For several reasons I will not be attending the 3GSM World Congress this year.
From the reports that I am reading from the Internet there is great focus on Media and Internet companies. Yahoo, Disney, MTV have their own booth at 3GSM and all the recent press releases talk about these companies and their initiatives with mobile operators.
The other big trend to follow will be user generated content.
I think that user generated content is great when you are using a personal computer. You have a compelling user interface (in most cases…), processing power to deal with all those audio and video content, a mouse that easily let you point, click and navigate through pages, a decent web browser (again, in most cases…) and, last but not least, some kind of broadband connection.
Will this work on mobile?
At the end of the day I think that it will work even if it will be different from the PC arena.
Typically on a mobile phone you do not have a smart enough, Ajax enabled, web browser, the screen size will be limited, you will not have a mouse and the bandwidth will be significantly lower compared to your home/office personal computer.
Given these limitations I cannot imagine customers going through massive amount of data trying to find something that may be interesting to them. In the case of web based applications I cannot see customer going more than 3 pages deep in web navigation.
This is why I think that instead of User Generated Content we should approach this as Friend Generated Content.
Let the customer focus on the content produced by his friends. Show this as the first items in the list and use the contact list on his handset as a reference.
In some way it is something that you are already doing if you are using Twitter or Jaiku. I spend several minutes a day looking at what my friends are doing, what pictures or videos they have taken and so on.
If we look at this from an operator standpoint the picture becomes quite interesting. If I am looking at some content generated by some user that I do not know personally the service will end at that point. Maybe I am paying a flat monthly fee to access this kind of service and that’s all the money the operator can get from that kind of approach.
The scenario will dramatically change if you will be able to use content generated by your friends. You may want to save that content, send it using MMS or you may simply want to make a call to that friend. The main concept is that I will be probably willing to do more with friend contents compared to what I will do while looking at content generated by an unknown individual.
I think that the key to the success of these kind of applications is the contact list. The contact list is the center of your mobile universe. I would like everything to move around this application. In the past year the power of this application has not been considered enough and no innovative ideas have grown up from that point. We need something new. We need third party developers and operator understand that the contact list is a revenue generator by itself. The more functionality you will add to it, the more money will reach your pockets. And do not forget that the native contact list is one click away in each mobile phone idle menu.
Why do I blog this ? I am still making up my mind on this but I think that it is something that should be investigated while porting user generated content to the mobile world.