Alfie Dennen On moblog:tech’s Latest Piece of Kit

mtech.jpgThe inimitable Alfie Dennen and his posse over at moblog:tech have proved their fleet-of-footness before, but they’ve got a new tech offering that makes it even easier for clients to install their own standalone moblog on their own site. moblog:tech’s best-known offering is the moblogUK site and community, and most of the work it’s done for private clients with its white-label platform has tried to leverage that community somewhat. But its latest client, Shiny Media, wanted a standalone solution, so moblog:tech created one, which is being used at the http://cityclickers.eu/ site, and for sites in the works with some other big clients.

Alfie was kind enough to answer some questions about moblog:tech for MobHappy and our readers, covering its latest news, its new offerings, and its search for funding.

MH: moblog:tech has run a number of promotional moblogs for brands, and offered its Participation Toolkit hosted white-label platform for a while now. What drove the development of this new, standalone piece of software?

AD: The client in this case was after a mobile blogging solution, but with some twists that took us in a new direction in what we tend to offer. Mostly our clients are interested in the technology behind the site for their promotional use, but also access to the moblog:UK community. In this case however, the client wanted both of those, as well as to have a real standalone feeling to the moblog install, so that the user experience was seamlessly contained at a separate URL. This was a bit of a challenge, and led us to develop a microsite mobile blogging solution which at once is standalone, also exists at moblog:UK and is promoted to our members. By using our platform in this way I think Shiny Media now have a micro-site capable of supporting a pan-European campaign at remarkably low cost and turnaround times. Because Shiny Media is a really large blog network, by extending their partnerships and promotion of this project into Europe they are, I think, uniting an ever more closely entwined Europe around the LG Viewty handset and one of its core features, a 5-megapixel camera.

What makes moblogging the ideal marketing platform for this campaign?

Darika Ahrens from Shiny Media answers this one by saying the moblog platform suits this project perfectly since it not only provides an opportunity to really work with the LG Viewty handset, which also has high-end camera capabilities, but it also allows the images to do the talking and overcome the challenges of providing content that works and has relevance across 5 different countries and languages.

Tell us a little bit about your new piece of technology.

For me, what’s so exciting about it is that it’s almost heading toward being a WordPress-alike for moblogging. Let’s say you want to set up a moblogging site for you and your readers, so it would be let’s say at www.mobhappy.com/moblog.

With our moblog microsite software, all of the interactions that take place at that url will be entirely self-contained. People can link to specific content, your content tags will all be relative to your URL, only very specific elements of your new moblog site will link back to or otherwise reference its host, moblog:UK. If you poke around at www.cityclickers.eu, you will experience a really standalone microsite that is open to anyone in the world. We are just about to implement this solution for a couple of high-profile clients, so it’s certainly a product that people want.

The thing is, and this relates to your above question as well, these sorts of products position moblog:tech as a sort of mobile blogging marketing services/software agency, which we don’t necessarily feel we are. Our white-label products have grown out of our work with and for the community at moblog:UK.

With that in mind, what led you to develop white-label solutions, instead of just the end-user-focused moblog:UK community?

Our white-label solutions have totally been driven by client need. It’s a strange one actually, as you know we’re a mobile blogging community site, and we’re really focused on making the site a great place for consumers to come and share their cameraphone pictures. As mobile blogging becomes more and more interesting and relevant for brands and business in a broad sense, there is a need for a more expandable solution, which we’re simply well placed to provide.

When we started working with clients, back in late 2004, mobile blogging was still fairly niche, so our clients were looking to test out the water and interact with a community of people doing it every day. Since then, the practice has taken root, and has become (at least in the UK) a completely practical thing to do. This is all down to the convergence of: flat-rate data, high-end handsets with a blogging facility as standard (Shozu pre-embedded, services like Trutap, Nokia’s Lifeblog etc), and real consumer interest. So for us, we’re of course interested in making mobile blogging products that both highlight and push the practice, as well as deliver a really useful service for our clients.

This moblog microsite product is great for a fast project turnaround and short term campaign, and then our Participation Toolkit allows clients to create fully featured moblogging communities of their own, like Channel 4’s Big Art Mob.

What’s next for moblog:tech?

Now there’s the rub. We’re currently seeking a first round of funding, so a lot of what we hope for the future is bundled with that. We believe that mobile blogging will truly come into its own for all the reasons that the convergence of service and consumer attitudes imply. We have great traction and history in moblogging, so we’re also really excited about what’s going to happen in 2008. We’re really focused on moblog:UK, and early in the new year we are moving over to a new codebase which we think is an order of magnitude leap in making mobile blogging more consumer friendly.

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