News

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

New world; old world

You might need to be patient with this post, it is going somewhere but I am not sure where yet.

We often reflect on how striking it was how the internet shook the old publishing world to its core and how a number of older organisation failed to react to the change in media distribution. A number like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, BBC moved with the times and retained their leadership in terms of readership in this new media space but a larger number simply did not move fast enough and have never recovered.

A second shift, the so-called Web 2.0 is moving through the internet and challenging these brands again to become more collaborative and interactive with their readers rather than just a broadcast medium. This will filter out still more of the old giants and is already adding to the list of 'new' players to emerge (you know who they are!).

A third wave is coming and this time it is mobile. How many will evolve with the times and retain their leadership and how many will fall by the wayside is still to be determined but I have been fascinated by some of the recent M:Metrics data about readership patterns on mobile which suggests that a fundamental shift is already taking place which relegates some of the established brands to the second tier.

Looking at May 2008 data for M:Metrics it is fascinating to see that the leading news provider through mobile is not CNN, ESPN, NYT, USA Today, ABC, CBS or Fox.

It is actually Yahoo! followed closely by Google.

One could argue that the latter are powered by the older brands but the end user associates his news reading experience with Google and Yahoo! CNN and ESPN are the only two older brands that come close.

This was a surprise to me. Google and Yahoo! are already the leading news brands in the mobile space. The older players have been pushed aside - this is already the past tense. Is this common knowledge and we've been asleep?

The situation in the UK is not as clear cut by any stretch and according to some customers, it is the operator that provides the news rather than any of the established players. Leadership remains with the BBC followed by Sky but Google's growth (in particular) is impressive.

So, in the mobile space, we are likely to have a number of emerging brands break into the space (*fingers crossed*) and just as surely we will see some household names begin to disappear and indeed this leadership has already changed hands to newer players in a key content market.

We were led into thinking about this in a little more detail while considering how to help extend and expand the titles available within Mippin. We were looking at the magazine publishers in particular across a wide range of genres. These are very well known brands which could find an audience in the mobile space. It is impressive how many of them are still to develop meaningful web presence and still more yet to embrace RSS.

We use RSS as the neatest and tidiest way to deliver content formatted to your device, whatever it happens to be and yet we are often thwarted by publishers who make it illegal to deliver that content to you (Guardian), others that simply do not have an RSS feed (Maxim) and a number that divulge only very limited information through that feed (ESPN).

This will change. We believe that for publishers to compete they need to deliver to all three mega-trends by (i) having a meaningful web experience (ii) collaborating with their readership and finding ways for the readership to connect with one another and (iii) by having a decent mobile presence.

We hope that a large number of brands begin to mirror the forward thinkers: the independent bloggers, the blogging aggregators such as Shiny Media but also large brands like Reuters all of whom syndicate aggressively through RSS to grow their web presence both on PC and (using the Mippin Maker to) mobile as well as increasing interaction around their content. At the moment, using the 80:20 rule, the magazine publishers will not survive this next new media cycle if they continue to define themselves as magazine publishers.

Research last year stated that two-thirds of all publishers were syndicating through RSS. This is a great start - now more of them should do so with more confidence, enriching those feeds with more content and content types (such as video and audio). If the content is good, customer loyalty can still be built this way and arguably more strongly and across a far larger footprint than has previously been possible.

If we are missing a site on Mippin that you love, drop us a line through the feedback link at the bottom of every page or simply type the URL into the search box. If there is a feed attached to that URL let Mippin work its magic.

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Monday, 28 July 2008

An alternative view of the blog


Here is a bit of fun - this is Wordle's view of the Mippin blog - it's a fun tool. Not worked out what you can really use it for yet though!

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Friday, 25 July 2008

Inspiring Stuff

Take a look at this channel on YouTube - it is a page created by DJ Vibe. I love the way that he manages a number of new media touchpoints. On this page he gives you details on where to find him on the web, mobile, in iTunes, facebook and myspace.

(That someone this in tune with new media doesn't have a twitter channel signals to me that Twitter is as yet a little rutted in the mobile and tech industry space).

His Mippin page is awesome - created from a feed which contains video - it's a fantastic example of how to get the most out of Mippin (and the Mippin Maker) and how to promote it cost effectively too.

BTW If there is a YouTube channel you like, type the URL into Mippin to create a mobile version of it and bookmark it for later use or save it to your favourites.

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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Admob Metrics

The latest monthly data dump from AdMob is available. Follow the link.

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Thursday, 17 July 2008

High praise

The MippinMaker is getting some attention recently which is fascinating because we are just relying on word of mouth aside from the odd more end-user focused press release.

We always take a look at the new titles coming in and it is really rewarding to see the breadth of interests represented.

This one though is a bit special (mobile friendly link if you can see it to click).

