Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

Babelgum & Channel 4 Team for Episodic Doc Prequel

July 13, 2010


Babelgum has entered into a co-production deal with Native Voice Films that sees the web platform working alongside traditional media partners to support the release of the documentary featureThe Bengali Detective.

The new project is a co-production between Babelgum, the Channel 4 British Documentary Foundation, DR2 Denmark, Commonwealth Broadcasting Trust and Salty Sea Music. Further production and broadcast deals are being confirmed.

Babelgum is to broadcast, starting today, specially commissioned prequel episodes for the film. The exclusive customized episodes will roll out on a weekly basis. These mini-documentary episodes will then be used to virally promote the feature film festival appearances and theatrical release of The Bengali Detective in 2011.

The feature-length documentary centers on the day-to-day investigations of Rajesh Ji. He is a dance-obsessed gumshoe with a motley band of helpers who look to expose the secrets, fears and covert lives of today’s middle-class Indian society. The accompanying doc series takes a look at modern India and highlights the real-world characters investigating cases in Calcutta.

“This deal is a crystallization of what we have been working towards at Babelgum’s film division,” said Karol Martesko-Fenster, the senior VP and general manager of the film division at Babelgum. “A true 360-degree production approach that doesn’t just pay lip service to the online dimension—but rather where online and mobile are the driving factors, working with, not against, traditional media, to virally create interest in the project before it is released on traditional platforms. Bearing in mind the ever-fragmenting nature of the media landscape and the need to target audiences across all platforms, it is the kind of approach that filmmakers will increasingly be adopting. We are excited to be working with Native Voice Films on this fantastic project.”

Phil Cox, director for Native Voice Films, added, “At Native Voice Films, we’ve always strived to make films built on strong storytelling that challenge our audience’s view of the world, while at the same time revealing the essential humanity of our subjects. We’re especially excited to be working with our co-producing partners at Babelgum on the premiere of The Bengali Detective. Together we’ve crafted a fresh, compelling approach to distributing the film, first as an episodic prequel and then as a full-fledged theatrical feature, harnessing their platforms to reach the widest global audience possible. It truly will be a landmark event and hopefully a guidepost for other independent filmmakers.”

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YouTube envisions future of television viewing

April 23, 2010


It is just five years since the first video was uploaded on YouTube by one of its founders. Now over 24 hours of video a minute are uploaded to the site and it receives over a billion views a day. YouTube has its sights set on turning a few minutes a day watching videos on the web to something more like the hours a day we generally spend watching television. That vision could become a reality once televisions are routinely connected to the internet.

“People think about the world of TV and the world of online video as being different ways to distribute video,” said Chad Hurley, the co-founder of YouTube, in an interview with the Telegraph newspaper. “But what happens when every TV is connected to wi-fi with a browser?”

“That is what we envision. Instead of this world of online video and this world of TV there is just one world,” he said. “There won’t be a difference in the future.”

“The iPad — is that a phone or a computer?” he questioned. “If I put it on my wall is it a TV? People continue to try to throw things in the buckets when really these are all going to be different-sized devices with a connection to the internet.”

As on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, YouTube has a dedicated application on the iPad. With its nearly ten-inch screen, viewing YouTube on the iPad feels like much more of a natural multimedia experience than on a laptop or desktop computer.

YouTube is already available through widgets or applications on various internet-connected televisions and an increasing number of televisions will be network connected in the next few years.

According to the co-founder of YouTube, the aim is now to deliver a more seamless experience across different devices. “We have some solutions for mobile, we have some solutions for TV, but they are not very consistent and they are somewhat separate. So, I start watching something on my mobile phone and then I can finish watching it on my PC, I sort my favourites on my PC and I want to watch it on my TV.”

Within the next five years, YouTube expects to see much more video viewed over the internet. “Although YouTube is the most successful video platform, the number of minutes watched, 10-15 minutes a day, is small when compared to the five hours watched on the TV set,” said Salar Kamangar, vice president of product management for YouTube. “It’s hard for me to imagine that in five to 10 years from now most of the content we consume won’t be delivered over the internet.”

