My views – The Tim O Reilly/web 2.0 issue ..

I first heard about the web 2.0 trademark issue on Friday evening. It was emailed to me by someone in Ireland – a country I am a frequent visitor to (more on that later). My first reaction was .. ‘Oh f***!’ I am about to release a book on mobile web 2.0 .. and if ‘web 2.0’ itself is service marked ..

But one look at the actual letters on blogosphere convinced me otherwise .. This applied only to conferences. I was not creating a conference. I thought nothing of it ..

Over the next few hours, following a number of emails and blogs, it became quickly apparent that this was seen to be a major issue .. and I did not understand why it should be an issue ..

I still don’t understand what the fuss is all about .. Let me explain ..

I was one of the few people who voiced (under my own name – not anonymously) – the view that Tim deserves at least an opportunity to explain his point of view. Having now heard from Tim, I still endorse Tim O Reilly, his vision and his company.

Here is why ..

a) Tim O Reilly was effectively sentenced in absentia. No one deserves that – not least someone who has a good track record in the industry. They at least deserve a chance to put their view point before being condemned

b) The O Reilly corporate response, inadequate as it may be, was not a ‘fob off’ because it had a definite date by which time they said Tim would be back(Monday). For example we heard nothing by Wednesday or a definite date not been given, the corporate response would have been a cover up – not so in this case

c) O Reilly was the ‘wrong’ target .. It was CMP who has the service mark

d) O Reilly was the soft target!. CMP had already bared it’s legal fangs – so although CMP was the organisation that sent the letters, it was easier to target O Reilly

e) The whole issue covers conferences only. How many people actually organise conferences? Not many!. Ironically, as a publisher, it’s possible I may well organise a conference on a related topic .. so it ‘could’ affect me IF I called it a web 2.0 conference ..

f) Which brings me to the point .. why would anyone want to call their conference web 2.0? Service mark or not, the association between web 2.0 and a specific conference is well known to almost everyone involved. Have you ever bought a product that looked suspiciously similar to a well known product only to find it was a cheap imitation? Point being .. If I created a conference and called it a similar name to an existing larger conference, I am actually devaluing my brand . Sooner of later, people are bound to find out that ‘my’ event is not related to the ‘original’. At that point, my reputation is damaged for ever. I am not saying that this was the intention in this case, but the concept is valid for conferences in general. Its to protect your brand – that you would not create a similar conference .. Quite irrespective of service mark issues …

g) Thus, in my view, the ‘crowd was not wise’ – the whole issue was not relevant to 99.9% of the people.

h) And then .. there were the ‘child molestation’ posts .. not much to say about that ..

And now some background about my own reasons / views for interest ..

a) Ironically, I had also invited Tim to a different conference in Ireland. With a name like ‘Ajit Jaokar’, I am obviously not ‘Irish’ :) – but last year I spoke at an excellent conference in Dublin – and this year – I am advising the conference itself to make it a lot more global.

Hence, the invite to Tim earlier in the year. Thus, I actually have a very positive view of Irish conferences from personal experience especially because there are so many interesting start-ups there. Hence, I do hope, Tim/ORA will support more conferences in Ireland – and I have a personal interest in promoting this specific conference.

b) I have emulated Tim O Reilly’s strategy. On a personal level, I am also a strong evangelist for openness in the mobile data industry(what I call ‘OpenGardens – as opposed to ‘walled gardens’). With issues like net neutrality looming on the horizon, we all bigger issues to address – than this one

c) On a professional level, my company (futuretext) is also modelled broadly on Reilly but within a specific sector(mobility and digital convergence). I have learnt a lot about publishing in general by reading O Reilly blogs under the ‘Ask Tim’ site. I have tried to emulate the same spirit of openness in my company as well. Reading the web 2 issue blogs, I still believe the spirit of openness is intact at Reilly

My personal, Randian views lead me to respect the rights of an individual – in this case – both Tim and Tom. Having now heard from Tim, I think everyone acted in their best interest, within the parameters that they found themselves in – and that included CMP. I think a Mozilla like resolution may well take place of the outstanding issues. Time (and Tim!) will tell.

