Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mobiles, Mobiles Everywhere and not a drop to drink ....

A quick post again today as things at work are pretty busy - lots of time being spent working with the team on client proposals and sales activities as the market continues to show the momentum we've enjoyed over the last six months.... some sleep would be good!

One of the things I did get to do in the last couple of days was to attend the AIMIA Lunchtime Forum on Mobile TV in Sydney. This was moderated by one of my colleagues, Chris Flintoft (recent father and all round mobile & broadcast guru) and so it was a chance to get some market context around some of the things we are doing for our clients in the Mobile & Broadcast space.

I guess my first impression was of the number of people there... I'm not much good at crowd estimation but if you told me there were 200 people there, I wouldn't have trouble believing it. The spread of the crowd was interesting as well; from shiny new start-ups to the big media /searchportal / telco players and all the hangers on (I think recruiters provide a REALLY valuable service..... no, really, I do.....) - the crowd was pretty diverse.

My second impression was of the "buzz." I haven't seen this sort of energy in a market segment since about 1998 when all things internet were possible and the world was your oyster. This time around the talk was of "content plays" and "licensing deals" and "subscription models".... stuff I'd heard before but this time it is "personalised and profiled" straight to the hands of the user. I must admit that a couple of people I spoke to said that this sounded a little bit like history repeating itself, but I think that to make that association is to ignore some fundamental truisms of the time we are in right now.

Ten years on since the start of the boom we know a lot more and things are different.

We now know that not every business case is going to stack up and therefore not every business plan deserves investment. Businesses that aren't in their "natural place" in the market aren't going to survive and trying to "change the paradigm" isn't enough to ensure success. I don't want to dampen the enthusiam of the start-ups there yesterday, but I strongly suggest that they take the time to think about this in the context of their vision for their company - if what you are doing is not in its "natural place in the market" then act now and avoid the pain and cost of finding out the hard way.

We now know that anything that happens in the mobile space needs to be a part of a diverse, multi-channel strategy. The internet needs to link to the mobile to the call centre to the shop counter to the operations of the business - Mobiles are a part of the overall Digital Services Strategy for any company - they aren't the whole strategy, so to the brand owners, content owners and investors, ignore offers which don't present this comprehensive view.

We know that we've come a long way in terms of monetising and commercialising digital services, but also that business models tend to be driven by the market and no one player. The business models for mobile services, mobile TV, content and licensing have a few more rounds to go, but this time around we actually do have the systems, platforms and capability to support the business models which will survive - there IS money in mobiles provided you understand the capacity for sustainable commercialisation for your particular business and implement your programs accordingly.

Finally, I think that this time around we are all a little more seasoned and a little more commercial. Funky content and a great idea are great, as long as they earn more than they cost.... today. What IS exciting and deserves attention though is an integrated, multi-channel digital services play which leverages the very best that mobile content and services can provide... get it right and this stuff can deliver some outstanding results.... and of course you can call the team at Hyro to help!!

It was good to spend some time at this forum ... it reminds me how far we have come and how much potential there is in what we do...... It also reminds me that we have already changed the world.... and we have really only just begun.

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