Tag Archives: apps

Mobile Webbys: Things are getting fun again

The mobile Webbys were announced recently and, of course, I’m excited BBC News won the People’s Choice award in the News category, but I thought I’d offer another thought I had after going through the list of nominees and winners: Things are getting fun again.

From the Webbys mobile list

From the Webbys mobile list

Games have always dominated in the app stores and as mobile downloads.  We know this.  But it looks like elements of fun and ‘play’ are edging their way into some of tools and utilities that are emerging and I think this trend is great and important.  So many of the sites and apps out there are either ‘functional’ or ‘games’ and very few of them manage to make their functionality fun in a way that isn’t distracting or annoying.  I think the apps that do this well will have a serious competitive advantage over apps that make you feel like you’re still working in the office.

I’m no stranger to foursquare – and if we’re friends on it, you’ll already know that.  Is it creepy?  A little.  But you only have to broadcast your location when you want to and to the people you want to know about it – like any other tool, I think we just need to use it wisely.  And if you use it, you can’t deny that ‘checking in’ has been made kinda fun.

I think its great that the leaderboard and badges you earn have integrated a level of play and fun into a functional city guide.  The way foursquare balances city guide functionality with social connections and fun competition is just great.  I’m curious to see what they’re doing with all the attention data and location data they’re collecting.  It must be a VERY rich data source about customers and business that’s valuable to many sectors.

And speaking of fun being woven into utility, huddle seems to be trying to leverage a brand name associated with sports and play to sell its project management app (also on the Webby’s list). Wouldn’t you rather be playing (American) football or rugby than doing project management?  Conversely, mobile stream sharing service UStream were on the Webbys list – but wouldn’t you rather play with your Kyte (one of their competitors with a more fun name)?

Geocaching is definitely a game but is another example of hardcore technology services and functionality and taking on the face of game play.  It’s been around for years (my friends Laura and Dave introduced me to it years ago in San Diego) but the app lowers the barrier to entry so nicely that I think this could make the activity alot more mainstream.  Being able to tap into users desires to feel like they’re having fun and play to get them to adopt technologies is one of the things that I think will drive the use of apps and ultimately, drive their value to users and for their creators.

Wrap up from: MIPTV and X Media Lab Sounds Digital

Well, last week was an eye opener. I attended both MIPTV and X Media Lab Sounds Digital and thought I’d share some highlights.

MIPTV: Mobile Engagement 2.0

Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too loudly, I’d like to say that I really enjoyed moderating this panel as part of MIPTV’s digital focus.  Thanks to the lovely Ferhan Cook for inviting me to host it.

We had a great line up – Michael Schneider, CEO of Mobile Roadie; Rudy De Waele from DotOpen and (aka @Mtrends on Twitter); Clare Boonstra from Layar and Kurt Sillen from Ericsson.

There’s a live blog report of the session on the MIPTV site (as well as a video of the debate – choose the second video down, under April 15 – not sure why there’s no addressable link). The panelists talked about the importance of apps, location , media transfer and other issues but there was a healthy debate about which was the most important.  Check it out.

Rudy’s presentation was great for people who are interested in where the mobile industry is going (he and I are in agreement on alot of points!):

Clare’s presentation on augmented reality was particularly good and here it is:

Starling

One of the coolest things I saw all week was Starling – a new mobile app that enables social TV viewing – it will essentially make it possible for audiences and broadcasters to create experiences like the one MTV created for The Hills where users could comment in real time and then MTV could overlay the best comments on the screen.

When I first saw The Hills (purely out of professional interest, I might add!), the main thing I didn’t understand was why it hadn’t been done on mobile in the first place – and this app does just that.  I’ve often said that broadcasters aren’t making enough of the natural proximity  CEO Declan Caulfield was kind enough to give me a sneak preview of the alpha and the interface is very slick – combining loads of bursts of social media with various contexts in a really slick way (and I promised I wouldn’t say any more than that!).  Good write up on it from Mobile Entertainment here.

