Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pre-shower mobile industry consultation rant

I don't really get this "how podcasts and mobiles could merge" piece (via unmediated). It sets out the objectives of the mobile industry quite well (i.e. that operators want a cut of the media scene so people keep using phones, rather than just VOIP-enabled mp3 players), but - thanks to the title - all the way through I was expecting something else.

Podcasting on phones could, I think, be sizable. But not with thinking like this. The recommendations at the end are that 1) compression should be increased to reduce file size, and 2) files should be transferred (automatically) at cheap rate time, i.e. overnight.

The thing that bemuses me is that you're talking here about downloading audio files (I'm ignoring video cos I think video on mobile is mostly a dead duck) to, um, a mobile phone.. which you use to talk to people. Hello? Am I missing something? If not, here's my $1000-an-hour consultation to the entire mobile industry (damn it's fun having a blog):

1. Ignore video podcasts, groo and ick.

2. Use what you have. Let people listen to podcasts by calling a number. Maybe some kind of personal portal that lets you choose podcasts to subscribe to, and have a simple touch-tone menu system to let a caller listen to whichever podcast they like.

3. Don't bother charging extra for listening time, treat it as a normal phone call (in fact, an external company could set this up. And probably has. Bah. Will have to look this up later...)

4. Optional Extras: Let people record over "normal" lines too. Text people when a new podcast is released.

5. Encourage people to produce 5-minute podcast "diaries" - even though people are quite happy (it seems) to stay on the phone for half an hour or more, tying up the line isn't great. Shorter podcasts are easier to "squeeze in" when people are waiting around/travelling, so more likely to get listened to. You could even have some "reduced rate" service that limits podcasts to 5/10 minutes.

Finally, the UK mobile industry golden rule: Anything based on data is going to be niche (read "deaded").

Right, time to get clean.

Update: I'm sure I saw something that did this a few weeks ago, but can't remember what it was called. It was semi-famous at the time, so maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Still, TechCrunch points to two things, one called Podlinez, which lets you assign a phone number to a podcast, and then dial it to listen, and one called Fonpods which has one access number, and sounds more like what I'm describing above. So why aren't operators picking up on this? And when's there a UK version (if there's not one already)?

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