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Now Newspapers Can Count Their Mobile Audiences, Too

April 23, 2010


One of the world’s leading newspaper auditors has added mobile phones to the list of mediums that it tracks, providing validation to the wireless industry, while also potentially giving publications a shot of new readers as traditional print audiences decline.

To do so, the interactive unit of the Audit Bureau of Circulations has partnered with Verve Wireless, which works with more than 600 newspaper publishers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Together, the two will be able to audit mobile applications, mobile browsers and even e-readers, like the iPad. Although the service will be limited to Verve’s clients, it marks the first official time the ABC (NYSE: DIS) has tracked mobile usage.

The audience size is not trivial. Verve said more than nine million readers accessed news from mobile devices using its publishing platform in March, jumping 243 percent compared to the prior year. In 2010, it expects to serve more than 2.2 billion mobile news pages. Separately, ABC said it found in a survey of member publications, that more than 80 percent said consumers would rely more heavily on mobile devices as a primary information source over the next three years.

A spokesperson for ABC said up until now it has not been tracking mobile, but some papers have been able to extract data from companies like Omniture (NSDQ: OMTR).

“With all the buzz around the iPad and with use of mobile browsers exploding, newspapers and their advertisers are increasingly interested in seeing mobile metrics detailed in ABC reports,” said Michael Lavery, ABC president and managing director, in a release.

The FT embraces Foursquare, and introduces day passes

April 13, 2010


If you’re already compulsively playing Foursquare and find yourself notching up points at, say, LSE, you’re in for a treat. The Financial Times new deal with a handful of leading business schools is the first major deal for the location service Foursqure in the UK, and demonstrates both the kind of marketing campaigns we will be seeing much more of, and how mainstream casual gaming has become.

The FT has done a deal with Foursquare

Foursquare users at the cafes in Cass, LSE, London Business School, Harvard and Columbia will be able to earn secret codes that will give them access to premium subscriptions for More venues will be added as the campaign continues.

For Foursquare, this is an opportunity to promote itself to a wealthy and entrepreneurially minded userbase, while the FT gets a very fashionable marketing campaign. “We’re conscious we need to engage with readers in different ways,” said Rob Grimshaw, the FT’s head of digital operations. This is just one of a range of initiatives that are pushing the FT brand in social media spaces in ways that allow a different relationship with us, and there and tangible results.”

As I wrote last week, there is considerable potential in ‘funware’ for the news and publishing industries, and in incentivising a loyal community through a competitive points and rewards system where editorially appropriate. Grimshaw said that Twitter and Facebook are important tools in bringing people to the FT site, and though Foursquare is unproven as yet it is important to engage and experiment. As for the FT’s own in-house developers, Grimshaw wouldn’t give absolute figures but said no organisation trying to reshape its business for the digital age could ever have enough. “You could double the developer resource and still not have enough.”

Of late, the FT has found itself at the centre of a seemingly climactic discussion about the success, or not, of paywall systems. It has had some credit for its own strategy of a paid web subscription, but one that allows casual users access to ten articles each month, and overall counted 126,000 paying subscribers at the end of the financial year. The next push is with a daily pass, and plans for a carnet of day passes. This mirrors the newspaper itself, said Grimshaw.

“We accept that there are those people committed enough to subscribe annually, and a group that love the content but don’t want to commit to an annual subscription, and there’s a similar distinction online. Just offering an annual subscription is not enough. so there’s potential there.”

And how much potential is in the iPad? “The publishing industry is always looking to fix on the next saviour and there’s a lot of hype. But the pragmatic view is this is a new product and, for the next 12 months there won’t be enough people with one to make the community significant. At day one, this is about experimenting and playing with the channel, and while that might be important it is not central to our business.”

Grimshaw said it raises questions over the extent to which it competes with the phone and with ereaders as a content platform, and suggested the answer might be in how consumers treat the device. “I think users will like the experience and the evolution,” he said.

