.Some Super Bowl advertisers and marketing partners have had the foresight to promote their mobile tie-ins as they do their coming ad spots. But in most cases, we will be surprised by Super Bowl ads that prompt us to dial and short code in for more information. I will spend the day as I did last year, surrounded by three or four cell phones ready to test out as many of these little on-air bugs as I can to see if anything comes of them.
For several years now I have been asking what apparently is the worst question anyone could ask in the wireless media world: Do all publishers need to be mobile? I have asked this question of just about every panel I have moderated, and just about every mobile marketing company, aggregator and publisher I have interviewed, and I have yet to get an insightful answer.
Along with my hairline and stamina, I left behind the perennial question "How much TV do we really need?" a long time ago. As the morning shows get piped onto digital billboards in Times Square and Food Network snippets keep me from reading the tabloids on checkout lines (what's up with Britney, anyway?), it is apparent now that there never is, never will be, enough TV. It may fragment. It may get time-shifted. It may even get parsed into segments we mash up on our own. But it is not going away. As longtime industry analyst Paul Kagan told me …
Getting the questions right, I think, is half the battle at a conference. Way too many attendees come up to me after a panel to tell me what they would have liked to ask. Audience inhibition -- or just that fear of asking the bad question -- often suppresses the issues that conference audiences really want answered. And so, before the inhibiting crowds gather at OMMA Mobile, I want to ask readers to front-load the program with some of their own questions.
A little known piece of media history is that actual TV programming started a good decade before the platform grabbed American audiences in the later 1940s and early 1950s. But new media no longer get this private gestation period. In an age of VC-funded projects and see-what-sticks business models, the audience is the media lab rat. The Internet spent nearly a decade thrashing about for proper formats and models, and it still isn't settled yet. But this time new platforms like streaming media, podcasting, and mobile evolve quickly and noticeably in the consumer's own hands.
Now that I have gone from hopelessly un-socialized academic geek to, well, hopelessly un-socialized media geek, I dip back into the classroom from time to time. You miss the gum-snapping sorority sisters, sleeping And so when I was doing a guest lecture and Q&A the other day with a room of college students, I asked them about their own tech use. Lesson No. 1: Apple has got it made. In answer to another question, I was surprised to see so little mobile Web use.
A firewall in my thinking about mobile has been breached recently. For years, my default question regarding new forms of mobile media, from video to Web access to social networking to cyber-dating was, why? Why would someone want to do this on their phone? The device was so thoroughly hobbled with usability issues, a hopelessly poor interface, and overall sluggishness compared to any other platform. Theoretically, there just seemed to be no reason that comfort-driven, 300-thread-count, padded-toilet-seat, swivel-car-seat Americans would put up with this as a real data channel....
No mobile aficionado should miss the otherwise calm and collected auteur de tutti auteur David Lynch losing a wing nut over mobile video. In this inspired mash-up of the iPhone TV commercial theme and a DVD extra from his recent Inland Empire release (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKiIroiCvZ0), Lynch comes to a quick boil about the idea of watching films on your "f**king phone." Lynch may have less to worry about than he supposes.
Don't anyone ask whether I will be going to CES this year, and PR people everywhere, please stop calling. I am Vegas-averse. I haven't gotten over my last trip there. I still can hear that damned roller coaster passing my room at New York, New York. And I think strippers give me hives. I don't drink, I don't gamble, and I haven't done anything for a couple of decades that would vaguely qualify as having to "stay on Sesame Street," let alone "stay in Vegas.
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