At our most recent MEX conference we ran an extremely lively session entitled ‘Community convergence’, examining the creation, support and opportunities presented by virtual and existing communities in the mobile environment. The session built on a previous MEX article of the same title.
The debate was chaired by Marek Pawlowski, with a keynote from Frederick Ghahramani, Director and co-founder of AirG, a pioneer of mobile communities. Expert panellists included Mike Beeston, Managing Director, Fjord; Alexis Michaelides, Director and co-founder, UKStreetsounds.com; Gunnar Larsen, Director, EMEA, Real Networks and Jane Vincent, Visiting Fellow, Digital World Research Centre, University of Surrey.
The following is extracted from our 32 page report on the MEX conference, which includes complete coverage of all the event’s sessions as well as access to the presentations. The report is available for purchase for GBP 395 + VAT at http://www.pmn.co.uk/mex/report.shtml.
What is a community?
It allows the building of connections between people beyond use of the application itself. There are (at least) four building blocks. Every community has these and the combination of them creates a multiplier effect.
The difference between services depends on which of the blocks (presence vs identity vs interaction) each service concentrates on. Over time, applications tend to depend on one block and combine others later.
These elements already exist in the form of Blogger, ICQ, MSN, AOL Compuserve. MySpace is a good example that includes all building blocks. MySpace is successful and addictive because of the multiplier effect as each block enhances the others.
The challenge is how to combine all building blocks on the small mobile screen size.
Can a ‘consolidation play’ occur in the mobile space? Will mobile consolidation lead to the multiplier effect? How will consumers react?
Startups are currently creating the separate blocks. We need UI innovation to allow them to come together into one service. AirG’s experiences show that users exhibit greater takeup and have greater session lengths with community-based embedded applications.
User generated content has advantages over conventional (spoon fed) content delivery. When content hasn’t been screened it can be more exciting and immediate.
One risk for network operators is that consumers have not (yet) dis-associated content with the network operator. Copyright, IP infringements, privacy issues all become issues for the network operator. However, these risks are not new and already exist for existing media companies.
Adult verification is starting to be implemented by mobile operators. Signup is currently troublesome. Other operators are ignoring user generated content altogether in order to avoid the issues. Community moderation may provide one solution. Pragmatic approaches may allow third party providers and existing online communities move to mobile faster than some mobile operators.
Points from the panel/discussion…
Extracted from our 32 page report on the MEX conference, which includes complete coverage of all the event’s sessions as well as access to the presentations. The report is available for purchase for GBP 395 + VAT at http://www.pmn.co.uk/mex/report.shtml.