FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Entering the "Mobile Media Era"

Piling on all the talk about Web 2.0 is Shawn Conahan's take on entering what he called the "mobile media era." Though media observers such as Jeff Jarvis have been making similar observations for some time, Conahan sums up the various eras of media (TV > Cable > Internet > Mobile) nicely, and points out logical and important tipping points between each. Most crucially, he notes that what appear to be the current trends toward mobile media are not necessarily the major ones:

Notably, it is the first time in the history of media that people have been walking around with both media consumption and production devices, making them active participants in the creation and distribution of media. No longer Watching or Surfing, people are co-creating, mashing, blogging and networking together a media fabric that threatens the status quo in a significant way. Media is being more widely distributed farther away from the center of the network, this time right to the furthest edge – the pocket of every man, woman and child with a mobile-connected Personal Media Device. I find it most interesting that low production value MMS is often more compelling than slick, high-production quality television because it is personalized and serves a purpose very different from TV. I would like to state clearly that, while it is an important link on the value chain, the definition of “Mobile Media” is not “TV on your mobile phone.”

The TV is being replaced by the Personal Media Device. The set top box is being replaced by the SIM chip. The MSO [multi-system (cable TV) operator] is being replaced by the wireless carrier. I wonder if John Malone sees the similarities.

Whether mobile content in the way Conahan imagines it replaces more corporate and traditional forms of media will depend on many criteria -- the way mainstream media responds to mobile media, the content they make available, and the restrictions placed on it by government and corporate interests, among others.