Bothered 2.0! By Tony Fish


Note: This post is by Tony Fish May 2007

Source: Tony Fish at etribes

Why does “Eric Schmitt” the CEO of Google say that “mobile, mobile, mobile” is the next opportunity. My viewpoint is that the ownership of mobile originated data is the opportunity.

Within my understanding; 2.0 as a movement is about the network effect, collective intelligence, wisdom of crowds, tribes, clans, clubs and all other manner of long tail matters. Web 2.0 is the passing phase from1.0; which centred on cost reduction and brand values. Moving from 1.0 to 2.0 is the same as moving from separation, isolation and solitude to relationship, engagement and conversation. Consumerism 2.0 will be built on mobility and trust.

Eric Schmitt, the CEO of Google, said “mobile, mobile, mobile” as the next opportunity at the O’Reilly Web2Expo in San Francisco last month, where I was speaking on Mobile Web 2.0. I fully agrees that the mobile platform provides an opportunity that can advance faster and further than any other platform; such as the Web, TV, radio or newspaper. The mobile based form factor will be both the preferred method of IP access globally and, being always with you, will be the prime source of collecting your data or ‘Digital Footprint’, which Google would like to own and exploit!

Our mobile device is not only with us, it is increasingly part of us; it has become for many users the most personal thing. Published research suggests that we notice the loss of the mobile device faster than our wallet. The mobile device, if capable, can capture your ‘Digital Footprint’ [My first impression of this was described as ‘the slug trail’ in Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte 1996. Digital Footprint is also known as a ‘Lifestream.’ ‘Lifestreams’ will soon be structured using APML as a common data interchange format for attention or iPALS - identity, Presence, Attention, Location and Services.] which is our daily actions and activities; when we start moving in the morning, what information was searched, requested or delivered, where we have been, where we stayed and for how long. Relationship analysis using our contact base would detail who we were with and who was nearby. Other Screens of Life [‘Screens of Life’ is a phrase explored in Mobile Web 2.0 as a mechanism to describe how we interact with media; both as a consumer of content and as a creator. The screens of life being Cinema, TV, PC, HeadRest (Airplane or Car), Mobile Device, Informational (iPod)] will be unable to repeat this data collection feat, at best a fixed access Web model may get 10% of the available data of your daily pattern, TV maybe 1%, but the mobile device opens the possibility of 90%

Assuming privacy laws and big brother objections can be overcome, this Digital Footprint of captured data or its aggregated trends has a use and a value. The use is personalisation, the exploitation of personalisation is sales and marketing, the value is based on ownership of Digital Footprints. This Digital Footprint being made up of clicks, attention, location and is the focus of our converged industries. 2.0 as a movement has a fascination with this data, in O’Reilly language ‘the next Intel inside.’ Digital Footprints are about where we have been, for low long, how often and the inter-relationships. Digital Footprints are not about individual identity, passport numbers, bank account details or social security numbers. Digital Footprint metadata comes from the Screens of Life – the digital metadata of who we are, the true value to marketing income based companies who need this data for personalisation and why the ownership of this data is the battle ground to be won and lost, the reason why I speculate that Eric Schmidt wakes up thinking about how to own an individuals mobile metadata before he looks at his email or worries about the value of Double Click or improving the search algorithm.

Bothered 2.0!

I would contend that this Digital Footprint or metadata belongs to me – its creator. However, who will I trust with my Digital Footprint if I don’t want Google, Amazon, Ebay, Vodafone, News Corp or Disney to have ownership of it. I need a trusted, open Digital Footprint store, collecting, collating and serving my metadata, through an open API across all platforms and services. I recognise the value of sharing a Digital Footprint, as it leads to service companies improving my mobile, Web or TV experience through personalisation and offsetting cost. But who should I trust and what should I trust them for; as most 2.0 corporations want my Digital Footprint metadata to justify the business model; as owners of Digital Footprints will control advertising revenue. As Google only controls the Web footprint, control of the mobile is critical, especially as mobile devices adds two whole new classes of unclaimed data platforms, availability and location.

Should I be bothered or not?


  1. Paul Sweeney says:

    Tony, I think pretty much everyone understands that mobile is a major opportunity. And you are absolutely correct to point out the “data inside” as the strategic asset. But if the “process” begins with search, then Google/Yahoo are going to have a massive advantage. Sure they might get there via a combo of organic growth and acquisition, but I would point some attention towards Bloglines/Google Reader, Technorati/Google blogsearch. Should you care? maybe you don’t have a real choice.

  2. tony fish says:

    thanks for the comment. I am not convinced that every interaction on a mobile device will start with ‘search, find or discover’. If I understands Ajit’s views and insights on Widgets/ Gadgets etc, it is possible that applications will already be live on the mobile device, removing the necessity of search as the route in and the search engines ability to get primary data. Interested in your further thoughts

  3. Paul Sweeney says:

    Tony, that’s a fair comment. Given GPS, and service categories such as lifestreaming (, and placesteaming ( am sure that their will be “pro-active communications” and “pro-active co-ordination” opportunities. But I believe that the competitive advantage will come from the ability to generate, share, and act on better quality data, and with finer grained data. If I want to be alerted as to the “availability of a parking space near me”, I want it to be the nearest space, at the best price, in a safe location. As in search, Vertical, Vertical, Vertical might well be the mantra here. I would be interested to hear your throughs on Taking A Vertical, as opposed to Taking A Horizontal Process.

  4. tobto says:

    Thats correct. With our Digital Footprint absorbed around we shall lose freedom to resist to the personalized ‘happiness’.

  5. tony fish says:

    Is it safe to assume that horizontal is a ‘platform’ (eg payment, location, SMS, GPS) and a vertical is a service category (parking, eating, entertainment)
    I would like to understand how a ‘platforms’ will interact and be able to know what I want to do before I do it, ie find me that parking space…. as if freedom is a right to choose, does control over the digital footprint remove choice and remove my freedom, rather than deliver a service?
    I think the question is therefore about how long should anyone be able to keep data on us, which enters the holy realms of privacy.

  6. PaulSweeney says:

    Tony, I think that the horizontal platform’s as you have outlined are as safe to assume as you say. If two companies have equal access to platforms, and one platform is largely similar to the next (i.e. SMS, GPS, Payment), then where does the opportunity for differentiation lie? I think the technical term for this is “Structural Equivalence”. Perhaps the opportunity is fairly straightforward for the horizontal platform plays, but not for the Vertical plays that have no specialised assets.