This blog is based on my talk at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week on the theme of ‘Exploring the myths and realities of the Youth Demographics’.
The theme of my talk was: ‘Mobile’ Youth is a myth until it reflects the Youth’s social graph .. There are no ‘Mobile’ Youth – Just ‘Internet Youth’. Mobile is a medium – but there are others. The medium they will adopt most will be the one which reflects their social graph
Besides me, the three other speakers were: Matthew Key, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Telefonica Europe ; Javier Ferreira, Head of Mobile, EA ; June Bower, Vice President Marketing, Consumer Entertainment, Alctel Lucent labs all moderated by the very able Paul Goode, Senior European Analyst, M:Metrics
I was speaking about Mobile Youth and social networking. I initially thought that my views were contrarian – but I was surprised to see that was not the case.
Paul Goode (always a great source of mobile industry / mobile youth stats) said that – the under 24 years account for only 20% of the installed base of mobile subscribers(I think this was uk based). Also, June Bower said that the youth use the Internet as the benchmark (which was my point).
My talk was based on the concept of the Social graph and the key message of my talk was:
We expect ‘Mobile’ Youth to drive revenues. However, at the moment – that is a myth since the Mobile environment is not open and interoperable and does not mirror the youth’s social graph
Youth are mainly interested in connecting with peers. User generated content is the foundation of that connection (Web 2.0/Mobile Web 2.0). We need open and interoperable systems if we are to emulate the success of the Web and win the youth demographic
We see youth as .. loaded with money .. But from Israel to India, all they want to do is to communicate with their peers.
The Mobile data industry is short-sighted and arrogant in claiming a whole demographic.
Do we think of IPTV youth, or fixed line youth, or cable TV youth or to be even more futuristic – wearable computing youth??
But with a Gollumesque glint in our eyes .. We want to own a whole demographic .. (My precious)!!!
But .. Where are the youth? In fact they are reading a book .. Problem is .. the book is facebook (Web 2.0) .. ( and by the way .. That means they are not downloading ringtones! )
So, why do Web 2.0 services work?
Because they mirror the user’s social graph and focus on user generated content (UGC is a form of communication). In contrast, the mobile services do not in most cases. All your friends are not on the same Operator – you don’t live your life like that! Since mobile services are not interoperable(excluding voice and SMS) – they do not reflect the social graph. The same applies to user generated content. UGC needs interoperable systems and that’s why the youth gravitate to facebook …
Brad Fitzpatrick of facebook defines “social graph” as “The global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”.
The key is: How closely is the youth’s real life social graph mirrored to their online graph (Internet and Mobile). That’s where facebook wins and ‘Mobile’ loses in winning the hearts and minds of the young ..
However, when the social graph is mirrored on mobile devices .. We get some very interesting services ..
Nokia Ovi defines the concept of circular entertainment and predicts that 25% OF ENTERTAINMENT BY 2012 WILL BE CREATED AND CONSUMED WITHIN PEER COMMUNITIES
“We think it will work something like this; someone shares video footage they shot on their mobile device from a night out with a friend, that friend takes that footage and adds an MP3 file – the soundtrack of the evening – then passes it to another friend. That friend edits the footage by adding some photographs and passes it on to another friend and so on. The content keeps circulating between friends, who may or may not be geographically close, and becomes part of the group’s entertainment.” Says Mark Selby, Vice President, Multimedia, Nokia.
Share on Ovi .. also reflects this idea. This works because it mirrors the social graph!! (There are no restrictions on sharing ..)
A smaller but fast growing service called Itsmy also reflects the same concept ..
At one million registered users, 2.5 million visitors. 16 million Mobile Internet downloads, 1.76 million UGC components(videos), 920,000 Mobile home pages, 2.8 million mobile sites – itsmy is a huge success story. In a recent survey of 8256 votes, 26% of the people(the second highest requirement) said that they wanted to find and meet people in their own area(again reflecting the social graph)
So, to conclude .. Don’t take the youth for granted – and at least for now, Mobile Youth is a myth! Just as wearable computing youth will be in future!
Images: Courtesy Google Images copyright owned by the respective owners where applicable.