Some will be convinced , others not so about the final state of play. However, what I am convinced of is: in most cases , we are addressing the wrong issue. In the sense that unless we are conferences organisers, it really does not affect us directly

In a final ironic twist, I think Tim O Reilly was born in Cork! Speaking as a first generation immigrant myselves (in my case to the UK), you always attach a deep significance to your country of birth (in my case India). So, of all the places in the world .. it’s ironic that it was in Cork that this should happen .. Just a quaint observation.

The mobile phone network is the computer

phonecomputer.jpg

I have not quite mastered the ideas I am discussing in this blog. Hence, feedback welcome.

What if we could extrapolate the idea of the ‘network is the computer’ and extend the concepts of a ‘computer’ and a ‘network’ to higher levels in the software stack and especially to a ‘Network of mobile phones’. We then have the makings of a global network which spans countries and languages. Such a network can reach many more people than ‘a network of computers’.

By strange coincidence, as I was writing an article on multilingual mobile access, Ray Tsuchiyama (Tokyo based director of AOL/Tegic who I have known for many years) , sent me an email about SMS capabilities in Marathi, a sanskrit based Indo-Aryan language which is my ‘mother tongue’.

It kind of articulates my vision: the mobile phone will touch the lives of many people globally who, for various reasons, will never use a computer. That network may not be in ‘English’. It will include richer media like movies, images, sound and podcasting. It will also bring together many more people globally : such as a Japanese American director of AOL living in Tokyo and a UK based director of a publishing company of Indian origin who originally speaks a language which AOL/Tegic have now SMS enabled in India(Marathi).

Lets start with the early days of computing. Back in the 1970s, Bill Gates articulated his vision of ‘a computer on every desk, and every one running Microsoft software’. By the late 90s, that vision was largely complete, making Mr Gates a fortune in the process.

Another profound vision was articulated by Sun co-founder John Gage in 1984. It concerned a different model called ‘distributed computing’ and it said : ‘The network is the computer’. By the late 1990s, that vision was also almost realised, especially with the rise of the Internet.

Both these visions were correct in their own right(and in their own time). They are also mutually complimentary: because we can have a PC on each desk running software and we can also leverage the network for ‘on demand’ computing power – much like the old time sharing options.

From my point of view, Sun’s vision is more interesting because it is closer to the Internet. A recent blog by Jonathan Schwartz(Sun CEO), explains this vision in the context of ‘Grid computing’

Thus,

a) A ‘computer’ is something that can process information and

b) A computer is not confined to a single machine but to a network of connected intelligent machines.

While the notion of the ‘Network is your computer’ is enticing, it is still at a raw, processing capacity level.

What if we could extrapolate these ideas of a ‘computer’ and a ‘network’ to higher levels in the stack and especially to a ‘Network of mobile phones’.

While a grid network is at a physical architecture level, at higher(application) levels of the stack, another ‘network’ was taking shape. Called ‘web services’ or SOA(service oriented architecture), it is a way for discrete applications to collaborate with each other, thereby creating a new, more complex application which is greater than it’s components. According to the wikipedia definition, In an SOA environment, nodes on a network make resources available to other participants in the network as independent services that the participants access in a standardized way.

With the coming of web 2.0, lightweight versions of the SOA architecture have the capacity to reach (include) more people.

In both these cases (SOA and web 2.0 networks), there is

a) Some ‘computation’ at the application level and

b) There is a ‘network’ which facilitates that computation.

Purely by being simpler and at higher levels of the stack, it’s ‘reach’ is greater.

Now, if we extend the same thinking to ‘Mobile web 2.0’, the ‘network’ becomes even more interesting (and far reaching)

3B-2008.jpg

a) Globally, at end of 2005, there were 2.1 billion mobile phones vs. 1.0 billion Internet users.

