very active. Major part of the public administration is now offering valuable on line services. Regional and local administrations are strongly committed to the same goal. Smart cards and digital identities are key players in enabling value added services.

E-Inclusion: This sector is probably the best developed in terms of accessibility and national law, defining guidelines and promoting best practice in order to turn all the institutional/public administration sites into fully accessible web sites. Over 3 million people in Italy, 5% of the population are disabled. An additional focus point of the law is Education / Learning, with special regard to the visually impaired population.

E-Business: Apart from usual e-Mall and on-line shops there are some high impact applications and services such as the digital post service (www.poste.it) now available in the English version, on line wired/wireless home banking, and a significant number of on line payments (taxes, excises, subscriptions, more).

E-Culture: Significant efforts and resources were addressed to this sector in consideration of the incredible richness of artifacts and monuments. The lack of adequate exposition locations, the low cost/benefits ratio in the management of spaces open to the public, the lack of infrastructure, costs linked to restoration and maintenance of works and other aspects linked to the main issues related to the management of the cultural assets, such as their preservation, exposure to the public, and didactics, are some of the problems that could be solved through the use of advanced technologies. Significant initiatives to address this are being carried out by universities, research centers and private organizations (i.e. banks – www.popsoarte.it).

E-Learning: In the main stream of innovation and accessibility the e-Learning sector is a huge emerging market. A number of government initiatives address this market providing financial resources, regulatory frameworks and guidelines. The trend is positive. The number of learners increased from 3.8% in 2002 to 8.2% in 2004.

 

“The impulse provided by the creation of the Ministry for Innovation this sector is now very active”

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Italy is advanced in developing e-content?

Value of the e-content Market is Euro 1.140 million subdivided in:
• Public Content – value 116.8 millions euro (10.2%)
• Advertisement – value 123.3 millions euro (10.8%)
• Entertainment – value 899.6 millions euro (79%)

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Italy?

2004
2005 2006
News 32.5 33.9 35.2
Infotainment 263.5 310.9 348.2
Mobile entertainment 520 613.6 699.5
Music 0.6 0.9 1.7
Video 83.0 144.0 269.5
Advertisement 123.3 147.2 168.2
Public contents 116.8 148.1 194.7

Values millions euro – Source: Federcomin/DIT: Rapporto e-Content 2005 – Elaborazione NetConsulting

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Italy?

The major initiatives could well be positive as well as not so positive:
Positive Influence
• Free access to the Internet (’90)
• Mobile and smart phones platforms
• Main initiatives from the Ministry of Innovation
• Expectation from Wi fi WiMax Constraints
• IPR management (i.e. audio in MM)
• Access to the market
• Lack of appropriated value chain

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in your country?
According to the Ministry of Innovation e-Content Report 2005 major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in Italy are:

• Availability of adequate infrastructure: mainly concerning online video/movie and soccer matches market. Broadband connections are essential to ensure proper quality. Digital terrestrial television infrastructure has to be enhanced, from test phase to full operation. This will develop the full potential of DTT content market;
• Political guidelines from the government: they represent an element of fundamental importance for the full deployment of digital content in libraries and museums, definition of a standard of digitization, so as to avoid isolated initiatives from single agencies bringing in consequent problems of compatibility.
• Problems related to invoicing and systems of payment: they regard mainly the market of music, news and infotainment, where the heavy cost of invoicement of micro-transactions by law is the main bottleneck.
• constraints related to traditional players: a factor that regards mainly the market of the news, in which the strategies of newspapers publishers with regard to the development of the digital market still they are influenced them from an attitude strongly precaution dictated from the fear that the new markets can cannibalize the business traditional;
• Dominant position of foreign producers: an obstacle to the development of national players.
• Dominant position of telecom operators: affects some specific segments of the market (news, infotainment, gaming, and mobile entertainment).
• Intellectual property right management: is one of the bottlenecks in market development especially in music and video segments. Piracy has, surely, a negative impact on business volume.
• Lack of homogeneity of VAT: this is a bottleneck specifically in online news and music market.
• Some potential bottlenecks, amongst the others are: added value due to ICT sometimes is not clearly identifiable, there is no evidence of potential benefits; e-content “objects” are not yet well defined and structured, we are still looking for proper formats; some times the “pipeline” of IPRs is hard to manage; sharing of revenues in the value chain is not favorable for typical e-content products (mobile, video, entertainment, infotainment); in addition to already mentioned payment problems, there is a clear need of better market models supporting creativity and “digital born” content production.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in Italy?
The available infrastructure ranges between internet connections (ISDN, fiber optic), mobile phones networks (2G, 3G), digital television and radio (terrestrial, satellite, fiber optic). Pricing policies are generally adequate (internet access: via modem for free – ADSL 15 €/month – fiber optic €35/month – UMTS €o.4 cent /KB)

