Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mippin: Satisfying the long tail - extending the reach of the stumpy dog

Some time ago I asked for the moon on a stick.

Today I saw something which might not offer the entire lunar body, but I think it gets us into orbit. Mippin is in beta right now. Next week it'll be shown in public and go into public beta.

I was lucky enough to get a pre-preview preview, if you like - and VP, product management, Prashant Agarwal is happy for me to share. So go check it out for yourself.

It's the latest thing from Refresh Mobile - the former T-mobile management buy-out team which previously gave us Mobizines.

And it ticks a lot of the boxes from my moon-on-a-stick list.

As I said once before ...the fixed line net was initially grown by content providers of the mass industrial age, the mobile web will explode as a direct result of User Generated Content.
And because of the social nature of 2.0 I expect the growth to be exponential - and to dominate the way the mobile web develops in a faster and more pervasive way than we saw with the original fixed-line internet.
The long tail will wag the mobile internet dog more vigorously than it has the fixed line internet."

And I identified these drivers for the long tail to go truly exponential.

1. Really easy creation of mobile pages (on fixed line and on mobile)
2. Really easy ability to change the design to our tastes (and I'm thinking icons/desktop style as well as background colours and layout)
3. Ability to add and create rss feeds
4. Ability to add code snippets (ie YouTube video, google adsense)
5. Really easy share/ creator propogation (ie socially networked)
6. Enabled for social trade.
7. It has to be free to the site owner.
8. Option to offer as an application-based widget.

Mippin gets a long way along the route. It's really easy to create mobile pages (from rss feeds from your current content - your blog for example, or your website, if you are a publisher). So it also ticks number 3 on the list. FasterFuture is, of course, already available on it!

There are both sharing and rating functions (5) and community scoring edits the 'hits' you find on your portal home page.

Critically it integrates with ad services such as admob (or at least it will very soon) which allows the UGC creator to benefit from their efforts. The ability to monetise long-tail content was a huge driver for the explosion of the fixed web (eg google adsense, the most powerful widget yet!)

Mippin is free (that's no7) and there are plenty of widget plans (they've even got a bit of an in with facebook... watch that space).

This is Widsets on steroids. Where Widsets doesn't allow you to make cash from your rss feed in, the admob integration (Screen Tonic for bigger publishers if you prefer) means you benefit from your labouts.

And powerfully, while you have to download a client to your phone to make Widsets work, there's no need for this with Mippin.

How do they make their cash? Ads on the aggregated elements (users create their own portal of content they want to have fed to them, they get to rate it and share it too (though the share via sms function is too clunky at the moment - but it is early days).

There are no ads on the publisher's content - other than the ones the publisher selects AND which that publisher is earning cash from. This trumps the peperonity model, for example.
They take no revenue share from your arrangement with Admob, google adsense or whoever, either. They expect to make money from their introduction of your content to the likes of Admob. Which seems fine and reasonable to me.

In a nutshell, what Mippin does is allow individuals to create their own mobile portals of content they care about and rate and share that content.

Their marketing plan involves mobile ad campaigns of their own. It remains to be seen how effectively they can position themselves as your first-choice mobile portal.

The publisher (be it users creating their own mobile sites from their blog feeds etc, or publishers of bigger websites seeking to move into the mobile space) are simply extending their reach.

We shouldn't confuse Mippin with something which allows the creation of mobile-focused services fitting the 6Ms of mobile to perfection - as described by Tomi Ahonen (and those who attended Mobinar will be clear on these).

It also doesn't carry links from the original content, nor videos (though it does manage images from the rss feeds.)

What it does do is radically simplify the process of extending reach into mobile - and monetising it.

To publishers, I do not recommend Mippin as your long term mobile strategy - but it does seem an ideal quick fix to get you on the road and to use as part of your strategy. Create new mobile services alongside this - but perhaps use this to extend your reach and make a little revenue - free.

To those who are about to create the long tail - this is going to help a whole lot of shaking happen faster.

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?