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.
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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
Japan keeps giving us great examples of mobile advertising and marketing, and increasingly they do it with engagement marketing methods. Here is a good example. The pop music artist SEEDA has done a clever promotion of the new single, by creating a series of customized video messages by SEEDA about given Japanese landmarks - and always when one such message commences, the fan will first hear the new song of course. Its for fans, they have to register for the service of course, but pretty clever. What fans would not want to see what their fave artist thinks of given famous locations.
I picked up this story in the the November 2009 issue of Telecom Review. Turk Telecom's Vitamin is a mobile phone based education solution that has won all kinds of m-education awards. It is used already to teach 10 million kids via their phones, and has been exported and translated into English, Arabic etc. Very cool, bridging that digital divide with the 7th mass medium.
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 just love the creativity at Flirtomatic. Their latest silliness, the virtual ice cube. Of course you want to send your friend an ice cube to his or her phone! Maybe your friend is at a bar, you send the ice cube for the drink. More likely, when the friend is having a bad day, or is in some hot situation (overcrowded bus for example or elevator) then send an ice cube. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to note that your friend cares, and shares your heated situation, as you see the ice cube arrive onto your phone screen? And yes, like real ice cubes, Flirtomatic virtual ice cubes melt (of course). How cool is that? And how many did they sell - 5,000 in the first week... Yes, mobile is the magical money-making machine.
PS Remember that Flirtomatic and its creative money-making is one of the 16 case studies in the signature book for this blog (Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media) and that Mark Curtis (their CEO) wrote the Foreword to my latest eBook, Tomi Ahonen Pearls Vol 2: Mobile Social Networking. And Mark's own book, Distraction should be in the book cases of every one reading this blog...
A perennial favorite of mine, education! So yes, if we have interactive edutainment services on mobile, then m-edu cannot be far behind. Just spotted some stats in the New York Times on 2 June. South korea's largest m/e learning service provider, Megastudy, has 2.8 million paying customers (note South Korea's population is only 48 million and 7.3 million of those are classified as students)
These 2.8 million customers of Megastudy can consume lectures and tutorials covering 2,000 courses. Megastudy started in 1999 and today earns 246 billion Korean Won (about 200 million USD) per year and grew 20% last year. When we calculate that across active users, we get 6 US dollars per user per month. The average courses cost between 32 and 40 US dollars, so the average Korean student consumes between 3-4 such courses per year. Nice numbers. Lets see if we can find more m-Edu numbers from around the world. I must point out that South Korea has focused very strongly on its national educational achievement, and sits now in that exclusive gropuing of three nations at the top of just about all rankings in educational achievement, together with Finland and Japan. (and yes, if you want to read about how advanced South Korea has become in the digital age, read my fifth book, Digital Korea.)
I'm waiting to report on more of the major names in 7th mass media to reveal profits. Mark Curtis at Flirtomatic was just speaking at Forum Oxford last week and said they were close to, but not yet profitable,. But here is the grand-daddy of them all, the quintessential "make your money on mobile" online service. Habbo Hotel has reported its 2008 figures. And they are good:
Now as many major internet online social networks struggle in making money, from MySpace to Skype, look at Habbo Hotel numbers:
Since launch in 2003, 129 milion habbo characters have been created in localized Habbo communities in 31 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Malaysia, Philippines, Spain, UK and the USA. The teenager social networking service has over 90% of its users within the age bracet of 13-18. They have 11.7 million active users any given month.
Now to the real numbers you want to read. They earned 50 million Euros (74 M USD) last year in revenues and made a profit of 4.8 M Euros. Ebitda profit margin of 9.6%. You read that right. A profit margin for an online social networking service with no subscription fee and where the majority of the income is NOT advertising.
WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY ON SOCIAL NETWORKING TODAY????
You just have to be smart about it. Learn where the money is (in mobile, obviously, 7th Mass Media as Habbo Hotel was the world's pioneer to prove the point years ago) and if you need a fast short-cut into the best ideas of how to monetize mobile social networks, my Pearls Vol 2 has 50 case studies of commercial success worldwide on mobile social networking. Obvioiusly Habbo is one of those case studies in Pearls Vol 2.
I'm continuously bumping into the phenomenon of people using two phones at the same time. I think this is one of those not-well understood aspects of mobile as a mass media channel, that compared with the PC based internet (as we call it, the 6th mass media channel) is very well optimized for stationary large-screen two-handed operation. To consume the PC based internet, we have a large keyboard and a mouse to help us navigate the big screen. And the screen is able to capture most of our attention and viewing space.
Mobile (the 7th mass media channel) is very different. On mobile we have a small screen and we tend to be walking or moving when we use it, and we often have other things we also do, so we often multi-task while we use mobile. But now, as half of European phone owners have two phones, and worldwide over 30% of all mobile phone subscribers have two or more subscirptions (often meaning two phones - think iPhone owner who also has a Blackberry) - we see the phenomenon of two phones used simultaneously.
