Mobile mythology suggests that all Europe and Asia are far, far ahead of the U.S. in their mobile technology and media evolution. International case studies hold up examples of sophisticated marketing programs that seem years ahead of familiar mobile campaigns here. Like most mythologies, this one has a grain of truth that we tend to extrapolate into broad maxims and conventional wisdom.
The sheer volume and relentlessness of commentary on the iPhone 3G is enough to swear me off of the topic for a few weeks. Most well-hyped hardware and software releases fill the voracious blogospere channel for a day or two and then deservedly fall off the front page. But the iPhone just keeps on giving. Gadget blogs and tech news outlets can't get enough of every vaporware announcement, bug reports, and Steve Jobs rumors. You would think this device were a pregnant celebrity.
Why is podcasting so difficult to explain? Is there something inscrutable here I am missing? From the time I discovered the podcast library in iTunes, I was a total addict. But when it comes to convincing the people around me of the platform's ease of use and the joy of time-shifting, I feel like Tom Cruise proselytizing Scientology.
Brands are all about consistency, reliability, familiarity. But at the same time, their strategies have to change with media, technology and circumstances. The Minneapolis-based agency space150 is famous for embracing the concept of change by reinventing its own identity every 150 days -- new Web site, business cards, the whole nine yards. Something like this approach also holds true in its mobile strategy, which launched into a new division last month. I touched base recently with its vice president of modern media, John Grudnowski, to discuss how a company that works with brands like American Express, Discovery, and Dairy Queen …
Now that the iPhone App Store is open for business, we have to consider what kind of marketing vehicle we have here. There are a handful of ads and marketing partnerships already in evidence in the apps, and they render very early lessons in how and how not to leverage the kinda-sorta-more-than-it-was openness of the iPhone platform.
"This time you be the focus group, Dad." For all the time she spends scarfing my iPhone, you would think that my daughter would be willing to accompany me on my Friday morning "3G Day" stakeout of the local AT&T store. Even dangling the prospect of her getting my first-gen model as a hand-me-down failed. "I can't type fast enough on it, anyway" she complained. Suddenly the iPhone was deficient. "You can play it while on line with me," I said. "No. I am not standing on a line with geeks. And, why doesn't Apple just send you one, anyway? …
When AP decided several years ago to get into the mobile news business with its many newspaper partners, the company wasn't kidding around. "AP invested millions to get this up and running," says Jeff Litvack, global product development director at AP. And it shows. While AP Mobile News Network is available in a WAP versions, the focus has been on the iPhone iteration, which gets up to 80% of the site traffic. It is among the best iPhone Web apps I have used, with top line buttons navigating local news from over 100 member papers, search, and a drill down …
Most parents remember the day their child first walked. My clearest recollection was my daughter learning to use the TV remote control. Yeah, walking is cool and adorable and all, but it does tend to get in the way of watching TV. Grabbing the remote and figuring it out on her own was a kind of initiation ritual my girl took into the interactive passivity of modern media culture.
In researching some upcoming pieces for Media magazine's big Future of Media issue in September, I have been spending time discussing mobile's near and long-term prospects with executives throughout the value chain. As the director of interactive at Nokia, Tom Henriksson has a unique perspective coming from the dominant handset hardware as well as one of the largest mobile ad networks. Tom helped start the ad business at Nokia and engineered the acquisition of enPocket. In a couple of interviews lately I asked him to speculate forward five or more years about which technologies and usage models to watch.
Bridging the physical and digital worlds has been a publisher's dream since the Web first started exerting pressure on print media. The infamous Cuecat hand scanner aside, I have tracked a number of mobile initiatives over the years: 2D scan codes, SMS keyword bugs in ads and editorial, and phone cam images. All of these solutions chase the same fantasy. The phone becomes the activation device for print, letting you effectively click on content to receive some deeper experience in return.
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