For just about as long as there has been a Playstation Portable, there have been rumors that Sony would slap a phone onto the mobile game console and make a proper all-in-one device. After all, arguably, Sony has had the most powerful gaming handheld on the market for years. Much as I love and play more with my Nintendo DS, the PSP really is a delicious mobile multimedia device.
"Who did that?" my wife wonders when she see the TV channel change even as the remote control sits abandoned on the coffee table. I am being puckish and have been fiddling with the various mobile app extensions of the set-top boxes we have here in the family test lab. "This is grossly unfair," she protests. "You are the only one who even knows how to turn the TV on anymore."
Lady Gaga appears to be testing the limits of media overexposure this week. Her near-total ownership of "Saturday Night Live" last weekend was followed yesterday by a 99-cent album deal at Amazon that actually brought the top e-tailer's servers to their knees. She was media-ubiquitous in preparation for her new album release, even bantering with Letterman last night. And here I am, a fifty-something old fart who is far outside her target demo writing about her two days in a row.
Media mavens were all over yesterday's Nielsen numbers about tablet penetration, and I am still trying to figure out why. The survey of 12,000 consumers showed that 4.8% of U.S. consumers own a tablet. This seemed to surprise a lot of people, leading to some weird hand-wringing over tablets not being that big a deal after all.
The confluence of personal and commercial on mobile media is what makes this platform singular. The odd blend of intimate exchange with third-party messages, ads, information after all represents the reality of mobile. I have always felt that the use cases of mobile change the game for any marketer or media company wanting a place on the same device. I use this device to make sure my daughter is home safe from a date. Marketers and media are sharing bandwidth with relationships of supreme importance to every one of us, and in a way that is unprecedented. Don't screw it …
Now that the first rush of enthusiasm for mobile is maturing into a more workmanlike approach, it is becoming clearer that this platform is not going to be simple to decipher. With such reach into populations, devices, use cases and locations that can be as diverse as existence itself, it's daunting to understand how mobile performs for a marketer at any given moment on any given device, on any given app or site, and for discrete demographics. Two studies released this week underscore just how varied performance can be across the many "mobiles."
When it comes to digital privacy, many critics of data-gathering practices and consumer watchdogs have generally expected that mobile would prove to be the third rail for the interactive industries. User tracking on the desktop, while troubling to many consumers, just gets that much more noticeable and creepy when it is tied to the most intimate device of all, the cell phone. Everything about the phone's unique place in our modern lives raises the stakes on issues and features that get ported over from the general Web.
Even as IHS Screen Digest reported this week that the app market is going to be worth north of $8 billion by 2014, the bigger story of late has been the increased emphasis on mobile web strategies. In the right hands and with enough imagination, mobile doesn't just promote or sell goods. It can enhance them.
During a weekend of massive news stories (from the royal wedding to the death of bin Laden) a lot of us were trying to stay connected by mobile. If you were looking for an easy way to get timely video news updates, however, the platform was really not ready for prime-time, TV-like newsgathering.