This blog appears to be maintained for the Pope - and if you click the link you'll see the Make it Mobile button from Mippin on the site means that His Holiness can connect with over 4bn people worldwide through their mobile phones.

Together with Barack Obama who this week began to follow Mippin through Twitter (!), we have even more incentive to deliver the best possible internet experience for your mobile device. Gulp!

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Monday, 14 July 2008

Carnival of the Mobilists #132

Welcome to the Carnival of the Mobilists #132.

For those of you new to the Carnival, it is a collection of the best writing on the mobile industry from the last week written and collated from a rotating set of volunteers. The only qualification to be host is to have written three previous carnival posts. All you need do to get involved is send your entry to mobilists@gmail.com. Please do.


This week has been a real pleasure to host with a number of thought provoking topics and surprisingly wide ranging - given the release of the 3G iPhone this week I expected an avalanche of Apple posts and little else.

Let’s kick off there though as Paul Ruppert at Mobile Messaging introduces us to the fascinating fact (well, estimate) that there are over 1m black market iPhones already in China and ponders its impact on China’s restrictive internet access security.

Igor Fateski at Mobscure also reports back on his first day with an iPhone – a day in which he used it actively and yet made no voice calls at all. It’s an interesting reflection on how it may shape our daily lives.

Also thinking about changing behaviour patterns, Ajit Joakar in his Open Gardens blog asks if we still cling to old forms of communication even though they are clumsier or even redundant now that the mobile web is becoming more prevalent.

Ajit wasn’t the only one pondering along this theme. A great post from Martin Sauter at WirelessMoves considers a number of use cases where communication has been transformed by mobile.

It was not that long ago that there was a stigma attached to using a mobile phone and it seemed to take some markets a long time to reach critical mass (UK, US and France for example), yet the impact of mobile technology can be far-reaching indeed. Take a look at this United Nations Foundation paper examining how mobile can be used to advance health care, particularly in the developing world.

This ties in with Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #223 on SmartMobs which describes the use of social networking in patient diagnosis and care.

Quite often these initiatives fall down on the capabilities of the networks and devices in those markets but All About Symbian asks us to take another look at what budget phones can do these days. It’s a brilliant post.

Dennis at the always excellent WAP Review shares his investigation and subsequent recommendation on how to provide access between web and mobile variants of the same site for different browsers. It’s important to ensure that the reader can get to where he wants to get to, not where you wish to lead him.

Also, considering design is Design for Mobile who are organising an interactive workshop in September. I am not sure of the protocol of including conference details in the Carnival but the request was politely made and it is an issue of increasing interest. So here you are.

Rudy de Waele includes a write-up of the recent Mobile 2.0 Europe Conference in Barcelona. A very well run event that brought together an interesting range of industry interests, allowing a broad series of discussions and introductions to a number of pre and post investment start-ups. Make a note in your diaries to be at the sister (or should than be father?) event in San Francisco on November 3rd.

One of the most talked about moments of the event was the operator panel session which was a little…. um…. animated, but perhaps the audience missed a trick by focusing on data plans and access rights – it seems as though we are all paying too much for our voice calls if you check out MobileSlate.

Starting to wrap-up, it is always worth alerting you to the writing of Peggy Anne Salz, though this post is not on her own M-Search Groove but rather over at Mobile Messaging 2.0, where she reflects on a number of recent conversations in which a number of services can help us be better prepared for our future interactions.

Mopocket asks an interesting question: why is it that often a service is overlooked until the moment Google launches it? In this example, Microsoft must be gnashing its teeth.

And finally, James at mjelly walks us through a number of mobile advertising networks which can be used by anyone in the off portal world to drive traffic to your site. This is a thorough list and we’d encourage you to feed back comments to the post both to add to the list but also add your reflections as to what works or not for you.


So, there we are. This week’s Carnival. It’s a tough call as always as to the Post of the Week but the warm glow of satisfaction goes to All About Symbian. Their post on budget phones offers great insight into how the developing world can continue to accelerate its mobile usage, compensating for the lack of fixed telephony or internet penetration.

You can find all the posts and all of the sites mentioned here in Mippin – add them to your favourites to keep track of them on a regular basis wherever you are.

Next week, the Carnival is over at Vision Mobile (who I remember wrote brilliantly on the symbian reshuffling recently). Please send your submissions to mobilists@gmail.com.

Happy reading!

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Friday, 11 July 2008

Publisher Power - Another Example

The Inquirer launched its mobile site through Mippin this week adding its own blend of news, reviews, facts and friction in the tech space to the Mippin universe.

The promotion is neat - a user can go directly to the site by typing http://m.theinquirer.net into the phone's browser and you'll be directed to the site. You'll find an example of the type of promotion The Inquirer has been doing here.

