"An Open Letter to Intercasting Corp" or "Rabble WTF" or "Where Is Wikipedia When You Need It Most?"

January 27, 2007 § Leave a comment

I’ve never made a big deal out of things Winksite has done “first” but after one too many statements put out by companies claiming to be the “first,” I’ve decided to call one of them on it as it impacts Winksite’s history. I’m simply calling it as I see it and if anyone thinks I have any of this wrong please feel free to respond in my comments otherwise. I suspect this will be the first in a series.

1. Intercasting/Rabble

“In 2005, we shipped the first carrier-grade social networking product in North America and have leveraged our experience to build the absolute best consumer application available.” — Intercasting Web Site

I politely called these guys on this type of thing once before in 2005 when they claimed to be “the first mobile blogging community ever.” Various Japanese and European services had them beat by several years at the time. I playfully suggested they were actually, “the first commercial, BREW-based, fully mobile-only, self-contained community of mobile content creators and consumers, incorporating LBS, launched on the Verizon Network in the US in 2005″ – but we agreed that would sound a bit silly and settled on that what they did was “cool.”

Well now several years later the Intercasting guys have rewritten history circa 2005 again and claim to have been “the first carrier-grade social networking product in North America.” Sorry guys – I’m going to have to call you on this one also.

You were not the first. Not then and not now either. Winksite beat you by four years. In 2002, Winksite was using RSS feeds to mobilize blogs and otherwise publish content to mobile communities (a true first). These mobile spaces came bundled with mobile-tuned social services like chat, forums, events, and polls making these syndicated content spaces social and interactive in nature (also a true first). As far as carrier-grade, I’m confident our open “internet-grade” platform is serving more regular users (250K mobile uniques per month), on more carrier networks worldwide (150 plus), than Rabble is. I also suspect that we have spent a fraction of the money to get there (bootstrapping it with a few hundred $K over 5 years — yes we got in perhaps a bit early) than Intercasting’s investors have laid out to date for Rabble (approx 6 million). … And if the definition of “carrier-grade” means having been “approved” to run on a carrier portal – talk to Helio.

I’m sure the guys from Intercasting will respond with brilliant repartee and disagree with me on their blog (or in private) but when we sat down for breakfast in NYC in 2004 or so they already knew Winksite was a web services and social network mash-up — long before the term even existed. No amount of PR spin, event panel rhetoric, or VC money can change that.

What Is Moblogging? (A Mash-Up Of Previous Posts)

June 23, 2005 § Leave a comment

A mash-up of several previous posts in advance of the BlogHer session on Moblogging led by Debi Jones (aka Mobile Jones).

(Also see: Moblogging 1.0 to 2.0, Moblogging 2.0)

David Harper wrote:

“When the discussion began several years ago the activity of “moblogging” was thought of as simply pushing text and photos one way from a “remote” location or mobile device to a website or blog (IMHO). That content would then be available for desktop access.

Well, two years later moblogging as a label to a plethoria of mobile publishing activity fails to describe the behaviour of many of it’s participants. And as such, does a great injustice to all the emergent activity going on – much of which is apparently under the radar.

You see, there is a revolution going on all over the world. People from Japan to India to Europe to the United States and South America are engaging content on mobile devices in record numbers – in fact mobile access to the Internet has already surpassed desktop access. Also rising are expectations as to how you should be able to share content and communicate with the people around you via mobile phone.

Yes, I said mobile phone not “mobile device.” Simple, affordable web-enabled mobile phones. I’m talking the masses here folks. For tens of millions worldwide (more then all us “bloggers” combined) mobile access to publishing, communication and collaboration tools are their one and only pipeline onto the Internet and to each other. The majority of them don’t know the luxury of using their mobile device as a “handy” way to publish to their desktop blog. They don’t have a desktop.

“Moblogging” as currently defined doesn’t account for this. maybe it doesn’t have to. But, by focusing on only one aspect of mobile publishing, we lose sight of greater opportunities – providing a greater number of people with a voice, and an even greater number with the ability to become involved. “Blogging” (not moblogging) as I see it is more than just publishing content, it is also the dialogue around the posts (like this discussion), the community it develops and the action that can result. Should not the definition (and tools) of “moblogging” be expanded to account for those activities from alternative locations and mobile devices as well?

