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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More from Futures of Entertainment 2 at MIT

First Panel Discussion - Mobile Media
Lots of information, but if you are into mobile, it's good stuff. A bit text heavy, and a lack of who-said-what, but the ideas are there from some very smart people.

Panel Members:
Alice Kim – MTV Networks
Marc Davis – Yahoo!
Anmol Madan - MIT Media Lab
Bob Schukai – Turner Broadcasting

Joshua Green, Research Manager of the Convergence Culture Consortium at MIT

Mobile Media

What is so important about mobile media? On a global scale, by 2010, 4 billion people (which is most of who will ever be connected) will be connected to the Internet, most by phone, according to Davis.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is falling way behind in mobile and broadband, and having trouble adapting. According to Schukai, we are 2 years behind Europe and 3-4 years behind Asia, and those are the markets we can learn the most from (specifically Korea, China, Taiwan and India are markets to watch).

What is keeping us so far behind? We are still worried about coverage, while other markets are concerned with speed and service. Also, the consumer behavior isn’t there yet. The biggest barrier is the cost of data on phones. This is where the opportunity for advertisers lies – can advertisers offset this cost to make it more accessible? Mobile platforms are a great way to collect consumer data.

What should advertisers think about when developing mobile content?

The most important thing to remember when thinking about mobile platforms is that we should develop specific content for mobile, not just try to use other media content in a mobile format, for a variety of reasons.

First, we are not at the point yet of having one device that is our phone, computer, and television all in one, so we use each device at different times and for different purposes. Content should be both time and location aware, since this data is available. Think: in the morning you are commuting, in the evening you are at a baseball game. What kind of content is useful in each situation? Historically, carriers have been the aggregators of content, but there is an opportunity for others to come in and do this better.

Second, there is no mouse on most cell phones, which changes how users can view a website (there is an exception with the new iPhone interface). Content must be made to fit the interface.

Third, since the networks in the US are all separate, (unlike Europe, for example) social programs must be based on the core Internet and phone technologies in order to connect users of separate networks (since everyone has friends who use different networks).

Another important thing to think about with mobile media is that the users are not just consuming content with the device, but also producing content, earning the name “pro-sumers.” With still camera and video camera capabilities on GPS enabled phones, there are many new technologies that combine these features. This provides an opportunity for the creation of programs that assist users in producing their own content.

New Technologies:

ZoneTag –
an application built to automatically tag pictures users take on their cell phone using GPS technology. Sites such as Flickr have tag maps showing where pictures are taken.

FireEagle –
An application built to use GPS to allow others to see where a user is geographically. Users can determine who can see where they are, and then how much information they can know (ex: I am in Cambridge vs. I am in building E15 on the MIT campus).

Privacy is an issue with the new technologies, which can hinder development of mobile applications. For example, CNN attempted to partner with an insurance agency to create an emergency weather SMS notification system, based on where the user was located, but it wasn’t well received because people didn’t like the company knowing their location. (This is likely to change as consumer behaviors change, think of social networking, for example. When Microsoft first proposed the idea, it was rejected on account of invasion of privacy. However, a few years later when Friendster, MySpace and Facebook came out, the population was ready).

The Future of Mobile:

Google is attempting to purchase a frequency in the US to introduce the Google phone, which could help move along the progress of mobile in the US. This platform is referred to as “open,” but what does open really mean? It has a bit of a closed meaning, in that it is just another platform to develop on.

Mobile is already changing the way news is reported, with the first video of the London subway bombings and the Virginia Tech shootings coming from mobile devices. These geo, time, and event aware devices will continue to change news.

“Status Casting” is becoming more popular through technologies such as FireEagle and Twitter, allowing people to constantly be updating where they are and when. This will likely lead to people expecting to always know where you are, similar to how people expect to always be able to call your cell phone now. In fact, these technologies that allow you to see where your friends are located are already very popular in Asia.

Video on cell phones can be used to create social broadcasting of self, instead of just creating informational content, news or entertainment. This can change the social media landscape, as people are continuing more and more to live their real lives online. (If people are moving towards living their real lives online, is that why Second Life is becoming old news now?)

There is the possibility to create applications that comprehend user behaviors, such as walking vs. standing still. Also, a phone could recognize your geo location, and with the knowledge of the behavior of people in your contacts list, it could tell you about a restaurant to visit that many of your friends have visited and liked. It creates an opportunity for that restaurant to offer you a deal via SMS to come try it out.

As more devices are given IP addresses, communication from one device to another is allowed, opening up transfer of information between devices. For example, if you are watching TV, the channel could switch over to your mobile phone as you walk away.

Bottom line? Mobile is on the rise, the US is behind, and nobody has quite figured the whole thing out.


garminetrexstore said...

I saw a show on Discovery channel about the massive adoption of cell phone in Japan. There is a dating service that uses something similar to FireEagle to let subscribers know when the are close to a prospective dating match. It will actually make the subscribers phone play a special tone so they can find each other in a mall

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