Opera CEO Interview

MobHappy interviews Jon von Tetzchner:

von Tetzchner is quick to point out that while operators might have to give up something in the short term, empowering users net access with a full browser and open service leaves them much more to gain in the long run though it requires a fundamental change of view. Instead of trying to lock people in, entice them to stay, he says. Operators can offer services that make use of a full browser, whether on a subscription basis, or as a tool to fight churn. Directing mobile users out on to the internet doesnt mean operators are suddenly out of the picture. They can offer different service plans to cater to different needs, as well as utilize existing infrastructure to provide services like third-party content billing.

Much of operators approach to the mobile Web has been predicated on a closed strategy, whether by blocking access outright to anything outside the portal, billing for it at ridiculous rates, or setting things up in such a way that theyre a necessary gatekeeper and technical expert for anybody that wants access to their customers. This strategy is outmoded and ill-advised; operators stand to gain far more by opening up, and allowing users to get what they want, and making it easier for content providers to give it to them. von Tetzchner and Operas contention is that this is best achieved by using standard web technologies rather than mobile-specific ones, allowing content providers to simply serve mobile users, and allowing those users access to everything they want. People just want the internet, he says, not to look at it through a keyhole.

Marketing Challenges

The McKinsey Quarterly has an excerpt from a new book “Profiting from Proliferation” by David Court, Tom French, and Trond Riiber Knudsen. The book discusses “how companies should respond to the challenges posed by rising complexity in today’s marketing environmentwhich is characterized by increasingly fragmented customer segments, the declining effectiveness of traditional media, and a constantly expanding number of distribution touchpoints.”

The scope of today’s marketing challenge is breathtaking, and proliferation is the reason. Recent advances in technology, information, communications, and distribution have created an explosion of new customer segments, sales and service channels, media, marketing approaches, products, and brands. But despite better customer information management and lower communications costs, marketing to consumers and businesses is becoming more complex and difficult every day. Marketerseven the most sophisticatedare struggling to keep up.

To understand the full impact of proliferation, consider the wireless-telecommunications market. Carriers used to manage 3 demographically oriented consumer segments; today they manage more than 20 need- and value-based ones. Rather than view baby boomers as a single segment, the industry has created 6 or 8 subsegments, differentiated by their usage tendencies and product needs. The number of discrete offerings has ballooned into the hundreds: prepaid and postpaid calling plans; family-friendly and nights-and-weekend plans; text-, data-, and messaging-capable mobile telephones; video and music phones; and so on. The number of distribution touchpoints has increased from three to more than ten, including company-owned stores, shared and exclusive dealers, telemarketing agents, affinity partners, and the Web. As a result of customer-specific service bundles, the number of price points exceeds 500,000. And the number of communications vehicles will continue to grow dramatically as event marketing, viral marketing, product placement, and other approaches augment traditional media such as television, whose effectiveness is under assault.

Newsletters and Feeds

WSJ has an interview with Jakob Nielsen:

You say you like traditional newsletters emailed to customers instead of news feeds. Why so? Don’t they contribute just as much to information overload?

The best ones don’t. With the best ones, it’s like a service you are waiting for and expecting. The email newsletter comes to you; it arrives in your in box, and becomes part of the one place you go to get information. That’s the great strength.

The best newsletters really drive customer relationships. But they have to be very good, very targeted to a specific user’s actual needs. And it’s got to be very timely as well. For example, one newsletter is called ‘Your Baby This Week,’ and is targeted at new parents and, in particular, new mothers. It talks on a weekly basis of what you can expect for your new baby. That is something that is extremely relevant, so people really look forward to getting that particular newsletter. Unless a newsletter is very good, people will just say, ‘Oh no, more information.’

Mobile Network as Computer

Ajit Jaokar writes:

What if we could extrapolate the idea of the network is the computer and extend the concepts of a computer and a network to higher levels in the software stack and especially to a Network of mobile phones. We then have the makings of a global network which spans countries and languages. Such a network can reach many more people than a network of computers.

While the notion of the Network is your computer is enticing, it is still at a raw, processing capacity level.

What if we could extrapolate these ideas of a computer and a network to higher levels in the stack and especially to a Network of mobile phones.

Flash for Web Video

MercuryNews writes:

Flash has soared from zero to No. 2 in its market in just two years, according to Paul Palumbo, research director for Accustream iMedia Research. Microsoft’s Windows Media format is the leader, handling 60 percent of all streaming video in 2005; Flash has 19 percent of the market, jumping ahead of RealNetworks at about 10 percent and Apple’s QuickTime, with about 8 percent.

“Flash is going to be dominant,” Palumbo said. “You can embed this into the Web page and it’s instantly `on.’ It’s a seamless process. It has tremendous visibility and adoption among the creative agencies and artists.”

TECH TALK: Video on the Internet: New Media

Will Richmond publishes a newsletter entitled Broadband Directions with a focus around IP-delivered video. This is what he wrote in one of his recent newsletters: Things have really heated up in the past six months as broadband has been recognized as a legitimate platform for video distribution and a key ingredient in all media business plans. This has happened because people understand that broadband allows unparalleled targeting, sponsorship and engagement opportunities at a very low (relative) cost.

Will also summarised some of the recent activity in the US context:

Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Apple Our firm calls these companies the “Group of Five” as these online behemoths are best-positioned to become next-generation, broadband-centric video distributors.

Cable Programmers Cable programmers have ramped up their launches of “broadband channels” to create new video-rich destinations for their audiences.

Broadcasters The major broadcast networks have been eager to position themselves as being multi-platform to exploit all new forms of digital distribution.

Everyone else Broadband is opening up opportunities for early-stage, niche video programmers (much like cable TV once did) as well as established, non video-oriented media companies (e.g. print media, online publishers, etc.) who want to extend their brands into video. There’s also an opportunity for consumer product companies to stake a new claim in video that goes well beyond standard ad units.

Business Week had an interview early this year with Mike Volpi of Cisco. He felt that IPTV happening is only a matter of time. He added: “There will be a lot more user-created video, especially as consumer video recorders and editing technology get better. Just as we reached a tipping point with digital cameras, we’ll soon reach a tipping point with digital video recorders. And there will be a lot more ad hoc video content, which is slightly dumbed down but still feels like it was professionally produced. It will be easy and cheap to make, like reality TV. And there will be professional content, but it will allow much more room for user preferences. People will be able to select camera angles or different endings for a show.”

Two commonly used words are timeshifting (think TiVo) and placeshifting (think Sling Media). Timeshifting allows users to watch the programmes of their choice at their convenience where the device (or service) records programmes much like a VCR used to do (or still does for some of us). Placeshifting allows viewers to watch the programming from their home cable networks via the Internet anywhere they want. Take together, both shift control from the broadcaster and distributor to the viewer. That is a common theme in the emergence of video on the Internet.

Tomorrow: New Media (continued)

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