Even amongst those one billion Internet users, over 200 million of them accessed the Internet via a mobile

phone (mostly in Japan, China and South Korea).

b) The mobile phone is capable of capturing far greater quantities of content because the phone is present

at the ‘point of inspiration’

c) Content created from the mobile phone is increasingly being ‘tagged’. This makes the network of mobile

phones capable of some computation/ intelligence (‘Intelligence’, being defined here as ‘collective

intelligence’/’wisdom of crowds’)

d) Content captured from mobile phones could incorporate sound, video, pictures, podcasts and text.

e) The ‘non textual’ web combined with the numbers of people using mobile phones as opposed to

computers, has greater potential of being a truly global network

f) Sound(music), images and video are much more universal than text(language). The non textual web

lends itself to being a ‘network of networks’. What does this mean in practise? Think of an application

similar to ‘flickr’ or ‘YouTube’ but including images and video from all over the world. Indeed, even now,

there are images and video from many different countries in an application like YouTube, but these are

created mainly by travellers to those countries as opposed to residents in the countries.

Thus, in a Mobile web 2.0 context, we could say ‘The phone network is the computer’. Of course, when I say ‘phone network’ – I don’t mean the ‘Mobile operator network’. Rather, I mean an open , web driven application capable of aggregating (mainly non text) content from any phone anywhere in the world

This can be depicted as below

phonecomputer2.jpg

To sumarise ..

phonecomputer1.jpg

tegic launches Marathi T9 services ..

By strange coincidence, as I was writing an article on multilingual mobile access, Ray Tsuchiyama (Tokyo based director of AOL/Tegic who I have known for many years) , sent me an email about SMS capabilities in Marathi, a sanskrit based Indo-Aryan language which is my ‘mother tongue’.

It kind of articulates my vision: the mobile phone will touch the lives of many people globally who, for various reasons, will never use a computer. That network may not be in ‘English’. It will include richer media like movies, images, sound and podcasting. It will also bring together many more people globally : such as a Japanese American director of AOL living in Tokyo and a UK based director of a publishing company of Indian origin who originally speaks a language which AOL/Tegic have now SMS enabled in India(Marathi).

tegic1.jpg

Tim O Reilly – lets give him a chance ..

Good morning all ..

It seems almost obligatory to write a post this morning about the controversy surrounding the O Reilly / web 2.0 announcements.

My personal view is .. Lets wait to hear from Tim O Reilly.

After all, in my view – and I am sure in the view of many others – Tim and his company have done some excellent work. For many of us, the O Reilly books have been an important element of our work.

Tim has succeeded in disappearing off on holiday and not contactible(a feat I have been unable to achieve!) and is apparantly back Monday .. so we will know more then ..

Carnival of the mobilists – No 29

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Hello all

Welcome to Carnival of the Mobilists No 29!

It’s indeed an honour to host the carnival. I have seen it grow starting with an email from Russell to what it is today! Before we get to the carnival itself, a few announcements

The carnival of the Mobilists now has a new site! Have a look at the mobilists site and tell us what you think. It also has a new sponsor in Khosla ventures. See the mobhappy post for the announcement HERE. My compliments to Russell and Carlo for this success!

Finally, I am starting a voluntary initiative to maintain a set of code which would make it easy for us all to blogroll each other (helps with Google greatly!). See the details at the end of this post and also on the mobilists forum (where we post our entries)

If you are not a member of the Carnival and an excellent blogger, no better time to start than now!

See the website for further details..

So, here goes

Xen Mendelsohn asks us about which brands we are happy to flaunt(or not!) in this case. Why are people not quite happy to flaunt a Mobile operator brand as they are a Nike or a Gucci?

This next one from Emily made me first think that it was too far fetched! But apparently not so .. it concerns mosquitoes, teenagers and clandestine messaging which only the under 20s can hear. Read more at Emily’s blog

Dennis gives us a very comprehensive review of the mobile version of the new Google RSS reader. A very comprehensive post and of interest to all bloggers and their readers(just about all of us!).

Justin Oberman at mopocket tells us about a new service that allows you to order and pay via SMS

Tomi and Alan discuss the impact of Eric Schmidt’s (Google CEO) viewpoints on the mobile web – a subject close to my heart. By the way, it’s their blog / book birthday this week. A great effort guys!

The folks at mobhappy have sent in their happy announcement of sponsorship by Khosla ventures. Please don’t forget to read this .. so many prizes to be won for both posts and hosts!

My entry at the OpenGardens blog gives numbers and stats indicating that the growth of mobile content is slowing down!

The smart folks at Smartmobs talk about a subject close to my heart .. the threat of the Darknet as outlined by Tim Berners Lee . Tim’s words say it all: “What’s very important from my point of view is that there is one web,” he said. “Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring.”

