What mobile AJAX can learn from the fragmentation of Java Me

By Paddy Byers

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Edited by Ajit Jaokar

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As we have seen from previous posts in this blog about Mobile Ajax, Mobile AJAX has a lot of potential. However, many questions still remain about the details of how Mobile AJAX could be implemented and exploited.

Specifically, this post discusses the problems that occurred in the evolution of Java ME (formerly called J2ME) and how Mobile Ajax and other browser technologies can learn from them; both in terms of the browser platform itself, and the associated developer ecosystem.

I’d welcome discussion on how to resolve the issues that are raised.

Mobile apps aren’t just about interactivity

Many inherent advantages of browser-based solutions have been articulated clearly in the preceding posts, and AJAX gives a dramatically superior level of interactivity than was possible with conventional XHTML; but the truth is that AJAX has only just improved interactivity to the point that it is good enough to be a credible experience (assuming services are targeting a typically specified feature phone and aiming for modest level of richness in visual experience). From the point of view of the interactivity enabled, AJAX could be likened to an early MIDP 1.0 Canvas-based application on a typical interpreted virtual machine.

The analogy with MIDP 1.0 doesn’t stop there.

The current mobile AJAX environment has many similarities with those early Java ME days: there are maturity issues (e.g. only one or two implementations, no common behavioural specification or precise API specification); ecosystem issues (eg a developer community naively believing that desktop implementation approaches will transfer seamlessly to mobile); and market issues (a broken value chain as it relates to the proliferation of technology enablers). The painful failure of early attempts to use Java ME as a service delivery platform should be a clear warning to the new generation of web 2.0 service providers aspiring to extend to mobile.

The key parallels, however, are in the level of platform integration offered.

Much of the mobile AJAX discussion has focussed on interactivity and connectivity aspects; but the problem is that the services that extend effectively to mobile will be those that successfully harness the mobile platform and its capabilities.

Some of these include SMS/MMS, multimedia capture, interactive multimedia playback, location, Bluetooth, etc. To implement these features, we require access to the platform i.e. device APIs.

Real mobile apps are not simply a thin projection of an interactive interface to a web-based application.

One of the main reasons for the failure of MIDP1.0 was that none of the key platform capabilities was exposed to the java programmer.

Many – nearly all – potential mobile applications, even if 99% implementable in Java ME, turned out not to be viable because of a critical dependency on some platform feature that simply wasn’t accessible in the Java ME environment.

The Java ME community realised this early on and sought to address it by extending the scope of the platform.

Unfortunately, this is where the problems really began.

Unilaterally defined APIs (in the case of MIDP1.0, this was primarily audio and security) were made by manufacturers and also by operators; and the community process later created formally standardised APIs.

Several years on we have platform APIs that have functionality gaps and are inconsistently implemented; further, there is no common policy for the deployment of APIs, either between operators, within a single operator, or even among the devices of individual manufacturers.

The resulting fragmented environment and ecosystem problems are well documented.

The key point is that Sun, to its credit, set out very deliberately to ensure that the java platform did not get fragmented and tried to put in place every technical, legal and commercial measure to implement its strategy – and it still failed.

Implementation interoperability must be addressed proactively

The current desktop browser market contains a small number of players with comparatively well-understood differences. Content authors can ensure that content is interoperable by coding directly to cater for those differences. Basic market dynamics force browser providers to fix problems and keep functionality in step with the market leaders.

The mobile browser market is different.

For one thing, it is still not following the full web browser standards. Also, there are multiple providers and already some fragmentation in respect of functionality; scripting interoperability is especially limited as a result of weak (or nonexistent) DOM implementations underlying many mobile browsers.

There are also few market pressures to correct this – operators are not (yet) mandating full browser functionality (such as AJAX); much of the functionality is not formally specified by W3C or another body; there are no independent conformance or interoperability tests.

Simply leaving this implementation interoperability issue to market forces to address will hinder mobile AJAX substantially. The operators have a position in which they could either improve or inhibit interoperability.

Possibly the worst of all outcomes is in fact the most likely, which is that a requirement to support XMLHttpRequest and certain scripting functionality is made mandatory, without the detailed technical specification and conformance backup needed for manufacturers to do it reliably; the result will be all manufacturers scrambling to incorporate weak but technically compliant implementations, stalling all efforts for genuinely functional and interoperable implementations.

This interoperability challenge should not be underestimated.

