Tag Archives: mobiles

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.


Shoot the Summer

Last night I (also) attended a screening of Shoot the Summer (or http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/shootthesummer on your mobile) – a film made by some of my colleagues (Hugh Garry and Jo Bellingham) in BBC Audio & Music.

What a blast it was – and a great example of how mobiles can be used to capture stories from users that we’d never get to see or cover otherwise.  The basic premise was that Hugh and Jo provided loads of punters, radio talent and bands at summer festivals with mobiles to film whatever they wanted and then pieced it together to document last summer’s festival scene.

Afterwards I was asked if I thought my colleagues in BBC Vision (the telly-and-video-making bit) or BBC Journalism (the news, sport, weather bit) should be doing this.  And, while of course they could, I left Shoot the Summer feeling like this was the perfect thing to be coming out of one of our radio-based areas.  The texture of it just felt like radio to me.  Audiences voices mixed with radio talent and bands, first hand experiences and – of course – music.  Sure it didn’t have all the polish that a TV production on summer festivals would have had – but it had something more intimate than what you’d capture otherwise.  Having been to ALOT of the festivals in my day, I definitely felt like it capture the feel of festival going far better than the professionally-produced Glastonbury: the Movie did.

Watching it also backed up another hunch I’ve always had – that while musicians are great on stage, they’re not nearly as interesting as crowd members when you meet them.  The only parts of the film that left me fidgiting and not laughing or enjoying myself were the ones where the bands were on as opposed to the punters.

I really hope I see more of this type of work coming out of the BBC in the future.

X|Media Lab Korea: Mobile TV

One of the most exciting things about being here in Seoul is that I’m finally able to see mobile TV (DMB) in action.  Hopefully, Mobile TV of some sort will be launching in the UK during the next few years and so the opportunity to see this new opportunity for content distribution in action is great.  Here’s a few pictures (on a rather dashing pink iridescent phone)…

I was surprised that they all had long extendable antennas!  Not sure how that will go down in the UK where we’re used to very slick mobiles without antennas.

I’ve been trying to talk to people here about the programming they watch on it – looking for insights into what’s worked and what doesn’t.  Interstingly, they keep telling me, ‘It’s just TV.  Nothing special.’  And, they don’t seem particularly aware of any interactivity – other than the programme/channel guide – on the platform.  This is, of course, a consumer perspective – I know there’s more going on behind the scenes editorially.

Functionally, two cool features I saw were texting alerts about live programming reminders to friends in your phone contacts and DVR functionality, which one user really raved about liking.

Consumers I’ve been talking to have also been complaining about problems with reception and been telling me that WiPro is a better way of getting video content to their phones.  I need to check the WiPro stuff out but no one I’ve talked to has been able to show it to me on their phone yet.

I’m now at the Mobile Content Awards 2008 and the categories are:

Mobile Games
Mobile Service
Mobile Entertainment and Community
Outstanding Contribution
Innovative Content

… No category for mobile TV (and no broadcast entries in the above categories).  This backs up the attitude that ‘its just TV.’

I hope that’s not the case.  From what I’ve been seeing at work, I think it can offer us new opportunities to create specific content for audiences that are on the move and who have different user and content needs in those situations.