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Mobile consumer created content – influx interview – part one

July 25, 2005

Interview with Shawn Conahan, CEO, Intercasting Corp.

Shawn’s background includes; management consulting, working for Universal Music on new media, Vivendi on ringtones and other ventures including mp3.com. He is now behind Rabble a new brand that lets consumers connect and share the content they create on mobile devices

1. Please describe what you do and your role in the company?

I consider myself to be a populist media evangelist, and Intercasting Corp.is my megaphone.

2. What is rabble?

We wanted to use “Rover” because it sounded nomadic to us. Unfortunately, the trademark was already claimed by a software company that wouldn’t give us the rights in our area, so we went with “Rabble” instead.

We chose that name because it means “the lowest or coarsest class of society” which to us means the “farthest edge of the network.” I think our customers appreciate the irony of such a product name the purpose of which is to put them in the position of producer rather than consumer and enable them to build an audience for their own channel.

Part blogging, part social networking, Rabble is a community that lets people network with other users based on the media they create and share. Many people describe it as the “mobile MySpace” which is flattering to us.

3. What consumer trends do you believe ramble takes advantage of?

Rabble exists because there are several intersecting trends that are creating an opportunity that is currently under-recognized. Mobile phones are turning into Personal Media Devices (PMDs). They all have cameras on them, and they are all connected.

Yet, people don’t use their cameras because there is nowhere for the content to go and do what it is meant to do, which is to communicate. I think the photo upload companies miss this critical point: The connected cameraphone is a communication device. Rabble is what has been missing – a place not just to put your content, but make it work on your behalf so you can add to and join the media conversation.

4. Which country do you feel is at the leading edge of mobile development and why? where do you look to?

This used to be a more relevant question when advancements in mobile communications depended on network build out and handset innovation. Now that the platforms are homogenous for the most part, I think it is difficult to rank innovativeness by country. With a more or less level playing field, “leading edge” becomes a function of consumer behavior and the desire of whoever the incumbents are to take risks.

I therefore look for innovation in individual companies and in particular demographic groups. Do you really think Sky Dayton is going to roll out a WAN/WiFi MVNO with SK? That would be really cool. Do you think the Skype guys will build a free VoIP client for mobile WiFi devices essentially pushing the value of mobile voice calls to zero? That would be really cool, too, and would kick the ass of any MVNO trying to make a buck on WiFi voice.

Then I look at groups of consumers who adopt technology. We recently met with some investors wanting to give us money and one guys said, “I don’t get Rabble – I would never use it.” I told him to go home and give it to his son to play with. His son loved it. No matter what country you live in, teenagers are the smartest consumer group and will always set the pace for consumer technology adoption.

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