Contrast the browser environment with Java ME in which API specifications are developed under an open and formal process, there are tens of thousands of conformance tests, conformance is mandatory under the license terms for the technology, etc – and still interoperability is poor.

The definition of platform and extension APIs must be decentralised

The Java ME strategy is to define all APIs through an open, formal and consensual process which is centralised. When a requirement for a particular API is identified – location-based services, say – the various stakeholders (operator, device manufacturer, content developer, technology provider, etc) form an expert group to develop the API and associated resources and make it available to the industry. The aim, of course, is to avoid the fragmentary effects of there being multiple independent and competing APIs.

However, the centralised nature of this approach is one of its biggest problems.

First, consensus takes a long time and APIs arrive too late to be useful.

APIs become over-engineered because they not only have to meet the immediate need but also any other foreseeable future needs and edge cases – because once defined they can rarely be extended.

The process, in certain cases, also becomes mired in the competing technical and commercial agendas of expert group members; and the business model surrounding the resulting reference implementations and conformance test suites are problematic, which delays uptake, or stops it altogether.

Ironically, these issues then themselves become the cause of much fragmentation.

Due to cost and the risk of delay, manufacturers and operators do not incorporate new APIs unless there is a clear commercial need; and when they do, they all make different choices as to which capabilities to include.

Prior to standard APIs being available, operators and manufacturers still create private APIs, which must then be supported on an ongoing basis and contain a slightly different feature set from the standard so content cannot easily migrate to use a new API.

What’s needed is a decentralised process which allows platform owners and service providers to define and implement their own APIs.

Although at first sight this would appear to create fragmentation, it doesn’t provided that there’s also a way of writing and deploying libraries or wrappers that can implement one API on top of another.

It’s analogous to using WSDL to specify web services – there doesn’t need to be a centralised definition of any given API because the relationship between alternative APIs is explicit and users of those APIs can react by writing wrappers that implement one in terms of the other, or write their own higher level abstractions that can sit on top of either.

The proliferation of widgets in desktop web apps shows the power of this decentralised approach. The potential role of widgets in mobile web apps is something Ajit discusses extensively in his book.

How to make it happen?

None of these issues requires new technology – the industry has the capability to do all of it. But it will only happen if the market incentivises the relevant parties – the browser providers and device manufacturers – to make it happen. The operator, in principle, is sufficiently resourced and has sufficient control to do this – but so far the operator community doesn’t seem to have realised the significance of the opportunity, let alone confronted the issues that have to be resolved.

Bill Jones – Global Village: e-government and DRM ..

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Bill Jones of Global Village UK spoke in China in September where he discussed Mobile Web 2.0.

Bill has been a good friend to both Tony and I and travels around the world and discusses many innovative ideas at Government/country level, specifically in the areas of e-government and DRM.(Global Village won the European Union Guide Award for Online Excellence under the eContent program The award is recognition of the best in innovation that excels in generating novel ideas for e-government and Information Society development, and converting them into operative services.)

In this instance, Bill spoke at the Zhongguancun IT Festival, one of the largest in China on the topic of DRM. It takes place in Zhonggunacun which is the Silicon Valley of China located to the North west of Beijing in Haidian District which is the district near Tsinghua University (considered one of the top 3 Universities in the world along side Princeton and Oxford), and Beijing University. The event received national media coverage.

If you are interested in either e-government or DRM, please contact Bill/me and I will try and get some information. I have also asked Bill to contribute a small article to this blog about e-government and DRM and also about his talk in China relating to DRM

Do you want to volunteer for Mobile Web Day?

Hello all

A longish post for completeness .. but this is a great idea.

Firstly, some background

Russell Buckley (currently managing director Europe for Admob ) is one the first person who I worked with when I joined the mobile data industry back in 2000. Since then, we have collaborated on and off with various ventures.

In a post (as below), Russell outlined the idea of a Mobile Web Day. As many of you know, I run Oxford University’s next generation mobile applications panel alongwith Tomi Ahonen

Tomi and I think the Mobile Web day is a great idea .. sort of like ‘Intel Inside’ of the mobile data industry i.e. some times we need a visual marketing campaign to remind ourselves about how much we have achieved as an industry. So, we are supporting it big time through forumoxford(which is global/free to join and has many innovators).

So, if you are interested, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com and lets work together to make this happen!

Russell’s original post

There’s a real dearth of good data about the mobile web. If I want to find out the top websites in any country in the world, region or even globally, there’s any number of free and paid-for stats I could access.