People can therefore find The Inquirer through the title itself or through people discovering it within Mippin. The Inquirer has complete control over the branding through the Mippin Maker from where it can also keep up to date with the latest usage reports and the usage is already being monetised through campaigns which are relevant to the overall demographic.

The benefit of their promotion is plain to see: the promotion drove around 2,000 people to the Mippin web site in the last two days and we have our eye on their success in driving interest through to their mobile page too which we'll review early next week.

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A thank you

It has been good to see such take up of our release in the US. It is an important market to us and one in which we have been making a lot of effort in both the back-end and in customer acquisition. We have been helped by some great word of mouth already and we hope that the coverage accelerates this for end users and publishers alike. Thanks to all that have contributed.

Josh Lowensohn wrote about us late last year and provided some thoughtful perspective on elements of the service we should work on. This was really useful (as was his recent rant on Digg's recommendation engine coming a few weeks ahead of our own recommendation beta) and his most recent article gives a thumbs up but again with some telling hints of things we need to be mindful of. Thanks Josh. Together with Andrew Lim in the UK, the CNET guys keep us honest.

Ernst-Jan Pfauth gave a positive though balanced review at The Next Web recognising the challenges of making a mobile advertising model happen but giving us a fair shot at succeeding based on the fact that we "have developed a really good product". Ernst-Jan tested it out on his "backward" Nokia phone and thought it allowed him to find and browse content easily. It is nice to find a journalist without an iPhone! And also good to see confirmation of our promise to try and deliver an "i-phone-like" experience to every device recognised - we support over 1,300 ofthe things!

Another journalist without an i-Phone and a self-confessed cynic of the current i-Phone hoopla is Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm. Stacey gave a good write-up and caught the main elements of the service really well. She also highlighted the need to generate broad scale for Mippin to succeed but it not yet ready to give us the benefit of the doubt that we might make it.

The team at VentureBeat have been kind with both a review and a mention (as we were still top of mind) in a follow up article about the mobile internet space which confirms the leadership of the US and UK in mobile internet usage. It also reports that the Moto RAZR is the top mobile internet device in the US (which confirms the reports we've published from time to time) but still makes me fall of my chair every time I am re-acquainted with it. Imagine how much internet the US will consume when they have a decent device in their hands!

We also picked up some UK coverage with the release. Mike Butcher gave a good update on TechCrunch with a thumbs up for news that Judy has joined us as CEO. He also updated the post reinforcing this point in response to a couple of downbeat comments regarding bringing on somebody so closely associated with our own investor. It is a little unorthodox we agree - but the best person for the job is the best person for the job wherever you find them. Mike's quote that 'Mobizines was a disaster of a idea' makes me bristle a little but you can't argue with the fact that we shut it down I guess. Thankfully the majority of the effort was translatable into Mippin.

Tim Green also gave a nod to Judy's arrival and even visited the palacial Mippin offices - which was appreciated. I think Tim can testify to the fact that we invest all our money in a better user experience, or at least, we must be as it does not go on the office furniture.

We were also thrilled with the user feedback received from Michael Connick. Michael is not a professional journalist but I caught an earlier article in his blog commenting on our original iPhone version. He liked it so I was a little nervous as to whether he would take to the re-vamp. I am glad our work paid off. We do actively keep an eye out for feedback on Mippin and read the (usually 100 or so) messages that we receive everyday so we can develop the best possible service.

Other thank you's:

Monica Alleven at Wireless Week
Robert Andrews at MocoNews and Paid Content
Andrew Grill at London Calling
Simon Brummelhuis at The Next Women

With things moving so quickly I am sure there will be more news shortly but thanks to all the positive feedback to date.

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Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Press Release: Mippin Update

Below is our most recent press release which has been issued this morning. It includes news of the hiring of Judy Gibbons as CEO, an update on our iPhone progress which frequent readers will have caught in previous posts, and a few numbers in response to recent requests on how things are going. We are really pleased with the momentum at this point. Of course, there is some way to go before these figures reach numbers which create the kind of business we aspire to but it has been a wonderful start. We'd like to thank all of you for your interest and for your constant, useful feedback on the service. It's always read, considered and acted upon. Keep it coming!



MIPPIN ANNOUNCES NEW CEO AND OPTIMIZES SERVICE FOR

3G IPHONE

Mippin audience grows to 10 million monthly page views across 146 countries


July 9, 2008 – London – Mippin, a free mobile media service that makes discovering, consuming, and sharing content on mobile phones easy, today announced that Judy Gibbons has joined the team as CEO. Judy has 25 years of technology experience at Microsoft, Apple Computer and Hewlett Packard and has twice been ranked as one of the top 20 most influential European business women by the Wall Street Journal Europe. Judy joins the two original Mippin founders – Scott Beaumont and Robin Jewsbury - and retains her role as a venture partner at the leading technology investment firm Accel Partners. Her previous positions include Corporate Vice President of MSN Global Sales & Marketing at Microsoft Corp, and board member of leading European mobile operator O2, prior to its acquisition by Telefonica.

