Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Facing the New(ish) Digital Frontier - Mobile Media

The buzz that Google is poised to leap into mobile is growing stronger. It's not surprising, really. Google guru Vinton Cerf has been talking up the importance of mobile phones quite a bit recently saying that the future growth of the Internet lies in the hands of mobile phone users, not computers.

Cerf has pointed out that while the Internet population has exploded from 50 million to 1.1 billion since 1997, it still only reaches a sixth of the world's population. “You will get those other 5.5 billion people only when affordability increases and the cost of communication goes down," said Cerf, 63, who joined Google in 2005 as Vice President. By contrast, analysts say mobile phone connections recently topped 2.5 billion and are expected to reach 3 billion by the end of 2007 . A recent study showed that more than half of mobile phones in circulation were enabled to access data services and that 56% of users accessed at least one data services each a month, up dramatically from a year ago. “The mobile phone has become an important factor in the Internet revolution, " said Cerff.

Mainstream media companies aren't entirely asleep at the wheel.

A study of 38 US news sites published last week as part of The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2007 State of the American News Media Report showed that about a third (12 sites) of the sites in the sample allowed content delivery customization, such as RSS feeds, podcasts or mobile phone alerts. According to Visiongain, by 2008, 89% of brands in Europe will use SMS & MMS to reach their audience and 1/3 will spend more than 10% of their marketing budgets on the mobile channel.

Since I'm in the business of helping mainstream media companies develop the capacity to meet the challenges that our industry faces, I've been looking around at some innovations in mobile media and have invited Eamonn Carey from upstart Random Thoughts Media to the 6th Journalism Leaders Forum panel on May 15th . Eomann's work for O2 mobile, sponsors of the Irish national rugby team, should ring some alarm bells with mainstream media groups who are still dithering on their commitment to digital innovation - it demonstrates that there are a host of nimble, new media-christened production and distribution companies who are willing and able to help advertisers engage directly with audiences.

- If you've know of good, bad or brilliant examples of the use of mobile phones by mainstream media, I'd really appreciate the links.
- I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from the link up between media monoliths Media24/Naspers and minos Mxit.co.za . Any ideas?
- For a primer on the subject see 'Mobile and Newspapers - A Quick Lessons' . Be sure to read the comments at the end, too.

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