As ever, when the advertising market slumps, subscription looks like a great idea, and for the FT the paid-access strategy is reinforced by a wealthy and specialist audience base. But other publications, too, have to explore paid access in this climate. Grimshaw quoted recent IAB figures that put search ads at 60% of the UK online ad market, while display accounts for 20%.

“When you think about the different companies trying to float operations from that 20%… social media outfits, traditional publishers, portals, specialists and ad networks – it’s just not big enough to float everyone’s ambitions.

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MobiTV Launches on the iPhone

April 13, 2010


Mobile video firm MobiTV has launched a new application on Apple’s iPhone that will allow viewers to watch live and on-demand programming from TV programmers such as ABC and NBC. The application download is free, but you have to be a subscriber to the MobiTV service to watch premium content on the app, which includes eight live channels and 30 channels of full-length on-demand TV content.

Users can sign up for the MobiTV service and pay directly within the app. MobiTV’s service is available in packages of one, three or six months, with plans costing $9.99 a month, $24.99 for three months, or $44.99 for six months. iPhone users that want to download the MobiTV app can do so by clicking here.

see mobiTV video

Free content available on the iPhone app includes breaking news from ABC News Now, as well as on-demand content from NBC News, NBC Sports, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon. Premium content, which is available to MobiTV subscribers, includes live programming from ESPN Mobile TV, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC and Fox business, as well as full-length on-demand episodes from MTV, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, NBC, VH1, ABC Mobile, Nickelodeon, SyFy, USA Mobile, CBS and more.

The launch of an iPhone app makes perfect sense for the firm, which has been serving up live and on-demand video through its own service for the last several years, but has been operating a side business of building smartphone apps for partners like the NBA. With today’s announcement, the service will become available on the iPhone for the first time, which opens up a large new base of potential subscribers.

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Video Could Drive A 40-Fold Spike In Mobile Data Over Next Five Years

March 31, 2010


A UK consultancy is predicting that tiered pricing plans for mobile internet are inevitable, given the dramatic rate at which mobile data—and especially video—is expected to rise in the near future.

By 2015, U.S. mobile consumers are expected to consume 327 petabytes of mobile data a month, rising at a compound annual growth rate of more than 117 percent, according to Coda Research Consultancy, which released the 87-page report today. As Mobile Crunch points out that represents a 40-fold increase in data consumption over five years.

At the core of this massive growth is mobile video, which Coda predicted will rise even faster. In 2015, video will consist of 224 petabytes of data a month, representing a compound annual growth rate of 138 percent.

One of the biggest topics at this year’s CTIA was how to keep up with consumers’ increasing mobile appetite. Whether this particular forecast turns out to be right, most carriers are looking at obtaining more spectrum and rolling out 4G to handle the curve. Steve Smith, co-founder of Coda, said carriers will cope by offering different rate plans for different levels of consumption. In a release, he said: “Flat-rate pricing has helped drive mobile internet adoption, but we envisage that as smartphone penetration rises and as carriers roll out 4G, carriers will have to move toward tiered pricing.”

Coda said that peak capacity is not as much the main concern as general capacity—which makes it even more scarier because that means the networks could be tapped out all the time, not just at big events, like a conference or baseball game. “As carrier networks now stand, network utilization will reach 100 percent in 2012 during peak times,” Coda said. At that same time, smartphone penetration will reach 40 percent in the U.S.

Other findings:
—the number of people accessing social networks from their phones is supposed to rise 21 percent annually between now and 2015.
—the number of mobile video users will rise by 34 percent annually to reach 95 million in 2015.
—non-SMS data revenues will climb at 17 percent annually, and will form 87 percent of all data revenues in 2015.

