With broadband, point and click, web browsing, there's a world of information at your fingertips, writes Rob Bamforth of Bloor Research. When you move away from the desk and take the information with you, what could be simpler than printing some piece of information you've found and putting it into your pocket? Instead of printing why not have a digital pocket, managed for you to access from your phone when and where you need it?
That's the essence of the "Send to mobile" links springing up on sites using software from the likes of PocketThis, a London-based company.
It's a simple idea, simple to use and given there are nearly 300 websites in the UK making use of PocketThis' technology, it should be relatively simple to set up. The data you request is sent to your mobile in the form of SMS messages or personalised wireless access protocol (WAP) content.
When you access your 'pocket' through WAP, relevant links can be added by the original content provider to give you simple access to ancillary services. This not only makes WAP friendly and useful for the user, it provides opportunities for revenues for content owners and, of course, the operators.
All content owners have to do is think laterally about how to make good use of this concept to extend their existing revenue streams.
The recent announcement by the National Gallery demonstrates some thinking that brings MMS messages into play. Charles Saumarez Smith, Director of the National Gallery believes services like "Send to mobile" will allow the organisation to provide broader access to images from the whole collection.
Once pocketed onto a phone the user can keep an image in folders of favourites, share it with friends or access other services. Pocketing the content therefore stimulates further activity, so there's a fine line between making revenue on the initial "send" and the revenues from follow on.
MMS allows users of mobile devices to incorporate audio, images and other rich content with regular text messages. On a small screen device with limited keypad, ease of use is a primary concern. It appeared at one stage that the only easy way to get an image on screen would be to photograph it yourself with a camera phone. This way rich content can be simply 'pocketed' with pertinent services then dynamically attached. When the user accesses their content the services are one click away. This is ease of use for a purpose. Associated revenues.
O2, the mobile operator at the forefront of this announcement, clearly believes there are revenues to be gained. From a standing start in November 2002, O2 recorded 95,000 active users averaging five MMS messages per user per month between January to March 2003. The company has almost 600,000 subscribers with MMS capable handsets. The results of a six month trial with PocketThis showed that each time subscribers saved information in their pocket they made on average 6.1 network transactions on that information. That's some leverage.
For MMS adoption and usage to grow, applications that capture users imagination will need to be found. The opportunities for relevant additional services to surround the data sent to mobile will make those applications more valuable to user, content provider and operator.
Expect more bulging pockets.