Tablets Are Here to Stay
Tablets such as the iPad many not revolutionize computing and entertainment, but they're here to stay, a panel of mobile technology experts said at the Digital Hollywood conference on Tuesday (Oct. 19).

Chris Hoerenz, chief marketing officer for Fox Mobile Group's Bitbop, called tablets "the most exciting thing I've seen in years" and said they are changing how people think about consuming entertainment. Dan Monahan, global Internet segment manager Ultra Mobility, Intel, was equally excited. "You won't believe the types of products that are going to come out."

The panelists' differed only in their level of excitement. Some feel tablets allow a parallel experience that will complement other in-home uses. For example, a tablet can be used on the living room couch to complement television viewing. Most panelists said they think tablets will be in-home devices and will often replace PCs.

In any case, the gravity of the new device was not in doubt. "I don't know if it's a revolution," said Brandon Lucas, VP and GM, Mobile, Black Entertainment Television of the tablet device. "It's here to stay."

Why You Need Communities
A group of independent filmmakers underscored the importance of building your own community. Ad-supported models need guaranteed distribution behind them, explained Damon Berger, former head of digital at Fox Studios. Otherwise it's up to the creator, he says, and that allows for continuous engagement with the audience.

For example, Jeffrey Tuchman of Documania Films has created online communities of people with experiences similar to the ones explored in his documentary. The campaign involves Twitter, Facebook and PR to drive traffic to the sites. He's currently working on a grant-funded project that will take ten years. "It has the money," he says, "but needs an audience." So he will create venues to constantly release content and build an audience while the project is in production.

Ads Alone Won't Cut It
Advertising isn't enough to properly monetize an online presence. "You have to figure out how to monetize that relationship," said John Caplan, founder and CEO of OpenSky, a year-old company that allows people with an online presence - celebrities, bloggers - to sell items on their personal websites. Basically, it lets people buy products from people they know and trust. The company has received $5 million in funding from Highland Capital, Canaan Partners and Ron Conway, a noted angel investor who invested early in the likes of Google and PayPal.

Of course, not every personality, artist or celebrity can sell consumer products. There are plenty of other approaches gaining traction. Cisco is working toward better monetization, too. With its Eos platform, the company is working with Warner Music Group, the Travel Channel and others to create more value out of the direct-to-fan relationship. AOL has taken a unique path with Cambio, its joint venture with the Jonas Group (which represents the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Jordin Sparks and others) and MGX Lab. Cambio is an online video network offers artist-created content and original programming.