Additionally, in advance of the new 3G phone launch Mippin has further enhanced its service for iPhone. The refined version benefits from even faster performance and a number of user interface improvements that make finding, discovering and sharing interesting content more intuitive and effective.

Mippin goes beyond the iPhone as well. Now, hundreds of thousands users are relying on Mippin to stay informed and entertained on the go. Mippin seamlessly brings together the broadest range of streamlined content for any mobile phone with a web browser. The website automatically remembers a user’s preferences and displays their favorite sites directly on the homepage where they can also see what is popular across the Mippin community. Whether you want to follow tech news, fashion updates or sports scores from big publishers or tiny blogs, Mippin combines all of this in a way that is faster, simpler and more enjoyable than any other mobile content option. Just type mippin.com into any browser on any phone to try out Mippin for yourself.

You can also take the Mippin ‘Pepsi’ challenge on the company’s blog which compares going directly to site URLs with reading the same content from Mippin. See http://blog.mippin.com.


Momentum

Judy joins Mippin (formerly Refresh Mobile) at a time of rapid growth. Since the launch of the service in October 2007 Mippin has:

  • built a worldwide audience that consumes over 10 million page views a month across 146 countries using 1,300 different devices

  • accumulated more than 12 million stories from 20,000+ web sites.... all perfectly formatted for any browser on any phone

  • enabled content owners – from branded media companies to specialist bloggers – to set up hundreds of new titles using Mippin Maker to brand their services, reach new users on mobile and monetize their content, for free

  • served over 20 million ads from partners including AdMob and Screentonic (Microsoft)

  • achieved an average clickthrough in excess of 3% with content contextual ads averaging 15%


Mippin is at the forefront of a growing number of users accessing the Internet from their mobile devices. According to M:Metrics, in April 2008, 30.2% of US cellphone users browsed the Internet, used an application, or downloaded content from their phones with the UK close behind at 28.4%.

For publishers

In just a few steps, any web publisher can create an enhanced, branded, mobile version of the website’s content using Mippin Maker. This increases syndication from RSS feeds without the extensive cost of developing separate mobile sites – yet gaining a site which is made for mobile. Publishers can then elect to insert advertising automatically into their feeds to create a new revenue stream. Publishers that have made use of the Mippin Maker most recently include Incisive Media (including Gizmodo, VNUNet), blog aggregator Shiny Media (including TechDigest, Shiny Shiny), established print brands such as OK! and T3, and hundreds of independent bloggers such as Mobhappy and FasterFuture. Publishers can find our more at www.mippinmaker.com.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Pepsi Challenge

Development continues apace at Mippin. There have been a number of refinements to the service just this week based on your feedback which we are really pleased with.

We have also improved search, both in the back-end so it is quicker and more accurate in bringing the most relevant of the 12 million plus items to the surface, but also in the presentation of those results which we hope you will like.

And, we have completed an overhaul of the iPhone version of Mippin. It is not that our first iteration wasn't up to standard, it is just that we knew we could do better. The new iPhone version is simpler, quicker and has a large number of small but important navigational tweaks that just make it a much lighter experience.

The video attached gives a demo of the new iPhone version and includes an overview of the main features. I like the "Pepsi Challenge" element within it which compares web browsing on any site with browsing the content within Mippin. It's quite impressive and provides a strong argument as to why Mippin adds value even to the most sophisticated of browsers and most advanced of users (as well as the other 1,300 devices we cover!).

We encourage all iPhone users to put it to the test!

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Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Publisher Power

I wrote previously about how engaged publishers can make the most of the mobile channel. We have a large number on Mippin who have very good product but really do not promote the service to the best of their ability. In the end it is their P&L which suffers as a result.

I noted the work undertaken by Computec in Germany in highlighting to users that a mobile variant was also available for those that required it but the new swot in the class is the South African publishing industry.

The South African publishers, largely introduced to the service by our excellent local partner Thumbtribe, have driven over 20,000 unique users to the service in the last 30 days. This is a mixture of TV, print, and industry brands who know that mobile can add to the connection that their audience has with their brand.

I know this figure is exaggerated in South Africa due to the lack of reliable internet connection but one needs to bear in mind the lower population of this country versus the giants of India and US and the sizeable UK.

South African publishers are generating four times the amount of their counterparts elsewhere in the world. That's some example to set to the rest as to what can be achieved. Mippin can do much to help drive people to the site but the most potent source will often be the publisher themselves.

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