Mobile as the seventh mass media ..

I am at the IMS 2.0 conference in Monaco. It’s a fascinating conference hearing different views and I am glad I am attending this (all three days) – for free since I am a speaker :) . At this conference, Tomi Ahonen gave the keynote for this conference. It was a usual Tomi performance and he touched on his favourite theme – Mobile the 7th Mass Media is to internet like TV is to radio .

In the previous evening, Tomi had been speaking to me about this idea in the lobby of the Fairmont and trying to ‘convert’ me to his way of thinking. In a nutshell, the Mobile is the seventh mass media idea is based on five principles which make the Mobile device truly unique

First, the mobile is personal

Secondly the mobile is the first always-on mass media

Thirdly the mobile is the first always-carried mass media

The Mobile is the only Mass Media with a Built-in Payment Channel

It is available at the point of creative impulse

And all this, he wraps up with the idea of ‘like magic’

Tomi asked me for my technical perspective on this article.

My view is: this idea of ‘like magic’ is a refreshing change because it seems to depend on simple ‘compartmentalised’ technical innovations such as 2D barcodes

So, the focus could be to first chart these innovations and then see how media can be fitted around it.

This is different from taking existing media/content and retrofitting to ‘Mobile’.

The starting point varies. Traditionally, we start by taking media and then retrofitting it to mobile.

In contrast, the seventh mass media approach would start with a ‘fantastic customer experience from something uniquely mobile’ (such as 2D barcodes or Shazam) and then retrofit media to that experience.

One example I can think of is: the Oki’s MobileIris app

According to Wired ..

Tokyo gals stopped carrying cash and Visa cards back in the 20th century. Now when they want to buy stuff, they just swipe their phone as if it were a credit or debit card. But the convenience may cost them if they’re careless. Keitai thieves can help themselves to millions of yen in addition to running up overage charges. One way for girls to safeguard their moolah: Upgrade to a phone with Oki’s MobileIris app and snap a pic of one of their peepers. The iris-scanning software (which works on almost any 1-megapixel phonecam with focus and flash capabilities) keeps mobiles on biometric lockdown until it matches the user’s eyeball to the one on file. No match, no sale!

Not sure how much this conforms to the original article .. but thats my view ..


  1. Lars says:

    Hi Ajit:
    The same Wired who pooh-poohed the camera phone “those Japanese just love taking pictures but that will never fly here” sometime back in 2001? It would be interesting to see if Brian Ashcraft, the author of the article you link to above, could point-out any handsets available in Japan today installed with Oki’s app. as it’s development was just announced in Nov. last year:
    According to that press release the company “planned” to commercialize in March 2007.
    While of course we have seen other biometric security functions deployed here, Fujitsu’s fingerprint scanner being perhaps the most famous, even Omron’s Face Recognition software has been available for a few years:
    However, in all my time on the Tokyo scene, I’ve never seen a person use one of these apps! The whole attraction to embedded RFID chips is speed.. Tap and Go. The moment you have to pin or otherwise authenticate a transaction the convenience, compared to using cash, is lost. The concern about thieves stealing (which is hardly an issue here in the first place) further reflects Wired’s typically sensationalistic and un-informed observations about how mobile really works here in Japan. People are much less likely to lose their handsets and if/when they realize (soon!) they can make one phone call and lock the device. See DoCoMo’s “Services and functions for peace of mind” page – in English – for more details:
    The Osaifu Keitai or ‘Mobile Wallet’ is exactly that.. what happens when people loose their old analog wallet?? They make a call and suspend the credit-cards but they can’t “lock” the cash.. lol.
    Sorry for the long rant.. as your main topic, based on Tomi’s initial blog, is much more in-depth it would take more time than I have on a Friday to address with the respect it deserves. That being said I would suggest that the evolution from 2D barcodes into RFID posters is an obvious path that we have already seen beta testing on the street here over the last year.. 8-) Cheers,