Tag Archives: mobile

Newsflash: The Swarm launches today

While I don’t usually write about myself on here, I’m very pleased to announce the launch of THE SWARM, my new venture that will be offering mobile consultancy, multi-platform content production and creative workshop design and facilitation.  A full(er) website will launch soon.

THE SWARM

Please check out the site and get in touch if you’d like to work together.

Yes, this means I’m leaving the BBC – officially in the early Autumn – after 8+ great years here.  I’ve learned alot, had a great time and now it’s time for my next adventure.

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!).

iPad – a brave new past? A few of the iPad’s ancestors…

OK, everyone’s talking about the iPad today and I’m not going to contribute alot more to that but I saw the below device today at work and it made me think that for all the technological advances Apple’s announced (10 hr batter life – WAY better than my iPhone), there’s not really much of a new idea in the thing.  I was hoping for something more.

So, behold… the iPad of the past:

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

If you look closely you’ll see its even called an eBook – and I’m sure there must’ve been a bookstore of some sorts to get them from.  Admittedly, Apples will be better than this but it shows why I’m not wow-ed by the iPad, initially anyway.

And while joking about this while someone I was working with at the time, he reminded me of the TRUE ancestor – the Apple Newton.  Remember those?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

I guess its good to know that the drumbeat of mobile computing continues, even if we’re not wow-ed at every turn.

‘Divergence’ – the computing around us – my mobile 2020 predictions

I just finished reading Mobile Trends 2020 from M-Trends and it’s great to see what some of the leaders in the industry are thinking about for the next decade.  This is the presentation:

I’ve been offering some predictions in the talks I’ve been giving lately – like the one I did at XMedia Lab Sydney and Over The Air 2009 (click to see my post/slides on this).  Broadly they could be summed up in the final slide which had the message: “Your mobile was just the FIRST connected device.”  I introduced this by making more specific predictions that:

- Mobile will take centre stage (in our computing lives)

- Everything becomes connected (even our clothes.  Yes, I want an umbrella that wirelessly knows when it’s going to rain and beeps at me as I leave my flat, reminding me to take it with me.)

- Everything becomes filtered by location (and this drastically changes our relationship to content and its meaning)

- Mass participation and creativity will grow (because more and more of the unconnected will become connected).

So, broadly I was glad to see that alot of the experts in the industry were talking along the same lines.  Really encouraged, actually, even if their predictions were generally alot more informed and nuanced than mine.

What struck me though, is that there isn’t really a name for the trend that’s being widely predicted about what I’d call ‘the computing that happens around us.’  Broadly, I’d say this is a combination of: wearable/embedded/environmental technology, ubiquitous connectivity, context awareness and pervasive screens.

Depending on who you talk to, ‘convergence’ has happened or is about to happen.  iPhones and Android handsets are here, Netbooks are taking off and there’s that persistant rumour about the Apple Tablet and firm plans for other tablet devices (newspaper killers?!).  Sooner or later, I think we’ll all end up with a ‘smart’ converged device that will connect into the ‘computing around us’ that I described above.

So, I’d like to propose that at good name for this trend of smaller computing points on/in our bodies that connect to other computing points/screens in our environment be ‘divergence.’  Why?  Because what fundamentally underlies it is a move from us each having one personal computer that we interact with to a world where we interact with many computers simultaneously and sometimes unknowingly, even if much of this computing is/will be consumed through our converged devices (which will remain important!).

I’d like to propose that at good name for this trend of smaller computing points on/in our bodies that connect to other computing points/screens in our environment be ‘divergence.’

Broadcaster have had to (or are) shifting from a one-to-many model to a one-to-one model with their content.  Soon, I think we will move from a one-to-one (or a few) model for our user-to-pc access to a one-to-many model for our pc/mobile access.  We’ll have devices that are ‘ours’, devices that ‘know’ (recognise) us and devices that are ‘unknown’ but that we still share information and data with (often in a passive sense) – the level of trust and permission we permit these diverged devices to have will depend on which of these categories they fall into.

Please, let me know what you think.

Mobile connecting the unconnected world

As much as it doesn’t feel like it, alot of the world still isn’t connected via PCs and this is something I’ve had a number of conversations about lately.  The role of mobile in this space is interesting to think about.

Two weeks ago I spoke at X Media Lab in Sydney and presented the following information about BBC Online (desktop PC vs Mobile):

Alot of folks (including some internally here at the BBC) were amazed to see how different the top countries were when you look at what we do by which type of device is connecting.  It shows that there’s a massive opportunity to connect to people in the developing world via mobile.  These are people who might not have the money or access to get a nice shiny new MacBook Pro (like the one that arrived on my desk this week!) and broadband but they do have mobiles and a desire to be connected to the digital world harness the power of the network.

Another speaker at X Media Lab told me about an application in India that let’s farmers check to see what their crops are selling for in the markets near where they live so they can determine where to take their crops to get the highest profit.  Brilliant!

To respond to this, the BBC World Service has recently launched a massive number of new language-service sites – with a specific eye on reaching countries and cultures that don’t traditionally connect.  I think its great they’ve got these up and look forward to seeing how they do in the new year.  You can check them out below:

BBC Para Africa         http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/portugueseafrica/

BBC Swahili     http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/swahili/

BBC Somali      http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/somali/

BBC Hausa       http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/hausa/

BBC Great Lakes         http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/ws/greatlakes/

And this is in addition to the other language services already on BBC Mobile:

Arabic – http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/mobile/

Hindi –  http://www.bbc.co.uk/hindi/mobile/

Indonesia – http://www.bbc.co.uk/indonesia/mobile/

Spanish – http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/movil/

Persian – http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/mobile/

Portugese – http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/celular/

Russian – http://www.bbc.co.uk/russian/mobile/

Turkish – http://www.bbc.co.uk/turkce/cep/

UK China – http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukchina/simp/mobile/

Ukrain – http://www.bbc.co.uk/ukrainian/mobile/

Urdu – http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/mobile/

Vietnam – http://www.bbc.co.uk/vietnamese/mobile/

Chinese (simple) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/mobile/

Chinese (traditional) – http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/trad/mobile/

(Sorry about the formatting – I hate the formatting controls on WordPress…)

Closer to home… I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about how these language services might also help speakers of these languages get online via their mobiles in the UK.  A large part of the ‘digital divide’ (those without PC/internet access) are non-English speakers.  And while they don’t have PCs, many of them have mobiles, so maybe the BBC providing content in their first languages will help them get online (via mobile) and get connected.

Maybe I’m too idealistic, but thinking about this makes me hope that what we’re doing is making the world at least a little bit better.

BBC Mobile: Carousel of Content

Extract from my post today on the BBC Internet Blog…

Mobile homepage carousel

Mobile homepage carousel

If you’ve looked at the BBC Mobile homepage today, you’ll have noticed we’re giving you more choices than ever. Yesterday we launched a carousel of content in our top promotion area so that you can scroll through a range of content we’re highlighting across BBC Mobile. It’s available to a limited range of handsets right now but will roll out gradually to a wider range as we develop the technology.

Read the full post here…