To underscore my point, RSS & Syndication is now is being used to bring content to the mobile phones of people who have until now had zero or little access to a desktop computer – combined with mobile forums, chat etc.- the technology shortchanged are able to engage in mobile-to-mobile and mobile-to-PC communities.

The blogging world is now is overflowing with ways to send information – text, photos, video, geographical data – from a mobile device to a conventional Weblog or Web Site. But, what has been blatantly missing and quite critical is a community-based solution that provides a space where individuals can meet, share and interact with content from mobile device to mobile device – “closing the loop.”

Wireless Ink’s belief is that the availability of simple and flexible tools for the publishing, personalization and distribution of user-generated content is essential to empowering the masses.

We’re working on those tools and we could use your help. Take WINKsite for a free spin and let us know what you think.

…we’re listening.”

Comment by Debi Jones:

“There's one other critical component to the liberation of consumers. The habit of equating a device/phone purchase with network service purchase is a raw deal for consumers. Carriers providing a subsidy on device purchase ensures that consumers are saddled with a 2 year contract or they can pay $200 to $300 for release in exchange for a $50 discount on a phone. The math doesn’t make sense. Further, if consumers separate the purchase of their device from their purchase of a service agreement there’s no need to worry about disabled features (i.e., Verizon Wireless disabling Bluetooth to insure customers must download applications and content over their network).

Can anyone imagine buying a PC from their ISP? Consumers must demand the separation of what are clearly 2 purchase decisions, not one. VZW was sued by a consumer over the disabling of a published feature (bluetooth) on the phone they sold. It may take more consumer lawsuits to accomplish the fair availability and choice for consumers among devices. Carriers will make noises about they role in ensuring the device will work on their network, but that's bunk. All devices must pass FCC approval before they can be sold in the US. This process is sufficient for network operation.”

User-Generated Content: An Objection From One Of The Rabble

June 5, 2005 § Leave a comment

I take objection to a statement made on the Intercasting Corp blog. (View it here)

While I congratulate Intercasting Corp on the launch of Rabble and the FIRST mobile blogging community THEIR company has ever launched …

Rabble is NOT as I quote their post “the first mobile blogging community ever” or “fully mobile-only, self-contained community of mobile content creators and consumers” just like NewBay's FoneBlog ™, wasn't “the world's first mobileblogging solution” – as NewBay originally reported in 2002.

Certainly Intercasting Corp should be proud of what they have. I suggest though keeping the ego and hype in check. Besides, further qualifying their statement such as in – the first commercial, BREW-based, fully mobile-only, self-contained community of mobile content creators and consumers, incorporating LBS, launched on the Verizon Network in the US in 2005 – would sound a bit silly. Right?

This is not “Rabble” envy. I like what those guys have put together – but fair is fair. A statement like theirs once given “legs” by the media becomes a bit like competing with the Hawaiian Tropic girl they mention in the lead sentence of the post . I expect more from “The Populist Media Company”.

More soon on various players in the mobile community space, and how they break down by technology, model and timeline.

UPDATE
Shortly after posting my thoughts to the Intercasting Corp Blog I received this response:

“David makes a good point. Claims depend much on definition. Rabble is, as he points out, the first commercial, BREW-based, fully mobile-only, self-contained community of mobile content creators and consumers, incorporating LBS, launched on the Verizon Network in the US in 2005.

Since “mobile blogging” is difficult to define, I make a distinction between carrier-grade solutions, web-based solutions, wap-based solutions, thick client, thin client and one-way publishing platforms.

The better approach, as I am sure David would agree, is to claim we launched a cool application and we hope people like it.” – Posted by: Shawn Conahan at June 5, 2005 10:21 AM

Yes, very cool…

… and smartly done. And perhaps, I suffer from a bit of “Rabble” envy after all when it comes to the team Intercasting has put together.

As OB1-Wan Kenobi said, “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” I think real gentleman this Shawn must be.

User-Generated Content: Killer App Of Mobile

November 3, 2004 § Leave a comment

“When I finally break down and get a modern cellphone, here's one reason: content” – Clock — watching time, the only true currency, A journal from John Roberts.
——

The killer app for mobile after voice and email is content.