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IPTV World Forum embraces hybrid future

March 30, 2010


The sixth annual IPTV World Forum in London showed signs that the market is maturing and the scope of internet protocol television services is expanding. IPTV is no longer synonymous with the ambitions of telecommunications providers to deliver telco television. There are now around 33 million subscribers to IPTV services, up from around 20 million a year ago, but that still represents only 10% of broadband homes, 5% of the multichannel market and less than 2% of television homes worldwide. As this convention demonstrated, more significant growth may come from hybrid broadcast and broadband network connected devices and displays. 

The conference talk has largely moved on from discussions about how to deliver video over data networks to how to differentiate the resulting services from traditional television operators. 

Operators like AT&T and Verizon are now showing sophisticated services that deliver on the promise of teleco television and giving the entrenched cable companies a run for their money. 

Cable companies are ultimately able to migrate all their services to internet protocols. There is plenty of bandwidth in their existing hybrid fibre coaxial infrastructure to deliver very high-speed internet protocol services. Some of the established cable companies appear characteristically conservative and reluctant to replace set-top boxes and face the future while they can continue to extract revenues from their existing plant. 

The most significant development may be the emergence of hybrid broadcast and broadband services that combine the benefits of efficient distribution of traditional channels over conventional satellite, terrestrial and cable networks with video on demand services delivered over internet protocols. 

It is also becoming clear that given the bandwidth, open networks are quite capable of delivering high quality video over the internet on a best efforts basis. That means there are opportunities for consumer electronics companies to create connected television propositions. 

On the exhibition floor most vendors were reporting high levels of interest but it still feels like a sideshow to the main broadcast conventions like NAB. Nevertheless, the concentration on internet protocol networks means that this event is now a firm fixture in the convention calendar. 

Cisco was among those pushing the line that telcos need to become media companies, moving from being network service providers to experience providers. Generally, however, technology providers seem to have very little appreciation of the world of entertainment. 

NDS was showing Oona, a conceptual user interface that incorporates social networking features. 

Ericcson had a concept remote control that includes a touch screen for exploring and previewing programming. That could be a strong selling proposition for operators, but what is really needed are standards to allow users to control their television experience from any device, from an iPad to their mobile phone. 

An awards dinner recognised the achievements of the last year, which extended beyond the usual suspects. 

Award winners 

PCCW received the award for most innovative new service with its eye2 device, a wireless touchscreen table providing television and multimedia services, as well as video and voice calling. 

China Telecom was recognised for best subscriber growth, reflecting a 275% increase in subscribers to reach 750,000 users at the end of 2009. 

The best interactive television service or application went to ADB for the ‘n’ service in Poland. 

Amino received the best consumer device award for its Freedom hybrid digital terrestrial television and internet media centre. 

The best quality improvement solution award went to Witbe for its quality of experience measurement system, deployed with a number of operators, including Deutsche
Telekom, KPN, Orange, Singtel, Telefonica and Vodafone. 

Echostar Europe received the award for best hybrid broadcast and internet protocol video solution with its Slingloaded hybrid digital video recorder. 

The best on-demand technology award went to Ericsson for its WatchPoint content management system. 

Netgem, with its NetgemTV hybrid IPTV middleware, combining broadcast and broadband delivered media, was recognised as the best IPTV service delivery platform. 

The best internet television technology award went to Cisco for its content delivery system, allowing service providers to support video on both set-top boxes and internet streaming. 

First Media picked up the award for best client software for its client resident m-QM video monitoring system. 

Raoul Roverato received the special merit for outstanding industry contribution for his work at Orange.

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Up Is Down: FT Free On iPad, Guardian Monthly Mobile Charge?

March 29, 2010


Suddenly, everything is new again. Underlining uncertainty and lack of consensus regarding mobile-device monetisation strategy, two newspapers are trying ideas contrary to those for which they’re known…

“The FT iPad app will be sponsored at launch by Hublot, the watchmaker, subsidising a two-month free access period,” reports the paper itself – a far cry from its usual, and growing, subscription-only option. Even on iPad’s little brother, iPhone, viewing in-app articles requires the same web subscription.