There is a need to promote high quality content production, even finding an appropriate format and market model. 3G phones opened the mass market for online news and videos. Skype and similar applications are re-shaping the world of telecoms.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

The available infrastructure ranges between internet connections (ISDN, fiber optic), mobile phones networks (2G, 3G), digital television and radio (terrestrial, satellite, fiber optic). Penetration of ICT is good.
Taking into account broad band connections:
One of the most relevant processes activated both by Law (anti-crime and misuse of the Internet) and by real necessity is the global protection of public and later on private servers and access points.

What’s the future of e-content in Italy?

The technology adoption trend represents one of the main pre-requisites for the e-content market development. This will hopefully lead to a significant overall growth of this market in the future, with the increment differing from segment to segment.

Within 2005, a 30% growth is possible, in 2006 the figure should be 26% that means 1900 millions euro more than 2005 (Data source) Federcomin / DIT: Rapporto e-Content 2005 – Elaborazione NetConsulting).

Some segments that have already experienced great successes like mobile entertainment and infotainment will slow down a bit News are in stand by with +4% per year but an interesting opportunity comes from 3G phone and their own online live news. Markets characterized by dynamic growths are: music that is going to reach +50% in 2005 and + 90% in 2006.

Public content growth was 26.8% in 2005 and will probably reach 31.5 % in 2006, thanks to the educational market and tourism services.

A major part of the revenues related to online content still comes from advertisement (banners, logos etc). It is expected to increase by 19.4% in 2005 and 14.3% in 2006.

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in your country?

It is difficult to say, since we are in the thick of it. It changes from time to time and from sector to sector and this is apparent even when we consider revenues and market. It will be a mixture of them.

In the last ten years, it was the Internet and the Web that started it all. A major portion of e-content on the Internet is suffering problems related to market models, because in early days, the message was “Internet is for free”. Digital content creation, websites and portals are now being consolidated after the tremendous spurt of growth since the 90s. Blogs, Wikies and forums are the actual cradle of content.

Digital television finally broke the long monopoly of Analogue TV, again no major problems in

“Digital television finally broke the long monopoly of Analogue TV”

updating the national set of home devices, plasma and tft are ruling the consumer market but both terrestrial and satellite channels did not yet provide true enhanced added value services reaching the critical mass of audience.

Special mention for smart cards and pre-paid services, the first ones, after more than fifteen years from their development, are now leading the market of services, the second one opened the mass market of cell phones and still is a joker in bridging security and accounting gaps.

>How do you recognise the best e-content practices in Italy?

The national pre-selection process was started as a follow up of the experience of WSA in Geneva. On June 2004 the project was launched. Some of the key points in order to be successful are:
• promotion of the initiative at national level,
• high visibility on the state of the art of e-content made in Italy,
• setting up of a consistent evaluation procedure,
• setting up of a national jury ensuring both vertical and transversal expertise,
• … And last but not least due to the time frame – prompt action.

Thanks to the long term activity in the field and an already existent network of experts and partners eContent Award Italy 2004/2005 was announced on October 2004. Jointly organized and promoted by MEDICI Framework and Fondazione Politecnico di Milano inspired to WSA in order to select quality e-content and promote creativity and innovation in the development of new media applications in Italy.

eContent Award Italy has received the “Silver Plate” from the Presidenza della Repubblica and is patronized by the Ministry for Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Foreigner Affairs, Ministry for Education, Universities and Scientific Research, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Ministry for Community Policies, Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Productive Activities, Regione Lombardia, Camera di Commercio di Milano, Occam.

Updated information about the second phase of the project are available on the website www.econtentaward.it

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