Ian Wood – the digital evangelist - (last week’s host) – tells us about the delays in waiting for the Sony Ericsson M600 on Orange (A UMTS device with a Qwerty keyboard)

The pondering primate ponders about the disruptive potential of using barcodes to identify websites through a camera phone

Taking on the themes of privacy, for which he is well known, Troy Norcross provides a comprehensive definition of mobile marketing and mobile advertising

And over from Brisbane, Karen Flavell sends us a podcast about mComic, a mobile comic reader

Ned porting gives us his views on mobility and computing

Regular readers of Rudy’s blog will also know about his quest for flat rate(or at least predictable) pricing for mobile browsing. Once again, he comes up with a detailed post about Telefonica Movistar’s 3G portal e-mocion

Oliver Starr sends a late but great post on the Apple i-phone – Why the I-Phone Will Be Apple’s Huge Blunder . I have a lot to say about this topic – probably the subject of a whole new blog ..

Another late but great post from Debbie Jones. Debbie considers podcasting on mobile devices from first principles and asks the question If you are mobile when you listen, why would the answer be more PC browser tools? If podcasts work because they are time shifted why would real time call participation (Skypecast) be the answer? Think mobile! …especially when the activity is mobile.. You can read/hear more about this on Debbie’s blog mediaslaves

and finally!!

Douglas Galbi discussed how text messaging creates value relative to voice communication

And the best post?

In my view, the best post has to be original, insightful, and comprehensive. That goes to Dennis at the wapreview for the Google mobile RSS reader . A post I truly learnt from and also gives information useful for us all.

Next week’s carnival is at Darla Mack’s blog See you all there!

And for the blogrolling initiative, please see the thread on the mobilists site and use that file to blogroll the Mobilists. Any questions, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

Kind rgds

Ajit

Mobile content growth slowing down ..

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Many of you know that Tony Fish and I are working on a book called ‘Mobile web 2.0’ – to be released later this month. Web 2.0 (and by extension – mobile web 2.0), is about user generated content. I have always believed that ‘broadcast content’ i.e. content created by the media industry – has a very limited lifespan – especially on mobile devices.

It’s in that context that I find this Forbes article fascinating

The entire text reproduced below but my key take home points and insights are:

a) Every month in the U.S., only 10% of mobile subscribers download a ring tone to their phones, and less

than 4% download games. Text messaging is holding steady at about 33%.

b) Two years after the introduction of video on cell phones, 2 million Americans, just 1% of the market, pay

$10 to $15 per month for the service

c) Industry journal Mobile Entertainment notes that the average price of a mobile game fell from 4.30 to 3.49

in 2005!!

d) It took AOL 15 years to reach 30 million subscribers, while iMode did it in three years – but iMode stumbled

in the adoption of 3G and the third place operator (Vodafone) was annihilated

e) At $400 to $700, the retail price rivals that of a PC, too. But because mobile operators subsidize the

purchase of the handset when a customer signs a two-year contract, most consumers get these phones

for around $200.

f) The content team at the typical mobile carrier is understaffed and under resourced, tucked away in the

bowels of the marketing department. These hardworking souls attempt to match the output of an entire

cable TV company on a shoestring budget. So true!!!

g) Failure to segment the market is another reason for the lag. They have NOT been listening to Tomi

Ahonen!

h) Every mobile operator offers a content mall, but these shops fail to match the ease of use of Apple Computer’s iTunes store. Most mobile content storefronts are difficult to browse, which makes

the process of discovery tedious. Small wonder that only die-hard enthusiasts have the stamina to find new content

i) Mobile operators hate to admit that consumption per handset tapers off six months after a new phone

is purchased.

It’s these last two points that I think encapsulate the biggest issues

j) In the content business, the best way to defeat consumer fatigue is peer marketing.

k) The winners in this race will establish annuity- billing relationships with millions of consumers of new digital-

entertainment services. Having created this new market, the mobile operators will have no one but themselves to blame if it slips from their grasp.

My view is ..

I don’t think the mobile operators ever understood this market! It’s not about media content; it is about peer to peer (but user generated content) and its certainly not about annual billing relationships because I don’t think Mobile operators are a consumer brand in the same way as iTunes is!

