Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Squeezing PC web into mobile is like listening to the TV on the radio.

Imagine if radio came along after television.

… would the first radio shows simply have been recordings off the TV?

Before the days of video recorders I used to sit and record the television with the new shiny mic onto cheap D90s I’d bought from the market. The novelty soon wore off and none of my friends seemed that interested in my recordings.

We’ve grown accustomed to see TV and radio as two very different media channels. In particular we don’t consider the radio as a lesser medium even though from a simple point of view it’s just a constrained TV. I love the radio – in fact I spend more time listening to the radio than I do watching the TV. Why? Not because I think there’s better content on the radio, and not because I think it’s physically better than the TV – more because it fits comfortably into my way of life and my context.

I work quite a bit – and I learnt pretty early on that I can’t work whilst watching the TV. Took me a while to realise that and I still experiment with it, but basically if I’m front of a TV I don’t get any work done. However the radio fits my mood – I can put on some back ground music, or even talk programs, to give me inspiration. It doesn’t tear my attention away and in some respects can enhance my work environment.

I do quite a bit of DIY, housework – my old paint splattered radio follows me around. I’m often amazed at how long a couple of AA batteries power the damn thing, even though I leave it on too much. It falls off tables, sit’s in damp rooms … it’s so simple and portable and it goes on broadcasting for me.

I can safely say I’ve never tried to watch a TV and drive. Don’t think I’ll ever give that a go, but I obviously do listen to the radio in the car. When good programs are on I don’t even mind sitting in traffic as it gives me a little time to think and relax … as long as it’s not too much traffic.

Radio production has learnt from the strengths of the audio only medium. You can in fact do things you can’t do on a TV, perhaps because of the limited budgets but perhaps because you can create an experience not possible when you’re distracted by the images. It reminds me of the classic line in Educating Rita when, in response to “Suggest how you would resolve the staging difficulties inherent in a production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt” , … she simply replied … “Do it on the radio. ”

So where does this sit with mobile …

As we start to explore the opportunities with mobile, we’ll start to exploit the true value in an always on, context aware, portable communication channel. We’re starting to see it already. Rummble provide an excellent location based personalised recommendation service. facebook is being accessed regularly from mobile devices by over a quarter of it’s users to keep in touch with their community.

I see the next few years as pretty exciting, as we grab this mobile medium and let it power people’s lives. It’s why I’m spending a good bit of time at bemoko refining the way that we take everything we’ve learnt and created in the web world to power the mobile enabled web; taking the unique benefits of mobile to create experiences we only dreamed of before.