Mobile Roadie

CEO Michael Schneider was on the panel I hosted and showed off what looks like a great product for build-it-yourself apps.  There’s bound to be alot of pretenders in this space – I get emails from them regularly – but Michael also demonstrated that he’s making apps for major names (including Madonna and Taylor Swift) in the music industry and that these apps are making money and increasing the ‘laser focus’ (as he called it) on their brands.  Michael also used the panel as an opportunity to announce that Mobile Roadie would be opening a European operation.  One interesting insight he told me is that they’ve seen fans buying songs in the music apps that they already own, because they are so drawn in and wanting a complete experience while they’re inside the app.  Interesting, and very different from the web ‘model’ for music and artists that we’ve seen so far.

And speaking of web vs. mobile discussions… Newscorp’s Chief Digital Officer Jon Miller talked about how he no longer sees mobile as ‘just an extension of the web.’  He also talked alot about Newscorp’s forthcoming paywall policy (and the related notion of ‘freemium’ content like what the Wall Street Journal is doing on the iPad), and hinted at a paid music subscription service from MySpace.  He also expects to see different tiers of quality of content and experience to emerge based on whether or not users are willing to pay for better experiences and quality.  Interesting.

I had to miss Gerd Leonhard’s talk on Social Media because I was in a rehearsal for my panel but caught up with him in person and have reviewed the presentation and thought I’d point that out too.  Worth a read:

X Media Lab Sounds Digital

I was lucky enough to get to talk about mobile (what else?) and mentor on Sounds Digital over the weekend and really enjoyed it.  My presentation is below – basically an update of things I’ve posted here before.  And prettier.

Lots of other interesting tidbits I gleaned…

- Tune Rights proposal that we can all be ‘cons-owners’ music that invest in tracks and artsist is really interesting (and works in Sweden – so let’s hope it rolls out further soon);

- Susan Bonds from 42 Entertainment talked about how their work on an alternate-reality-game was directly related to Nine Inch Nails directly marketing music to their fans without going through a label;

- AudioFuel looks like alot of fun for other triathlon/running fantatics;

and

- I’ll see alot of you in Egypt for MasterPeace (I hope!).

BBC Electric Proms Dizzee Rascal Player

BBC Mobile has announced that it will be providing exclusive content to audiences as part of BBC Electric Proms 2009.  You can check it out in the promo video below: 

To do this, our Audio & Music team worked with Dizzee Rascal to provide his fans with the chance to play his samples and mash up his songs using a mobile soundboard. The application can be downloaded from the BBC Mobile site, or accessed by texting ‘player’ to 88111, and includes samples from some of his signature tunes.

The soundboard is live now to the majority of mobile phone owners, although not every handset can be supported. This application will join elements on the mobile site introduced especially for BBC Electric Proms including exclusive interview audio, photo galleries, wallpapers, set lists and Twitter updates during the gig.

These new features, in addition to the recently introduced radio network pages and the increased personalisation aspects to the BBC mobile homepage, are all intended to enable audiences to stay connected to the BBC wherever they are.

Download your Dizzee soundboard at http://www.bbc.co.uk/electricproms/2009/mobile/

Over The Air – The Future is Mobile presentation

I spoke at Over The Air 2009 recently and have just uploaded my slides to share with the attendees and thought I’d share them with my readers too, in case you want to get a better view of what the BBC is up to on mobile and also, some of my personal predictions for what might happen in the mobile space.

 
Two highlights I wanted to pull out were my mini-analysis on what makes a good mobile app, which I’ve boiled down to:

Makes your life easier

Uses unique hardware capabilities on the device

Makes a better media experience on your device

Makes it FUN (aka GAMES)

Full details are in the slides and if you want to know more (since the talk isn’t on there), just get in touch.

The other part I wanted to highlight were my personal predictions around things that I think will unfold in the mobile space.  They are:

Mobile take centre stage as the first computing device you turn to

Everything becomes connected – clothing, toys, etc

Everything filtered via location

Mass participation and creativity will grow

Again, there’s more in the presentation but if you want to talk about any of these, or find out more, just get in touch.

I also gave a longer version of the talk at Ad-Tech London – part of London Digital Week.  If you want to see the extended version (with more details and examples of good stuff in the industry), dive in here: