Friday, December 22, 2006

Digital media predictions for 2007

This will be my last day in the office before the New Year. I will attempt to resist updating this blog until then (about as likely as resisting the temptation of more Christmas chocs, to be honest...). However, I thought it would be a good time to make some predictions about 2007 - all of which you are very welcome to contend, add to or dismiss via the comments below.

So, I say, 2007 will be the year in which:

1) Access to the internet via mobile will surpass 40% of all internet use (globally).
2) A UK national newspaper will close its print operation. And a series of one-time print only magazine brands will become digital only (pick a number between 25 and 100).
3) Broadcast TV on your mobile will become commonplace. Sky will offer it as a bolt-on upgrade to your home services.
4) Microsoft/Google/Yahoo (one or all) will launch a mobile phone.
5) All mobile operators in the UK will follow 3 and offer fixed price mobile internet access.
6) A mobile operator will seek the edge by launching a fixed price for all services (ie £40 a month for all-you-can-eat internet, voice, text, mms...TV(?)
7) More than 10% of internet users will blog.
8) A citizen-journalism TV channel made up entirely of video shot on and uploaded from mobile phones will launch.
9) TV on demand will revolutionise how you consume TV and send advertisers into a blind panic.
10) A slow-burn campaign for users to claim back their digital identities will turn to a riot of noise by the end of the year...

Media companies and the 'clever-people' gap

Something controversial for to get your head around over the festive period: How are you going to attract the big brains you've always relied on, into the future.

I'm thinking particularly of media brands which inspire and are driven by passions.

In the past if a very clever person was passionate about (for example) horses, and wanted to be involved in publishing about their hobby they had one choice (assuming they hadn't got the bunce to start their own company) - join a media company.

They'd put up with starting on hobby-money salaries, poor managers and old fashioned hierarchies - because they had no other option.

Now the clever person doesn't have to worry about finding the cash to start their own publishing rival. Now they can start up digitally, cheaply, manage themselves, pay themselves what they are worth (they are a clever person - they will succeed) and chew chunks off you.

I'm not saying a passionate hobbyist with an IQ of 195 will never join you again. But I am saying that has become far less likely in the post-blog age.

The way people publish has changed. Has they way your media company recruits changed to close the clever-people gap?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BBC signs up with YouTube rival Zudeo

As reported by the Beeb itself: HERE
In nutshell - the BBC has done a deal with a High Definition downloads site (codename zudeo) from the makers of BitTorrent. And it's pay per view with some social functions (eg rating, blogs, fan sites etc). Users can also upload to it.

Privacy and Permissions: The customer wants his data back

Whenever you're involved in any kind of digital project clever marketeers will fight tooth and nail to make sure they get data-mining elements included.
They talk about 'owning data', by which we mean owning customers' personal details. The more we know about them, the more money we can make from them. Perfect knowledge... and all that.
But we shouldn't assume this is a digital default. Some time, very soon, we're likely to see a consumer revolt. And with the power vested in the blogosphere, the social consumer will get what they want - their identity back.

Individuals will own their data and offer us permissions to access it from time to time. It will be theirs to share, not ours to own.

What this means for brands is that we will have to work harder than ever at our engagement - we will have to make ourselves more trustworthy, more relevant and more worthwhile to get any kind of permissions. And we'll have to do it consistently, persistently, every day.

Peter Miles, discussing the issue on the Oxford Forum (see link below, left under resources, says:)

"For a whole host of reasons I think this current arrangement is illogical. I think the logical arrangement is much simpler and will be based on the fact that I do own (and retain) all rights to my personal data / profile but essentially I am prepared to 'share' aspects of this with selected companies based on a mutually beneficial arrangement for both parties.

"My logical situation would be something like:

"All data / profile on 'me' is stored in a secure place under my direct and sole control.

"I allow different levels of access to this data information to different companies / institutions based on the nature of the relationship. So I might allow my chosen Bank certain access and say my sports social networking site a different level of access.

"None of my data is actually transferred to these sites thay are simply allowed to access through to my secure place.

"If at some point I decide to 'deny' them that access then they cannot therefore keep any data of mine as a sort of legacy trace.

"One beneficial side effect of this might be that I will no longer need to remember 50 different user names and passwords as I - or is that 'me' - become the centre of my own universe.

I do think that at some point there is going to be a legal challenge to the current situation and that will spark a very interesting debate."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Widsets and Moblr

A couple of mobile internet enhancing sites/applications for you to consider: (download it to your phone, it optimises sites, offering a better user experience on the third screen (and thanks to Alan Moore for that one).

And then there's the newly-launch

Moblr claims to work as follows:
"Upload: A video shot using a mobile phone can easily be published on the Moblr site. Users can either upload the clip directly from their mobile phone or send the clip by MMS or email. The clip can be named and tagged before it goes public so others can search for content easily.
"Viewing: All videos can be accessed for free from users’ mobile phones or PCs. Most recently uploaded videos are posted on Moblr’s home page and users can search all videos by category and tag.
"Formats: Nearly all video formats are allowed. (There is a file size restriction as the videos are intended for mobile viewing.) Moblr automatically converts files into a format that is compatible with most mobile phones and PCs. This means that videos can be passed from one mobile phone to another and from a PC to a mobile phone without any problems.

However, my tests of it have revealed a very clunky (no, unusable) mobile internet site and a fixed line site which works just like YouTube but with a tiny filesize limit (to suit mobile applications).
I’d be interested to hear other users experience because the idea (and it is in beta) sounds very interesting.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Nintendo moves fast to avoid having the wii blogged out of existence

Blogging colleague StressedBadger reported this just a week ago.
The Blogosphere was getting itself very animated about strap failures on the new Wii.
Nintendo has shown it has learned a lesson from the Kryptonite experience (see Communities Dominate Brands et al).
They've listened and have reacted extremely fast with a recall (HERE)

From the Beeb: "The strap recall affects all Nintendo Wiis sold worldwide and almost all units currently on shelves in shops. "

This is the new reality for manufacturers. You can't keep a problem quiet anymore. You can't expect it to go away. And you have to deal with the issue in the right way and fast.
Nintendo have done the fast bit - customer reaction (keep your eyes on the blogs!) will tell them if they've done it in the right way.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Could social consumer tech make your 1.0 site a 2.0 one for free?

I've been ferreting around among the 2.0 social shopper applications and have started to think they may offer a fast, free track to 2.0 social-facing consumption for 1.0 websites.

For example; imagine if added the offertrax button (see below) to all its inventory, suddenly they get all the advantages of 2.0 with none of the costs, trouble of conversion, need to convince consumers to take up a novelty etc etc.

And so it goes for any digital play which lists stuff for sale - particularly if those catalogue listings change with fairly regular rapidity (consumer electronics, clothing, groceries etc etc).

It could even apply to a classified model (though eBay might fill your rss inbox a bit quick!) - provided you allow users to update their offering (eg change the price).

For more on offertrax and similar social shopping offerings, see links below.

Social consumption: A rapid and sticky way to close the trust gap is a 2.0 browser download that enables 'social annotation'.

They say: Highlight, Clip and Sticky-Note for any webpage
just as you would on paper --> write on any webpage!
make them private or public --> interact on any webpage!
Share your online findings with your friends and colleagues
complete with highlights and sticky notes
as lists, as blogs, as albums, as feeds, or via email.

I can see this proving very useful as a tool in beta testing of sites (see example, here)

But it's also worth considering as a social consumer tool, hard on the heels of offertrax et al.

And it set me thinking: There are many social consumer sites cropping up now.
How disruptive to traditional BUYNOW classified models do you think they are likely to be?

These social consumer sites offer a new and fast way to close the trust gap - ie "you might have the right price, mate - but I've never heard of you. Why should I give you my money?"

The notion of customer loyalty to any particular vendor brands has pretty much been crushed by the internet.

It's essentially because vendor brands (shops and online retailers) have way less influence over us than the communities we want to share our thoughts and lives with.

Now we follow the price - the brand of the product itself is where the value resides for us - provided the vendor has a certain level of trust about them.

There are some exceptions - and they are perhaps those brands which work hardest to engage (think Amazon's onsite CRM) but ultimately that loyalty to vendor brand only makes you choose that particular brand as one of your preferred places to search/visit (a definite advantage even in a 2.0 world, it has to be said).

Vendor brands which make themselves useful to us - and which we can trust - still gain an edge.

But the trust gap can be closed much more rapidly by new vendors than ever before. And that means it just got easier to launch against No1 in any market.

If members of your community have shared with you that this new vendor is indeed all he's cracked up to be, then the vast majority of buyers are likely to be swayed.

It's always been possible to read user reviews of their experiences with a particular vendor of course - on their own forums etc. But can you trust them?

So you could go trawling the internet on the off chance that someone else has posted about them on some other consumer forum somewhere (though many wouldn't bother, they'll just tootle off to a brand they already have some trust in). And why trust those posters? They aren't part of your particular community (in most cases).

What diigo does is make the thoughts of other members of your community apparent at the moment you view the offer from the vendor (new or old) on any site.

You get instant advice from the community you do trust.

Great news for new vendors. Great news for consumers - because if the new boy gets it wrong everyone (from that community) who visits his site will see the message.

All they need is critical mass.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sony suffers viral disaster

(Excuse the lack of caps but due to my wrist injury, I’m trying not to strain my remaining good hand)

Sony has really scored an own goal with their new attempt at promoting the psp. Creating a fake blog was bad enough, but they've even accelerated into the car crash by doing it badly, and moderating comments in such an obvious way.

It’s all round the web.e.g.

And in an era when bloggers will openly admit to receiving free gadgets for reviews, it's just so stupid.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Buy Now! No thanks - I'll buy when I want!

Came across offertrax today (here). It's a bit of 2.0 tech which allows you to seek the things you want to buy and then lay back and wait for the right price to fall into your lap.
Essentially you save the site into your favourite links and click on it when you're on the page offering an item you want. You then get RSS feeds updating you every time there is a change in that offer.
The theory is that when the price or offer reaches a level you're ready to accept, you hear about it swiftly and can then go do the deal.
This is a powerful notion. You are putting part of the control of the process back into the hands of the buyer.
"Gone are the days when customers simply land on a merchant page and expect to only see a Buy Now button," says Ben Carcio, co-founder and COO of Offertrax. "As customers grow more sophisticated, so must the sites that serve them." (more here)

I've tried this and found it a bit flaky so far, but the idea is neat and it is only in beta at the moment. There are others offering similar ideas.

There's a review of some of the alternatives (such as stylefeeder and mpire and their social networking functions here on Wired News

The article includes: "As Offertrax's Carcio points out, e-mail has been so badly abused by spammers that RSS, blogs, opt-in offers and other "user-controlled technologies" will soon become the most effective way for sellers to reach out to interested buyers.
Putting the user in control might be the fastest route to online sales success, says JupiterResearch's Evans.
"These new sites are a great opportunity for consumers to get into the game and get information themselves rather than relying on the retailer for that information," she says.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Virtual currency threatens China's Yuan currency

My thanks to StressedBadger for this the story of the threat to the Yuan, the Chinese official currency, from a virtual one used on the country's biggest IM platform - and why this is just the start...

Friday, December 08, 2006

3 X-Series: Activating Orb

Another update on progress with my X-Series (3's ground-breaking fixed-price mobile internet package.
I finally got around to playing with Orb on it last night (attempts to install orb at work having failed due to the security issues around turning a networked pc into a broadcast device...)
At home it worked a treat. Within seconds I was viewing all the images I have on my pc on my mobile - and each one automatically optimised for the mobile browser.
A proper jaw-dropping moment.
Documents were quick and easy to access too.
Can't wait to trial with videos.

Wii-lly annoying

The Nintendo Wii has now officially launched in Europe, with parents and consumers all lining up to get their hands on the new console as the clocks chimed midnight in the UK. Certainly in the nearest supermarket to the office, there was a queue formed by 6.30pm, and it wasn't just stereotypical geeks lining up for a five hour wait.

But the console is also getting a cult comedy following. Besides the usual hardware problems which affect the launch of any new product, the innovative control system also has one flaw. The fact that people have managed to destroy their TV's, windows, and far more as the Wiimote flies free from their hand. Several reports point the blame at the wrist strap snapping, and the President of Nintendo admits they are looking into it.

It's an amusing reminder that users will not only find flaws with your products, but can now post, blog, or set up a dedicated website within minutes to publicise their problems.

See more Wiimotes making a bid for freedom

As an avid gamer, I'll be keeping up with the latest developments and getting a Wii bit of feedback from some early adopters at The Way of the Web.

UPDATE: Nintendo issue recall, December 15: HERE

Thursday, December 07, 2006

When firms can reach their audiences better than media companies can

Scott Karp over at Publishing2.0 (see recommended blogs, left) draws our attention to this.

It includes the tellling line: "The monthly web audiences for P&G (Proctor and Gamble) and Unilever brands now easily swamp the audiences of many magazines and cable and syndicated TV shows where they advertise."

If media companies think they deliver audiences, big brands are already discovering that they can find their own. And how much more targeted are these?

For my money, this is another great example of the need for media companies to become expert in engagement marketing, rapidly - and ideally rather faster than the companies who pay them to reach audiences...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Social networks get networked

Here's an interesting new development from; people search:
At present it searches Bebo, LinkedIn and MySpace - but more will follow (, anyone?)

Not only can you search for people by name, you can also search by interest, age, gender, location, status (single or not so single) screen names or whatever you choose.

So you find people who like what you like AND who like networking, on whatever network, and network with them. It's like adding the fourth dimension!

If only they'd added an optimised-for-mobile version and geo-location...

Stand back and watch that explode.

My lovely new phone, er, computer, er...

Since I made such a song and dance about 3's fixed-price mobile internet access (describing it as the single most important digital development of recent times, and being quoted across the blogosphere for saying as much...), I thought I'd better share a few of the realities now I have a Nokia N73 in my sweaty paws - and the Gold X-Series package.
Setting up Orb has been an adventure in internal IT limitations (our XP build, I believe - have asked internal IT to resolve asap).
But Skype was up and running in an instant (used it yesterday, too) and I've set up a useful homepage for myself, created using google's personalised homepage for mobile.
Access to my home email was a doddle - sending or receiving - and I found myself checking my home email and sending replies from my phone/computer last night in front of the Chelsea game.
ebay is fine - but the text a little small. I used it to check my latest buyer had recieved their goods and was happy with the outcome.
There's an awful lot to discover on the X-Series N73, it's pretty much like getting yourself a new PC - with a new-to-learn operating system.
But the more I get to grips the more I like. Already it's meant I didn't turn on my home (fixed line) pc last night. Is this a glimpse into the future?
I'll bring you more on how it changes my internet use and the uses I find for it as regularly as I'm able.

Someone asked me this morning how much hassle it was having to text-type in all your usernames and passwords etc
Made me wonder how many people 'typed' before they were forced to do so by the desirability of accessing content on the internet via a pc.
People seem ever adaptable - provided the end result is what they want.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The future is startlingly similar to the present...

I'm intrigued to see what the wider world make of my most recent post on The Way of the Web.
My views on how editorial sites will be fuelled by user generated content have become more coherent over recent weeks. Certainly when it comes to text submissions, there seems to be a lot that suggests the new editorial model for many publications will in fact be very similar to the current set-up.
Anyway, I'd be very interested in hearing some more points of view, so get yourself over to The Way of the Web

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yahoo/Reuters embrace phone photo journalism

The NY Times and GigaOm are both reporting that Reuters and Yahoo will start incorporating UGC pictures and video in their reportage.
Cameraphone users will be able to go to You Witness News from Dec 5 to upload. The pictures will be curated by editors from both Yahoo and Reuters. Interestingly, Yahoo will not pay contributors, whereas Reuters say they will pay for anything that goes out via its' commercial services - it's just not sure how it will work.

The timing is certainly right. Following the oft-cited examples of the tsunami or London train bombings, just look for 'Michael Richards' on google or youtube. Even those not familar with Kramer or Seinfeld couldn't help stumbling across the footage of his racist outburst in a comedy club.

The real interest lies in which brands users will run to with their scoops. If you've captured a video of a newsworthy event, would you instantly want to upload it to Reuters or a Daily newspaper? Or would you rather upload it to Youtube, or your own blog?

Alan Moore keynote speech at Nokia World

Alan Moore (Co-author Communities Dominate Brands, see recommended blogs, left) speaking at Nokia World in Amsterdam last week.

Click here to watch his presentation.

Alan has some brilliant ideas about how recent technologies have uncovered human truths which set the scene for entirely new ways for companies to work with consumers. He offers new strategic thinking and a deep and perceptive understanding of why social networking and co-creation of content is going crazy.

Stick with it; it's a good summary of many of his ideas.

Sorry, did I say two years until mobile internet rules?

Latest survey from Harris Interactive (reported on Brand Republic, see link below) reveals that already more than half of all 16-24 year-olds "prefer to access internet content from their mobile network provider via their mobile".

Sourcewire clarifies this: It's not so much about the preference for using mobile internet, as about the youth market insisting on freedom when doing so. They don't want to be coralled behind walled gardens.
The message is that if you have a mobile internet offering you should make sure it's available both sides of a walled garden arrangement with an operator.

From m-send, the people the survey was done for: “At the moment we are in a similar situation to the early days of consumer use of the internet when most people used CompuServe as it was simple, easy to use and correctly formatted.
"However, users soon realised that there was much more available to them outside of this walled garden, as companies realised that it was actually very easy to create websites themselves,” comments Chris Astle, Managing Director of m-send.
“The result of this survey shows that at the moment the vote is split, but we firmly believe that as consumers become more aware of how easy it is to use the mobile internet, they will be demanding access beyond what is offered by their network operator. Getting the offering to those consumers right, will definitely give some companies a competitive edge.”

But all this is before we see the impact of 3's new free-at-the-point-of-use mobile internet deal, which may well make inside-or-outside of walled gardens, moot. To me, optimisation full stop, is the key.

I'd add links to previous things we've posted on this, but blogger is playing up again. I'll try later. In the meantime; use the label links below to find related items:

Full Brand Republic story:

Friday, December 01, 2006

3 deal goes live - and they can't keep up with demand

Regulars will know I'm a big fan of the 3 deal to offer fixed-price free-at-point-of-use internet access (and more) on your mobile.
It went live today and I managed to order one this lunchtime. Prices are £5 for the silver version and £10 for the gold one (which includes orb and slingtv).
I don't want slingtv (just at the mo) but I do want orb, so I've gone for the gold.
Only one phone - the nokia - available yet - and no available date for the sony-ericsson.

The reality is this will cost me £25 for six months and £40 a month for the remaining 12.

If the fact that their website keeps crashing when you try to order the X-Series is anything to go by, demand is big.

Here's the smallprint:(i'd make it a link but blogger is having fun a bit of fun at the mo...)

We want you to have an enjoyable and unlimited experience of X-Series on 3. But as you’ll understand we need to manage this, so here are some things you should know.

About X-Series Gold and Silver
To use X-Series services, you need to buy an X-Series mobile, sign up to a Pay Monthly price plan, and buy X-Series Gold or Silver – all from 3. You can only use our X-Series services on X-Series mobiles.

If you also buy a Slingbox, you'll need to take X-Series Gold for a minimum of 12 months. Otherwise, X-Series Gold and Silver are for a minimum period of 6 months when bought on connection to 3. Or if bought after connection there's no minimum period. After this they will stay active on your account until you cancel the one you’ve chosen.

If you don’t use your monthly allowance it doesn’t roll over to the next month.

More on X-Series Gold
Mobile access to Orb or Slingbox does not include using your mobile as a modem.

For Orb and Slingbox you’ll need minimum PC software, PC and router specification and broadband at home.

Slingbox and Orb are for personal use only and you mustn’t breach copyright or get around copyright protection.

To watch home TV on your mobile you need to have a TV service that you can legally view.

Slingbox is sold separately and contains a Freeview receiver so you’ll need a TV licence if you haven’t already got one.

You’re responsible for your compliance with all of these terms.

Our fair use policy
We have fair use limits and hope you’ll use your common sense. These limits should be big enough for you to do all the things you want to do. But we’ll get in touch with you if we think you’re using our services unfairly, and especially if you’re abusing them. If we find people are using X-Series above these limits, we’ll review them. Here’s our take on fair use:

Unlimited data is 1GB per month. Also, your data usage doesn’t include using your mobile as a modem.
Windows Live Messenger won’t count towards your monthly data fair use limit but has its own limit of 10,000 messages per month.
Skype on 3 is 5,000 minutes per month. If you go over this you’ll need to wait until the start of the next bill month for the service to resume, however Skype calls can still be received.
Orb and Slingbox have a total combined limit of 80 hours a month.
Where can I access X-Series?
All X-Series services will work when there’s video coverage on 3’s networks in the UK or overseas and, except for Orb and Sling, will work in our UK standard coverage as well. International roaming voice call charges will apply when making Skype calls from 3's networks overseas.

When you’re online
When using the internet, you can’t use some websites (including adult websites) and some websites aren’t compatible with all mobiles.

Some email accounts might need a premium service upgrade from your supplier.

What else?
For more details on X-Series and our fair use policy see

X-Series Gold and Silver are provisioned as Add-ons and we may need to suspend or change them as permitted in the Terms for 3 Services.

The future has been delayed

You may recall a previous post here regarding Sony and the flagship racing game for the Playstation 3, Gran Tourismo.
The reasons it was so newsworthy was the concept that it would be released without the selection of 400 cars previous games had featured, and instead you could select which cars you wanted to buy.
Maybe it was a bit pre-emptive:

"November 30, 2006 - Sony and Polyphony Digital's experiment in download-based gaming has come to an early end. Sony announced today that it has cancelled the retail release of Gran Turismo HD in favor of a full-fledged Gran Turismo 5 product."

Excerpt taken from

There will be a free download of a Gran Tourismo HD demo of some sort, but any features considered worth keeping will be in GT5. It could be a sign that Sony has realised the effort it's taken for Microsoft to own online console gaming and transactions, or it could be a sign that despite the experience of develoeprs Polyphony Digital, they were being stretched just that bit too thin.

Either way, the fact the 5th installment is being describe as an "Online Car Life Simulator", rather than the "Real Driving Simulator" of previous games has been undermined somewhat by the arrival of Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360 a couple of months ago, which has already had two packs of extra cars available for sale at around £3-4 each.

I'm searching for figures, but indications still suggest that the market for add-ons for specific games only work for a very select number of very, very popular games, as most have faded by the time downloads are available. The big draw for the Xbox 360 is Xbox Live Arcade, with complete vintage arcade games and modern games which offer quick excitement for between £4-£10.

And fromt he feedback I've had, it seems like the 360 is scooping up the more hardcore online gamers, while the Nintendo Wii has the interest of those looking for something different. It remains to see how much of the mass market are still around and waiting when the PS3 finally arrives in the UK, and until then, all we have to guage excitement is a huge number of Chinese people paid to queue inf ront of Japanese department stores.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?