Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009 A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.
Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls
Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download
This has been predicted in many places, but nice to see one of the big brands doing it. The user-generated content by sports fans. Yes, CNN is now recruiting i-Reporters for major football (soccer) teams to provide 'fanzone' content. Just a moment ago, CNN said they are for example looking for someone to do i-Reports from Inter Milan the Italian powerhouse football team.
I heard this from my friend John Blckney who is a consultant with Nokia Siemens Networks. He spotted a new MVNO in Scotland he thought I would like, and boy do I like it.. Its called Giffgaff, which literally in Scottish means "mutual giving" or something close to that. And how do they work? their idea is to take all of marketing, and 'outsource' it to the membership of the MVNO. Yes, all of it. Product design? we have seen that in Wikipedia and all sorts of crowd-sourced intitiatives from the computer operating system Linux, to SETI the search for extra-terrestrial life.. But the rest of marketing? Yeah, maybe we have seen some user-generated advertisements yes, some even used by the brands. So that is not really novel either. But all of it? Yes, pricing! User-generated pricing plans. This is brilliant. Who better know what price levels are competitive and what kind of special price plans can appeal to special segments. Customer care? Yes, the Giffgaff members are offered the chance to give some time to take customer care calls - and are of course compensated for this work. Brilliant! You are sitting in the bus for 40 minutes, nothing to do, take a couple of customer service calls on your phone, and be part of the calling centre and make some bonus money. Brilliant. Totally outsourced marketing, to your own customer base. That is communities dominate for sure. I am going to go dig for more about Giffgaff and will post a bigger piece about it at Communities Dominate blog, but first wanted to give you here at 7thMM a heads-up, to mention the company. This is quite radical. Thank you John for mentioning it, yes I love the idea!
I met up with Dr KF Lai who is co-founder and CEO of Buzz City, the mobile advertising network who also run My Gamma, a mobile social network with four million users in several countries and offers typical mobile social networking innovations including gifting. The company comes out of Singapore, and we met up with Dr Kai when both of us presented at a recent strategy executive training project run by IBM for the Axiata group here in Asia. One of the issues that a mobile social network spanning multiple countries encounters, is problems with multiple languages. It can be costly to translate pages, and when non-familiar translators tackle a new industry, they may well use wrong terms in translations etc. But what of the users? My Gamma has invited their members to do translations and this has worked out very well. A great idea!
I'm doing this just quickly for followers of this blog. I came up with 6 functioning (ie money-making) business models for social networking when used on mobile. I presented them into the public domain this Monday at MoMo Jakarta. Each of the six are of course in my Pearls Vol 2: Mobile Social Networking, but not like this as a list. The six ways to make money on mobile social networking are:
1 - subscriptions (also works on the web) 2 - advertising (also works on the web) 3 - personalization (idea from Habbo Hotel Finland) 4 - Revenue-share for content creating person wiht user-generated content (popularized by SeeMeTV) 5 - Gifting (idea from Cyworld South Korea) 6 - Ego-services (idea from Flirtomatic UK)
I will do a major blog posting about these at the Communities Dominate blog but later (as in may days perhaps weeks later). I'll obviously Twitter when that is up. Also launched discussion about it at Forum Oxford to test the thinking by the experts of the Forum..
Oh, and those keen on my theories, we're going from the 8 C's of Cellphones to 9 C's. That too coming a bit later. But my thanks to Chris Bannink for discovering the 9th.. Stay tuned
So yes, regular readers of the blog and all who've read the book know Flirtomatic offers lots of virtual gifts that its users buy and send to each other. They range from virtual red roses (selling over a million dollars worth per year) to virtual kisses to the more exotic, such as the virtual boob job and the virtual marriage proposal rings, etc.
Now Flirtomatic has moved into the virtual-and-real convergence area, with, yes.. the real world gifts to Flirtomatic members. For Valentine's Day 2009, Flirtomatic has introduced the ability to send heart-shaped chocolates and "panty roses" - which is, how can I explain? Hey, you HAVE to see this, its so cool. Check out Helen Keegan's blog with the before and after pictures. That explains Flirtomatic's gift of panty roses. Very clever (thanks Helen, our Technokitten, for the pictures, this time pictures truly are better than a thousand words).
Meanwhile, a little update on Flirtomatic. Flirtomatic has over one million users, more mobile than web, who generate 1 million messages per day, 21 million web page views and 130 million WAP page views.
Anyone who has not read the free 30 page excerpt of the book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media? The excerpt has 2 full chapters, the foreword - and one case study out of the 16 in the book, which is.. Flirtomatic. So do write to me at tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and ask for the book excerpt.
Just another example of how powerfully social networking and mobile phones are a match made for each other comes from Japan's biggest mobile social network, Mobage Town. (Mobile Game Town). The site has all typical social networking elements we know from many toher leading mobile social networking services, so users create profiles, chat with each other, upload content, etc. It has its own virtual currency, avatars and advertising, as just about all major successes in mobile communities. The innovative parts of Mobage Town are around gaming, they allow flash based mobile gaming, plus mobile story-telling, ie a midway point between a blog and a "real" mobile book.
The big news, they earn 200 million dollars annually, out of a total user base of 10 million on mobile, who create 15 billion page views per month. Mobile Industry News (ie former SMS Text News) reported on Mobage Town a week ago. Puts it in context, when Facebook has ovef 100 million (maybe 200 million by some sources) and earns just 300 million dollars annually.. Mobile social networks are slower to build and smaller in aggregate user numbers than online internet social networks, yet mobile reaches real revenues much faster, as we've seen all around the world from Flirtomatic to Cyworld to Itsmy.
