Monday, 21 April 2008

New ad tracking tool

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I found this story on the Mobile Europe website. Interesting stuff.

M:Metrics launches 'first' mobile advertising tracking services in the UK
M: Metrics has unveiled M:Ad, its competitive tracking service for mobile advertising, in the United Kingdom, claiming to reveal the first definitive metrics for measuring mobile advertising inventory. The measurement firm reports that online retail companies such as Electronic Arts, Glu and Ebay are placing the bulk of mobile ads, with the category comprising of 39 percent of all mobile ads tracked by M:Metrics.

"Early findings are encouraging, as they indicate that mobile is increasingly being incorporated into mainstream media buys," said Paul Goode, senior analyst, M:Metrics. "In January, M:Ad has tracked major brands across a range of industries, including Avis, BMW, Cadbury's, Citroen, EMAP and IBM, using mobile advertising."

The expansion to the M: Metrics product portfolio is said to come after the success of M:Ad in the United States, launched in November 2007. In January, M:Ad tracked 403 unique creative advertisements in the United Kingdom, in 91 campaigns representing 48 different companies. The ads were from a variety of different industries such as; advertising, automobile manufacturers, broadcasting and cable TV, Internet retail, movies and entertainment, casinos and gaming, food retail, home furnishings and computer hardware.

"Advertisers, media agency and media owners in the UK are calling out for greater clarity on who is advertising what, where and when. Today, M:Metrics can deliver this critical data to the market," said Goode. "In the United States, M:Ad has been warmly welcomed, and we are excited to bring our tracking expertise into the UK market to help grow mobile advertising expenditure."

With 16 percent of U.K. mobile subscribers accessing news and information via the mobile browser in December, advertisers' attention is turning towards banner advertising. M:Ad classifies mobile ads by company, division and product/service as well as by industry/sector. It also reveals when ads are being served to help identify seasonality and campaign rotation. There is no other method of monitoring the breadth of current inventory of mobile ads to inform advertising campaign strategies.

Using M:Metrics' proprietary data collection technologies and measurement science expertise, M:Ad provides a much-anticipated glimpse into the mobile advertising landscape. M:Ad continuously monitors clickable display advertising from a broad representative set of mobile Web destinations and classifies the data by industry, company and by product/service to reveal leading advertisers in and across market segments.

M:Ad is available today in the United Kingdom and will be rolled out to the major European markets throughout the year.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

What are the top 5 things to move the needle on mobile internet?

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datacharges on long haul flights?

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I don't have a view on this but would be interested to hear if i was to browse the mobile internet on a long haul flight, is it possible without taking out a second mortgage?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Growth of mobile internet at the detriment of PC?

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Mobile Broadband is booming and fixed-line broadband could soon go the way of landline telephones according to one recent report. Subscribers to mobile broadband services grew by 91% in 2007, and a 63% growth rate in mobile broadband subscribers in 2008 is also predicted, with total subscribers rising from 230 million in 2007 to 375 million in 2008.

This is an interesting lead into the Annual Mobile Broadband Congress. I wonder if these users are taking up mobile broadband instead on fixed line broadband or even wireless? I suspect the answer is no unless it is in countries that do not have the home PC culture that we enjoy in Europe.

It did make me wonder when the day will come that Europeans shift their internet use from PC's to mobile. I suspect that bundling will play a big part but no different to Sky where some people (how could they?) opt out of Sky Sports, i suspect some consumers will only wantt o pay for the most convenient platform and that could well be mobile not.. PC.

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I found this in the Inquirer by Sylvie Barak so here is the unedited version.

AS IF ONLINE SHOPPING hasn't made it easy enough for punters to spend ever greater amounts of their hard-earned dosh, yesterday launched a text message shopping service, allowing people to compare product prices and buy things with an SMS from their mobile phone.

The new service will probably have real-world physical shops seething and foaming at the mouth, as Amazon's TextBuyIt service gives people the opportunity to send them a product name, UPC or ISBN number, directly from their portable phones (even from inside real world retailers) in order to get back a text detailing whether Amazon stocks the object of desire and how much it would cost. If Amazon’s price is better, the customer can even buy it directly, then and there, from their mobiles.

