Panelists: Marc Davis, Yahoo!; Bob Schukai, Turner Broadcasting; Alice Kim, MTV Networks (I missed one name – he’s ??. To be filled in later)
Beyond the launch of shiny new devices, the mobile market has been dominated by data services and re-formatted content. Wifi connections and the expansion of 3G phone networks enable pushing more data to wireless devices faster, yet we still seem to be waiting for the arrival of mobile’s "killer app". This panel muses on the future of mobile services as devices for convergence culture. What role can mobile services play in remix culture? What makes successful mobile gaming work? What are the stumbling blocks to making the technological promise of convergence devices match the realities of the market? Is podcasting the first and last genre of content? What is the significance of geotagging and place-awareness?
JG: so why ss the US so far behind the rest of the world in mobile
BS: I love phones…(proceeds to pull out about 6 phones). Why do I bring out this stuff? In the 90s when cell launched in the US, we did not agree on a standard. We had a FCC that said let the best tech win – we had 7 standards and a patchwork network. Skype is going onto mobile…this is disruptive. We dropped the ball on standard setting. We are a nation of creators, we will never agree on it. Everyone is doing everything on the assumption the tech will be fixed
MD: the cost of data is a barrier and the US is ahead on this. It’s the bundling that helps this in the US. OS and openness is another barrier, it is a nightmare to do development. One of the things that are driving it is that we are all interested in advertising..the ability to get data back from phone to drive advertising.
JG: anything to make the content better?
AK" barrier is being able to provide content and make the content the accessible. Looking at usage, the behaviour is not quite there yet. Not at critical mass yet. A lot of it comes down to the pricing plans. So is there a way to spread the cost – it’s on the carriers and the users – can we extend the cost to the brands
BS: networks are being built for coverage not services. Biggest margins are on texts not video. People are using more to this model in the US..look at UK – 4000/sec message sent
MD: IM on phone will impact text.
JG: can we push to a user level?
??: the carriers control the devices…putting stuff on top of it is hard. Interoperatibility is bad, you lock people out of innovation.
JG: no fan of the walled network. We have hardware and network walls, it’s a single channel
MD: text has to be across networks,voice is across networks. Any sociual graph has to be portable across. At yahoo, we think of social as core infrastruicture that services are built on top of it. I think mobile will shift that way
JG: so how does a mobile walled garden make sense? why not open at the start? why not web access?
BS: there were tech issues, browsers could not handle it. They are not really all that evil, they get it that off-deck plays are where it is going. When the handset could not deal with web content it made sense, now it does not
??: the changes will come from some guy, from somewhere unexpected. THe carriers are missing the point
MD: another barriers is that most phones do not have the equivalent of a mouse. You can’t get most of the web on the phone. The UI us changing, more mobile sites, OS are getting better, browsers are getting better. IT is just about to happen and get excited. It’s also about producing content
AK: we liked the walled content for a while. It was an easy way for us to understand how to make money in this media. Disagree a little with the openness. We are doing a lot of content exclusively for mobile. YOu have to treat it as an extension AND a unique environment
JG: what are the challenges?
AK: still experimenting. Shorts, mini dramas. We are waiting for interactivity to come to fruition. same with iTV…tv has interaction through mobile.
JG: bringing together challenges of content production and sharing. Discoverability and socialness is an opportunity
MD: it is important to know what a phone is? (asked questions about use and production of media). The phone gives you a production tool all the time..a socially aware, programmable video camera. The opps have to do with leveraging the phone as a productions device. We build systems that are aware, that know who, where when. The London bombings was a moment when people really grasped the ability to be there and then and share content. We built Zonetag, with Motorola, that adds lots of metatagging. Stories that happen in the real world are going to be possible with these phones. News will be the first frontier, but entertainment will follow.
BS: there are also privacy issues to consider, I think there will be a backlash at some point
??: they are starting to become behaviour recognition devices. We are just at the start.
JG: so how can we respond to the challenge? How do we interact with business models, how do we deal with privacy
MD: they are all combined. Advertising moves from interruption to a gift. I can see where my friends have been in Cambridge and get recommendations and ads from there. You will see models where users own their data. Rights to it and then the ability to exchange that data for something useful.
BS: there is a generational gap. Older are reticent to get ads. The younger sort of expect it. Doing tests, people were worried about the services knowing where they were.
AK: the demo that is used to being bombarded is also the demo that is anti-commercial. They bypass the traditional forms. There are new types of advertising, sponsored content, that is more acceptable. The new audience are far more savvy and are far more innovative when it comes to production. We encourage this creativity and create environments for people to do things. We create programming around it. We are seeing so much innovative production…and the costs are coming down. We acquired Adam Shoickwave..and we have a budget to reach out to the prosumer audience to get content
JG: Is some of the unease lifted if we start delivering place aware entertainment?