The same isn’t true of the mobile web at all, as it seems to be off the radar for many analysts and marketers alike. I’m involved in the mobile web on a day-to-day basis through AdMob and via our partnerships with mobile websites and via talks with actual and potential advertisers throughout the world. But I’m constantly surprised at how vibrant the mobile web ecosystem actually is and how relatively low awareness is among decision makers and the people who influence them.

To put this in perspective in 1996 (if you can remember that far back) you couldn’t open a newspaper or business magazine without talk of this Internet thing and how it was going to change our lives. But at that time only 19% of US adults used it and the stats would have been even lower in Europe.

However, results of a tracking survey by ComScore Networks released yesterday showed that 19% of US adults use the mobile Internet today and yet the mobile web scarcely gets a mention in the press. Furthermore, Europe is even higher, with Germany and Italy leading the way with 34% each, then France (28%), Spain (26%) and the Uk at 24% – though stats I’ve seen from M:Metrics puts the UK at 29%.

I also know that these probably aren’t the biggest markets from AdMob stats – I’m sure that S Africa and India would be even higher than that.

So why is the world ignoring this – which is every bit as revolutionary as the PC-web before? After all, many members would agree, the mobile will become the single most important device for accessing the web, even in developed markets within a 5 year time frame.

I don’t have an answer, but I can speculate.

Since most usage is probably led by early adopting youth markets, older people – the decision makers and influencers – just aren’t aware of what’s going on around them. If 25% of the population started wearing berets and stripey T-shirts, it would be blindingly obvious that something was happening. Well, OK maybe not in France, but you get the picture. Whereas what you do on your mobile is essentially a private thing and it’s not getting seen.

So, do the industry a favour and point out to a few people that the mobile web is here and it’s being used by a big enough percentage of the population to be called mainstream – and it’s happening right under our noses.

Maybe we should have a Mobile Web Day and spread the good news – any takers?

My post at forumoxford

Hello all

Considering a great thread from Russell yesterday about the idea of the Mobile Web day, I volunteered to create some kind of working group (for the lack of a better word) and work with Russell on this

Tomi has gone one step ahead and posted a comment which essentially means we will offer a lot more direct and practical support to this idea from forumoxford

In a nutshell, I guess we could ‘incubate’ this idea within forumoxford.

since we will be always free and open to anyone who wants to join – it’s a very inclusive proposition even to people who are not yet members

I still see Russell running it and fronting it(it needs a good marketing person – and Russell is one of the best I know!)

In addition, we will work with Russel by creating a small group of volunteers here at forum oxford considering our global reach and scope.

We are also looking to combine our idea of ‘journal’ with this initiative

I will take the lead from forumoxford but we will still be helping russell – so Russell and I will work together(along with Tomi) + a core group from here + the rest of the group

Maybe we make this a rotating group for volunteers?

Dont know

anyway, seek thoughts and volunteers

Tomi post as below from original link location

Hi Jim, Mark, Barbara, Alex, Keith and Faith

Very good! I was about to suggest Ajit might want to take a lead position at least here with our Forum Oxford gang, as this sounds like a good “brochure version” of the upcoming Journal of our Forum…

I think the “target audience” would be essentially two – first and foremost, the media. We have a good story, and upbeat story, a success story – here. It does not get anything like reasonable coverage (says one who still fumes about the big Economist cover story all but ignoring mobile [grumble-grumble])…

Then we here, at Forum Oxford, can definitely generate a very impressive, “comprehensive” and geographically very wide-reaching collection of case examples and success stories. I’m thinking here already in our thread we have Russell’s Admob, Mark’s Flirtomatic etc – and with just a bit of “recruiting” ha-ha, I’m sure we can have many others joining us like William Volk of MyNuMo etc.

So – I’d suggest first to Ajit – perhaps you can start the thread recruiting the volunteers to offer their company stories for this “celebration of success”.

Then, for all of our members here of Forum Oxford – if you work for, or represent, or know of – any company with a good story of how success is made in the mobile web, then lets hear from you!

Ajit – you know some of the companies I work with or am closely associated with, I’ll go and chase them to “gently force them” to “volunteer” for you ha-ha…

Another thought – I think if we approach the journalists with this story idea – I think we can greatly help sell the story, with a bit of statistics. No, I don’t mean going “Tomi crazy” with the numbers (but I love statistics, numbers are my buddies?) – but a few key stats I think would help. Like I still read a couple of places this year that the mobile telecoms industry would be “reaching 2 billion” users soon. We all know we’re past 2.5 billion already (does anyone happen to have a current accurate count by the way, should be near 2.6 shortly)? Like the numbers Russell posted originally, etc.

Some of my initial thoughts…

Tomi Ahonen / HatRat

Under the radar mobility conference ..

On November 16, there is an Under the radar mobility conference in San Francisco. While I am not attending it, there are a number of companies I know who are there(like admob ) and panelists like Oliver Starr. Worth a look if you can make it

The Widget Widget Web: How can advertisers/marketers/brands use widgets?

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As you would know from my previous posts, I am a fan of Widgets and I believe in the potential of Widgets (both web and mobile) to transform the web experience as we know it.

When I spoke at Ajaxworld , Adam Sah of Google gave a fascinating presentation about Widgets(which Google calls gadgets).

In that presentation (or I think in the Q/A after words), someone asked about the commercial/marketing potential of widgets.

As you can imagine this is a fascinating subject.

Since then, I have been out to find any instances where widgets were actually being used for advertising/marketing

One such example is the freewebs community(by co incidence – Zeki Mokhtarzada, Freewebs Co-Founder and CTO was also a speaker at Ajax world but I missed his talk because I was jet lagged :( – but I first heard about freewebs at Ajaxworld)

With 11 million web sites and an Alexa rating of 345, freewebs is one of the top 150 trafficked site in the world according to comscore

But my interest lies in: How can advertisers/marketers/brands on a community use widgets for marketing?

Freewebs tried this out with Sony to promote the film Zathura

Consider the options for an advertiser like Sony for a film like Zathura

The traditional option is ‘banner ads’ for a site like free webs.

But can more be done by Widgets?

Lets face it, no one like banner ads(my ad blocker kills them all!) ..

But widgets enable Sony to provide an application(which is essentially a game, content etc etc) related to the movie and more importantly allow users to interact with it.

For the 11 million web site owners of freewebs, the widget was ‘digital candy’ – something to embed within their web site.

Indeed 11,000 web sites took this up within six weeks(note unlike banner ads, widgets are not intrusive. The website creator has to ‘choose’ the widget in his site.) The widgets had been viewed 600,000 times and crucially, there are still over 15,000 widgets embedded on the site and still delivering content long AFTER the original movie has gone!

This is powerful stuff!

Thanks to Zeki Mokhtarzada, and Shervin Pishevar for their help with this blog

If you have any other instances of widgets being used for marketing, I am happy to include them!

MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year

Over at forumoxford Dean Bubley of Disruptive analysis adds some more of his good insights to the previous post MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year

Interesting stuff, and a different “cut” of the market to that which I’ve seen before. One of the challenges in interpreting innovative data like this is to understand definition, and see if there is overlap with other adjacent segments.

There is a bit of background on this for Informa’s report here and what appears to be a chunk of a 4-year old predecessor report (by Baskerville, now part of Informa) here

Reading between the lines, I suspect that much of the revenues are from two categories:

- Membership-based communities like CyWorld in Korea, although I’m not sure exactly how they separate revenues between fixed & mobile access, as I think that you get both for one price?

- SMS or WAP chat services. I really don’t know much about this, but I suspect that it’s popular in places like China & Philippines. Tomi – any idea what % of global SMS revenues could be described as chat?

To me, a lot of this makes good sense. Much of the early growth of the public Internet was also driven by what person-to-person messaging and what is now (rather cringeingly, I think) called “user generated content”. Much of the original growth between AOL, Yahoo and peers was also around chat-rooms, message boards and the like, with services like IM & photo-sharing & webcams springing from those origins.

MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year

MOBILE user generated content and social networking worth 3.45 B this year according to the Communities dominate brands blog

Tomi and Alan say ..

The fastest-growing type of digital service, by revenues, is social networking on mobile phones. Every CEO of a Flickr, YouTube, eBay, Skype, MySpace, Worlds of Warcraft, 2nd Life etc will need to immediately launch mobile extensions, variants, access methods, sharing systems and/or alerts to their online social networks, or else their more nimble rivals will shoot past them.

The full text of the article they refer to is below:

Source: The International herald tribune

A cellphone sideshow: YouTube-like content is going mobile By Doreen Carvajal International Herald Tribune

Published: October 22, 2006

PARIS Gather around, “towners,” for a glimpse of Hot Dog Boy – “quickest frankfurter eater in town!” Or take a twist with the Pretzel Girl, “real-life office contortionist!” Feast your eyes as often as you want – the carnival is coming to your mobile phone.

Towners is the carnival term for a sideshow audience, but in the cellphone industry, the towners could be people who operators hope will create a powerful revenue stream by uploading amateur photographs and video clips for fellow customers to download and gawk at.

Google reaped international attention for its purchase of the top video- sharing Web site, YouTube, but phone companies in Europe, Asia and the Americas are also exploring the territory for “user generated content,” tantalized by the prospects of making money with low-cost, effective entertainment.

Hot Dog Boy and Pretzel Girl are among some of the sensations that have emerged in the year since the mobile operator 3 created “See Me TV.”

More than 100,000 amateur videos and photographs have been submitted, resulting in more than 12 million downloads, according to 3, which in keeping with this new form of entertainment calls itself a “mobile media company.” But the medium has its limits. To reach all of 3′s some 3.75 million customers, See Me TV acts are warned to avoid swearing, racist comments or making faux horror clips that are just “too gory.”

Phone companies are working furiously to develop systems that will allow social networking or the sharing of material with a layer of human control to filter submissions. “We definitely think there is a long-term business model around it,” said Daniel Winterbottom, a senior analyst with the research firm Informa Telecoms & Media. “Anytime you create a community it’s a way of driving the up-selling of content.”

With the growing popularity of sophisticated telephones, Informa forecasts that globally, operator revenue from such services will rise to more than $13 billion by 2011 from $3.45 billion this year. Asia is the most active region, with revenue from “mobile community services” of $1.8 billion this year, followed by Europe at $721 million, according to Informa. Leading the way are companies like Cyworld in South Korea, a creation of SK Telecom that allows cellphone users to share pictures, clips, music, ring tones and games.

Orange UK started a service this year that asks Britons to submit photos of themselves that could then be shared and voted on in a contest, “Buff or Rough.” They recently increased the degree of difficulty by asking contestants to submit photos with Bollywood themes. The winning entrant, who was to be announced Monday, is Ishrat Jabeen Sharif, a 21-year-old newlywed. Her prize will be a bit part in a real Bollywood movie.

“It’s cheap for the customers and it’s cheap for us because the content is generated by them,” said Alistair Johnston, director of multimedia and marketing for Orange in Britain. “We laugh at it, but we were staggered by the response, with more than one million votes per week. The average use is high, with people browsing through 50 pages and customers going in two or three times a day. The behavior is all about boredom busting.”

Users pay differently for downloading material based on their monthly plans or “bundle” rates; one option is £1, or $1.88, for one day of unlimited use. So Johnston said it was difficult to calculate how much revenue the services are creating, but he said it was clear that “Buff and Rough” and chat forums were the “main motors” behind the company’s growth.

Last week, FremantleMedia, a production company that is a division of the European broadcaster RTL Group, teamed up with the U.S. phone company Sprint to create a subscription mobile channel called Atomic Wedgie aimed at tantalizing young men with recycled video fare like “Baywatch Babes.” The venture is not ready for video sharing because, according to Olivier Gers, general manager of FremantleMedia CQ Licensing Worldwide, “we’re still trying to learn what the medium is about and what people like and don’t like.”

Many operators are asking start-ups to manage mobile video applications. Gilles Babinet, a founder of Musiwave in Paris, which advises operators about how to sell music tracks, has created another company, Eyeka, that provides mobile video and image service along with vetting controls. The biggest concern is posting information “that involves any legal issues or porn stuff or violence,” Babinet said. “Telcos won’t accept that.”

Why do people buy Mobile adult content?

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Why do people buy Mobile adult content?

I have always wondered about that question. Note that the operative word here being ‘mobile’.

Why buy ‘mobile’ adult content when ‘web’ adult content gives a ahem .. ‘superior’ user experience!

But mobile adult content is definitely big business as discussed by Julia Dimambro of mobile adult content site ‘Cherrysauce’ in her interview with Forbes magazine where she says that her site gets a million hits a month !

Strategy analytics predict that the mobile adult content market would reach $5 billion in 5 years

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the charming Julia as she came to London to attend the Mobile entertainment awards (which her company Cherrysauce subsequently won )

So, I asked Julia the same question: Why is this market so ‘hot’(excuse the pun) ?