Complete article as below

Despite the recent buzz about entertainment on cell phones, the

mobile-content market has hit a speed bump.

After an initial burst of growth, mobile content–which can include

everything from ring tones to video clips–is struggling to break out

of the early adopter segment and achieve mass consumption. It is too

soon to forecast the demise of this promising new field, but it is

evident that wireless entertainment is wavering during a crucial

transition to third-generation mobile telephony, or 3G.

According to Seattle-based mobile-market research firm M:Metrics,

consumption of wireless content has flatlined. After eight quarters

of rapid growth, sales in the two main categories, ring tones and

mobile games, have stalled. Every month in the U.S., only 10% of

mobile subscribers download a ring tone to their phones, and less

than 4% download games. Text messaging is holding steady at about 33%.

On advanced 3G handsets, consumption is about three-times stronger

than on the older, more widespread 2.5G phones. But 3G unit numbers

remain tiny. Two years after the introduction of video on cell

phones, 2 million Americans, just 1% of the market, pay $10 to $15

per month for the service. Unless the 3G audience expands rapidly,

current levels of investment in the creation and delivery of rich

content such as 3-D games and video may be unsustainable.

Meanwhile, in Europe there’s troubling evidence of price erosion.

Industry journal Mobile Entertainment notes that the average price of

a mobile game fell from 4.30 to 3.49 in 2005. The value proposition

for paid mobile content is in danger of crumbling further before

subscribers migrate en masse to 3G. At February’s 3GSM convention in

Barcelona, European cellcos speculated hopefully about the prospect

of embryonic mobile advertising revenue to offset the dwindling

consumer fees for content.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

A lot more is at stake than games and ring tones. With revenue from

voice dwindling, mobile carriers need to sell content to drive mass

takeup of new data services. Cheery forecasts for consumer adoption

of mobile media were initially supported by evidence from leading-

edge markets in Japan and Korea.

The world paid attention when iMode, the wireless Internet service

run by Japanese giant NTT DoCoMo, surpassed AOL as the largest ISP on

Earth, with 35 million subscribers in 2003. It took AOL 15 years to

reach 30 million subscribers, while iMode did it in three years. It

appeared that mobile was the fastest-growing new content platform in

history.

But DoCoMo stumbled during the transition to 3G. Second-place rival

KDDI stole the momentum with innovative content, acquiring

subscribers at a much faster rate. And third place Vodafone was

annihilated in Japan during the 3G migration.

The problem isn’t the hardware. Today’s mobile phone is smarter than

you think. New models from Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson boast the

equivalent processing power of a desktop computer from 1995. Such

phones come equipped with brilliant color displays, 1.3 megapixel

cameras, the ability to download a wide range of rich media content,

including 3D games, MP3 music and video clips.

At $400 to $700, the retail price rivals that of a PC, too. But

because mobile operators subsidize the purchase of the handset when a

customer signs a two-year contract, most consumers get these phones

for around $200. The handset subsidy is intended to spur adoption of

new data services. But widespread consumer demand has lagged. Why?

One reason is unimaginative marketing. Wireless carriers promote

themselves as reliable telephone services that offer “four bars” and

nationwide coverage. Content is not a primary focus because, until

recently, phone companies weren’t in the content game.

The contradictions in the telecoms’ mentality are reflected in

operating budgets. The content team at the typical mobile carrier is

understaffed and under resourced, tucked away in the bowels of the

marketing department. These hardworking souls attempt to match the

output of an entire cable TV company on a shoestring budget. In 3G,

this area requires more investment because the content is more complex.

Failure to segment the market is another reason for the lag. U.S. and

European carriers continue to repeat the mistake of selling the same

product to everybody. Over 75% of American adults own a cell phone.

Yet mobile content is presented in the same way to nearly every segment.

The success of mobile-content services depends upon the carrier’s

ability to identify lucrative niche audiences and cater to their

interests. During the past two years, U.S. carriers belatedly began

to focus on Latino and African American subscribers. This effort bore

fruit immediately, as consumption of mobile content among these

subscribers is significantly higher than average. Will the carriers

follow through on this effort by tailoring services to other niches?

