iHollywood panel on off-portal content

Attended first panel at iHollywood, about on-portal versus off-portal content. A few carriers took part (VodaFone, Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular), so pretty good discussion. It was called ‘What’s On Deck?’.

Some highlights:
– Carriers all seem to understand that they will have to offer off-portal content. But they need to be careful of Quality of Service. European models lead the way.
– Best scenario is when carriers assist with billing and consumer protection for off-portal content providers.
– Off portal and on portal are compatible. Analogy from Jeremy Flynn from Vodafone UK about the carrier owning a shopping mall (infrastructure), a leading store (carrier storefront), while leasing out all the other stores (off-portal content providers). Carriers help establish standards for store behavior, but don’t control the store.
– Jeremy cited an internal survey. Two groups of users, one with off-portal content and the other without. Both groups spent within 2 cents of each other on on-portal content. So off-portal doesn’t cannibalize on-portal significantly.
– Another remark from Jeremy: to build this market, all carriers need to cooperate for universal short codes and standards.
– Interesting thought: SMS will only remain the universal data access on hpones for another 2-3 years. What will happen when web access is near universal on handsets. [Will short codes be replaced by URLs? Or some hybrid of today’s SMS and Web.]

CTIA Next Week

Next week at iHollywood and CTIA looks to be insanely busy, but I’m looking forward to it. Hope to use the Treo 650 to keep up the blogging pace. Maybe even carry around the PowerBook and iSight, which should officially brand me as the geek that I am.

Fast development cycles are differentiator

Just started reading Cringley’s Pulpit and found this from August…

What Google WILL do is roll-out incremental products at a blinding pace. Not long ago, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin explained to me that rapid development is an important key to market dominance.

“What you want to do,” he said, “is listen to your customers and bring out every two weeks improved versions that would each take your competitor two months to complete. That’s when you are on a rocket — they can’t keep up so they can’t compete. They lose hope and pretty soon you have the market pretty much to yourself.”

I don’t think there is a greater competitive differentiator than this.

Matt: A job opportunity matched to your LinkedIn profile

I’ve been getting those context-driven LinkedIn job listings. This one for an analyst at Jupiter caught my eye. I remember one of my first IT bosses telling me that analysts are product managers who aren’t good enough to bring products to market. Since then I’ve met some very smart analysts so I don’t entirely buy into the stereotype. But it is amazing that you can pay thousands of dollars for a report that contains bad grammar and spelling, poorly thought out arguments, and questionable numbers. Again, more the exception than the rule, but it makes me curious about the job market for analysts.

Inaccuracy of Carrier Data

This is such a big problem:

Perhaps the most significant challenge is to manage relationships with content owners. In the current climate, almost all wireless carriers “self-report” to each content owner the amount of content that their end-users consumed during a given period and how much money they owe the content owner. The carriers send periodic sales reports and make payments to the content owners based on this self-reporting model.

Many content owners reportedly have voiced dissatisfaction with the inaccuracy and lack of timeliness of the sales reports. Their dissatisfaction is driven largely by the problems that faulty, untimely sales data cause when processed within content owners’ internal systems.

This is a big advantage of BREW, you have a solid system for accounting and metrics. The inaccuracies in reporting from the other major carriers are very serious.

Links to MocoNews and original KPMG article.

Blogging and Advertising

Had a great lunch today with the respective founders of a blogging startup and a growing online marketing agency. My biggest takeaway is that both companies are tapping into the Internet’s mass market stage: a mainstream audience of non-technical consumers are reading blogs and many non-technical companies are finally starting to spend money on Internet advertising. There are some very interesting business models in which these could be put together.

Another thought I had is whether everything on the Internet can get placed into the two categories of Search and Subscription. Search means the discovery of new content while Subscription means returning regularly to a known source of content. Probably the Internet is much more complicated than that, but I’m always seeking out a simple ontology.