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Haha, yes its the 7th mass medium and yes its reach is simply awesome. Consider Tetris. The addictive PC game from the 1980s was released onto Nintendo Gameboy. It sold a total of 35 million copies. But for the past few years its been also as a mobile game. Sold.... 100 million copies. Magical money-making machine.... (Source PC World 22 Jan, 2010)
This finding caught me by surprise. Study of US media consumption by Universal McCann revealed that already one in seven minutes of US media consumption is used with mobile. Now, note that this includes parallel use, so if we watch TV and vote on American Idol, we consumed both TV and mobile. But still, gosh. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the internet - and mobile gets one in seven minutes of media consumption. Story was covered in Adweek.
Part of the answer lies in where mobile media is consumed. 82% use mobile phones to consume media at work (ie listen to the MP3 player for example) and 65% while commuting. Here TV has almost no chance to contest for that time and other media also probably less easy to consume except web at work and radio while commuting (print perhaps also as long as you are not driving..) So mobile has some time slots where it has few rivals. But yes, every one in seven minutes. Easy to memorize, one in seven for the 7th mass medium?
I saw a brilliant, thought-provoking and full-of-evidence slide presentation about the real mobile internet. Not copying the 6th mass media legacy dumb PC based internet to mobile; but utilizing the 7th mass media assets to make a better, magical experience. Who did this? A New York based advertising guy, Razorfish's John Pettengill. If you are not sure "should it be the real internet on the phone", or something else, and want a fresh angle to it - or if you want to show a slide presentation about this opportunity, gotta see Pettengill's slides. (Thank you to Jonathan MacDonald for pointing me to the presentation, yes it really made me smile..) Here is the link: How to Save Mobile Web
I was speaking today at a NokiaSiemens Networks event in Islamabad Pakistan and on a break spoke with someone from the audience who mentioned really cool development in Africa, and I didn't get the actual country (yet). But yes, high level of illiteracy. Yet you own a phone and want to have a downloaded ringing tone for it, your fave song.
Can't read.. Can't go to WAP site to pick the right song. Even if somehow did pick a good song, then imagine going through the various phone set-up choices, to save the tune, and to make it your active song..
But no worries. There is a kid in the village who goes to school and knows how to read and who specializes in helping those who can't. The teenager takes a cash payment for his part in the job, then takes your phone, dials up the ringtone service, selects the right song you wanted, downloads that to your phone - obviously now costing you a further fee, this being teh standard ringtone charge against the balance on your prepaid phone account. the kid then finishes the set-up on your phone and you have your fave song as your ringing tone.
Yes it costs a bit more to this illiterate person but the bargain is fair, the kid had said beforehand howm uch cash he needs to do this, ad that there would be also a network charge. kid makes maybe a dollar or two and voila, an illiterate phone subcriber gets to consume digital music and a kid finds a part-time microjob to make some cash out of the information society.. win-win.
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.
A friend of mine who blogs under the name of "fanjum" has a new blog out that is called Systems View. The blog has a great analysis of the seven mass media, from several points of view, contrasting content creation, content distribution, content discovery, content charging, content consumption, etc across several of the seven mass media. Here is a bit of fanjum's thinking:
For the print media, the created content is transcoded onto a paper. This process itself is not easy and requires access to printing presses etc. Some of the current gadgets such as laser printers have made this process easier. The second media namely recording results in transcoding of media on to a "recording medium". Not very easy in the early days but now very easy considering a cassette player and the corresponding tape. So what we see here over a period of time are developments which make the transcoding process easier while the medium is still the same.
On the other extreme consider the internet and the mobile. Content transcoding is definitely easy in the internet (you only need a device such as a desktop computer which can connect to the internet) but much more easier using the mobile. All that you need to do with a mobile is aim and shoot and viola the content is created. A creative human can "create" a great picture and then transcode it easily using the camera, so easy that probably my grandmother can do it with some practice.
Very good thinking, its a deep, insightful article, worth reading for all who visit this blog. Thank you fanjum for contributions to understand the seven mass media, and very specifically to point out the relative differences that distinguish each, and in particular how they relate to the new digital interactive media channels - internet and mobile. Go read the blog at Systems View.
The 2008 edition of PriceWaterhouseCoopers annual report Global Entertainment and Media Outlook has of course numbers on videogaming as one of the categories in the 1.6 Trillion dollars media and entertainment industry.
I've reported for a while that music has been leading in the content cannibalization, and in my book I show that already 37% of all music spending globally goes to mobile phones (a little over half of which is ringing tones). In the book I said that in 2007 the ratio of videogaming software revenues generated by mobile games, was 20%.
That number has again changed drastically to the gain of mobile. The PwC report says that the total videogaming industry is worth 41.9 Billion dollars worldwide. Of that number a little over half is hardware (ie console) sales, worth 24.9 Billion dollars. That leaves 17.0 B dollars worth of videogaming software sales in 2008.
Then how is mobile gaming doing. PwC splits the gaming revenues and reports that mobile games are worth 5.6 Billion dollars. Wow. That is 33% of all videogaming sofware revenues worldwide. This is not only a giant industry, the 7th Mass Media space, it is also a dramatically growing industry.
I want to start blogging at this site with the very basics. Why to call it the 7th Mass Media (yes, it is grammatically incorrect, it should be either seventh mass medium, or seventh of the mass media)?I started to develop this thinking after I saw a Nokia presentation about the role of mobile in the media space, at the 20th anniversary of Cellphones in Canada, where I was delivering the keynote (on the next 20 years, ha-ha, that was quite a challenge for any expert, consultant, futurist or pundit.. That was in 2005.) So this thinking to me is already 3 years old. My first major presentation of the 7th Mass Media was my keynote to i-Mobicon, the annual digital convergence conference in South Korea in December 2005. I also presented this thinking in Helsinki Finland at IIR's annual (Tele) Connector conference and in Tokyo Japan at the 3G Mobile World Conference around that time, so the thoughts have been receiving a lot of exposure to the most advanced mobile telecoms markets right from the start. And I've received enormous support from those markets around this concept as well, right from the start.
So lets start off first, with the numbering. What is this seventh mass media all about?
Print is the oldest mass medium and thus the first of the seven, dating back to the printing press and thus to the end of the 15th century. Print started with the Gutenberg Bible, and then onto other books, and soon pamphlets, then newspapers, and magazines. All based on the same idea of production (a printing press) and paper as the actual "technical" medium, and based on a buy-to-own model. Print introduced advertising with newspapers and subscription models with magazines.
It took 400 years for the first "new media" to appar. Recordings appeared in the last decade of the 1800s to give a new mass media opportunity. What we now know as the music industry, can trace its roots to that moment. Yes, we had musicians before recordings, but the careers of Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna etc could not have happened without the recording industry. Music is not the only successful media concept in recordings. Videogames, personal computer programs, movie rentals and now DVD sales, etc are all part of this mass media opportunity in recordings. The concept is still buy-to-own, but there also is a rental part to recordings, in particular with movie rentals. The industry had a further "burden" of the player (originally literally called the record player). So its not that we only want to sell you a Playstation 3 game or a DVD of Desperate Housewives or a song as an MP3 file, with recordings, differing from print, you had to also buy a playing device. And these almost always were unique to one form of media. A record player could not be used to play an VHS video cassette, etc. Although very recently advanced DVD players will also play music CDs etc. Oh, recordings introduced us to the performing artist (pop star) as distinct from the creator of the music (the composer ie songwriter)
Soon after the recordings came the third mass media channel. Cinema, around 1900. This introduced us to multimedia, and became rapidly the most influential media in the first half of the 20th century. The media consumer did not have to own a "cinema player" but rather movies were shown in cinema theaters and audiences would have to "pay-per-view" to pay every time when seeing a movie.
The fourth of the mass media, radio, once again introduced something new from its introduction from after about 1910. Radio was a broadcast medium. Everyone received the transmission simultaneously. This was the fastest media. It also allowed easy consumption while moving, ie cars soon had built-in radios as standard features. (remember this is still the time before the c-cassette so there was no practical ability to listen to recordings in cars). Radio also required buying the receiving device (a "radio" ha-ha) like with recordings, and eventually the then-world's largest consumer electronics company, Philips decided to combine a portable radio with a portable cassette player-recorder (they called it a "radiorecorder") and today many portable radio units are also CD players and/or cassette players, bringing a lot of convergence between two media categories. Even convergence is nothing new..
The fifth mass media channel is the current giant and champion, television. Introduced commerically to mass audiences in the 1950s (early TV trials and devices were offered already in the 1930s), television was the first time a new mass media appeared with no inherent innovation. We already had moving pictures and sound in the cinema. We already had broadcast in radio. Television just took these two powerful ideas and combined them, to soon dominate over cinema and over radio. In the 1930s families would collect around the radio receiver (often called "the wireless") to listen to the favorite drama or music performance or comedy or the news. Two decades later families would collect around the TV set to do the same.