Meanwhile, if you thought a one-off mobile fee was the farthest The Guardian would stray from its reluctance toward charging on the web, see what an unnamed “senior executive” tells the FT about seeking more charges: “We’ll enhance the app, and then the whole aim will be to get that on monthly subscription because it has been amazingly successful and . . . a fantastic experiment.”

The Guardian’s iPhone app has been well received, clocking 101,457 downloads between its launch on December 14, 2009, and February 21, 2010. But many observers have raised an eyebrow that the initial, one-off £2.39 cost gives users unlimited free news from then on, potentially undercutting other chargeable products like the paper.

Clearly, publishers are bullish about the ability to charge on mobile devices. Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson says his mag’s iPad app is an opportunity to “reset the economics”. What that means – mobile apps, as a new technology, have no pre-existing culture of only-free content consumption, as the web does, offering an opportunity to charge from the start this time. Indeed, the more an app begins to resemble the paper original (after all, tablets are kinda newspaper-sized), the more it seems rude not to charge.

With the FT, we’re likely only witnessing a toe being dipped in the water, as the paper rides the wave of advertisers happy to get in on iPad’s ground floor.

Update: FT tells us: “There will be an initial free use period sponsored by Hublot and then after that we will revert to the same model as the iPhone app – free to download but integration with the access model so you have 10 free articles and then you have to pay a subscription.

“It allows us to determine pricing and retain the direct relationship with the customer. It has worked well for the iPhone app and we hope this demand and momentum will be carried on over into the iPad.”

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4 Ways Non-Profits Can Use Google Buzz

March 21, 2010


Geoff Livingston co-founded Zoetica to focus on cause-related work, and released an award-winning book on new media Now is Gone in 2007.

Despite some initial flaws, Google BuzzGoogle Buzz continues to show promise as a social marketing platform. It has a significant (though somewhat latent) user base, with an increasing number of loyalists who swear by it.

When a green field lies before you, so does opportunity. Some non-profits stand to gain from being part of the early Buzz adopter community. Whether a cause needs to further the dialogue with a tech-savvy crowd, or is attracted to the functionality of GmailGmail integration, Buzz does bring some new capabilities to bear.

Here are four great uses for Buzz in cause-based activity.

1. Manage Public Conversations Better

A useful feature of Google Buzz is its public threaded conversation stream. This format has significant advantages over TwitterTwitter’s disjointed @reply conversations and hashtag-based threads, as well asFacebookFacebook’s often high privacy walls.

“We’ve been looking at using Buzz to have public conversations about Mothers Fighting for Others‘ work with an orphanage in Kenya,” said Jeff Turner, President of Zeek Interactive. “We want to be able to facilitate a consistent thread of conversation, but we want it to be more public and open than Facebook or [Google] Wave would allow. With Buzz, we feel like we can maintain a clear stream of thought around a topic, and at the same time, do it in a public forum where someone we might not be able to envision being interested could join in.”

2. E-mail Integration Means Better Workflow

Gmail Buzz ImageNon-profits could use Buzz to manage workflow across a group. This can be useful for an organization with project teams spread across multiple offices or in the field. With e-mail integration, it saves the organization from having to set up a separate account with another private conversation tool likeBasecampBasecamp.

“An example would be to set up Buzz as a private group for a project team, large or small,” said Shireen Mitchell, a Washington D.C.-based digital activist. “Twitter updates, blog posts, and other related content that has an RSS feed can be connected to individual [Buzz] accounts tracking topics related to the project. The team can make comments and select “like” to provide a consensus of interest on each update. This would keep the team updated on news, topics and content for any existing issue-driven social media campaign of the organization. [It’s] sort of a mini crowdsourcing of the team.”

3. Finally Connect to “Unsocial” Users

Another interesting aspect of Buzz’s workflow and e-mail integration is the use of a system that blends 2.0 functionality with a 1.0 system. Non-profit managers can use this to intelligently blend workforce conversations between younger and older, or tech-savvy and entrenched members of their teams. Crossing the streams may enable better communications.