Her rather interesting response has to do with the mobile device being available at the point of ‘inspiration’ – something which many including me have been talking about .. (just that I did not expect it to apply in this situation).

Typically, a guy(nothing to do with gender neutral writing here – it’s almost always male customers) thinks of sex every seven seconds ..

While that may be an urban myth .. its still a number of times a day for a large portion of the (male) population ..

And which other device do they have handy at all times whenever they are thus ‘inspired’? and how long does it take to download a video clip, a sexy screen saver or a naughty ringtone?

Well .. maybe there is a market there after all ..

PS: former Baywatch star Carmen electra claims she thinks of sex every 20 seconds .. maybe there is a bigger market here considering the female audience :)

I think Julia is a pioneer in a male oriented industry and I think of her as the Christine Hefner

of the mobile adult content industry.

Julia’s web site is (note this is an adult site – so don’t click on this

link if you are offended by adult content) Cherrysauce

The fiftieth carnival of the mobilists is at mobhappy ..

The fiftieth carnival of the mobilists is at mobhappy – apt since Russell and Carlo started the carnival at mobhappy not so long ago! Great read as usual!

Why has the mobile entertainment industry suddenly discovered user generated content?

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With the growth of mobile content around the year 2000, a group of companies emerged focussing on mobile entertainment content.

Within the value chain they sit between a rock and a hard place i.e. between the Mobile Network Operator and the content owner. They usually provide one or more functions such as a Brand/customer interface, a billing system, content aggregation etc.

Typically, mobile entertainment companies have always worked (profitably) with two main content types i.e. ringtones and single player Java/Brew games.

This has been a profitable market and the market for mobile entertainment content will continue to grow significantly.

There is little doubt about that.

Question is: what role will these companies play in a new world?

As the industry matures, these are turbulent times for this section of the value chain and perhaps a shakeout is looming.

Ringtones are maturing to truetones and the balance of power shifts to the content owner(and so does the revenue).

Games, meanwhile have not yet shown wider appeal (such as multiplayer games) and we see some market consolidation with pure games companies like Iomo and Macrospace in the UK being acquired by bigger players.

Driven market necessity, mobile entertainment companies may be forced to change their strategies. Mobile Social networking / Mobile user generated content / Mobile Web 2.0 may be the logical path.

Mobile entertainment companies are not content owners nor are they mobile network operators. And this makes them very vulnerable.

They have tried to change their position in the value chain by formulating different strategies; for instance entering games/content creation. In doing so, they will conflict with existing partners who are also trying to consolidate their position in the value chain (witness both Orange and Vodafone dropping carphone warehouse on grounds of cost cutting measures )

As they seek to embrace the new world of user generated content to balance the decline in their traditional markets(ringtones and games), they are entering a market segment they are not usually familiar with. This explains a raft of announcements tending to some form of ‘social networking’.

This is unusual because with their focus on packaged mobile entertainment content like ringtones and games(which has been profitable so far), mobile entertainment companies are typically not known for working with user generated content/social networking.

But the shifting tectonic plates of the value chain may change all that.

Indeed the cross operator connectivity of mobile entertainment companies gives them an advantage when working with user generated content and the companies who play it right this time, have much to gain.

Conversely, there will be many losers – the mortality arising from a failure to execute a mobile social networking strategy and / or a larger player like a mobile network operator or a content owner executing a better strategy.

Already, there have been some early movers. Dada (mobile blogging) and monstermob (create your own space) have announced community initiatives. Mobile Streams have launched a community called FunkySexyCool

But this will be an increasingly ruthless battleground with conflicting and changing alliances.

Mobile Streams for instance has launched its community with three Mobile network operators(Vodafone Germany, Mobilkom (A1) Austria and Sunrise Switzerland.) – and there is no reason why these operators may not want to launch social networking initiatives of their own(if they have not done so already!)

With cross operator connectivity and powerful billing systems (for example Mobile Streams Vuesia and Motricity’s Fuel , mobile entertainment companies are at an advantage when it comes to user generated content

Indeed the biggest opportunity seems to be to grow a mobile community and hope to be acquired by a web player like MySpace(or at least partner with them)

Its too early to say who the winners will be but there are likely to be many losers.

Indeed the critical aspect of user generated content led us to cover it in so much detail in mobile web 2.0 .

Almost any player in the mobile data value chain could embrace a successful mobile social networking/mobile user generated content strategy.

So .. the race is on! Watch this space!

Image source: easyringtonemaker