On 4 June 2024, Enders Analysis co-hosted the annual Media and Telecoms 2024 & Beyond Conference with Deloitte, sponsored by Barclays, Salesforce, the Financial Times, and Adobe. 

With over 580 attendees and over 40 speakers from the TMT sector, including leading executives and industry experts, the conference focused on how new technologies, regulation and infrastructure will impact the future of the industry. 

This is the edited transcript of Session Four, covering: artificial intelligence, the new phase of online advertising, and closing remarks. Videos of the presentations are available on the conference website.

Big news publishers are pursuing licensing deals with AI companies, chiefly OpenAI. Not all publishers will see a substantial return; while some news may be important for training AI models, not all publisher content will be

Litigation is a threat point when negotiations stall (see the New York Times), but the copyright status of Large Language Models (LLMs) is uncertain. In the UK, there has been no government intervention (on copyright or otherwise) that could facilitate licensing 

Publishers’ bargaining position is strongest when it comes to up-to-date material that could be important in powering some AI consumer products. They should seek deals to support their journalism, while bearing in mind the risk that new products may get between them and their readers

 

Recent advances in 'Artificial Intelligence' have generated excitement, investment and improved valuations, on the plausible promise of greater efficiency in a range of areas, such as health and coding.

It is still not clear who will profit from this boom. Currently chip-maker NVIDIA is cleaning up, propelled by sales to model developers, also driving demand for cloud computing services.

Leverage in the AI value chain depends on differentiation and barriers to entry, which are high in the chips industry. AI services like chatbots have much lower barriers to entry, while deeper vertical integration of more stages of the value chain could shake things up.

Device makers regained their mojo at this year’s MWC, with phones a crucial route to generative AI becoming a daily habit. 

AI software has improved and proliferated, but limited differentiation leaves room for consolidation as a competitive funding crunch looms. 

Unanswered questions loom large, but won't dim AI's potential. 

Sony PlayStation’s next CEO will have hard decisions to make: compete against a resurgent multiplatform Microsoft, or retreat and defend an increasingly rickety PlayStation console model.

New gaming hardware will have an outsize influence in the year ahead, giving gamers unprecedented choice, starting with XR headsets and continuing to a likely new Nintendo Switch.

YouTube’s foray into browser-based games will be the service to watch in 2024. If successful, streaming services, including Netflix, will be on track to become heavyweight game platforms.

Cloud revenues are reflecting patterns of AI integration. As big tech companies jostle for advantage, Microsoft and Azure claim an early lead

Cloud profits remain crucial for wider tech businesses, affecting ability to innovate

Strategies to develop and market cloud-based AI tools are diverging, with uncertainty rife. The ecosystem will shift as the demands of consumers and regulators becomes clearer

After a period of stagnation, many of the core business lines at the US tech mega-caps are back to posting respectable growth figures. The rest of the year will bed in strong revenue growth.

However, the sector is still facing a transition to new priorities. Core business strength should allow firms to shift from cost-cutting to the investment needed to fight the more competitive era they are facing.

AI is the number one focus, but the market for AI tools themselves is still nascent. Applying AI to internal problems has more promise. For instance, it is helping Meta solve its measurement and engagement problems.

A new era is starting for the big consumer tech companies, as they venture outside of their traditional comfort zones to bet on future growth—most obviously in AI, and then cloud, gaming, headsets and video.

Competition in the tech space is intensifying as incumbents go head-to-head in new revenue growth areas also populated by insurgent startups—their M&A watched closely by competition regulators.

Fat profit margins have ensured vast financial resources are available to pour into competition, but hitting the right targets for consumer engagement is key to success.

Apple's first headset is an experimental offering, but promises to be version one of a compelling but controversial device category.

The Vision Pro is not being pitched as a metaverse device, and not just because Apple refused to use the term. Applications are focused on where a good experience can be delivered today.

Contrary to expectations, Meta could be the main beneficiary in the short term, as the Apple halo boosts the headset category's respectability and developer focus.

The EU's approval of the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard enforces expansive pro-consumer remedies that are in stark contrast to the 'hard no' CMA decision in the UK.

Cloud gaming remains the wedge issue in a global standoff amongst regulators over reining in Microsoft and other big gaming platforms.

The overall deal is still in considerable, possibly terminal, trouble with the UK appeal and US lawsuit still to be resolved, and the FTC hearing due in August.