Thinking About Mobile Media

As I mentioned in my last note, I was out in California for the GRiD event at the Computer History Museum. While there I stayed at the home of my former boss (and very good friend) Glenn Edens, who is a Senior Vice President with Sun Microsystems. He's in charge of all of Sun's consumer businesses, and was prior to that running their media-related efforts and Sun Labs. Glenn has been looking into the fundamental shifts at work in the production, distribution, and delivery of content. His conclusion is that the big systems (and big companies) previously required to bring us whatever we want to watch, read, or listen to are no longer needed, as high-quality production becomes easy much closer to the consumer (another form of disintermediation). The challenge will be in reaching micro-audiences with stuff they want to buy at prices they want to pay, and, of course, still make money in the process with an acceptable opportunity cost. We agreed that the era of big intermediaries, like publishers and TV networks (and maybe even movie studios) is coming to an end.

I got to thinking - what does all this disintermediation imply about mobile (and particularly wireless) media and content? After all, we want to be able to the greatest degree possible to access and consume media while out and about. Granted, the experience will be a little different; HDTV won't be an issue in mobility anytime soon. What we'll need, I think, are tools designed to port content to the very small screen while maintaining as much quality as possible, carriers that offer enough bandwidth at reasonable prices, and marketing specific to micro-communities. Much of the latter two exist today; this blog is a good example. Specialized search is also needed.

But the rise of mobile as a primary outlet for media actually expands the opportunities available to content providers. I've be using MobiTV on my Treo for a few weeks; more on that shortly, and I expect both the subscription and pay-per-element models will work well with micro-content going to micro audiences. Of course, the core of any media experience is a good story - quality content matters no matter what the distribution of delivery vehicles. That's something that won't change as media gets small.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

Sign In