“Google Buzz allows users to publish private streams to specific contact groups,” said John Haydon, a non-profit social media strategist. “This is a perfect way to include staff members who don’t use social media in important real-time conversations, especially during news-worthy events like the earthquake in Haiti.”

4. Geo-Location Adds a New Element

Location Map Image

When Google launches a social network, it brings more to bear than your average start-up. Consider the ability to integrate geo-location with Google MapsGoogle Maps into your social network activity. People can see social activity on the fly.

“Fast forward to a cause marketing campaign like Starbucks’ partnership with Product RED,” said Joe Waters, author of the Selfish Giving blog. “Buzzing about the latest campaign to a really large audience with geo-location features [enabled] lets people see in real-time all the people [talking] about the campaign in their area — especially in densely packed areas in New York where [Starbucks] are practically right across the street from each other.

“In short, Buzz can potentially broadcast a cause marketing campaign to a much larger audience than say Twitter. And the geo-location feature, if it takes off, can give a program a real-time, tangible quality that can’t be replicated on another [social media] platform.”

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March 21, 2010

by Peter Katz and Jessica Richman


MovieblogRemember the choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) books?  Those old childhood standbys are being recycled in the form of audience participation in movies, theatres, and online. Does she or doesn’t she? You get to decide…

In movies, CYOA has taken several forms. In 2006, Lean Forward Media, a company started by two Harvard Business School grads, created The Abominable Snowman, a CYOA-based DVD designed for children. In 2008, SilkTricky created the online movie Survive the Outbreak, a zombie flick that lets you CYOA. (A heist movie – Bank Run – is in the works.) Survive the Outbreak has a total of 21 scenes, with 10 total decision points: six options lead to death, and two lead to survival. (h/  More recently, creators have linked YouTube videos based on user clicks, a kind of DIY CYOA (examples). And just a couple of weeks ago? The web series Spade.

Some obstacles to uptake of this new format are familiar: audience familiarity with the medium, new ways of thinking by designers and filmmakers, technical issues with managing clicks. Moreover, these experiments raise some interesting artistic questions: what is the ideal ratio of decision points to scenes? Where should those decision points be placed? Does it differ for adults vs. children? One terrific feature of new media is that its easy to gather data to learn more about what works best – but it also means that there is still a lot of experimentation is left to do.

From a business perspective, the question, as always, is monetization. SilkTricky solves this problem by simultaneously formatting the online movies as iPhone games (which I couldn’t find in the online store for some reason); Lean Forward Media is selling children’s DVDs to parents (but they haven’t produced a movie since 2006, so I’m not sure how well that’s going). An interview with Lynn Lund of SilkTricky noted that they spent $35k on their movie, not including pre- or post-production, which they did themselves. These movies are not cheap.

But audiences really seem to like them. Web reviews of Survive the Outbreak were quite positive, with many lamenting only that the movie wasn’t longer (and some that the acting was bad – but that’s not exactly new for a zombie flick). That’s another possible problem with these new technique – they must stand on their own as movies and cannot rely on exclusively on a gimmick. So a filmmaker has to make 21 scenes to get to 8 endings, instead of (if we assume a similar ratio) three scenes to get to one. Making more scenes is more expensive, and demand will have to justify that cost.

What hasn’t been done on a wide scale are CYOA movies in movie theatres. CYOA has been used in live theatre productions (for example, the 2007 run of Intimate Exchanges, reviewed in the NYT) and in screenings at SXSW (The Weathered Underground, 2010). The question, though, is whether this technique could be used to bring people back to the theatres from their Netflix and their online gaming. And no one has yet put up the money to resolve that question. If audiences like it (as they seem to so far, at least on their own computer screens), this could lead to greater participation and engagement and perhaps a boost to the theatre-going experience.

There’s a reason why we all remember the CYOA books – they’re lots of fun. The next few years will undoubtedly see more attempts to transfer that sense of power and enjoyment to the big screen.

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