The third reason for the slow takeup rate is lackluster

merchandising. Every mobile operator offers a content mall, but these

shops fail to match the ease of use of Apple Computer’s iTunes store.

Most mobile content storefronts are difficult to browse, which makes

the process of discovery tedious. Small wonder that only die-hard

enthusiasts have the stamina to find new content.

Carriers rely on content providers to stimulate consumer demand. The

resultant content offering seems tired, encrusted with the same names

that dominate conventional media.

This might change. New entrants, such as the MVNOs (mobile virtual

network operators, like Amp’d Mobile) aim to differentiate vanilla

mobile service with exclusive content. As new competitors attempt to

steal existing subscribers, the major carriers should react with

innovative content products and services.

The last reason is consumer fatigue. Mobile operators hate to admit

that consumption per handset tapers off six months after a new phone

is purchased. In the content business, the best way to defeat consumer fatigue is

peer marketing. Savvy movie marketers know that word-of-mouth can

drive box office ticket sales. Likewise, in television, the “water

cooler effect” generates awareness within a peer group.

This should apply to mobile, too. After all, a telecommunications

network ought to be the best environment for word-of-mouth marketing.

But carriers have failed to harness this powerful mechanism. They

provide no easy way for a fan to recommend content to friends.

Now, during the turmoil of the transition to 3G, a new crop of

nonphone portable media players threatens to disrupt the wireless

market, raising the question of whether the mobile carriers will

regain momentum before their best customers migrate to richer media

platforms.

January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcased a dazzling

array of new pocket-sized media players at affordable price points.

The key to the success for such devices will be the quality of the

content offering. Successful devices like the iPod and XM satellite

radio are shipped with integrated access to superb digital content

services with quality programming.

Now the race is on for mobile operators to improve the presentation

of their content services before the hordes of MVNOs and CE companies

launch rival offerings.

The stakes are high. The winners in this race will establish annuity-

billing relationships with millions of consumers of new digital-

entertainment services. Having created this new market, the mobile

operators will have no one but themselves to blame if it slips from

their grasp.

Robert Tercek is the co-founder of MultiMedia Networks in Los

Angeles. He has produced content for every digital platform,

including satellite and cable TV, personal computers, game consoles

and mobile phones. He is the founding chairman of the mobile-game

summit at the Game Developer Conference, which took place in San

Jose, Calif., on March 20 and 21, 2006.

Image source: http://www.wmode.com/v4/images/services01.jpg

Juvino – saving money by routing calls cheaply ..

juvino.JPG

When I first came to London back in 1999, it was not easy to get a mobile phone connection. All you could get was ‘pay as you go’. And since that was often your only phone (because you did not have a landline as well for the same reason!), you ended up making international calls on it. Both national(cross network) and especially international calls are expensive on many mobile phones

Hence, it was nice to see a company like Juvino launch their product which helps save on national and international calls by routing them over a cheaper network

From their site:

About Juvino

What is Juvino?

Juvino is a new kind of service aimed at helping mobile users save money. It works through the use of some free software that you download onto your phone which then allow you to route calls and text messages through our platform. This means you can easily take advantage of prices that are much lower than those charged by the mobile operators.

Juvino prides itself in being transparent in its pricing, we display the price before you call or send a text so that you can decide whether to go ahead or not. You are charged only for the calls you make or texts you send, there are no subscriptions, lock-ins or hidden charges.

How does it work

We send you the free Juvino software that you download onto your phone. You then open Juvino to make a Juvino call or send a Juvino text. After you enter the number, either directly or from phone memory, we display a price for that call or text. If our price is attractive then simply click call/send.

Voice calls

When you make a Juvino call we route the call via a local access number to the Juvino Gateway and then onto the destination through our network. As far as your mobile operator is concerned you are calling a local fixed line number so you will be charged by your operator at your normal rate, or it will come out of your bundle if you have one. The connection to your dialled number is then completed by us and charged to your Juvino account at the price we have quoted

Texts

When you send a Juvino text it goes via your data service to our message centre. We then deliver the message onto its destination. You will be charged a small amount by your operator for the data connection, on average about 0.4p. The juvino text charge (5p uk and 10p international is charged to your Juvino account. Note that your text recipient receives the message exactly as normal.

