Making something Really Mobile

About six or seven weeks ago now, I said a sad goodbye and a fond farewell to Mobile Industry Review (MIR). My weekly column ‘Whatley Wednesday’ was at an end and the team’s online video counterpart, The MIR Show, was no more.

But this much I’ve covered already. It’s what happened next I want to talk about.

Post closure, Ewan kindly gave me an export of all my prior MIR work, which you can now find in the newly created Whatley Wednesday category on the right hand side of this page. Please feel free to browse at your leisure, there are some pieces in there that I am deeply proud of and I’m really happy that I’ve been able to preserve them.

Even still, I was left wondering where my mobile content was supposed to go. I’ve long maintained that I have three main streams of blogging output:

  • Anything SpinVox goes the SpinVox Blog, Big Talk
  • Mobile-focused musings went to Mobile Industry Review
  • Everything else, stays right here in My Happy Place

With one of those streams now closed, I wasn’t sure what to do. I could’ve started putting the content here, but I didn’t want to alienate any of my readers. I wasn’t sure you’d appreciate it to be honest. This blog isn’t about mobile news, views and opinion. It’s about – for me at least – starting interesting conversations.

The real question was; ‘what to do next?’ and, well ‘start something new’ was the immediate answer.

When it came to restarting Whatley Wednesday, I took up Rafe Blandford on his offer to write a piece for leading mobile site All About Symbian (AAS). Entitled ‘Should Gravity come down?’ the piece questioned the price of a particular Nokia Symbian app and on top of that, Nokia apps in general.

Hand on heart there were a few opportunities like the one above from Rafe, and originally I had planned to accept them all. Not out of greed or ego; I merely felt a certain sense of displacement or maybe homelessness. I figured that Whatley Wednesday could become  a travelling road show of sorts (for want of a better comparison), each week resurfacing on a different publication and taking on a different subject matter.

That was the plan anyway.

However, in the furore surrounding my debut on AAS (seriously, check out the comments – all 67 of them), I questioned the validity of this idea and, when it came to writing up some thoughts about the incoming Nokia N97, I went against my instincts and published them here.

It was at this point that I realised that I needed my own mobile channel, something that I had (at least in part) ownership of and somewhere that I wouldn’t have to apologise for my own opinion. It turned out that I wouldn’t have to wait for long, as in the background, work had already begun on what was at that time only referred to as: ‘Secret Project X’.

So it was, the day after MIR announced its closure, and under the cover of darkness, three men met somewhere along London’s South Bank.

In a coffee shop not far from Hungerford Bridge – EAT I think it was, to be precise – Ben Smith, Dan Lane and I sat down to work out what our next steps were.
What I initially had pencilled in as a rather macabre and somewhat gruesome post-mortem turned very quickly into the conception of a new idea.
The general consensus was that we could rant and rave about how annoyed we all were, or, spend what little time we had planning our next moves.
It was unanimous.

We were going to build something new, really soon.

In the days and weeks that followed that fateful night, emails were exchanged, further meetings were had and plans were made. Further to that, a rough go-live schedule was put in place.

Potential additional contributors from the old team; Samantha Kidd, Ricky Chotai and Jonathan Jensen were asked along too – all of whom were immensely forthcoming with their support and immediately signed on.

On a late night conference call with the rest of the team, the members of Secret Project X finally agreed on a name.
That name was…

The Really Mobile Project

Interestingly, with a new moniker came too a new sense of direction and purpose.

Dan Lane pulled together some of our old MIR footage and excelled himself by putting together a rather awesome trailer. This short video (embedded above), which we made live one week after launching The Really Mobile Project (TRMP) holding page, was shared with the sole purpose of letting people know that no, this wasn’t the end and yes, we would be back.

Even more meetings followed, yet more emails were exchanged and TRMP was coming. By the time we put the trailer out, we’d pretty much made a promise that we intended to keep. Thing is, it turned out to be a lot harder than we first thought.

Building a site?
Gaining access to high quality equipment?
Finding the time to get all members of the team together to film content?

All of these things proved to be less than easy.

Two days before filming was due to kick off, the whole project was put on hold. The equipment wasn’t good enough, the site wasn’t right and on top of that, we had no content.
From the off we had all agreed that whatever it was that we ended up producing, it would be high quality. Our work at MIR had set the bar high and we knew that at the very minimum, we had to match it.

As any decent advisor will tell you; if you over promise and under deliver, failure will greet you with open arms.

So we took a step back and regrouped. What would we REALLY need to do to make this as good as we wanted it?

The project plan was re-written, a wiki was created, and tangible steps were taken to ensure that creating a quality site with even better output would be a nigh-on guarantee.

After all of this, on April 28th at approximately 3.00am, seven weeks since that initial coffee, The Really Mobile Project launched onto the (un)suspecting world.

Now, at long last, we finally have our own place on the web to talk mobile.

