Monday, 19 January 2015

Is Mobile Ready for User Generated Content(UGC)?

I warn you now my conclusion is going to be “No” in answer to this question. Many reading this are going to protest as I know that there are 1.8B photos shared per day and many of these on mobile but I do think that UGC grew up on the fixed web and has not adpated to mobile fully yet — it’s still very immature and yet UGC on mobile is already massive with the likes of Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. My belief it needs to become more sophisticated and then its will become even more massive.
The above diagram is my own person opinion and others may disagree with the precise positions, but my point is that to be a good Mobile UGC product it must be easy to add content on a mobile phone and additionally be easily distributable to all mobile phones and also have significant sophistication to make it an interesting product.
For these reasons Snapchat and Instagram score well on Ease of Mobile use but are low on sophistication and products like Youtube and Facebook score well on sophisticated content but are not so good (yet) on integration with mobile (simply because they have transferred from the fixed internet environment).
We make our own product Appies score well on both axes because it is both easy to add content and distribute to any phone as well as having a sophisticated content.
But Appies is still a relatively “unknown” product and because of this the answer to the question is “No” — the mobile is not yet ready for UGC.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Digital Publishing in the Developing World will be very different

This week there were two competing announcements concerning bringing the Internet to the 3B (half the world’s population) using Satellite constellations in low earth orbit. The two announcements were competing but strangely similar. First Richard Branson announced his system joint with Qualcomm working with OneWeb run by Greg Wyler a veteran in Satellite Internet and comms delivery using a modified version of Virgin Galactic to launch 648 satellites at low cost(relative to costs of today’s satellite launches). On Friday Elon Musk announced almost the same thing but using his SpaceX rockets as the launcher. Oddly Elon and OneWeb’s Greg Tyler are long term friends but apparently they have fallen out over the technical details on how the satellite constellation should be constructed and parted ways. The problem for Elon is he does not own the slots for the satellites so there may be an issue to his approach. Richard Branson has commented that Elon should work with them not compete.
These announcements follow Zuckerberg’s Internet.org announcements of cheap internet for the 3rd world using an app to bring free internet and Google project loon which uses solar powered drone aircraft. In factZuckerberg actually launched this free service this week in Columbia
These big names indicate there is real interest in bringing the Internet to the missing 3B.
These announcements makes you think how the Internet will be used by these 3B who are also the poorest people in the world. Zuckerberg is trying to find ways to make the Internet free to these people by limited the services offered through an app. The fact is that a satellite system costing billions of dollars cannot be entirely free even though it will be used commercially by aircraft and business throughout the world.
How do you make the Internet free to these 3B people. The answer is you provide a very different Internet to today’s Internet. This new Internet must be designed to be used intermittently online and its data needs to be available when offline. This structure is very applicable to mobile phone apps which can work entirely offline — its not really very applicable to today’s web-site structure although it is possible to design website’s to work offline too.
I also think Digital Publishing in the developing world will be very different — it must be hugely democratised and also publishing needs to be from the mobile phone and not the PC. Content also needs to work on all Phones — this is hard to do with Apps — this is the reason why we’ll see the rise of publishing platforms for mobile — this is what I am working on. It’s exciting times, the Internet is going to double in size but needs to work very differently to today’s internet to keep costs down and still be usable.