The future is mobile

Going into the last two sessions of the JISC Innovation forum, this keynote is being given by Jason DaPonte (Managing Editor, BBC Mobile Platforms), so hope it is interesting and stimulating.

Kicking off with some Dr Who references, but no sonic screwdrivers today apparently…

First question – what is mobile? BBC define it as ‘any interaction between the BBC and its audience over a portable device or within a mobile situation’ – and some key aspects of mobile are:

  • personal
  • immediate
  • location aware

Teenagers value their mobile phone very highly – would prefer to lose their passport than their mobile.

BBC see potential in sending TV to mobile devices – beyond current services on 3G – coming back to later, but technology already in use in Korea.

Areas of work include:

Mobile browser service – recently relaunched with a new look, more local services, more AV content. Currently 3 million+ unique users a month (one of largest mobile sites on web)

Mobile rich media/broadcasting – e.g. iPlayer on iphone and touch (and going to be on other devices soon – but he won’t say which ones), 3G TV trials – finished now. but looking at next steps, and now looking at ‘mobile broadcasting’ – finding issues with scheduling – e.g. BBC1 daytime content is aimed at people at home, not people on the move, with short viewing windows between meetings or classes etc.

Messaging – sore from recent scandals around SMS/premium rate voting etc. Are now setting up a compliance unit. Want to go beyond just voting – need to look at new programme formats – e.g. for radio changed the way people interacted with programmes/DJs but not really the same impact in TV. Looking at Alerts services – e.g. for Bejing Olympics – alerts for events, you can then stream to your phone (potentially)

Out of Home – big screens in public places – rolling out for 2012 Olympics – then looking at how people can interact with screens and broadcasts using bluetooth and wifi. Also looking at use of ‘semacodes’ – barcodes that can be read by your phone (see

Jason saying inspired by Web 2.0 exemplars – what are the fundamental principals behind facebook, and other ‘web 2.0’ services that make them successful:

  • straightforward – clear what they do, and they do it in an uncomplicated way
  • functional – usable and useful
  • gregarious – sociable (e.g. amusing messages on Flickr from the service), participatory
  • open – exposed, unguarded – e.g. work with Strategic Content Alliance – making things available (may be limited, but go as far as we can)
  • evolving – emergent, growing

Looking at what this means for the BBC on the web:

  • Participation
  • Distinctive portfolio – does it overlap with an existing service too much?
  • Promise fulfilled – got to deliver on what you say you do (and be clear about what you are doing)
  • Personal experience – will make the users come back
  • Part of the web – or part of the network – that is connected in with the other stuff that is out there (don’t have to redo stuff if it exists) – and public sector tends to find it hard to cross boundaries here

Jason sees the last as probably the most important – and one of the key barriers

Mentioning demos report on co-designing services with users – highly recommends it – it isn’t easy, but really important that you involve users in the design  – not just in usability testing, but throughout the process – see – key points are

Co-design is:

  • a trial-and-error style of working
  • collaboration
  • developmental process
  • outcome based

These may be challenging.

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