Will it work?

Unlike many products I have seen which go looking for a need, Juvino is a product that takes away some ‘pain’ i.e. satisfies a need.

That works in its favour.

The product also works well technically.

However, for it to really take off, it needs an initiat early adopter segment. This has been the tried and tested way for any ‘community based’ software to take off ..

For example, for AOL, the initial target segment was the gay community.

Thus, for juvino, the initial target segment may well be students, immigrants, visitors etc ..

One to watch!

Juvino is also looking for people to beta test the product which you can do so from their site

Mike Arrington is in town ,,

and I look forward to meeting him tomorrow. If you are at this meeting, lets catch up if we can!

Which telecoms services will mobile TV/video cannibalise?

mobiletv.JPG

I posted this question on forumoxford

Two insightful responses follow the question.

Mobile TV and video has tremendous potential. There is no doubt about that. Even the cynics would agree that, even if conventional TV (broadcast content) does not take off on mobile devices, user generated content definately will!

(think mobile versions of youtube)

So, my question is .. Once we all have the capacity to view video clips on handheld devices: which existing services will no longer be relevent

For example:

a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)

b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)

c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video

d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers.

Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?

etc etc ..

I guess my broader question is ..

What kind of puzzles me is .. when all these 3G forecasts were done, why did not anyone see the potential of broadcast TV on mobile devices(as opposed to streaming media via a 3G) – OR Did they?

I am not familiar with the logistics of 3G but historically, we always said ..

text on mobile devices = GSM data services

still pictures on mobile devices + simple animations = 2.5G(GPRS)

video on mobile devices = 3G

That picture now seems severely flawed(or is it)?

and with it .. market forecasts and analysis ..

I have seen many market forecasts in the dot com era (not just telecoms but also from investment bankers). No one really predicted that we would have a deja vu of the 3G spectrum issues just two years down the road and that Mobile TV and video could cannibalise the same services that could be offered by 3G?

Ofcourse, 3G always has a value proposition no matter what the dommsdayers say .. because the extra bandwidth could always be useful for a range of different services(not least of which is voice) .. BUT .. we are takling data services ..

From Elmer Zinkhann

Interesting question.

Let’s start with a general statement. I think mobile video will cannibalise some, but not that many alternative markets. I think there is – and I’m probably using the wrong terms to describe them – a big difference between intrusive media and background media, as has been the case with TV vs. Radio or Talk vs. Text. The former being one which uses up all of your senses for a continuous period, and the latter one easily integrated into any lifestyle, time or place.

Second to consider is the emotional value of the type of media. Which says more or has a bigger impact, a postcard, letter, text, chat, voicemail, photo, video or even being there? There is no definite answer for that. As the medium and mediatype change, so will the impact of the received item.

Let’s go through the examples you gave to illustrate this;

“a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)”

As we have seen with photo/video cameras, there is a difference in ccd, which limits the quality of the video still. As you’ll often just want a high quality still, video is not the format to use (eg look at the popularity of photo pages on myspace eq sites)

“b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)”

As this time – from my experience/observation – is mainly being used by commuters to read the metro (or similar newspapers), I think there is room for video, however, not directly at the cost of people playing on portable consoles. I am actually surprised to see so little game playing in public spaces – as opposed to the immense amounts of people listening to music or talking on the phone.

“c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video”

In some cases, yes, but I think this is tightly coupled to my first general statement. The unintrusiveness listening to music allows it to be combined with other activities. Many people like to listen to music while working, reading a paper, driving, or maybe even sleeping. This can not just be replaced with video, simply because of the nature of video.

“d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers.

Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?”

Here’s one which is very interesting. I do believe that well scheduled TV can be a serious thread to mobile video downloads. But since the nature of broadcast in itself is changing I think it is really up to the amount of control given to the viewer. Broadcasting obviously is more intersting for telco’s as it requires much less resources, freeing up bandwidth for alternative(/additional?) services.

Maybe an interesting concept for certain tv broadcasts would be ‘broadcast on demand’ as many people travel during certain times, it would be great to offer ‘ tv on demand, shared watching with others wanting to view the same program at the same time.