All a customer supposedly has to do is text over their Amazon log-in e-mail address and their shipping post code, after which Amazon calls them and, using an automated message system, guides them through the checkout process. When the transaction is complete, the punter gets both an SMS and an email confirmation of their purchase. If they want to track the item’s delivery, the customer can just check the full fat and see all the details online.

Most importantly, maybe now bookshops and electronics dealers will realise that it's not so easy to rip us off anymore and may have to actually resort to cutting prices to acceptable levels to begin with.

As an amazon user i like this concept as it offers a direct comparison and solution. Sometimes the best ideas are simple.

Experts or directory enquiries bod?

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It makes sense. Utlilising your staff and resource. Diversifying through extending your services. But something doesn't seem right.

Yes i am talking about 118 118 launching a text answer service similar to Textperts. The interesting part is that the service formerley known as directory enquiries now offers mobile advertising. I like this and it does work.

The bit that is a concern is Textperts and indeed AQA have created a fun service that is useful. 118 118 will be going in the oppisite direction.

So do they have the right profile staff to compose an answer? Do they offer the CRM capabilities to stimulate the consumer? Will consumers go for a brand that is seen as only a faceless talking directory rather than a witty service with a personlaity?

I wonder if 118 118 may just open the cheque book and buy Textperts outright, it may be the right move, especially as all the other wannabees are sure to follow?

Interestingly, i have often thought that Textperts would carry mobile advertising, i will watch these developments with interest.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Mobile billing in the dark ages?

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I was talking to an industry colleague about billing the other day. We spoke about the billing options available and the restrictions placed on both consumers and retailers. The facts are until we can create billing services that are simple for the consumer and efficient for the retailer, it will continue to be difficult for consumers to buy products on the go.

For products I mean things that you just need to purchase when you may not be on the fixed line computer (not ringtones and wallpapers). One example is a HPI Car Check that retails at £17-, I have proposed that we create a mobile version with less thrills for £5. The problem is that after billing costs there is not enough to share, so once again the consumer loses out, unless we go down the credit card booking line, which defeats the objective?

I do not have the stats handy on many people have access to pay pal or Bango at present, but i am pretty sure it is less than half of mobile owners. That is a shame because surely we need to change the consumer behaviour to drive mobile transactions, yet if the cost of doing business is too high then we will continue to adopt low penetration of transactions on mobile.

I am informed that pay4it enhance the billing process, however, will this take away the high level of cost to the retailer who wants to market his goods using mobile?

Interestingly the QR codes could be a driver to increased mobile transactions as the media and advertisers seem to be pushing this. With a changeable back end, this allows retailers to change their offering (product/price)pretty much at will.

The issue now is how do the consumers pay for it?

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Back to square 1

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I hooked up with the CEO of squace recently. I have often looked at mobile widgets and thought I get it, but does the man in the street? It can be quite tough to download a widget and get it working for you if you are not technically minded and/or no one else seems to be doing so.

squace are developing a product that uses a simple square grid as a navigation tool.The grid is within the widget and operates alphabetically, so for example A would be in the top left hand corner of the square etc..

squace works as a widget i.e. you can set up feeds from your favourite sites. It also allows you to set up groups such as the kids Nursery, therefore creating useful timely secure content from your community, this could for example allow you to set up a notice board to inform that little Johnny is having a party.

Even better, if you cannot get onto the mobile internet (or don't want to) you could text in to the community with your message.

The other possibility is creating a white label version of squace. This could be pre populated with content. To make this work really well, you could focus on a consumer profile using tools such as TGI.

This allows the consumer to get the most relevant content without any hassle and would allow the relevant mobile advertising to become highly targeted. So for me, I would take generic services such as fuel locator, weather, train times and link them with location based services such as restaurants, good pub guide, hotels. The main content feeds would be based around sports, news and film. However, unlike an operator, I would have the choice of the type of content I use i.e. Golf 365 rather than Sky Sports.

squace could potentially overlay on your mobile wallpaper, meaning that mobile content will truly only be one click away.

Friday, 21 March 2008

News balls please!

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So it’s a bank holiday and I am in work and just updating my bog. Why? Because there is so much going on at the moment that I don't find the time to do a lot of the things I would like to do.
So today is my 'free day'. Contact the builder (he is also working), do my accounts online, not on mobile as yet.

