The State of Mobile Content


Just came in from Hall 7 where 3GSM is hosting mobile content providers. I’m not quite sure what they are thinking over there — or even if they are thinking at all — but that was one sorry bunch of companies.

Let me offer a window into the mind of a mobile content provider. Everything is either porn or puppies, as this image shows. In fact, some companies are selling porn and puppies. Seriously. This company had Cuddle Me puppy cartoons and a virtual gentleman’s club. Talk about covering all your bases.

Excuse me, but I want none of that. What do you have for me? Nothing? Oh.
Mobile content is an odd duck. Carriers don’t really know how to make money on it which is why they focus on streaming the odd video from MSNBC or Naked News and calling it a day. Clearly this is not an optimum strategy. There are millions of phones out there and millions of lonely teenagers who would love to get them some puppies and porn could be better served with gripping mobile content in the form of downloadable programs made for mobile that was actually worth watching. Video podcasts are my first thought, but the market is wide open.

In going through a copy of Future Media, some sort of mobile content house organ, I’m noticing one thing. Everything created for mobile is “artsy” while everything else consists of trailers and old media crammed into a shitty little portal. When I go to the Lost link on my phone I don’t want trailers and picture of Locke’s scarred, weathered face. I want to watch lost. Or maybe the Sci Fi channel can distribute the Lost Room as a video podcast or streaming bit of content. I’m ready to watch the rest of that series and if they can’t afford to make it for the big screen, make it for the small screen.

Carriers have to stop being afraid to let alien video onto their devices. Europe really doesn’t have that problem — download all the porn and puppies you want, Sweden! — but the U.S. is still lagging.

Take Nokia’s Video Center (Centre) for example. It is a small piece of software that aims to allow fresh video to appear in and on your phone without much fuss. This is how easy it should be. Don’t dumb it down and stream it to us. If we wanted that we wouldn’t have TiVo.

My advice? Stop the streaming, stop shitty pay content, and offer video downloads. Straight up. When “Erotica” and “Horoscopes” are the best things going out there, we’re in trouble.

The reason I’m writing all this is because I’m quite disturbed by the state of mobile media and I think the iPhone will change things, but only a bit. The iPhone will put downloadable content front and center and because Cingular doesn’t know how to send content and Apple will require it, we’ll see a breakdown in that dynamic which will allow us more freedom with our phones in the future. Until then, enjoy your puppies and porn.