Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Media Entrepreneurs at the New Front Line of the Digital Revolution - Mobile Phones

The good news is that mainstream media are [slowly] waking up to the potential of mobile phones, if recent studies and analyst predications are anything to go by.

A study of 38 US news sites published last week as part of The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2007 State of the American News Media Report showed that about a third (12 sites) of the sites in the sample allowed content delivery customization, such as RSS feeds, podcasts or mobile phone alerts. According to Visiongain, by 2008, 89% of brands in Europe will use SMS & MMS to reach their audience and 1/3 will spend more than 10% of their marketing budgets on the mobile channel.

The other news is that traditional news organizations aren’t the only alert to the potential of mobile. Others - including alpha players in the digital space, such as Google – are getting in on the act. The buzz about Google’s move into mobile, which I first picked up late last year, ratcheted up last week after a Google official in Spain acknowledged the company is "investigating" such a project.

It’s not really surprising. Google guru Vinton Cerf has been talking up the importance of mobile phones quite a bit recently saying that the future growth of the Internet lies in the hands of mobile phone users, not computers.

Cerf has pointed out that while the Internet population has exploded from 50 million to 1.1 billion since 1997, it still only reaches a sixth of the world's population. “You will get those other 5.5 billion people only when affordability increases and the cost of communication goes down," said Cerf, 63, who joined Google in 2005 as Vice President. By contrast, analysts say mobile phone connections recently topped 2.5 billion and are expected to reach 3 billion by the end of 2007 . A recent study showed that more than half of mobile phones in circulation were enabled to access data services and that 56% of users accessed at least one data services each a month, up dramatically from a year ago. “The mobile phone has become an important factor in the Internet revolution, " said Cerff.

Eamonn Carey is one new media entrepreneur taking advantage of the mobile explosion. A former producer and presenter with RTE Radio and Newstalk Radio in Ireland, Carey is the co-founder and director of Random Thoughts Media who recently produced a series of six video podcasts or vodcasts for O2 mobile, sponsors of the Irish national rugby Team. [Featuring rugby experts George Hook and Brent Pope , the final programme was available on March 17th, the eve of the Ireland’s sensational eight-try victory over Italy.]

Eamonn will be discussing some of his projects for mobile during the 6th Journalism Leaders Forum panel discussion on May 15th. Entitled, ‘Editor as Entrepreneur: Lessons from the Digital Front’, the panel discussion will be chaired by journalist-turned-tech-whizz Bob Eggington, who’s many new media projects have including helping establish BBC News Online.

The Forum, which forms part of the schedule for the Spring block of the Journalism Leaders Programme, is free and open to the public. Preceded by a networking reception at 5:15pm in the Greenbank Building Foyer, the panel discussion will start at 6pm in Greenbank Lecture Theatre and will also be webcast live.

RSVP to leaders[at]ukjournalism.org .