I have just this minute signed up to linkedin mobile, I’m impressed. The layout is good, the page allows you to scroll the entire profile and you can search potential contacts prior to meetings or calling them, which is very good. I haven’t yet worked out how to update my status as yet though, any thoughts?

I also met with the guys from brandattention yesterday. These boys seem busy and are really pushing the boundaries with QR codes as part of a mobile solution. The interesting thing for me is that QR codes are the complete opposite to commercial blue toothing. So at a show, i turn my bluetooth off as i do not want to get spammed or worse a virus.

With the QR codes I can get any info, short cuts or offers at the click of a button.

Howard Furr-Barton the MD of brandattention describes this as the 'red button' for mobiles. For me it is much more useful than the red button, which is often ignored by most viewers.

The QR codes will, with time, allow advertisers to work out which billboard poster really works, by location, thus saving them money.

It also allows the back end 'offer' to change after being published. So for example ticketmaster could advise download the QR code for half price tickets and on Monday you would get a different offer to Tuesday but it is still the same advert, or they could regionalise the offer.

Also you can download videos, maps and short cut to mobile internet sites that you had no intention of visiting. This gets around the dot mobi domain name issue and the short code numbers that no one remembers.

There are of course downsides to this, handset capability, education and low responses, however, brands such as The Sun are running massive supplements to get this message across every quarter.

They believe that the mobile internet will grow their business and I firmly believe in that principle.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Free London paper goes mobile

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So this week i noticed that Metro the free London paper has just launched on mobile.
The site offers news, sport, fame and weird. It also allows videos, sports downloads and is already carrying advertising.

Upon first impressions the site is well laid out, has plenty of content and is easy to access.

I must say for a free paper to do such a good job in its first attempt will put other publishers to shame. More interestingly it is another mobile site that will drive ad revenues. Nice one.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

SMS faster than mobile internet

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So last night us U.K citizens enjoyed an earthquake at just after 1am.

As the earthquake gained momentum with the house shaking, i went onto the mobile internet to see what was going on, any reports? No.

Two minutes later i decided to text textperts and i got a quick reply as follows:

66000 We're getting unconfirmed reports of a minor earth tremor across England (Leeds and Manchester down to Surrey) so very likely that.

Very impressive. I then went onto facebook mobile and one of my freinds had just updated her staus 'woken up by earthquake!'.

I then added my textperts knowledge and went back to bed.

All very quick, calm and a lot quicker than the BBC!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Vote on your mobile? Sell shares?

I have been busy compiling data and stats for my strategic review of the mobile business. My company, Emap has just been bought by Bauer so it will be interesting to see how the two U.K. operations will sync up and also gain insight into the global opportunities that will come our way going forward.

Exciting times, nothing seems to stand still, or so it seems.

The sale process was also interesting. As a shareholder we had the opportunity to vote via post, with an option for online, but not mobile. We also had a roadshow to discuss the tax implications of our shares, face to face with a posted document to follow, again nothing available on the mobile.

I am sure this is no different to many FTSE100 companies. My point is, however, this is the type of information i would gladly read on my phone whilst communiting to our London office. The thing is, the information is timely both for voting and for tax advice.

It is usually also time consuming so to read up and even have the opportunity to vote or sell shares via the mobile seems to make sense to me.

It would be another task dealt with effectively during another routinely manic week.
Alas, it is indeed another topic to tag onto the ever growing mobile opportunities list.

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Monday, 4 February 2008

New UGC service

This week has seen the launch of EyeVibe with mobile networks O2 and 3 merging their user generated video clip sites into one portal.Anyone with a video-enabled mobile phone will be able to access to view or submit clips.

Every time a user generated clip is viewed by someone else on their mobile phone, the creator will get a small slice of the revenues generated.

The move, will create the UK's first cross-network social networking service aimed specifically at mobile phone users. By opening up user generated content services across operators, i would expect the number of users and creators to grow quickly.
Customers of the other networks will be able to use EyeVibe, but costs will vary, depending on which network they are on .

EyeVibe, created from the makers of Yospace which is owned by Bauer, offers consumers a different perspective to the YouTube experience as the consumer is incentivised and the clip is made for mobile.

