Mobile – a new blogosphere

By Peter Larsen

Blogging has unquestionably been the major internetphenomenon of recent years, influencing everything from car bootsales to Presidential election races. It has demonstrated thatit’s the consumer who really drives new thought and innovation.Now the mobile phone is emerging as the next tool that can unitelike-minded individuals and bring power to the people. But themBlog hybrid is a different beast…

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“A blog on a phone – that’s never gonna work,” is what somedie-hard bloggers say to me when I start talking to them abouthow mobile will, and already is, changing the way consumersinteract with each other. When you go on to examine the facts,and see some of the blogs emerging, it’s clear that the mobilephone is going to have a huge influence on what becoming knownas ‘consumer generated media’.

For one, the mobile is far more ubiquitous than an internetconnected PC; secondly, pretty much every mobile phone soldnowadays has an embedded camera; and thirdly, they’re a hell ofa lot more portable than PCs and laptops! With 4 million pixelcameras now hitting the streets in Japan, and on our way soon,the advent of widespread mBlogging is on the horizon.

Mobiles are always on and always carried and therefore used bothspontaneously and when consumers have ‘dead space’ (sitting onthe bus etc.) The unrivalled immediacy and accessibility of themobile medium is sure to have a major influence on blogging, aphenomenon that has always thrived on latest news andevents.

The birth of the mBlog

Essentially an mBlog allows users to update a web or WAP blogwhilst on the move by sending in pictures, audio, text and evenvideo.

mBlogs initially emerged as a result of the ubiquity of thecamera phone. The ability to send in pictures to an email orshort code that immediately gets posted to the web is clearlyinteresting for consumers who want to share and save photos, orto publish them to the world. An independent Enpocket studyrecently showed that 46% of consumers are interested in usingmobile for sharing pictures with family and friends, so weexpect this trend to continue.

What people do with their phones and what they do online isgoing to be different. We do not expect to see consumers keyingin vast articles on their phones everyday. However witheasy-to-use multimedia capabilities embedded within mobiles weare already seeing more pictures and rich media been used onmBlogs, which are frequently accompanied with a small amount oftext for a caption. As they say, a picture tells a thousandwords.

Companies such as Orange have used mBlogs to strengthen theirbrand and educate consumers about how the camera phone and MMSmessaging can be used – see http://www.orange.co.uk/expressionist or http://www.orange.co.uk/snapshot

Blogging for bucks

To many hardcore bloggers the recent increase in the commercialuse of blogs has ruffled a lot of feathers. Well bloggersbeware, I’m afraid commercialism will hit the mBlog too. Butthis does not mean that the content is going to be dictated bythe sponsor.

Increasingly marketers are realising that it’s the consumer, notthemselves or the media channels that hold the real power. Withthe advent of services such as Sky + and with so many consumersused to guiding themselves through media channels like theinternet, we need to face up to the fact that consumers arefully in control. Consumers pick their media carefully, areincreasingly savvy and know how to block pop-ups and unsubscribefrom irrelevant services. Consequently your marketing will bewasted unless it’s included alongside or in relation tosomething they really care about and demand.

Pervasive blogging

As the more long-lasting usage trends emerge, we’ll see mBlogscome into their own as they are sewn into the fabric of othermobile applications. Entertainment and information applicationsthat are created by, or supported by, sponsors have alreadysurfaced and increasingly these will have integrated chat andmBlogging capabilities.

I’d be surprised if we do not see a 2006 World Cup application /mBlog next year. Picture it: an application that sits on yourmobile that keeps you up-to-date on all the latest scores,league tables and stats at the click of the button, with specialfeatures that allow you to interact with fans in the stadium oracross the world, fellow England fans or even players who haveagreed to mBlog their picture story of the tournament. This typeof real estate on the consumers’ phone represents a seriousbranding opportunity for a company that closely aligns itselfwith the sport.

Product placement in films is now well established, but youwon’t see the brand dictating the plot. In consumer-generatedmedia, it’s your customer that writes the script, takes thephoto and ultimately creates the community. Modern societycontinues to build upon the myriad of sub-cultures that alreadyexist based around interests, music, history, bowling,fashion….anything. If you as a brand can help to enable thesecommunities to communicate better then the mBlog is a great wayto do it, but beware – don’t interfere or try to change thecourse of human nature!

About The Author:

Peter Larsen – CEO, Enpocket
Responsible for leading Enpocket's growth across theAmericas, Europe and Asia, Peter joined Enpocket as VP Sales& Business Development and developed Enpocket’s relationshipwith carriers such as Orange in addition to bringingEnpocket's mobile CRM product line to market. Prior tojoining Enpocket, Peter ran business development and developerrelations for Liberate Technologies Europe, a pioneeringinteractive TV technology provider. Prior to Liberate, Peter waswith Apple Computer, where he was Worldwide Business Manager forApple's Powerbook division. Fluent in Japanese, Larsen holdsan MBA from Cornell University.

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