My friend Duncan Cragg has been thinking about how the mobile web 2.0 experience could be experienced on phones (and other devices). He has a nice way to combine visually three separate ways to organize our data on our phones, as we mash up and collect various 7th Mass Media content. He has one part which is names (phone-book) centric; another part which is geo-tag (map) centric and one which is time-centric. To understand it, please hop over to the U-Web site to see his illustration. Good thinking. This seems like a logical and intuitive way to think of a meshed up mashed up world.
A week ago in London at the IIR Mobile Content conference, I had the distinct pleasure of once again hearing my very dear friend Luciana "Lu" Pavan of MTV Networks Europe discuss mobile and TV convergence. She is a must-see speaker and once again produced a volume of insights, examples and findings.
WILL MOBILE TAKE OVER FROM TV
So, do "all TV content migrate to mobile phones?" Lu doesn't think so. She said that while MTV runs lots of shows on mobile and often runs simulcasts, a mobile screen is not a substitute to the larger "real" TV screen, mobile is an additional delivery channel. (Sounds very similar in thinking to my theme that the 7th mass media channel ie mobile is different from TV the 5th mass media channel).
The MTV live backstage pass to the Video Music Awards via 3G mobile phones, that I've discussed many times before, and which was first trialled by MTV for the European VMA's in 2005 - were now for the first time offered also for the main USA channel and American viewers to see the backstage pass for this year's main VMA's. Nice to see that successful concepts from Europe also get the opportunity in America. MTV has had lot of chances to play with the format, so now they offer such elements as the red carpet view, behind the scenes "spy cams" and exclusive extended interviews that are only available on the 3G mobile TV simulcast, while the main Video Music Awards show (or some other major MTV extravaganza) is broadcast on the main screen.
MTV does many videogames for mobile built around their own titles, such as Jackass. Its a handy way to expand the brand and to monetize the brand via mobile.
I quoted Luciana in the book about the need to use separate TV crews when creating broadcast TV content, and when shooting the same action for the mobile screen. Lu of course discussed this aspect as well in her speech to the conference and it is quite a radical thought. Obviously MTV is featured countless times in the book (as in all of my earlier five books), especially around mobile-TV convergence topics.
But Luciana pointed out that not all content needs to be unique to mobile, and fresh and now. There is content that can be simply chopped up and "looped" and run in continuous repeats. Kids love Spongebob the cartoon and this works fine with short Spongebob clips looped, and kids don't mind seeing the same clip again a little while later.
Luciana reported that now that their producers, directors and scriptwriters have been experimenting with mobile, they also are starting to understand the particular strenghts and limitations of that alternate channel, and are now planning for the mobile elements when a new show is being planned. This to me was a "watershed" moment and I believe we will see very much more innovation in the mobile space on all major MTV properties on their various channels from MTV and VH-1 onto Comedy Channel etc.
BEST SHOW EVER
Luciana described some MTV innovations on the broadcast TV side like Gamekillers, and in TV-internet convergence (Meet or Delete). But she also described a new show on the mobile-specific dimension, the Best Show Ever, which is a mobile TV show sponsored by Swatch, where user-generated content is submitted for claims of "I am the best at.." and then that can be whatever. The best at chewing gum real fast, whatever. The show has viewers vote for who are really worthy of being the best, and the very best get also shown on the television network side of MTV. Good concept.
MOBISODES OR SNACK BITS?
Then Luciana discussed what length and types of formats work and don't work in mobile. Again she drew on years of experimentation in dozens of countries where mobile TV concepts have been launched by MTV during this decade. She said that the tolerance of how long viewers are willing to watch mobile TV is growing longer, somewhat in synch with the growing screen sizes of modern mobile phones. People are far more willing to watch mobile TV on a 3 inch screen than a 2 inch screen, etc. She said that earlier they needed 5 minute clips, but today even full 30 minute episodes of their reality soap opera series, The Hills, work fine on mobile. If content is longer, like a video awards show or a movie or say Jackass, then it makes sense to chop it up into shorter bites. A 90 minute movie works very well in 15 minute segments for example.
But Luciana returned to her premise, mobile will not take over for TV, mobile is an extension of TV, not a substitute.
And what of the future? I loved it that Lu also again discussed what MTV Japan is doing. The mobile TV variant of MTV in Japan is totally free, ad sponsored, called MyMTV. It includes blogs and artist websites and full viewer interactivity. Where it used to be in the rest of the world, that artists released their brand new songs on MTV first as music videos, before the songs were offered for radio, or released for sale; Japan has now moved beyond that. In Japan all artists now release their newest video to MyMTV first - yes on mobile - even before the video is shown on the television channel of MTV. How is MTV taking lessons from Japan? They are now for example inviting viewers and fans to submit user-generated pilots and show ideas to MTV... Yes, they still are the masters of mobile and TV convergence, do keep your eyes glued to MTV. Great presentation Lu, loved it! And here in Hong Kong my current cable channel does not offer MTV, only a lame local music video variant. I want my MTV !!!
Big big news on Flirtomatic. They have passed the million registered user level in only three years from launch. And more than half of their user are on the mobile platform, making them by far the largest British mobile social networking site.
Congratulations all at Flirtomatic !!! And yes, Flirtomatic is one of the case studies of the book..