Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Nordic Mobile Media

Nice conference, a lot more interesting and useful stuff than I expected. Not entirely sure what I was doing there - the organizers wanted someone from my company to attend, put my presentation in the conference booklet, but never asked me to actually stand up and talk. (And covered my expenses. I'm pretty sure my employer didn't pay any attendance fee.) Played stomp the teacher a bit, but not too much - actually the best reflection of the quality of the speakers. Some boring stuff, and Aspiro's mobile music spiel was so much buzzword bingo.

Salient points:

1) I brought this up back at Mobile Monday a few weeks ago, and I still maintain that mass SMS campaigns are ridiculously annoying - and it's only the carrier that can do them cost-effectively, so the carrier gets the bad will. A very pleasant lady from Tele2 asked me for my card to give to her people so they'd stop sending me SMSes about concert tickets; so not the point. Opt-in is only there to alleviate the carriers' collective conscience and get the EFF and its ilk off their backs: most users will tick the box somewhere without really thinking about it, and aren't too likely to go and demand to be taken off the list. I've been with Tele2 ever since it was still Q GSM (in fact I still have my original SIM card from 1998 as a souvenier), but fuck if I know their customer service number off the top of my head. My point is: the bad will appears in the second that your user receives the spam text. Don't tell me that it's actually opt-in and it's dead easy for me to get off the list. Too late, you've already pissed me off.

2) The dude from Elisa (not the same dude that offered me a quarter of a million kroons to write a service that ties in all manner of blog platforms, social networks and photo sharing sites through their existing APIs to be used from the mobile phone, but then this one was sober) assures me that the Estonian networks aren't going to run out of bandwidth in any foreseeable future, even if flat-rate 3,5G broadband takes off massively. He also assures me that theirs really is flat-rate, that they aren't really enforcing the 3GB per month limit in the contract, but I expect that will change when people in Võhma start torrenting. Apparently the entire Tallinn-Tartu road will get 3G coverage within a year. Cheers mate - the Kõu backhaul in the intercity coach's free WiFi sucks donkey balls.

3) I'm the compleat skeptic at these events, and I'm sure I'm annoying a lot of folks, but I believe it is a necessary service. Almost two decades ago I played the runt in a holiday production of The Emperor's New Clothes at a major Tallinn theater, and my job was to run out and shout: "The king is naked!". Now I do conceptually the same, except I'm asking "Where's the money?". I don't believe in Web 2.0 business models. I'm sure Rubberduck gets very nice revenue from all the carriers buying their Mobile TV solution, but ultimately they're just enabling a fundamentally idiotic proposition, and sooner or later the music will stop. Like it has for Joost. Then again, I'd watch Ze Frank on my shiny new N85 (as long as it doesn't max out my shiny new 500GB-per-month data plan), and I'm really not their target audience.

4) I love John Strand for the ability to stand up in a conference hall, say "I've been in this business for 14 years and have never been wrong", and not get pelted by rotten tomatoes. I'm sure he sees the same people from the carriers over and over again at these things, and I'm sure some of them are dying to just shout YES YOU FUCKING HAVE. (Disclaimer: whether he's actually ever been wrong is beside the point.)

5) Ultimately the future of mobile marketing is a banner on your phone's standby screen, and until we get there, everything else is just New Media wankery. It makes me sad, but no amount of user annoyance will stop it, because the carriers control the selection of handsets and their embedded content. Vodafone and Orange are very nearly there, except I don't think they've started rotating ads for third parties yet. All it takes is a heavy subsidy on a glamourphone, and equipping the cheapest plans with free data within the walled garden (a.k.a. not taking the piss), and the user base will eat it up.

6) Meanwhile, if you have to advertise on mobile, stick to the professionals who know how to set up a decent audience-participation exercise - I can see how those would work, and the case studies certainly look impressive. But for heavens' sake, NO MORE FUCKING BANNERS!*

7) I was almost the least appropriate attendee at the conference - a lowly Senior Technical Writer surrounded by CEOs and division heads - but I was representing a diversified multinational corporation with a 1,5 billion pound market cap. I know it's wrong, but there's just so much sarkastic pleasure to be derived from going "uh huh, good luck with your widget company!". In my defence, Jan Rezab looks like he's fucking sixteen.

* If I dare to show my face at the next MoMo, will I get bitchslapped by the Estonian carriers and their awesome Mobile Reach Package?


Mari said...

He also assures me that theirs really is flat-rate, that they aren't really enforcing the 3GB per month limit in the contract, but I expect that will change when people in Võhma start torrenting.

The bedazzling and complex logic of computation and awe-inspiringly sophisticated and subtle sarcasm are completely beyond my intelligence level and ener-chis. In other words, I don't even know what that means, but FUCK YOU NEVERTHELESS.

Kristopher said...

?? -

one of the more enjoyable posts of the week in the estoblogosphere, for my money. Nothing wrong with a little attitude. Besides, sometimes you got to work to read things.

Personally I scoff at this too because I pride myself on being fairly resistant to ads in the first place.

Mobile mania seems like another dotcom bubble, except it's a soap bubble quality one. Who is going to click a banner on a mobile phone? I get impatient when some sort of animated ASCII Nokia startup screen comes on on my ancient model after I input the PIN.

antyx said...

Well, the carriers claim a higher clickthrough rate than web banners, which I can actually believe - if you're already going to the carrier's WAP portal, you are by definition bored out of your wits and susceptible to shiny things.

The problem with this Mobile Reach Package thing - buying banners on all of the three carriers' portals simultaneously - is that at their best advertised conversion rates, you'd be paying something like 80 EEK per sale just on impression costs. Which is fine if you're selling widescreen TVs, not so fine if you're selling train tickets.

Jens-Olaf said...

Just an info: You should have a look at Ross Mayfield's blog.

He is doing Web 2.0 business in Palo Alto

Has an estonian wife and knows the whole bunch of Estonian tech freaks in the States and Tallinn.
Once he was adviser for Lennart Meri (website of the president)

This Web 2.0 business seems to work in an american company culture but for the German side I am very sceptical too.


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