EyeVibe also allows members of the community to chat with each other and post comments about particular videos, adding an extra element of social networking to the service.

I am pleased that the operators have agreed that the consumer should have access to other networks content, i look forward to seeing some more innovation of this service before too long.

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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Neat UGC and ad applications

I met with a mobile development company today Roundpoint. Cambridge based with an office in San Francisco, they create mobile and websites.They also have some neat applications and services.

What i really liked was their understanding of the long tail. They offer web and mobile solutions for small (or large) companies to create useful integrated services, now.

I also like the All4One product.
It demonstrates they understand consumers.So All4one allows content providers to offer full personalisation of content, matching one of the essential requirements of mobile content delivery: focused and relevant.
The clever bit is the enabler (say a music site) and/or the end user can both make the site personal.

Users are in full control of their content selection (i.e. Jazz, not hip hop), however, the enabler can apply various security levels to the user. The levels can change based on say the user profile, or as an incentive for the user to interact i.e. free downloads.

One other thing to catch my eye was the SanDisk application. Now live in the states.
This is a potential white label UGC solution, where a company such as Emap can create a mobile site. The user can enter, browse content. Nothing new there then, but wait.
The user can then take a picture (say at a gig) and upload it within the mobile session.

It' quick and simple. It avoids MMS and the pitfalls that go with memorising the long number, cost and also hoping, praying that the operator delivers it!
The really clever bit, it links to the website. Therefore the user can braodcast live from an event, to a mobile and web audience in seconds.Nice one.

There were other good things about Roundpoint such as their mobile advertising server that can deliver a campaign based on a specific time. Mmm specific time..

I had one of those moments of genius. Well not quite genuis.But good.
My idea was using SMS to drive people to an ad campign.

So let's take a famous bar chain with a happy hour incentive. The consumer receives an SMS. The SMS contains a link to a mobile site, with a message 'click here for half price drinks tonight'.

Consumer goes to the portal, downloads his voucher (barcode, QR voucher pin code..whatever) He gets directions to the nearest bar. Texts his friend the link or even updates his facebook and hey presto.

Tageted, useful advertising, on your phone, with a viral option.
The possibilities are endless... really

Friday, 25 January 2008

Cool SMS services? You tell me.

I am looking to compile the five best/most useful mobile services that are run on SMS. I.e AQA ask a question service.

SMS is the common mobile languague. The volumes of consumers sending SMS is huge, yet people who recieve really useful SMS services, appear to be very low?

If i am under the wrong impression and there are loads of really good/cool SMS services please let me know.

If my view is echoed, let's try to compile a list of what is really good.
Equally if you have a suggestion for something new- SMS based, let me know.

So after a little research here are a number of services i have found:
-At John Lennon Aiport in Liverpool i can text Flight to 60030 to be updated on out bound or in bound flights, just add the flight number.
-The National Farmers Union launched a service to update farmers on the Bluetongue and Foot and Mouth epidemics.
-Snow alerts are common across Europe
- SMS Weather Alerts
-eHound direction service in Australia
-Car Valuation Service- value the car you are thinking on buying when you are with the seller, then knochk his price down!
-Sat Lav- text to find the nearest toilet in London (well it's funny)

Utilising SMS is a good way of engaging more consumers and building the mobile industry.
Please add in your thoughts.

New stuff

I'm seeing RoK today. They seem like a good outfit. Innovative, hungry, smart, global.

I am hoping to get a project off the ground with the guys. This may just help move the needle in mobile content- it's early days but i have an idea that could just fit the bill.
We all want to innovate, but timing, content and/or a useful service that the consumer really wants is key.

It's exciting times in media and mobile at the moment. The trick so they (people in the know that is), is backing the right horse.

I don't no much about horses, but my instinct tells me the pedigree of RoK is pretty good, the thing i like about them is they are doing things across the globe.

They are also full of possible creative solutions, some may be too early for the U.K market, others are really logical like delivering video via MMS, this would work for a brief news bulletin (and the consumer avoids high data costs).

Pre loading memory cards with lots of good TV content is already happening across Asia, sounds good to me.