This will not be content pushed down to the masses from established media & news organizations or entertainment companies. Rather the content will be user-generated, published from the ground up (Nanopublishing?).

User created content is an integral part of many of the tethered commercial sites like Amazon.com (user reviews), eBay, Google (Blogger & Ad Sense program), Yahoo and AOL. This shift is also being recognized within enterprise as exampled by the direction knowledge management applications are moving. All this raises the question: “Will user created content – content made by one user and consumed by many others – become as pervasive on the mobile Internet as it is on the wired Internet?”(1)

The strongest pent up demand exists in the youth segment. Younger subscribers comprise the most attractive target demographic for user-generated content. Subscribers aged 18 to 25 are over twice as likely to use handsets for services other than voice communications. This same audience is responsible for the huge success SMS, IM, ringtones and mobile gaming has experienced. “Carriers, it will be remembered, had little faith in SMS until teens seized upon the service, reinvented it and made it an indispensable part of their mobile lifestyle.”(1)

No leader has emerged to define the mobile p2p/community market. The sector will evolve from the activities of branded and white label application service providers such as Wireless Ink that currently provides a focused mobile publishing & community platform (WINKsite – http://winksite.com).

Wireless Ink's belief is that the availability of simple and flexible tools for the publishing, personalization and distribution of user-generated content is essential to mobile adoption. Furthermore, mobile community services are a great way of building and discovering that content. “It is a maxim of the social sciences that people are more committed to something to which they have invested their efforts.”(1) Enabling people to post content, vote or contribute to a mobile site increases the likelihood that they will return – it's good business.

The monetization of those mobile communities are the logical next step (e.g. affiliate marketing, advertising, syndication, selling of personalized information & premium services, person-to-person payments, mobile selling, mobile auctions etc.) Critical to the success of these programs will be the safeguarding of an individual's privacy and personal data.

While the content-community-commerce model is not a new one it nonetheless remains a potentially disruptive one in regards to the mobile space — changing the status quo.

Note: More in future posts as to how content owners and carriers are invited to the party.

References/Discussions:

What Is Moblogging?

September 27, 2004 § Leave a comment

From my perspective “moblogging” – however the word has been defined so far – fails.

Adam Greenfield, of v-2.org wasn't off the mark when he wrote, “You ask for my definition of moblogging. Here it is: whatever the people doing it say it is.” (More of Adam's thoughts here.)

You see, when the discussion began the activity of “moblogging” was thought of as simply pushing text and photos one way from a “remote” location or mobile device to a website or blog (IMHO). That content would then be available for desktop access.

Well, two years later moblogging as a label to a plethoria of mobile publishing activity fails to describe the behaviour of many of it's participants. And as such, does a great injustice to all the emergent activity going on – much of which is apparently under the radar.

You see, there is a revolution going on all over the world. People from Japan to India to Europe to the United States and South America are engaging content on mobile devices in record numbers – in fact mobile access to the Internet has already surpassed desktop access. Also rising are expectations as to how you should be able to share content and communicate with the people around you via mobile phone.

Yes, I said mobile phone not “mobile device.” Simple, affordable web-enabled mobile phones. I'm talking the masses here folks. For tens of millions worldwide (more then all us “bloggers” combined) mobile access to publishing, communication and collaboration tools are their one and only pipeline onto the Internet and to each other. The majority of them don't know the luxury of using their mobile device as a “handy” way to publish to their desktop blog. They don't have a desktop.

“Moblogging” as currently defined doesn't account for this. maybe it doesn't have to. But, by focusing on only one aspect of mobile publishing, we lose sight of greater opportunities – providing a greater number of people with a voice, and an even greater number with the ability to become involved. “Blogging” (not moblogging) as I see it is more than just publishing content, it is also the dialogue around the posts (like this discussion), the community it develops and the action that can result. Should not the definition of “moblogging” be expanded to account for those activities from alternative locations and mobile devices as well?

To underscore my point, RSS & Syndication is now is being used to bring content to the mobile phones of people who have until now had zero or little access to a desktop computer – combined with mobile forums, chat etc.- the technology shortchanged are able to engage in mobile-to-mobile and mobile-to-PC communities.

Content + People + Mobile Phones = Mobile Communities = A need for a broader definition of “moblogging”

And why not?

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