It’s time to deploy more ‘interesting’ content

It’s time to deploy more ‘interesting’ content
John Craig is currently ‘VP Wireless’ at Destinator, supplying Navigation and Content solutions. Previously he was at Cambridge Positioning Systems (CPS) developing both Cell- and GPS-based location technologies. Before that he experienced a crash-course in the media industry, working with Content and Rights for the mobile channel. And most of his 20-year career was spent with Ericsson, helping make GSM/UMTS the cellular network of choice, and Ericsson its supplier. He is a true believer in the value of location to the mobile experience. Although his LBS experiences have pre-maturely aged him, his time in Navigation has shown how things could be. He has vowed to stick with this industry to make it a mass-market phenomenon. Or until he retires as an old man - whichever happens first.

We’ll eventually get around to talking about Location-Based Social Networking, but let us first provide a context for Content in Navigation Systems and LBS Solutions today.

There is a lot of very ‘standard’ Content around. This is Content which is expected to be present on products by consumers – but will not excite the industry, take it to the next level, nor provide much scope for innovation or product differentiation.

Let’s discuss just a few examples of ‘standard’ and ‘interesting’ Content, and issues around their delivery.

Location-Based Advertising
Or Spam? Fair enough in broadcasting contexts (TV, Radio, Internet) where you select a Channel / Page, and you grudgingly learn to accept what comes with it. But when it comes to people’s phones, be careful, and be aware that often no amount of free talk minutes or free routes will compensate for this invasion.

A personal favourite is the classic Starbucks discount coupon, which sustained the entire LBS industry for several years, as we were told how wonderful it would be to get this offer on your phone, just as you were passing. And maybe it is wonderful – if you like Starbucks coffee, had already opted-in or signed-up, were actually near such a store and located accurately, and were someone to whom 20 cents or whatever made a difference, and, etc… It is no surprise that LBS of this nature, has not succeeded.

Do not rely on Location-based advertising for your business. Mobile is not like the Internet in this respect.

Local search
Local search
Cellular-connected PND’s
This is a clash of 2 worlds, with the ‘wild-west’ of consumer electronics, meeting the more sedate domain of network operators. The crux of the issue is that you can get an acceptable PND today for €150. To connect it to work everywhere (i.e. not some spotty Wi-Fi solution) you need to integrate a cellular modem into the PND hardware, and most painfully of all, add a cellular subscription. For the latter you could generally be charged €5-€10/month. What we have now created is a PND that could be around 3 times more expensive over a 2-year lifespan, and whose price difference has to be justified purely by the content. The question is – have you seen a geo-Content package today, worth twice the cost of the PND itself? The Connected PND will happen – but it will be called something different – it will be called a ‘Phone’.

Local Search
In my apartment ‘Yellow Pages’ directory books are delivered once a year, and these hefty volumes usually stay lying there in the hall. They are the hard copy equivalent of Local Search - full of useful information, arranged in order, and you can search and identify services local to you. It’s a ‘must-have’ base and geo-Content safety net, but that’s about it.

Anything from Navteq or TeleAtlas
The issue here is that in most cases everyone else goes to the same shop for their maps and content, and both shops have similar product ranges. Therefore consumer product differentiation possibilities are limited, and likely to be short-lived. Unless perhaps you are Nokia or TomTom - something the EU recently took an interest in. Few products will get a sustainable competitive edge from Navteq or TeleAtlas data, except their owners. It is therefore ‘standard’ content.


Thursday, June 19th 2008
John Craig

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