Monday, February 27, 2006

Ricky Gervais to charge

in case you weren't aware, the oh so succesful Ricky Gervais podcast has come to and end of its series. Another series has been sponsored, but will be chargeable at £1 per show or £4 for the series.

Charging for content is a hot topic, how do publishers make it pay??

I forecast the audience will plummet.

It might work if the model was to charge a lot less and aim for far more downloads. I don't see the initial audience for this show converting easily at these prices. No way.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mobile data costs

a little more on why people don't use mobile web...
There are several reasons, but a few key ones:
- simply not as much perceived need by users!!
- it's too slow to navigate through so many screens to get to what you want. (hence RSS can help)
- many people fear the cost, either through not understanding the charging structure, having been burnt with a shock bill or having heard of someone with a shock data bill.

So, when operators start to offer mobile homepages, maybe they should offer the personalise homepage free of ALL charges?? That way people might check for updates more regularly, and actually create more traffic overall.

I know many people quote those reasons above. Many of them have also had occasional use - notably for cricket scores last year. A good use when games last for days on end. Many people kept refreshing the score page - how much better would it have been if they could have (easily) set their homepage to have cricket scores for the duration of the Ashes? Yes, it CAN be done now - but not with enough ease for most people, which is why the phones are out there but not racking up data usage.

Mobile Web

I'm a believer that RSS can help drive the mobile web, and break the barriers that exist currently for most people - too slow, poor navigation, and uncertainty on costs. With a mobile reader that is complemented by a desktop reader to assist in configuring feeds ordinary people (non-geeks) can get some use from mobile data. Personalised home pages from the likes of Yahoo! and Google aren't quite there yet on mobile, and if they do exist they do not offer a good mobile experience. They will soon, no doubt.
Just came across which configures feeds and 'Hubs' from the web for mobile. Seems a good start. They need more phones and more listed feeds (ordinary folk prefer listed feeds and don't like using 'RSS').

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Music revenues on mobile

One of the big themes at 3GSM is how music will be one of THE big money spinners for mobile.
I'm not so sure.

Mobile industry has often missed the big trends (SMS) and then over-hyped other others (MMS). Music will be big on mobile for sure, but i just suspect that the industry's hope is too optimistic. People do like simplicity, and they might just wait until they get home on (high bandwidth) broadband before buying too many albums via mobile. Download quality on PCs can be patchy sometimes, mobile will no doubt be slightly worse? It only takes a couple breaks in tracks to put people off.

Besides, music for many is synonomous with iTunes. That certainly won't help operators revenues that much.

People also like seperate devices. Battery life, simplicity and the cool factor play their part. Despite some very good music phones being around for a while now, the seperate MP3 player grows more dominant.

I'll be sticking to my PC apps for now (i use iTunes, Rio and Napster) and putting some favourite tracks on a relatively cheap 512mb mini SD card. Simple.

I want more from mobile data...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

RSS Malware

One of the promoted benefits of RSS is its security. No spam and no phishing.
But RSS may increasingly attract malicious code attacks, according to ScanSafe's latest web security report. Due to the fast growing popularity of the technology, malicious code writers are expected to take advantage by hijacking existing feed clients, causing automatic downloads of new worms and other malware.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Individual RSS to help drive mobile data

Mobile data has not really taken off.
The promises from early in the new millennium were ahead of themselves and left a lot of early adopters dissatisfied. Services were hard to use, slow, costly and often just not very good.
This is not unusual for new technology take-up, it takes time to go through the cycles - even if the adoption timescales are becoming shorter.
What could help mass adoption of mobile data services?
  • obviously a valuable service for consumers.
  • clearer pricing - cheaper and fixed-price packages. (consumers prefer bundled pricing, look at Sky, broadband etc)
  • bandwidth, 3g helps
  • integrate the desktop web with mobile web - configure your chosen applications and preferences on your desktop to speed things up when mobile.
  • use IRSS to push opted-in content to the mobile. Why don't mobile operators offer a simple service - configured on mobile or desktop? Non-operators can do this too, although operators could also provide fixed price bundles inclusive of transmission costs.
  • integrate location-based-services. One key input to the mobile RSS reader would be location, which would help services such as Time Out supply relevant content according to personal preferences and location.
IRSS (Individualised RSS) will work across all digital channels in the future allowing people to use desktop, mobile & IPTV to receive relevant information.
The mobile handset is powerful, but it's not the ideal surfing platform. But it doesn't have to be...

RSS Advertising and Monetisation

As RSS moves from geekland to mainstream, publishers and portals are trying to work out how to monetise the channel. It's an emerging area with new challenges, here are some thoughts:
  • with "unsubscribe" being just one click, publishers have to be careful not to alienate their consumers or they'll be gone. The inertia that is associated with email unsubscribe won't allow risk-taking or challenging content. Too many ads could easily provoke users to leave.
  • we've become accustomed to web content being free. Some publishers will now try to offer a choice of ad-supported content or paid-for content. That will be interesting to watch. Even if everyone chooses ad-supported, they may well appreciate being given the choice initially.
  • portals might offer a marketing channel to their customers, who could receive alerts from portal-approved companies. Companies would pay to be part of that channel and, for the sake of the portal's reputation, have to pass form of screening.
  • ads within feeds should be contextual, and therefore justify higher rates. For the time-being this is often done manually by the publisher, though this can quickly change if the market develops and ad serving technology catches up.
  • sponsorship of a feed is the most probable form for the short-term - "today's film reviews are brought to you by The Guardian" for example.
For good content, somebody has to pay!

RSS Awareness

I visited the "Technology for Marketing" event today at Olympia, London. My mission was to learn the latest tinking about RSS from this important sector ('technology' & 'marketing' - i was hoping they'd be ahead of the curve...).
I discovered that awareness is very, very low, and often only exists at a personal level rather than professional, eg "the Guardian article last month", "Ricky Gervais" or "seen it on the BBC site".
I asked several marketing, email and CRM companies if they were preparing for RSS or if their customers were asking questions - everyone said no. Industry bodies have no sessions planned for RSS (they do now...) and a major publisher is interested in covering it more (after i spoke with them).
One speaker at the show said he'd never been asked about RSS from his clients until this week, when two questions came in after some portals introduced email charging.

RSS pundits say that 2006 is the year of RSS. I suspect that's a year too early.
RSS usage is growing, but is still very low. Most usage is unwitting via sites like MyYahoo, that's no bad thing, but it's not the deep usage many are forecasting.
I'd love to hear your views....