2008 Predictions 7, 8 and 9 and 10

I realise that I scarpered off to enjoy the holiday season, while leaving you on tenterhooks about my final 2008 predictions. So here goes:

Prediction 7 – Mobile Video Take Off

I’m not suggesting that Mobile TV will happen this year (far from it) or that we’ll be watching full length movies on our phones. But increasingly we’ll see users sushi-snacking on video content, as opposed to watching Turkey and all-the-trimmings. Think YouTube on phones, as opposed to whole movies.

Obviously, the big proviso here is that this’ll happen only when the user is assured that the data costs will be reasonable and that they won’t have a huge bill at the end of the month from their nice, cuddly, if sometimes rapacious operator. “Let them have all the data they can eat and set the mobile web free” is our rallying cry.

In markets like the UK, nearly 70% of phones can download video clips nowadays (AdMob stats) and not only is this going increase, but higher download speeds make it an endurable user experience.

So watch micro-video on mobile start to boom this year.

Prediction 8 – Mobile as Digital Mouse

It’s still early days for this trend and I’ve been writing about for 4 years (or so) now. But I think we’re starting to see the real beginnings of serious traction. So, 2008 will see the green shoots of mobile-as-mouse poke their way slowly out of the earth of mobile. Oh dear, I must work harder on these metaphors in 2008 too.

What I’m talking about here, if you’re not from around these parts, is using the mobile in the analogue world, as a bridge into the digital world. Ultimately, this will enrich the analogue world immensely, but in the short term, it’ll mean doing stuff like pointing your phone at a promotional film poster and getting a ringtone or interacting with a car poster to find your nearest dealer. A good example is here that I wrote about last year.

We’ll increasingly see use-cases like this being launched next year, with the trigger mechanism ranging from photos, to SMS and Bluetooth – Bluetooth PULL campaigns are great in my opinion, it’s the PUSH ones (Bluespam) that I have a problem with.

Ultimately, I believe we’ll see a Wikipedia style facility embedded in our mobiles that’ll allow us to point and click on anything in the analogue world and get more information about the object. Think peer-based restaurant reviews and the ability to identify wildlife as you come across it. And many other examples we don’t know about yet.

Prediction 9 – Battle Over MoSoSo

One of the big battles in the year ahead is going to be between the giant social networking sites of the PC world (Facebook, MySpace etc) as they seek to “go mobile” and the incumbents who are already established and dominant in the mobile space, such as Peperonity and Itsmy.

Conventional wisdom would have to favour the PC boys. They have far, far more users to leverage and far greater resources, but then, haven’t we seen this before? I mean, who would have bet against the established media and retail giants back in the mid-1990’s, as they observed online emerging as a channel and the new kids like Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon and Google struggling to find their feet.

You could argue that mobile is much more similar to the PC environment than old media was to new media. But there are still key differences – albeit more subtle – that I believe will give the Mobilists the edge. I’d certainly seen nothing from the digital old guard yet that make me think that they’ll find the battle quite as easy as perhaps they think.

Prediction 10 – A Tricky Year for Podcasting

I believe that one day, Podcasting will be a fundamental and incredibly popular feature on mobiles.

But several things need to happen first:

– A cheap and easy way needs to emerge for users to get content onto their phones – stand-alone MP3 players are just not mass market enough. This doesn’t necessaily need to be Over The Air – side loading is “good enough” in the short-term, but it does need to be easy.

– More phones need to be available with sufficient storage space – or better technologies need to be available for storing on the network, as opposed to on the device and streaming them on-demand.

– Awareness of this great new and hugely complementary medium to mobile needs to increase dramatically outside the geek community. Despite the BBC in the UK making mainstream programming available, as an example, I’d suggest that it’s still very much a dark art of most ordinary people.

– A scalable business model model needs to emerge. Sure, some podcasting carries some ads, but the advertiser proposition is weak in terms of reach and muddy in terms of standards, measurability and metrics. Just as AdMob emerged to create a business model for mobile websites (perhaps a self-indulgent view, but on balance, a defendable one) something similar needs to happen for Podcasts. Before you rush out and do a startup that does this, just consider the first 3 issues above – timing is all and I’m not sure that the timing is right yet.

The challenge to the existing players will be to stay in the game until the time is ripe for the explosion. But it won’t be 2008 I fear.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed all Carlo’s and my Predictions this year. Let us know if you have some of your own by leaving a comment or linking from your own blog.

Have a great 2008!

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