I think ‘portable’ broadcast TV for has been underrated for a long time. Maybe this is because the early portable tvs ( casio anyone? )did not offer the user experience people expected. Maybe it is now because people don’t realise how much the TV services have changed over the past 5 years and will continue to change over the next few (IPTV/HDTV). Or maybe they think of DAB, digital radio as an indicator of the success of DMB/DVB-T, hence..

I for one think mobile TV broadcasts will be a great addition to the mobile services. Imagine not just commuters, but families, you won’t need multiple TV sets in the household for each familymember, you won’t need to ‘flick the channel’ to see if the commercials have ended.. You could be watching the latest news broadcast on your lunchbreak, you could be sitting in the hairsalon watching something actually interesting in the background. Mobile TV is not just mobile, it’s portable too. It’s not just a replacement or competitive service, it could add to any odd user experience, It could make your mobile the ultimate remote.

From Vladimir Dimitroff

..and some of my thoughts on your questions:

a) Why would you want to view a picture (MMS) on a phone, when you can view a still image on mobile video(not to speak of the whole clip)

1 second of uncompressed video is 20 still images. A 30sec clip is 600 still images. Whatever compression algorithms come along, they can squash the current 10:1 to, let’s say. a fantastic 100:1 compression ratio – that’s still a 6 times (600%) larger file – with compromised quality! (Assuming the same CCD sensor which, as pointed out, is a further reason). Still images are here to stay – on all converging media/platforms including paper smile

As to MMS as a technical method of sending still images (and business model for paying for that) – it is already threatened by images attached to e-mail or pushed in P2P services (incl. IM already on mobile). But this threat is not from broadcast TV…

b) Considering there will be a limited amount of time when we are ‘on the move’ – will we play multiplayer games or watch video clips(thus cannibalising mobile multiplayer games)

Big qustion re. the amount of time in transit: unless doomsday theories like crude oil running out dry in our lifetime, I believe the time spent travelling will increase – social and economic trend, not technological. More mobile working, cheaper long-distance travel, globalisation, urbanisation and de-urbanisation etc. – ther will be more time ‘to kill’.

No amount of MTV or Pop Idols or even football on ‘normal’ (big screen) TV has ever canibalised the game console market, which keeps growing. Neither has any streaming and broadcast video on PCs cannibalised computer gaming. Why should it happen on mobile? Gamers will always be gamers (a particularly hardcore and resilient tribe) and non-gamers (like myself) still won’t touch a game – with or without TV on their mobile. No threat.

c) And what about music. I am not sure of the stats on how much music(excluding ringtones) is downloaded on a phone via the teleoms network, but .. why bother to download music, when you can get a music video

Portable music is there to be listened to (while doing something else), while portable video/TV is there to be watched (but you can’t drive or even read a book at the same time). Major functional reason. Also, even if you ignore the visual content, shut the screen down and want to just listen to the music – significant quality compromise and file size won’t make such mode of usage popular with music fans. No threat.

d) Information services: everything from weather forecasts to stock tickers. Why go to a mobile portal, when you can get the same on a mobile TV(broadcast)?

Yes, watch the TV news, only to be told by the presenter “For full details go to WAP.BBC.co.uk” smile We see it already happen on ‘proper’ TV, sending us to Web sites for detailed content – the same logic applies to the smallest of screens. No threat.

Well, just like a significant percentage fo the population grew to prefer TV to reading (anything, sadly), mobile TV will quite probably replace a proportion of text services that currently force the great unwashed (and some very washed – and perfumed – members of the public) to,, er.. read (pardon the 4-letter word)… But that is more of a social phenomenon, again, and not a technology threat.

Overall I believe there are a lot more opportunities than threats and porviders should focus on those and make the most of them. These opportunities will only materialise (unlike the wrong dot-com and 3G forecasts made by/for greedy investors) with the clear understanding of customer needs – and therefore of the (potential) value in new services.

Cheerz,

V.

Image source: BBC

Speaking in NY : June 5 and 6

Hello all,

Apologies for the radio silence. Back online now

I am in New York speaking at the AJAX seminar on June 5 and 6.

I will be in NY on June 4,5,6 and 7. If you would like to catch up then, pls email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

Conference details as per THIS link

nyconf.JPG