Even as wireless carriers and content providers warm up the tubes on the mobile TV platform this season, I am struck by how little creative work has been done with the technology we already have. I say this after spending a weekend with some thoroughly compelling, decidedly low-res mobile apps that leverage the handset form factor brilliantly: comic books.
As we learn more about engaging consumers through mobile media, I keep experiencing that deja-vu-all-over-again vibe. Back in the late '90s, Internet mavens ruminated about the best ways to push their print and TV audiences to the new medium -- where to put the URL, how much instruction neophyte users needed in these other media about how to operate this kludgy new one, etc. We're going through a similar phase in mobile's relationship to other media, especially TV. Short-code promotions are the new URL pushes. How and when to insert that SMS pitch is becoming a dark art with its …
The tech and media press that breathlessly cover the mobile space might try something daring and novel--open their damn phones. Deals between big media and carriers get cut and announced daily, and press releases are rehashed at lightning pace, but too few people actively discuss the actual mobile content that results. For example: Months after we first heard of YouTube coming to Verizon's VCast, I was astonished to discover just how boring and half-baked the final product proved to be.
I am not at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and I am pretty happy about it. It's not that I don't like Vegas, which I don't. Nor is it that I don't like playing with gadgets, which I do. No, being away from CES gives me the proper psychic distance from tech hype, which this week is about to hit a new high.
As my family is quick to point out about me this time of year, it is pretty tough to buy for a man who reviews and consults about the latest gadgets and man-toys. Right around now, my office is looking like the back room at Best Buy. Which is good and bad. I love toys, even at an age when my eyes are having trouble reading the instructions without an electron scanning microscope. On the other hand, the neighborhood kids keep trying to break into my house... with their Dads' help.