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Mobile consumer created content – influx interview – part two

July 27, 2005

Interview with Shawn Conahan-Influx Interview-part two

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 Ramble a new brand that let’s consumers create, connect and share the content they create on mobile devices

5. Which worldwide carriers get it and what are they doing?

Virgin Mobile gets it. They enable a lifestyle through technology and branding. As consolidation among the network operators continues, so does the homogenization of the service offerings across the board, essentially turning carriers into utilities. Think about the Cingular/AT&T merger. They completely dumped the AT&T brand. That was a kajillion-dollar brand built up over a century and they flushed it. Doesn’t matter. Cingular, only a few years old, is a stronger brand because it looks the least like a utility. Virgin Mobile takes it to an impressive extreme and is doing a phenomenal job of segmenting the market.

6. Do any of the current photographic brands get where this is all heading?

I hope so. The biggest opportunity for any digital camera maker is to embed an EVDO chip that links the device directly to their branded version of Rabble or something like it. The boldest vision in that category would be to turn photography “handling” into a service: Every picture you take gets replicated on a central server and if you want prints or other advanced features, you pay for it additionally. Such an advanced feature may be access to all of the other pictures that were taken from your very spot (as communicated to the server by your camera’s GPS transponder) of the same thing in case your picture is not very good or maybe you want the same view of the Eiffel Tower at night but you could only get there during the day, etc. You know those Kodak Picture Spots you see around Disneyland pointing out the good places to stop and take pictures? It would be that on steroids.

7. What do you think of what current tv is doing – turning consumers into producers?

I love Current TV. Turning consumers into producers is the definition of populist media, which is the basis of our company. It will be interesting to see how they evolve – I think they have the right idea. They are an example of a company we would like to be in business with because there is clear synergy: We can provide a downstream distribution channel for their existing content and our users can generate upstream content for their channel. People who don’t have a dedicated high-quality camcorder have a camcorder mobile phone, and that is why we skipped the web and are focusing on the mobile consumer exclusively.

8. Do you feel that it’s the handset manufacturers or the carriers that are driving the adopting of new mobile technologies?

The 100-year war between the carrier and the handset manufacturer is largely misunderstood, and the basis of it is very simple: The carriers who buy the phones want the most features for the lowest price. The handset manufacturers want to provide the most features for the highest price. Notice they both want features – the war is over price. As such, neither “drives” adoption of new mobile technologies. Rather, economics dictate what new technologies eventually make it to market. At this point in history, 3rd parties like the entertainment industry are driving adoption of new mobile technologies more than anyone else.

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