One of the things we noticed during our time in the wilderness was just how strong, passionate and caring the mobile community is. Keeping that firmly in mind, we established that from day one ‘Really Mobile’ would be about the conversation.

It’s the community that makes a site, so we want our readers and viewers to feel a part of something. 2009 is the year of conversation after all, right?

I’ve talked long enough and if you’ve made it this far, you have my thanks.
All I have left to say is this; if you follow me because you’re mad about mobile then please, get yourself over to The Really Mobile Project today.

It’s new, we’re still making changes and fixing bugs, but it’s out there.

And it needs you.

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Mobile Industry Review: The End of an Era

Regular readers of this blog (or any of you that have frequented my about page and/or follow me on Twitter) will know that as well as my main role over at SpinVox, I also write and co-present over at the Mobile Industry Review (MIR).

Pre-show discussion, Covent GardenPhoto by Josh Russell

Last week Ewan Macleod, Owner and Editor-in-Chief at MIR, announced that all future content had been bought (in the name of research and analysis), and as part of the bargain, the site in its current iteration would be discontinued.

As of March 27th 2009, any and all content created by Ewan will only be available for corporate clients via a new subscription-based model. Details of which are below, from the man himself:

“[The] new client is unwilling to subsidise our existing audience of readers (300-400k last month) so the content that I’ll be creating – reports, video interviews and day-to-day industry news and analysis – will become proprietary from 27th of March. After this date, the public version of MIR will no longer be updated.

The nature of the agreement allows for corporate subscriptions to [MIR] content at £12,000 per annum, plus applicable taxes. I’m able to offer the first 10 subscriptions at half price until the end of the month…”

Sad times.

I joined MIR (previously known as SMS Text News) way back in November 2007; I had just posted my initial teaser post regarding that year’s Future of Mobile event and Ewan called me up asking if he could have the full write up for his site.

Needless to say I agreed. The post was written and both Ewan and I were pleased with the response. Between us, building on that that initial conversation, a new weekly column – ‘Whatley on Wednesday‘ – was born.

- Whatley Wednesday -

Later on, when we moved into the realms of ‘other’ media; starting with audio then later moving into video, the site really started to develop and, by the time the weekly videocast developed into a fully-fledged show, the format was in the bag along a brand new name: Mobile Industry Review.

Along with the infinitely knowledgeable Ben Smith and the always engaging Dan Lane, I really felt that the Mobile Industry Review was going places.

We were able to provide an entertaining look into the global mobile industry and maintain a credible voice by incorporating various sources from both inside and outside the microcosm of mobile.

The informed, editorial opinion was well respected and it will be missed greatly.

Through MIR I’ve established some great contacts, played with some awesome phones (some not so awesome) and last but by no means least, made some real friends.

Filming the show @ Mobile Monday, London - Photo by Rebecca Cottrell

Ewan has given me an export of all my work to date and I will be importing all of it into http://whatleydude.com later on today. Apologies if this clogs up your RSS.

Also, any fans of the MIR Show should save the MIR Vimeo channel in their favourites. Although there will be no new episodes in the future, I’m told that the MIR TV back catalogue will remain online for posterity.

Finally have no fear, I’m still very much a Mobile Geek and I’ll still be keeping my eye on what’s coming next in the world of all things Mobile.

All that’s changed is where that output will live.

Until next time,

James.

:)

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Mobile Geeks of London V

Yes folks, it’s that time of year… Mobile Geeks of London is upon us!

- WOO! -

It’s been just over four months since our last meetup and well, it’s about we had another shindig! If you’re a facebook person get yourself over to the event page and sign up now…

If you’re not a facebook person then the details are as follows:

Date: 26th November 2008 – That’s TOMORROW folks!
Time: 18:30ish – 23:00ish
Location: All Bar One
Street: New Oxford Street (nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road)
Town/City: London Baby!

Like Beer? Like Mobile? Come on down!

As I’ve always maintained:

The Mobile Geeks of London is exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s not about business development, nor is it, to an extent, just another networking event.

It’s about genuine Mobile Geeks coming together and sharing an evening over beers, talking about the thing they love to geek over most…

MOBILE!

Industry and non-industry folk, mixing it up.
Nice.

So leave a comment if you can make it, hell leave a comment if you can’t!
Just let me know either way…
;)

Also – as well as the usual top sekrit gadgetry that may or may not be on show at the meetup – word has reached my ears that a certain Ben Smith from Mobile Industry Review will be in attendance…

- Pic by Joshr via Ben Smith -

That’s Ben there on the right, (as seen with yours truly at the last event – MGoL IV), he’ll be there along with the rest of the Mobile Industry Review team I’m sure, drumming up support and selling tickets for “MIR Christmas Presents.”

A quick word about that:

If you don’t know about MIR Christmas Presents already, I suggest you jump over and read up. It’s a fantastic way to support two amazing charities – The United Nations Foundation and Childline – and you also have a (rather large) chance of winning some awesome prizes too (seriously).