So a proactive day is in store i feel. Hopefully they don't see my blog before the meeting, otherwise my negotiation strategy is doomed to failure!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

The power of the people

Last week, there was an average football club in the U.K. who appointed an average manager, you know the sort, doesn't win any trophies.

The thing is the football club was Newcastle, second only in support to Manchester United. The manager Kevin Keegan, former Newcastle and Liverpool legend, dodgy perm in the seventies and eighties (nineties?), the guy who quit the England job, you know the one.

The thing about this announcement was it gained mass exposure on TV, mobile and web, for days. More so than even the new England manager, Fabio,? wassis name.

So how did Newcastle break the news of this appointment?

They sent an SMS to their fan club members before putting the announcement on the web and before holding a press conference.Smart move, keep the audience engaged, build crm opportunities such as wallpapaers, tickets, shirts etc..

I can just imagine the toon army (Newscastles hardcore fans)going into mobile overdrive and spreading the message virally, out scooping Sky and the BBC along the way.

Now that is... the power of mobile meeting with the power of the people.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Mobile advertising to generate $10 bn by 2010

Great headline, but how is this going to acheived?

One theory is better tools to serve and analyse ad campaigns. This gives the advertiser robust reporting, which in turn breeds confidence and should open up the network to give exponential growth on advertising... as i say, it's a theory.

The other thought is media owners running intergrated web and mobile sites and selling the total inventory, after all they know how to sell ads, it their job.

Strategic tie ups between ad sales specialists and content owners is also a step towards monetising traffic.

This is all well and good but what level of traffic growth is required to deliver exponential growth? Penetration of mobile internet usage is low in the U.S, well under 10%, the U.K performs better but is still only around the 20% level.

An observation that all is not well in the U.K is the lack of mobile adverts on operator decks. On my Orange homepage for example i have yet to see a compelling advert or leading service. I do see, however, plenty of mobile game adverts, not exactly encouraging. (if you look out my earlier blog on consumption of content you will note i do not use mobile games).

So many operator's see mobile games as a bigger money spinner that mobile ads?

You see, that is the problem.

I am sure if someone like AdMob asked the operator's to take the risk on pay per click adverts on their home page the answer i suspect... is a quick- no thank you.

AdMob is interesting: Globally they have served some 16billion ads since launch.They are growing quickly, 2bn will be served in January alone. Impressive.

Targeted? more targeted than Orange trying to sell me bloody mobile games!

However, not targeted enough i suspect, for now.

So who else will join AdMob in leading the charge towards the $10bn pot of gold? and is the growth in mobile internet traffic suffiecient to meet with the demand of advertisers?

I suspect that long tail and social networking content will be far more compelling in 2010 than it is now, thus driving awareness and usage, hopefully... off portal. Not that i have anything against the operators. I just happen to believe in giving the consumers what they want.

How will this extra traffic be monetised?

I really like the Blyk model it's dynamic and targeted.

If free content or data or texts or whatever is offered to drive the consumer profiles, then serving useful adverts on the mobile should be a walk in the park.

If Blyk can deliver quality and AdMob can further segment the quantity then that is a good start.

So are these combined offerings enough to shift mobile advertising from incremental growth to exponential growth over the next two years?

Ask the ad agencies.. better still ask the operators.

Oh i forgot to mention two names, who i suspect know exactly how this will play out.

Step forward Google and Yahoo

$10bn ad industry in two years =
work in progress... for now

Texperts won the Innovative Company of the Yearprize at the Real Business/CBI Growing Business Awards late last year.
There is something about the simplicity of this service that makes it a compelling mobile product.Essentially the consumer can get an instant answer on pretty much any topic at any time almost immediately.

For busy people on the go i think textperts could become a habit, questions such as what time is the next train? what is the cheapest way to get to Paris this weekend? what are the best odds for Ricky Hatton to win and of course where are all the girls? need answering so why wait to be near a computer?

These type of services (AQA, RoK etc..) are growing massively month on month, the consumer is happy to pay a fee and interestingly the profile of the user is being built over a period of time with the average user asking between 4- 7 questions per month.
Making a possible ad model very attractive.

Imagine if a consumer uses this service 6 times a month, that is 72 bits of data in a year on consumer behaviour, it is also £72 mobile content spend, more than double the cost of a typical magazine subscription.

