Monday, April 14, 2008

apoc week 11 (part 2)

Continuing our string of excellent class visitors, Charlie Nooney, the CEO of MobiTV, spoke to APOC last week. He's relatively new to his position, but had a host of interesting comments about the challenges of bringing broadcast television to mobile devices. Big picture is that while half the world's population now has cell phones, virtually none of them are watching television, but carriers are confident this will change. In the last few handset releases, video has gone from 4fps to 20fps, although these advances have required custom clients for every phone. Quality and reach are now high enough for MobiTV to register significant usage hits when live events are breaking, such as Obama's speech on race.

He also had some interesting comments from his earlier career, in particular putting live video advertising into Wal-Mart. Turns out the shopping in Wal-Mart looks a lot like a scavenger hunt, with customers spending an hour on average in the store trying to figure out what's new, what's on sale, and where those items of interest are. Live updates in the store via video -- or, one presumes, eventually on mobile devices -- ended up being great drivers of business, got people through the store faster with more purchases, and were appreciated by the customers. Yet another example of well targeted advertising being seen as a service rather than an ad.

We've all shuddered when thinking about the GPS-enabled cell phone advertising future -- you're near a Starbucks and you get an SMS with a discount coupon -- but the Wal-Mart example shows people want that when they're shopping, so the challenge for mobile innovators is how to present those options when people want them. Given how much I now use iPhone's Google Maps and how often I'm working from Starbucks, I suspect location-based advertising could be pretty useful to me.

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