You don’t have to come to MGoL V to take part you can literally get your ticket from the website right now… But I did take the liberty of dropping Ben a note earlier on today to see if he was doing anything special for the MGoL members and he said:

Hey Dude, thanks for inviting me along – any attendees who buy MIR Christmas Present tickets at tomorrow’s MGoL event will automatically be entered into a special mini-draw to win a few bottles of something (Whisky and Champagne so far)…

Woo! More alcohol!
Nice one Ben.

So there you have it – Mobile Geeks of London V.

Tomorrow night.

Be there or be square.

Whatley out…

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Whatley on Wednesday

Last week I received a Nokia N96 on loan from the those lovely folk at Nokia WOM World.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago:

…whenever I do have something mobile-related to say, I use my platform over on Mobile Industry Review (MIR), formerly – and now incorporating – SMS Text News, to get the message out…

So if Mobile is your thing, or if you’re just curious about Nokia’s new flagship handset, why not jump over and read my thoughts

Your comments are as always, very welcome.

Lots of love,

Me.

:)

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MIR: Whatley Wednesday – Mobile Advertising

I read this article last week entitled “Why 2008 won’t be the breakthrough year for Mobile Advertising”. It was originally published in the middle of Mobile World Congress.

It makes for very good reading and clearly outlines the one caveat that is currently preventing the mobile advertising boom that has been promised for the past seven years: Advertisers simply don’t have the money to buy mobile ads. Nate Elliott also goes onto theorise that interesting things may happen in 2009 and the real (European) breakthrough will come in 2010.

After spending a few days digesting, I have to say that it is one theory that I buy into… It’s nearly here and the recently announced Mobile Ad deals laid out in that piece show this. Combine that with the consistent month on month growth rate of companies like Blyk – who have bet the farm on this particular return of investment – and you can see that we’re almost at tipping point. But, again, as the article points out, we’ve been almost at tipping point for just shy of a decade.
By way of comparison, in the UK there’s a TV programme called Skins, (it’s young, a bit good, knows its audiences and once you’ve watched a few you’re hooked) and recently E4, the younger, digital sister channel of Channel 4, started airing Season 2.

This in itself is really no big deal. However the amount of cash spent on the blanket marketing is.

You can’t get away from it!

And not in a bad way either. The TV spots are stylised; hinting at character development and yet still keeping the dark, surreal undertone that flows throughout the show. The ‘skincasts’, Podcasts containing interviews with the cast members are there for you to download to your MP3 player of choice, the community is there.

One of the interesting side effects of the first season, and something the UK media like to jump when there’s a slow news day, is the amount of young teenagers throwing themed ‘skins parties’ and, if you’ve ever seen the show, they don’t leave much to the imagination.

The new campaigns around season 2 are aimed at these people. Tapping into this (youth) market, this mindset is a genius move that has (probably) done wonders for their ratings. And it’s not just TV ratings these days either. Other KPIs include web hits, unique visitors, content downloads, podcast listeners, community members etc… There’s a lot to be measured.

So what about Mobile? Is all the money in mobile ads? Probably not.

Is there money to be made from mobile ads? A little, although not the billions that everyone thinks. Not yet anyway. Not without some joined-up thinking around context vs content etc…

2yrs ago I was told “Content is King”, I said then what I still say now. Context is King. You can send me as much content as you like but if it doesn’t speak to me, I ain’t buying.

I digress.

Taking a look at the E4 mobile proposition.

Screenshot0075

Simple, optimised content which is easy to consume – Basic Mobile Web 101 (but I’ve talked about this before)

Taking a closer look – There are three tabs: Telly, Goss and… SKINS!

Brilliant – Not only that but you can watch a clip from Skins Episode 3 right now – one click away.

That’s great. Not just for the end-user experience but it speaks shedloads about the level of internal buy-in from all parties within the offices of E4.

Skins is clearly their “hero” show for this season and is one of the channel’s better IPs.

This is a fantastic example of a blanket marketing campaign.

Mobile advertising needs to adopt similar thinking. You can’t just throw something into the mobile web and just expect it to work. You need strategy and process. Without this mobile advertising will never be the goose that will lay the golden egg. But it could well be a part of a few select bronze egg laying battery chickens.

The point I’m trying to make with the Skins example is that agencies and big media brands are finally coming to realise the amount of potential that lies in digital media. Mobile is part (albeit a new part) of this space.

And it won’t be long until they catch on. It just needs someone, or something, to make that first leap into the unknown.

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SMS Text News – UNLIMITED DRINKS

Me and and buddy from Team Mippin went to this lovely little soire last night, and very good it was too.
Ewan and his team from SMS Text News were great hosts and it was fantastic to meet them all at long last.

They’ve already said “Thanks for coming!” and there’ll be a main review coming later I’m sure…

;)

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