Content? That's The Easy Part
By Mike Masnick, Sat Mar 19 01:30:00 GMT 2005

The retro refrain from this week's CTIA appeared to be "content is king" when it came to the mobile phone. With that in mind, suddenly everyone's trying to answer the content question. However, when it comes to the mobile world, content is the easy part. Everyone will create it.

There are various hype cycles in the technology world, that gets everyone shifted in one direction -- often missing the bigger picture. In the last couple of years, the talk of the mobile world has been "what's the killer app?" If only there were a killer app for mobile data, the thinking goes, everything else would fall into place. This seems to have gone through its own stages as well, with some denying that there ever would be a killer app for mobile data, and others suggesting that the killer app already existed or some other idea.

However, with the search for the killer app getting too exhausting, it looks like some people needed to start searching for something different for the mobile world. At this week's CTIA, that "something different" was content. Suddenly, people were once again saying "content is king" -- a phrase that many hoped had died out a decade ago when the web first hit the scene. Instead, it just seems to be getting more attention with people like P Diddy claiming that not only is content king, but he can provide "king kong content" for the mobile world.

Meanwhile, there are some much more interesting experiments in mobile content from a variety of companies who all appear to buy into the content equals king equation. However, what's fascinating are the different approaches described in the article. The first experiment involves getting "writers and directors" to create stories in under 160 characters -- a fun little challenge. The second is Nokia's short-film competition, of which there have been a few similar offerings in the past few years -- trying to get film makers to design ultra short films to be seen on the super small mobile screen. The final experiment is the hiring of some well known animators to create some short animations for mobiles.

While all three may sound somewhat similar, they actually get progressively less interesting. The article claims the first one is for "writers and directors," but who defines who is a writer or a director? It's the sort of thing anyone can do -- even if they might not do it well. Making videos takes a bit more in skills and tools, but those tools are increasingly available. In both cases, it's opening up the content creation to a wider group. The final experiment is more focused on the "broadcast" model of content creation. It's about getting "the talent" to entertain "the masses." If there's one thing the Internet has shown over the years, it's that "the masses" can entertain each other quite well.

The Internet and the mobile Internet are closely related, obviously. They are both communications platforms over content platforms, and successful content for mobile phones isn't going to come from hiring famous animators, but in making it easy for anyone to create content to entertain others. This doesn't have to be content the successfully entertains millions. It can be content that successfully entertains an audience of only one. However, it's the communications aspect of the mobile Internet that makes it exciting, and that's why content creation is nothing to worry about. If everyone has the tools, and the system allows it, the content will be created without having to "hire" anyone to create it for you (or worry about how to protect it). We'll all be creating content for the mobile Internet, just as we do for the regular Internet.