When will Mobile Become the Next Big Thing?

Scott Karp from the Publishing 2.0 blog lists five arguments explaining why mobile is not yet very exciting:

1. Wireless carrier networks are SLOW
2. Public WiFi access is a SCAM
3. Sites aren’t formated for small screens
4. Mobile device screens are too small
5. Advertising gets in the way

What it means: I agree with his assessment, especially in North America. I’ve often been asked by traditional media publishers: “How do we leapfrog Google, Yahoo, MSN?”. I think one of the potential answers is Mobile. I’ve never been really excited by mobile’s potential until I attended the Web 2.0 Expo last April. I got the feeling when I was there that mobile is about to become real. Something in the zeitgeist, about the convergence of the various interests of hardware manufacturers, content publishers and the technological community. I think we’re still 24 months away from tangible results but, if you operate a local media business, you should be thinking hard about mobile today. You should have a couple of dedicated resources working on the mobile strategic plan, thinking about user experience specifically adapted for mobile browsing and the 3-inch screen, thinking about what kind of ads will be most efficient in that medium. Send that team to Japan or South Korea to see what people are doing with their mobile devices there. Invest some dollars now. Mobile is all about local and you can’t afford to miss that wave.

Update (& related topic): my friend Colin talks about overpriced mobile data plans in Canada

How the Web is Becoming a Big Word of Mouth Machine

The day started with Robert Scoble discussing how “social graph-based search” (Mahalo, Techmeme, Facebook, etc.) is going to beat Google and other search engines.

Scott Karp summarizes Robert’s points:

  • Humans can judge what’s missing from an aggregation of information on a topic
  • The key to effective human filtering is leveraging a “fabric of trusted individuals”/”people who are trusted and credible”
  • By connecting these trusted people through a social network, you can leverage that resulting social graph to validate trust and create network effects

Then, Karl Martino added:

(…) there is a growing role for “Trusted Human Editors In Filtering The Web”. Our friends, our families, our communities. Not just machines and algorithms. My favorite and fellow bloggers, Slashdot, Salon, the home page of the NYTimes, Philly Future, Shelley Powers, Scott himself, my news reader subscriptions, are all trusted humans, or representations of trusted humans, filtering the Web for me. So it
still comes down to trust – What organizations do we trust? What systems do we trust? What communities do we trust? What people do we trust?

What it means: I believe the web is slowly transforming itself into a big word of mouth machine. Social will eventually be embedded directly in the fabric of the world wide web. Media companies have an advantage today as they are a trusted source but those that resist the “socialization” of the web will be left behind. In the directory business, there is a saying that word of mouth is the biggest competitor out there. I think it can become the biggest opportunity in local search.