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Survey results paid for by Texas-based company AppTrigger (the study itself was conducted by LM Research & Marketing) suggest that UK mobile operators could be doing much more to promote adoption of advanced mobile services among their subscribers. The data purportedly support the conclusion that
mobile phone operators are largely locked into proprietary application suites and hindered by complex connectivity issues. The missed opportunity comes in the form of traditional IN-based applications such as pre-paid, voicemail and SMS. Operators lack the application connectivity to integrate these existing applications with new services across their legacy and next generation networks to work seamlessly and cohesively together. This limits their ability to blend best-of-breed, multi-vendor applications in a timely fashion to respond to usersâ€™ demands and push these services out more quickly.
I agree with this interpretation, and I further concur with the company’s VP of Marketing that “the ability to bring innovative network services to market via new environments such as Web 2.0 will be the catalyst that enables monetisation of application mash-ups. Operators need to be positioned to reap the rewards of these opportunities”. Wireless operators interested in having their subscribers use advanced mobile services need to open up their platforms to enable the kind of radical social transformations (and associated entrepreneurialism and investment) we’ve witnessed in the IP-based web over the past several years. Getting in sync with services like Jaiku, Twitter, or Shozu (perhaps offering these up as bundled services independent of typical data plans) might be a start. I’m no business strategist, but surely it’s a no-brainer to offer up existing, user-friendly, post-beta services to subscribers rather than to try and flog your own non-interoperable walled MMS gardens.
But I have two issues with the interpretations that the authors put forward.
- To reduce the adoption question to lack of promotion is fallacious. There are myriad cultural and social reasons why users will not adopt mobile services. No amount of mobile marketing can force people to change their behaviour. This is precisely why opening up wireless networks to Web 2.0 services will encourage adoption of advanced mobile technologies – users are actively involved in development cycles in the Web 2.0 paradigm. No application in this arena will thrive without end user input, period. And the model is working so well in a competing virtual space – the IP-networked laptop/desktop world. This is why the US and Canada (and, it seems, the UK, according to this study) lag behind the developing world (where there is no platform competing with the mobile platform) in adoption of mobile services generally (not just the advanced services).
- The data in their full study is presented in a confusing way. There is no indication of the number of respondents surveyed – only percentages – and hence the study is not apparently scientific (at the very least it is not transparently so).
Still, some interesting discussion points here.
Clear Channel didn’t get away with it, and now Last.fm is taking heat for not paying out royalties to independent artists. Last.fm, recently purchased by CBS, is now heating up indie music business blogs with this policy, even though it’s been in place since the company started.
Why so, asks the intrepid indie music biz blogger/Last.fm enthusiast and indie label/band person? Well, it seems there’s some misunderstanding of how royalty collection works. Last.fm is in fact playing by the rules, paying royalties to collection societies when tracks are streamed.
The big difference between Last.fm and conventional radio (and indie labels and bands should take note) is that with Last.fm, playlist/track streaming statistics are not hidden from public view, and do not rely on the inaccurate and gameable conventional sampling methods used by groups such as BMI, ASCAP or SOCAN in tracking radio airplay. And it’s not a closed pay-per-stat-view shop like Big Champagne is. As if that weren’t enough, the problem of payola is curbed via the voluntary ‘pull’ nature of “airplay” on Last.fm. The critiques of radio cannot be transplanted to a service such as Last.fm so swiftly. It is simply a different animal.
And anyway – wasn’t the hulaballo about Clear Channel over the issue of payola in the first place? Lest we forget, “Clear Channel had responded to allegations of payola with a pay-for-play scheme“.
This is not to say that there’s nothing about which we can be critical with this Last.fm thing. I’ve blogged this previously, but I’ll say it again: it matters who owns what in Internet 2.0. And even though it feels like listeners are running the show on Last.fm, they might not be, and probably aren’t. Every boss must manage, and every company must profit, or die. It seems that the most important question is still – to invoke the terminology of radio, new and old – are we really “streaming” or are we being “programmed”?
In today’s NY Times there’s a story about Andrew Kuo, super-fan extraordinaire. He’s created some mind-boggling charts (pictured right, click the image for enlargement) of indie music appreciation indices (centering around a recent Bright Eyes concert-stalking binge), all of which stem from a very eccentric self-absorption with his own taste. He’s done this for other artists on his blog, too. a couple of years running. This is a far cry from air-guitaring, slash fiction (more on that topic than you can possibly absorb in one sitting over at Henry Jenkins’ blog, here), or celebrity stalking. This is some of the most meticulous compulsivity over music I’ve ever witnessed.
On this question I am stumped: is there anything in fandom history that is comparable to this, where the very parameters of one’s taste are subjected to such introspection? I inspect my own Last.fm stats on a regular basis (even though it’s taking me some time to build up enough data to analyze), and I can and do do a factorial ANOVA every now and then, but combining these into a peculiar hybrid art/science exploration and documentation of my own taste is, well, to be quite honest, what Bourdieu would have done if he had really been a poststructuralist. And completely insane.
My chapeau is off to ya, Andrew. I honestly have no idea what to call whatever it is you’re doing.