Moblogging Uptake Weak, Even in Japan. So?

[TheFeature] A new study shows Japanese aren’t moblogging, but they still send snapshots to other handsets. If carriers want people to moblog more, we look at some interface improvement suggestions from around the web.

This kind of somewhat shallow and rushed article makes me wanna speak like Andrew Orlowski. I mean, the title is misleading and the content doesn’t deliver. Is Eric Lin really surprised that the moblogging uptake is weak? Even in Japan? I co-organised the First International Moblogging Conference (1IMC) in Tokyo last year and I am NOT surprised.

Why are we even dreaming about moblogs when sending a picture still costs so much?
Moblogs, and moblogging tools are now similar to what the internet experience was 8 years ago. 85% of mobile phones in Japan are NOT 3G, and even if they were, only 500,000 people have flat-fee AU phones at the moment (I am not even talking about the rest of the world…). Moreover, how can one get surprised by the weak uptake of moblogging when 99% of the population doesn’t own a website nor know the word blog?

And pardon me but an interface that offers to send the picture will NOT encourage people to send it as long as their phone bills would skyrocket if they did so. In Japan, the next button after taking on pic on a mobile IS send this and look… It didn’t work. Do you enjoy a $100+ phone bill? NO, well most people neither.

Creating the tools will not create the demand… Why do you want people to moblog? I mean, do we talk about Picture Book Ordering From Inside Photo Softwares Weak, Even On Apple’s Most Amazing iPhoto? Do most people have online photo galleries?

Showing your pics to your friends on your phone is great, why would you send them… Do you send your printed photo albums to your friends by the post? NO, you wait for them to come to your house or just take a few pics in a pocket for your next meetup.

What is exciting is to get people to take those pics and to share them.
We are at the beginning of the movement, and any trip to Japan would prove that the demand is here and that the 2-3 days a month survey data is grossly biased. At the moment it is way too expensive to share them accross the network so we share them on the phones. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Let’s start by making the screen phones bigger and of better resolution, in Japan we now reach 240×320 on most new phones, and the phone interfaces to view those pics nned to become faster and more friendly (I have seen great improvements in Japan over the past year). The phones could offer to beam those pics to your friends phones (some do). Then, we could improve the mobile phone picture printing station we get in some shops in Japan to offer to create a moblog for you on a server space offered by the maker. Yahoo Japan photo albums have an option to send an invitation to your friends, they can connect through their mobile phone and view your pics, but again how can they expect us to use this costly function, this is premature.
Service provider should continue their effort and create better software packages accompanying the phones and work on a greater compatibility (well, create compatibility first) between the phones and the home PC to make it easy to store our pics in ONE place (not another software) and then offer to create online galleries of our pics, should we want to.
And they should follow the example of KDDI AU’s flat-fee option launched last year and soon to be offered by Docomo next June. Then we’ll start talking about moblogging. Did you see blogs before ADSL became widespread? And look at blogs now. Still NOT the second superpower, and still NOT MORE than 0.4% of the internet.

Now, does that mean that we shouldn’t have a 2IMC? By all means we should. I think that moblogging is first and foremost a label that represents a certain ideal of mobility.
By having a 2IMC, we could analyse what the past year has brought us the users, refocus our expectations and demands, showcase what work has been done, what the next months will bring and what that means for the users. Ideally, the IMCs should be conferences by the users, for the users, with users and providers hand in hand, which would prevent big corporations from hijacking the deal, serving it their own sauce and robbing us from our bit of fun.

Back to Mogi, the cool multiplayer GPS mobile phone game.

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    Based in Paris & Tokyo, Paul Baron is a senior product manager for hire. Ex-@AQworks. Co-founder of cultural platform Tokyo Art Beat.
    Service design, interaction design, startups, user research.
    Posts a few times a decade since 2003.

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