The sixth mass media is the internet from the 1990s. The internet introduced three powerful concepts - it is the first interactive media, it offers search, and it enables social networking. These are all radical innovations. Interactivity meant that for the first time readers could post comments, send feedback emails, chat and discuss, and do this in real time. Secondly the internet allows searching. For any media owner, this is a powerful way to give audiences access to archival content. It is hard to remember what searching was like before the internet. All major magazines like Time and the Economist etc would release an annual index issue, to help researchers find a lost article. Libraries had "card catalogs" with a cardboard based card, physically describing every book in the library (because a book might not be in the library bookcase when a visitor was interested in that book title). The card catalogs were a crude way to allow research into what a given author may have written, or who all might have books of similar titles, etc. But every library had these card catalogs only of the books they happened to carry. And these were not linked or in any way cross-referenced. Obviously today nobody goes to a card catalog. All searches start with Google or your search engine of preference, on the internet. And last, but not least, of the internet's innovations in media, was social media. The ability to allow online collaboration and commenting by social groups and digital communities. Everything from blogs to citizen journalism to multiplayer gaming. Social networking or "web 2.0" or digital communities is a massive change in society (what Business Week in 2005 called the biggest change in society, since the industrial revolution)
There is one more feature of the internet which is very relevant to mass media discussions. The internet was the first "inherent threat" mass media channel. Inherent threat means that the internet could challenge any previous media and cannibalize it (potentially yes, but not necessarily always successfully). This may seem obvious, and on quick analysis, one might assume all new media are inherently threatening. Yes, when TV was introduced, many accused it of soon killing cinema. Similarly radio was seen as a threat to the music recording industry. But this is not across all media. Consider a magazine with pictures (print media). You cannot show pictures on radio (until now they have some digital radio concepts which allow transmission of images as well). So yes, you could try to move a news story or whatever from a print media to radio, but you cannot show the pictures. Radio cannot cannibalize all of print. But the internet can. It can show the text, and the pictures of any print content. This is true across all previous five mass media channels. TV can cannibalize cinema yes, but you cannot deliver a physical CD recording of Elvis's music through the TV signals. Yes, we can show Elvis singing at the Ed Sullivan theater on Broadway, and yes, after video recorders were introduced (again by Philips, several years before Sony's Betamax) in the 1970s, it became possible to record a TV show. But if you have a record player, or a CD player, and want to play a CD of Elvis, then there is no way to send that CD via the TV signal. You would need to send the songs, and have a recording CD player, to create your own CD at your end, in the best case (today). In the 1950s when TV was introduced, nobody even imagined home recording devices for TV content..But the internet today does offer the ability to cannibalize all of the previous six mass media. It makes the internet very potent, three unique benefits that cannot be replicated in the earlier 5 media, and also being an inherent threat media channel.
That brings us to mobile, the seventh of the mass media. Mobile phones were commercially launched in Japan in 1979, but they were only voice devices. SMS text messaging became a practical data application when the first person-to-person SMS was sent in Finland in 1993. Even that was not the start of mass media on mobile phones. It wasn't until Radiolinja (in Finland) launched the first downloadable content to mobile phones - the downloadable ringing tone - exactly ten years ago, in the Autumn of 1998. So mobile is the youngest of the mass media channels. That makes it also one which is not very well understood. The first innovative markets were in obscure countries of weird languages - Finland (and Sweden, Norway and Denmark in Northern Europe); and Japan, when NTT DoCoMo introduced the iMode service in 1999. The big media empires tend to be based in the USA - television, radio and advertising centered in New York City, and Hollywood leading the cinema industry in Los Angeles. But Americans happened to lag in cellphone adoption, network quality, telecoms pricing, service innovation; and most certainly in adopting mobile as a media channel. It wasn't until the hype around the Apple iPhone, that the American media giants woke up to the cellphone.
So. What do we know about mobile as a media? I will discuss this topic at great length here at this blog. Obviously my previous five books have all added to this knowhow, and now my brand new book, Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media is centered on this topic. But lets briefly summarize mobile as a medium.
Like the internet before it, mobile is also an interactive medium, with search and social networking abilities built-in. Like TV and cinema, mobile can do multimedia. Like print, the screen on mobile can show printed content (and images). Like radio, the speaker on the phone can play sounds. And most modern phones have in-built ability to store content, whether MP3 files of songs, or video clips and pictures from the cameraphone, or videogames, etc. So mobile can do recordings as well. Like the internet before it, mobile is thus also an "inherent threat" mass media channel.
But mobile is actually far more powerful than any of the six legacy media channels. First, the numbers. There are over 3.5 billion mobile phone subscriptions on the planet today (growing far faster than the internet or TV or radio etc). There are over twice as many mobile phones as TV sets, three times as many active users of mobile phones than active users of the internet; and four times as many mobile phones as personal computers of any kind, laptops, desktops and servers combined. Worldwide there are more radio sets, but when counting owners of radios, there are far more people who have a personal mobile phone, than have a radio (or multiple radios, as we in the Western Wrold have our home HiFi stereo set with radio, another bedside clockradio, then we have our kitchen radio, and the radio in the car etc etc etc).
Furthermore, where the internet introduced 3 unique benefits; mobile matches those, but adds now seven unique benefits, that none of the legacy media can match.
I will discuss those in my next essay. If you can't wait, I have my Thought Piece on Mobile as 7th Mass Media channel, and it has those seven of course. Send me an email totomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and I'll send you the Thought Piece (together with the excerpt of my book).