This was not expected. But think about how often this happens. We listen to the music on one phone, receive an SMS on the other phone, and happily respond to the SMS while still wearing the earphones and not pausing the music. We were consuming two services on two separate phones simutaneously. I often in my workshops talk of being able to consume two telecoms services simultaneously, for example while talking to one person, our other phone rings. We see who is calling, decide not to take that call - and the call is diverted to voice mail. What happened? We were on one voice call, while the other voice call was directed to voice mail. No problem at all, for anyone to consume two telecoms services simultaneously.
In my fourth book Communities Dominate Brands, Alan Moore and I introduce Generation C for Community Generation. We talk about Gen C being able to multitask. Since the book, we found that a UK survey by Carphone Warehouse in 2006 that revealed that 48% of British youth admit to sending text messages while talking to someone else. This can be a real person, talking to mom and dad, while holding a phone in the pocket and sending a text message to the best friend. That is multitasking yes, but not using two phones and services. The more amazing part, is to see youth absolutely conveniently carry on one phone conversation on one (mobile) phone while simultaneously carrying on an SMS text message conversation on the other phone. Now we do have two uses of two phones and two mobile services simultaneously.
There are many more examples. Using the mobile internet on one phone and sending text messages on the other. Talking with one person on the phone while voting on American Idol on the other, etc. The point is, that the phone is optimized for one-handed operation. This is actually a very old idea, first suggested by Matti Makkonen (the retired Finnish mobile pioneer who was an executive at Telecom Finland (now TeliaSonera), Nokia and Finnet Group, who recently won the Economist innovation award for inventing SMS text messaging). Matti suggested this over 20 years ago, and I remember he mentioned it to us, when I worked at Nokia and seeked Matti's guidance for my Consulting Department, and he gave lessons to us about what makes mobile distinct from existing channels and tools.
Optimized for one-handed operation. It means we can rather easily learn to use two phones in two hands. This gives the mobile a powerful advantage over other digital mass media, whether the PC or Playstation or Digital TV - we tend to only consume one of those at a time. But we can rather easily consume two distinct mobile phone based services - on two separate phones - from two competing networks even - simultaneously. Or, we can consume mobile services while we are supposedly paying attention to the other older media such as our broadband internet (sixth mass media) or TV (fifth mass media) or a video game (ie recordings, the second mass media channel).
This changes the comparison to "apples and oranges". There are single-use mass media, like all legacy mass media (print, recordings, cinema, radio, TV and internet); and now the newest innovation, there is multi-use mass media, of which mobile is the first (and no doubt, will not be the last mass media channel).
So yeah, mobile is very different from the legacy mass media channels. And the joke that I have on the back of my seventh book, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media, where I say "...On the other hand, you have your other cellphone." (and the cover illustrations too have me holding one phone in the front cover, while hiding my second phone behind my back, on the back cover) - this is increasingly becoming a reality, not only a joke. Yes, more and more young consumers are fully prepared to consume two separate mobile services on two phones, simultaneously.
Also - if anyone is interested in consumer insights into mobile, remember I have a free "thought piece" on understanding mobile consumers. It is a short white paper, only 2 pages long, but packed with stats and facts. Its fast enough for any exec to have time to read. And you can have it by return email if you send me an email to my regular email address at tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com.
Just saw a story on CNN about TOFF the Estonian mobile phone film festival. Its director, Kristo Tohver was quoted as saying, there is no point in using a mobile phone just to copy other existing film formats (sounds very good to me, I think we all know where this is headed..) and added that they hope that mobile videos will discover their own unique format or genre, for which the device is particularly well suited. And he adds that the short film documentary seems particularly well suited for that.
Yes! User-generated reality TV and documentaries. Every teenager can become another Michael Moore. Generation C is passionate about saving the planet, about exposing waste and in promoting conservation. They also are remarkably aware and interested in documentaries and also reality TV (which is in my mind a severe perversion of reality, but thats another story). Now with 1.9 billion cameraphones in use in the world, every teenager has access to one. Brilliant observation, Kristo, yes, the short form documentary, that sounds like a very good content type for video for the 7th mass media channel.
want to return to this topic from yesterday. I wrote about the new Ford Ka campaign called Find It, that runs in many European countries right now. It has had me thinking - and re-thinking some concepts.
(This is shorter version of the same topic at CDB blog)
So first, augmented reality (or enhanced reality, I am not sure if these are exactly synonyms, it goes beyond my regular work competence).. I had always thought (stupidly) that the practical commercial possibilities of augmented reality would not become possible until reasonably low-cost headsets and goggles and projector-eye-glasses could be made.
I had the concept from the fighter jets and attack helicopters. The pilots with their futuristic headsets and perhaps a special display just for one eye, that projects a virtual mapping to what the pilot sees.
The more consumer-oriented concept from that, has been for many years now, the goggle or visor or projector that is with eyeglasses. It makes us look a bit like a cyborg (and a lot like a geek) but could easily in time, become as "normal" as those who walk around with the cyborg bluetooth earpieces to carry on with their conversations during the day. Its not a major step from the connected earpiece to the connected eye-wear.
