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Mobile - a new blogosphere

By: NMK Created on: February 14th, 2005
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The blogging phenomenon proves it is consumers who are driving new thought and innovation. Mobile phones too can unite like-minded individuals. But the mBlog? Peter Larsen says it is more than just a hybrid of the two...

By Peter Larsen

Blogging has unquestionably been the major internet phenomenon of recent years, influencing everything from car boot sales to Presidential election races. It has demonstrated that its the consumer who really drives new thought and innovation. Now the mobile phone is emerging as the next tool that can unite like-minded individuals and bring power to the people. But the mBlog hybrid is a different beast...

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A blog on a phone - thats never gonna work, is what some die-hard bloggers say to me when I start talking to them about how mobile will, and already is, changing the way consumers interact with each other. When you go on to examine the facts, and see some of the blogs emerging, its clear that the mobile phone is going to have a huge influence on what becoming known as consumer generated media.

For one, the mobile is far more ubiquitous than an internet connected PC; secondly, pretty much every mobile phone sold nowadays has an embedded camera; and thirdly, theyre a hell of a lot more portable than PCs and laptops! With 4 million pixel cameras 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 both spontaneously and when consumers have dead space (sitting on the bus etc.) The unrivalled immediacy and accessibility of the mobile medium is sure to have a major influence on blogging, a phenomenon that has always thrived on latest news and events.

The birth of the mBlog

Essentially an mBlog allows users to update a web or WAP blog whilst on the move by sending in pictures, audio, text and even video.

mBlogs initially emerged as a result of the ubiquity of the camera phone. The ability to send in pictures to an email or short code that immediately gets posted to the web is clearly interesting for consumers who want to share and save photos, or to publish them to the world. An independent Enpocket study recently showed that 46% of consumers are interested in using mobile for sharing pictures with family and friends, so we expect this trend to continue.

What people do with their phones and what they do online is going to be different. We do not expect to see consumers keying in vast articles on their phones everyday. However with easy-to-use multimedia capabilities embedded within mobiles we are already seeing more pictures and rich media been used on mBlogs, which are frequently accompanied with a small amount of text for a caption. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words.

Companies such as Orange have used mBlogs to strengthen their brand and educate consumers about how the camera phone and MMS messaging can be used see www.orange.co.uk/expressionist or www.orange.co.uk/snapshot

Blogging for bucks

To many hardcore bloggers the recent increase in the commercial use of blogs has ruffled a lot of feathers. Well bloggers beware, Im afraid commercialism will hit the mBlog too. But this does not mean that the content is going to be dictated by the sponsor.

Increasingly marketers are realising that its the consumer, not themselves or the media channels that hold the real power. With the advent of services such as Sky + and with so many consumers used to guiding themselves through media channels like the internet, we need to face up to the fact that consumers are fully in control. Consumers pick their media carefully, are increasingly savvy and know how to block pop-ups and unsubscribe from irrelevant services. Consequently your marketing will be wasted unless its included alongside or in relation to something they really care about and demand.

Pervasive blogging

As the more long-lasting usage trends emerge, well see mBlogs come into their own as they are sewn into the fabric of other mobile applications. Entertainment and information applications that are created by, or supported by, sponsors have already surfaced and increasingly these will have integrated chat and mBlogging capabilities.

Id be surprised if we do not see a 2006 World Cup application / mBlog next year. Picture it: an application that sits on your mobile that keeps you up-to-date on all the latest scores, league tables and stats at the click of the button, with special features that allow you to interact with fans in the stadium or across the world, fellow England fans or even players who have agreed to mBlog their picture story of the tournament. This type of real estate on the consumers phone represents a serious branding opportunity for a company that closely aligns itself with the sport.

Product placement in films is now well established, but you wont see the brand dictating the plot. In consumer-generated media, its your customer that writes the script, takes the photo and ultimately creates the community. Modern society continues to build upon the myriad of sub-cultures that already exist based around interests, music, history, bowling, fashion.anything. If you as a brand can help to enable these communities to communicate better then the mBlog is a great way to do it, but beware - dont interfere or try to change the course of human nature!

About The Author:

Peter Larsen - CEO, Enpocket
Responsible for leading Enpocket's growth across the Americas, Europe and Asia, Peter joined Enpocket as VP Sales & Business Development and developed Enpockets relationship with carriers such as Orange in addition to bringing Enpocket's mobile CRM product line to market. Prior to joining Enpocket, Peter ran business development and developer relations for Liberate Technologies Europe, a pioneering interactive TV technology provider. Prior to Liberate, Peter was with Apple Computer, where he was Worldwide Business Manager for Apple's Powerbook division. Fluent in Japanese, Larsen holds an MBA from Cornell University.

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