The panel’s goal was to discuss how businesses can leverage mobile media to grow revenue–such as magazines creating mobile Web sites, or news organizations delivering video to cellphones.
One of the more interesting demonstrations was from ComVu, which is a system that can turn a series of (admittedly high-end) cell phones and a PC into a complete TV news station. Cell phones can record video that broadcasts live on the Web or on television, even with multiple phones sending in video simultaneously. Meanwhile, GPS-equipped phones can transmit their location while they’re recording. An on-screen graphic shows the video on the left and an overhead map with a moving icon on the right.
“It takes this very personal device (cellphone) and turns it into a tool so a reporter or citizen journalist can take and broadcast live video from their handset,” said Scott Hill, ComVu’s VP of business development. “That’s a powerful tool for a journalist, someone at a community event, or just someone who wants to get their message out in a different way.”
Meanwhile, Cimarron Buser, VP of marketing and product planning for Texterity, showed off software that allows for complete digital editions of magazines when viewed on the iPhone. It doesn’t require any special downloads–it just figures out what phone you’re using. Readers can view thumbnails of every page in an issue, “turn pages,” or zoom in to read text. It looked fairly fluid from where we were sitting, and nicer than the typical, sparse mobile WAP page that many publications launch.
“The iPhone–you can probably see the quality of this device is quite high,” Buser said, waving an iPhone showing a colorful graphic at the crowd. “But the challenge we all face is to take technology like RSS feeds, or mobile delivery of content in small snippets or entire magazines, and figure out a way to get compensated for it in some way.”
Shane Molloy, the director of circulation at American Lawyer magazine, brought up the Boston Museum of Fine Art wallpaper sales we covered last week. “A lot of our readers are spending time away from their PCs on the road, so they’re carrying their PDAs and cell phones,” he said. “For example, if ABC Law Firm is voted Best Law Firm of the Year, they’re on the cover of American Lawyer. There could be some interest in that law firm wanting that as wallpaper for their business phones or PDAs.”
Overall, there was nothing earth-shattering, but it was still an informative event. The biggest issue still facing mobile media is allowing for the hundreds of handsets, different carriers, different data plans, and particularly, the different cellphone screen sizes out there. The technology is improving, but all sides of the issue are improving at different rates.