And I've also been able to imagine some practical daily life uses of this type of technology. So for example, if the view is constantly projected into our line of sight - we could have, for example, the names of all participants in a business meeting, projected into our view. I am bad at remembering names, and it would be very useful, to have a "virtual name tag" for all people around me in a given business meeting for example. Technically, this is not a difficult thing. We all have phones, and we are starting to collect the "face galleries" of our friends and colleagues into our phonebooks etc - and soon the processing power on the phone can easily do a facial recognition match from our phonebook with all those in view - and then add the name of the person just below their face. Technically, this is not unfeasible and is probably pocketable technology within a few years - except for the display part. That - for this type of application - needs the goggle.
So I kept an occasional eye on the augmented reality/enhanced reality space, but thought to myself - self - no worries, this is not today's technology, it won't come until we get the goggles. And I thought the goggles would appear first in videogaming etc. (and yes, please don't write about this, of course I know such technologies already exist, but they are not mass market yet - and I mean mass market that it sells in the dozens of millions per year.)
How wrong I was. And how SILLY that I didn't see this coming. Because of course - of course - the first tool to bring this augmented reality to mass markets is.. the mobile phone of course. We all have it in our pocket. It has the connectivity and the intelligence and the screen. And I've been calling for magic, the magical experiences with the phone. Well, what is more magical, than looking at some space, where you know there is nothing, you can go and walk over that space and touch it and feel it, and you know there is nothing, and then you take out your phone, look through the phone, and you see it. Like the Ford Ka. It is not there. But look through your phone, and you see it.
Augmented reality yes. A magical experience, yes. 7th Mass Media? Of course. (and is Ahonen a moron for not seeing this coming, yes, yes yes..)
So, first - this is obviously something that I think is cool and clever. Fine. So Tomi the geek likes something that is nerdy from a tech point of view, nothing new about that. And no surprise he loves something that uses a mobile phone - what do you expect from the guy..
But secondly - this does rather destroy the myth, that augmented reality needs those special goggles. And that is a major step. More than the cleverness of using this as a marketing tool for how a Ford Ka might look in a given street setting (after all, there are plenty of Ka's around, you could almost just as well drive a real promo car there and let people see and touch the real Ka). But this is a first step.
The campaign used a technology that they said works on recent model Nokia cameraphones, less than 2 years old, and also some Windows Mobile smartphones. So we are looking at hundreds of millions of people with the device already in their pocket, that can display the non-car, Ford Ka. This is mass market sized opportunity today.
Yes, I'm sure the current technology takes a lot of integration and custom work, from creating the virtual car itself, to the software and applications needed etc. But it is now starting. We can project non-items into our phone screens, to augment our reality. Enhance our reality.
Now, plug in the geo-tagging and location ability from GPS etc. Merge that with augmented reality. We could give the ability to find a virtual tour guide at a famous tourist site, and use our phone to interact with the virtual guide.
Toss in mobile payments, and we could have our purchasing behaviour enhanced with augmented reality, advertising, sponsorship etc. Your virtual tour guide could be wearing a McDonalds uniform and when we're getting hungry, help us find the nearest Golden Arches..
Toss in 2D Barcodes and we don't need to do keypad based data entry, and can hop rapidly into mobile websites. Any recent cameraphone, no problem. Any web content, more information, switch the augmented reality mapping, I don't care for the current view, can you give me a historical view to this site, what it looked like when it was bombed in World War Two? No website addresses to type, 2D barcodes zoom us into the right mobile website.
Toss in our digital footprint - Tomi is from Finland, perhaps he'd rather have the guide speak Finnish. And Tomi being a man, perhaps the guide should be a hot babe, but for a woman, the guide could be an attractive man, etc..
It is a magical device, the phone. In my newest book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media, I ask for developers to create magic in the fifth chapter and give some tools and examples (such as 2D barcodes for example) and in the book I have several case examples of mobile magic from the Just-in-time Dentist in Finland to Kamera Jiten the cameraphone dictionary in Japan. But this Ford Ka campaign of Find It, I think so far, this is the most magical use of the 7th Mass Media yet. Brilliant !
I heard about this from my friend Violette Verite at the We Are Social agency. She told of the new Ford Ka campaign targetting the 20-somethings (ie hits exactly Generation C for Community), called "Find It" that runs in several European countries.
The campaign is one of the first mainstream ad campaigns that I've seen, that uses enhanced reality concepts.
The campaign has created among other things, a virtual Ford Ka that can be seen using a cameraphone (in a given location where the Ka exists virtually, when the cameraphone is pointed into a blank space of say London or Berlin, where there is the virtual Ka marker, what is a kind of 2D barcode, the phone screen displays the car. Its like a magic window. Look at the real location with your eyes - no Ka. But look through the phone screen, and there is the Ka. And as I say in the book Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media, you should try to create magic. This certainly feels like magic. Great idea!).
Pretty clever stuff, and the whole campaign runs on the "Find It" theme. They also have lots of other areas of discovery in the campaign on the websitea and in the real world, which very cleverly merges elements from the real world, the virtual world, the online world and the mobile phone. The website is GoFindIt.net. Thanks Violette for bringing this to my attention.