MD: we are launching FireEagle and privacy is built in. You control the granularity, you can say places or areas or countries. You can set detail and who to disclose it to. When you have a permissioning context and control it becomes for acceptable.
BS: in Japan, you can follow your friends on maps via the mobile. Some will do it, others won’t
MD: there are 31million photos on Flickr with geo data – most not from phones. It will change and increase. You start to see a map of what is interesting in the world -adding photos from many! Look at the connections between upcoming, and flickr and maps to track this event. We can look at the tag map, (tagmaps). Mobile makes a collective map of human attention.
BS: i love it when people break the business model. The X series product, you take your data with you when roaming. Get flatrate data whereever. Putting Skype on the phone is great. Innovation is generally least of our problems. it has to break down the business model and move it forwards.
MD: in Japan all phones have GPS this year. Carriers have a diff model in the US than elsewhere. Blik is interesting.., does ad supported service. the best platform to understand intentions is the phone. That’s why we will break these barriers. Mobile will be the dominant way the web works
JG: Google and Apple etc? Does the arrival of these players have a significance?
BS: we did a billion phones last year so Apple volume not huge. But they dictated a business model to a carrier. That was the difference. Not sure about Google yet, They have a similar opp to Apple, especially if they buy spectrum, to make a big impact and maybe more the industry
??: I love the people who are building the apps. You can run a complete site on the iPhone. Not sure how much of the SDK will be controlled. From Android, they are solving a problem but holding off judgement until something happens. A year down the line a better idea
MD: Scale and distribution is the question. Both these small so far. Scale matters, especially with adertising on the phone. Things have to become more open, infrastructures open, then innovation can happen on top. Google’s move is great, it is open up things. Making mobile into a platform when services cann work is the change that is needed. Distribution is an opp, for content production and UGC. The future happens at different rates, that is truly truw with mobile. Look to China, Korea, Japan, India. Hopefully the US will get there are some point. There will be a lot of inexpensive devices, eg text in India, which are another route
AK: the IPhone was a wake up phone. The focus was on the user interface. It is not a great phone experience, but it showed the carriers that consumers care about the user interface. Since the iPhone, there has been an renewed interest in the interface, improve discoverability. Move away from product silos, walls within walled gardens. The carriers have a switched focus. You are allowing users to speak for the first time. In terms of Google, really excited that everyone is entering – it is about scale. The carriers have been the aggregators and now the web companies, who have been content aggregators, are now entering. It has to be game changing. Until it progresses further though, open has a closed meaning to it!
JG: so what do you think will happen if Google get spectrum?
BS: it can be nothing but good news for US consumers. The US market has been hamstrung…lockin is bad. They have an opp to shake up the business. But remember the interop stuff..we have to be aware of fragmentation.
??: Got to be good for industry
MD: we are excited. It is important to make the industry open. But it is the scale function – owning part does not make it open. There’s more stuff needed. You will get OS consolidation. The key thing is can you right software and apps that consumers can afford to access. We are one of those major transitions. The spectrum is going to be less disruptive than Android and we will see prices being driven down. The challenge is to balance user privacy, trust will be essential. Create openess and participation whilst creating trust Search is crucial for discovery. Ondeck search is like Prodigy…mobile search opens up the space.
AudQ: Openess is not all the same. Apply to some networks, like Qualcomm, they charge and want perpetual rights to IP! So some build companies could provide an umbrella. I hear you say that it is a different platform..I see a lot of people doing this from information, eg mapping. When does it become entertaining?
MD: we have seen some interesting experiments in augmented reality. the concept of what is the story world. A lot of research, immersive gaming, connected to advertising as well. Like MMORGs, in the real world.
??: the networks effect adds to this – how many people are on it.
BS: I look at entertainment different. Go to Korea, you watch proper TV on the phone. In Japan. Commutes are longer, there is more place to do it. There’s time to do stuff and be entertained. In the US it is a driving culture, it’s in the back-seat in the car. Is it shortform – the pockets of microboredom are opps. It depends on the day. You will see people creating different ways of getting content. As a content producer we do not care about the tech, just want to get you the content
AK: as long as we can monetise it!
AudQ: Search tools and software, but I work on metadata, needed for search. so how do you see user generated metadata progressing
BS: mobile is good for this. Look at flickr image, with geolocations, and evetn tags etc. Mobile will be the breakthrough media metadata.
AudQ: but for other content, then we have to do it, or users have to do it. So who owns the data, what are the content
AK; there is metadata that goes with files, optimise feeds for mobile search. And then there is the tagging. In the mobile space not that prevalent. No good environment for it. Users do tagging online and ports over to mobile space; Still working through. we want users to have tools but we have brand equity to manage as well.
JG: Aud Q – so what would the social effects of hyperconnectivity?
