The right type of mobile content: think social

There's been a lot of talk lately about the "slowdown" in mobile content as user adoption seems to have (temporarily) stalled. M:Metrics came out with a press release attributing the slowdown in mobile gaming adoption to "pricing, choice and lack of interest". MocoNews cited a Forbes article in which Rob Tercek points to the carriers, including their lack of focus on mobile content relative to voice and one-size-fits-all merchandising / marketing.

The NY Times also has an article profiling Trip Hawkins's view on mobile content. His take: mobile content needs to enable social connections,"because it's when you're mobile, you're the most socially needy and vulnerable and insecure, and that's when the one platform you have is the mobile, wireless platform." As the article notes, his company, Digital Chocolate, has created games that "appear decidedly low-tech, the easiest-to-use games possible without fancy graphics or elaborate storytelling;" in other words, their games are tailored to fill people's social need for interaction while mobile – not designed to cram the most visual firepower or complexity into a mobile video game.

I think Digital Chocolate has got it right. What ails mobile content isn't all the carriers' fault (as most people would lead you to believe). What ails mobile content is the wrong focus on why people will want to consume mobile content.

The mobile phone is the most ubiquitous device because it enables people to communicate, connect and interact with other people (it's not rocket science: the mobile phone will always be primarily a communications device). What's going to be a stronger motivator to consume mobile content: the ability to use mobile content to interact with friends in new ways or the ability to do something by yourself in isolation on a tiny screen? Mobile content is missing the mark because the industry is too focused on re-purposing existing franchises / content / brands instead of creating new mobile content that engages users' emotional compulsion to interact when they're mobile. Think mobile social and you'll be way ahead of everybody else…

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