In 2006 the telecoms and tech author Tomi Ahonen coined the term "Seventh of the Mass Media" to explain why services on mobile need not be copies of internet or TV content - it describes the evolution and convergence of mass media from print to mobile. It's an interesting concept that I often get asked to include in introductory presentations about Mobile Marketing.

The seven mass media in order of their introduction are:
1 - Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc) from the late 1400s
2 - Recordings (records, tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CD's, DVD's) from the late 1800s
3 - Cinema from about 1900
4 - Radio from about 1910
5 - Television from about 1950
6 - Internet from about 1990
7 - Mobile phones from about 2000

There's fascinating stories about these all along the way, but we're going to focus on Internet and Mobile.

The internet was the first "inherent threat" mass media channel. Inherent threat means that the internet could challenge any previous media and cannibalize it  - for example, print articles can be read online, tv shows viewed online, radio shows listened to etc. Additionally, the internet introduced three powerful concepts:

1. It was the first interactive media,

2. It offers search, and

3. It enables social networking

Mobile wasn't born as a "Mass Media" until Radiolinja (in Finland) launched the first downloadable content to mobile phones - the downloadable ring tone - in the Autumn of 1998. This started the shift of mobile from telecommunications to media.

Ahonen points out that there are seven features that distinguish mobile from all the other media:

1.  Mobile is the first personal mass media
2.  Mobile is permanently carried
3.  Mobile is always-on
4.  Mobile has a built-in payment mechanism
5.  Mobile is available at the point of creative inspiration
6.  Mobile has the most accurate audience measurement
7.  Mobile captures the social context of media consumption

Many may claim that the internet offers some of the benefits (personal, payment, audience accuracy and social context). However, as Ahonen states:
The internet is only semi-personal such as shared computers at internet cafes, home and the office, and the ability for example of employers to read content consumed by employees. The internet in its native form cannot handle money or payments, and requires work-arounds such as Paypal accounts and using credit cards. On mobile payments can be enabled on the click, such as with downloading ring tones.

The Systems View blog explores some of the unique dimensions of Web and Mobile in more detail.

Mobile is also often referred to as the "fourth screen", the first three being Cinema, Television and PC. Nokia sums it up quite nicely in this advert:

AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesMedia, Mobile
14 CommentsPost a comment
In response to my blog post on Friday, I just got an email from Siobahn at WOMWorld who represents Nokia in the social-media space:
We saw that in a recent blog post you enjoyed the Stavros site that's currently running and that you'd like an N82. Currently we have N82's available
for test and review, and would be more than happy to send you one if
you are interested in putting the device through its paces.

We take care of the logistics side of things, will arrange for the
device to be sent and collected etc, if you?d like to get involved let
us know as soon as you can and we?ll get everything arranged.

I look forward to getting my N82, and am feeling large amounts of goodwill towards these people right now.
AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesWOM, blogging
13 CommentsPost a comment
Most new phones can access the internet from a URL sent by SMS, but yet I hardly ever see URL's in SMS's... even in marketing SMSs where more information would be really useful. I'm sure that's about to change though as mobile marketing gathers momentum in SA.

Still, it's a good, simple thing to do. WAP sites can be used to collect user registrations, accept restaurant bookings, provide more information, or even a brand experience.

A company could even send out an SMS with a link to their latest blog post every time it's updated (it would help if the blog was well, written and interesting too). I could imagine myself wanting to get sms updates when certain of my favourite blogs are updated... kind of a RSS/SMS mashup.
AuthorDave Duarte
18 CommentsPost a comment
As Dave Liddell points out: South Africa needs innovative ICT solutions if we want to be competitive in a global market that seeks the smartest workforce.

A smart workforce today needs quality information and connectivity. Fortunately, many South Africans who can't afford PCs can already use their cellphones to access the net. This might be the key.

There are certain facts about cellular usage in Africa that astound me - like how cellphone airtime is being used as interest-free currency in Kenya. This is what makes us African - we make a plan!

I look forward to seeing heavily criticized applications like Mxit becoming potent educational content delivery platforms in South Africa... never mind the $100 laptop - our kids will have a powerful, user-friendly mobile computer with internet access in their pocket first!

We need to use what we have rather than looking to emulate the solutions that apply to the first world. Necessity is the mother of innovation.