MD: it changes the nature We see this in Flickr – it is broadcasting the day. the nature of an image changes. it is about the latest, what they are eating, who they are hanging out with. it is a collective broadcast of social experience. What you see on twitter is there as images and video as well – a social broadcast of self to the community
MS: in London there are cameras everywhere, an exchange of privacy and security. The mobile is challenged for knowing where you are, but you already do in London. you have to be able to set the boundaries.
??: You have more media streams and more connected. what does this mean for your attention span. how do you figure out importance?
MD: FireEagle is sending out my location in real time. I control the aspects of what and how it sends things out. Other question is data ownership. An ongoing, interesting negotiations
AK: the cultural trends, the social expectations, always changing. People are expecting to know where you are and know what you are doing. Privacy will always be an issue, but waht privacy is always changes.
MD: online you tend now to have relationships with people you know…people are living their lives online and are living as themselves.
AK: we are bringing the real world online – virtual Lower East Side.
AudQ: Voice/Text, etc low end on texts or voices instead of images and video? Where is the voice?
BS: speach/text there for ever. People not too happy connecting with voice..eg ‘Call Ted’/ There are really cool companies doing things. Can you take text and turn it into voice? can you get the phone to give you audio news? Voice is the most underused. 98% of the world will just talk and text and there is a massive opp. Language is a huge barrier as well
MD: you can have great speech recognition but processing power is huge. It will change…it is in the network, in the servers. It will move to the phone at some point.
AudQ: privacy..as these things filter out, most people will not open up the hood and understand what privacy they have. many do not now. so how do we encourage media literacy?
MD: we have a responsibility to make things that people will use and control. We use credit cards because we get something for it despite the lack of privacy. You have to design the social protectures.
AudQ: Is there research about content is being customised, use of content on commuting etc?
BS: off deck creation of portals and sites is important. We can see where people are coming from, what is being interacted with, that will help give a better solution. It is both the systems and the measurement piece that is needed.
??: it is an active research area about how people are using the content. when they share, what the interaction patterns
AudQ: but how can the content be enhanced for mobile use?
BS: we keep it short, create graphics that are designed for mobile, we optimise for devices.
MD: the phone is not just a tv you carry with you. But as a place things. Your progamming can be based about what the phone knows who and where they are. The delivery of content can be tailored
AK: we do research..but at the moment we just try a lot of things. We started thinking that people wanted longform but quickly changed to shortform. We optimise all the time, Original content, music, bitesize snacks of content, we take a slightly different tactic with social networks. We created flux, your profile, it understands your passion points across the network.
AudQ: What are legislation impacts, surveillance, politics
MD: the mobile is perfect for surveillance. It’s crucial that policies are created to protect data and privacy and so that they can use the phones for activism. mobile phone can give co-ordination for all. Disruptions in the service infrastructure can change the access.
BS: see Europe..there is an active telecomms policy. When you roamed in Eu is was horrible. Vivian Redding changed things – stopped overcharging for roaming. But costs for out of eu likely to go up.It pains me a little when regulators make things. the UK have a light touch reg environment, the system is working together to determine where it is going.
AudQ: China, telecoms, privacy, the internet??
BS: it is a fascinating market. but it is sort of shooting itself in the foot. it is different standard. they are trying to grow own tech they would be further along if they had adopted an existing service. t here is a question of 3g services there for the olympics next year. it is the largest network and growing huge.
MD: could be the largest market,. but operating with the government is tricky. China makes it very difficult to operate. Yahoo actions were done by other companies as well. If you do not operate there are all, from a business point of view, not an option. Nor from a future trends person, you have to be there. it is sticky and messy and painful but unavoidable.
BS: you have to see how fast it is changing. It is trying to manage massive growth and changes. Don’t agree what they do with many but you have to see what is happening.
AudQ: Zonetag….how are you as a content provider going to manage my expectations about what I can do with a phone
MD: we are engaged in making it possible to make services work across the phones. Google goes to create an OS and get people to adopt..we go and work with phone people to get our stuff there. Zonetag…users have done the mapping, have said this cell is in this zipcode. Like with the CD database – built up by individuals. This is what is happening with Zonetag. We are trying to create market weight to get it to be more open.
AUdQ: is it scaleable?
MD: there are major players – there is a long tail, but the vast proportion can be met.
?? It is hard for a startup todo.
AK: not just for startups. If you have to port to many, how do you get an ROI on cost.
JG: can you give one trend? one thing to watch
AK: how portals are creating an user environment and the ability to get to a larger audience off deck
MD: location. Developers getting direct to platform. distribution platform. creating an ecosystem
??: mining peoples behaviour to improve apps. Location, speech, acceleromety,
BS: IMS – increase ease of access and connection. Inproves sharing etc.