How many consumers are spending £72 on mobile content at present?I wonder if the possibility of increasing the lenth of a text is a good way of increasing the use of texperts, after all 160 characters cannot help me diagnose a fault with my car or give me an insight into the latest government white paper.
Maybe, though simplicity is the key.So the next time i'm stuck for an answer i sure will text 66000, its as easy as abc, maybe many more consumers will do the same?

ring ring........

After another hectic week in the zone formerly known as 'publishing' my good lady asked me what ringtone i currently deploy.

After the initial look of bemusement it dawned on me that the ringtone in question, is hardly ever heard when i am in her company or indeed ever. You see, what happens is that during the week the phone could be on silent as my colleagues hate to hear my phone chirping away, it could be on vibrate, especially when i am on public transport or when it is on i tend to answer it on the first ring.
At weekends, the mobile never rings. It's not that i am unpopular, though i could become paranoid on this.
It is becuause weekends is my time and i don't want to spend it talking on the phone. Thus people who know me, know this and so we exchange SMS.

Contributing as i do to the 1 billion SMS sent each week in the U.K. My point and there is one, the ringtone market is losing it's novelty. At times it is an annoyance. It is no longer value for money for people (like me) and for media companies (like mine).

We need to replace the early and easy revenues that will be undoubtedly lost from the ringtone market.

So if SMS is where the consumer need is then let's start creating value around this.

SMS is not a novelty, it gives consumers access to the outside world 24/7 and unlike the ringtone an SMS can actually brighten up your day! So when will publsihers and content providers grasp the nettle?

Me? ... I'm on the case!

Friday, 11 January 2008

The Consumption of Mobile Content.. is it any good?

I have observed the usability of mobile handsets for some time and have come to the conclusion that an industry standard of consumer behaviour does not exist and it probably never will...

My schedule of mobile usage on my N95 centres around, in this order 1. Voice. 2 sms. 3 internet browsing . 4 camera. If i added other functions to my daily usage such as playing music or mobile games and watching videos- my battery would pack up halfway through the day.. most days.

That forces me and many others to make choices.

Handset Manufacturer's understand this with specific models majoring on a point of difference. The N95 offers a big screen + great camera. The Sony Walkman... well it’s a music player with great brand heritage... isn't it? Of course the i-phone, does everything... well i can browse the internet... using wi-fi, but not 3g.

So does the handset ownership give us an insight into consumer behaviour? Err no, not really. With the prediction that more people will own a phone that has internet access and actually use it vs. their PC by the end of 2009, this is an important issue.

There are many variables with the consumer such as, pay as you go tariffs, owning a second phone, the use of a PDA, restricted company mobile etc... So when it comes to consumer behaviour on content consumption, I become very concerned.

Does the industry know what the consumer need for content really is?
Does the industry monitor what content is available vs. than what sells?
Do consumers only want to view news, sport music and babes on their phones?
And is anyone remotely surprised or concerned that Tetris is still the best selling mobile game in such a dynamic, fast paced innovative industry?

Even the national press have Sudoku as an alternative to the Crossword!Things change, products evolve, consumers make choices... assuming they are giving the opportunity.

So what is driving the traffic within operator portals?
Sky Sports? yes.
Mobile TV? not really.
Downloads, yes but in decline.
User generated content? possibly but not really through MMS - as you don't get MMS in bundles unlike SMS!

It's great that I can update Facebook, it’s not innovative though. It's a bit yesterday.
eBay on mobile, is poor. Really poor. Can I really snipe at the last minute to get a bargain with any confidence? I don't think so. Do i know the devil in the detail before bidding, no i can't view that.

Not good.

Whilst data charges are still high and the take up of flat rate data is still low, consumer browsing remains low. Therefore... the operator continues to deliver content of the low hanging fruit variety.

This can only lead me to think that the industry doesn't understand the consumer behaviour.
The desire of consumers to create, share and consumer content that is unique, timely or interesting on their mobile...

Or if they did they would educate the consumer via something good. FREE data and FREE MMS packages. Pre loaded useful mobile content. Encourage genuine two way interactions between consumers and content providers.

Now that would be a little bit more compelling than playing Tetris on your phone...

.. surely?