Know your mobile media channels

Mobile media reaches far, far beyond mere just smartphone/tablet apps. There are lots of ways to communicate with, and engage, your audience via the mobile devices they have in hand right now — even if they don’t have smartphones (which is the case for about 70% of the current US mobile market).

If you’re in the news business, or in any way involved with media, it’s important to devise a mobile strategy that’s inclusive. That means: Unless you’re really only interested in serving the small minority of the population that can afford (and has lots of time to play around with) souped-up, pricey smartphones and tablets, then it’s crucial to offer at least some mobile content and services that works well with simpler devices and slower data connections.

The low end will always be the largest part of the mobile media market. If your plan is to focus on smartphones and wait until most people get the kinds of devices and plans you think they should have in order to serve them, the next Craigslist is going to come along and eat your lunch. Again.

Here are the key mobile channels… Continue reading

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

On CNN.com Tech today, I wrote a basic overview of the most common current security risks mobile users face, and some basic things you can do to protect yourself:

Mobile phone security: What are the risks?

First on the list was malware — and on that front, Android definitely presents the biggest risk, because it’s such an open platform.

So, anticipating the trolls: Even though I own an Android phone and love it, and have said so several times in my CNN posts, I’m sure I’ll get lots of comments from Android fanboys complaining that I must be on Apple’s payroll.

For the record, no, I get nothing from Apple. In fact, I’m really kinda tired of iPhone fetishization, especially by tech media. I’m not anti-iPhone or anti-Apple (you’d have to pry my macbook from my cold dead fingers)

I used to own an iPhone and liked it well enough, but I AT&T really sucks in the Bay Area, so last summer I traded up to a Droid Incredible, which I generally like better. It’s got its hitches and weirdnesses, but it’s also a pretty cool device.

But being an Android owner has made me far more aware of mobile security. Ultimately, I think that’s a good thing.

So Android fanboys: Chill out. Go get some Doritos. And a reality check.

Neither am I on the payroll of Norton or Lookout, two companies whose products I mentioned as examples of the kinds of tools smartphone users can employ for mobile security. Norton did invite me to their mobile security event in SF. Yeah, I’m a journalist. I go to conferences. I meet with companies to learn what they’re doing. Shocking, I know.

My CNN post also covers premium SMS fraud, phishing, and spyware — and the spyware thing is especially creepy…

Mobile in low-income communities: My March 2011 talk at USC Annenberg

Earlier this year I spoke at several events during Mobile News Week at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This is the video from that event — a Director’s Forum session for USC Annenberg faculty and students.

First, my colleague Jason Da Ponte gives an excellent overview of the current and evolving mobile landscape, and the role of journalism in an increasingly mobile media environment.

My part starts around 21 minutes in. Afterward, Jason & I answered questions.

Practical example of low-tech augmented reality: My phone’s camera

I was in Louisville, KY over the weekend, staying in an upper floor of the Galt House hotel, which offers an excellent view of the Ohio River.  In the wee hours last night, I awoke for a bit. I noticed that outside my window, I could see the bright blue lighted sign of a large office building. But my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I could see the sign, but no matter how much I squinted I couldn’t make out the name declared by the sign.

This bugged me — and when stuff nags at my mind, even weird minor stuff, I have a hard time getting back to sleep. The hotel room was dark, and my eyeglasses were out of reach. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But my cell phone was within reach, on the bedside table. (It’s my main alarm clock.)

So I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick photo of the building with the blue sign. Then, looking at the phone on my phone’s screen, I could easily read: Central Bank.

sign on top of their downtown Louisville, KY building.

This satisfied my nagging curiosity, kind of like scratching an itch. I was soon back to sleep.

It occurs to me that this is a potentially significant use of augmented reality enabled by mobile devices — and the only “app” I needed was the software controlling my phone’s camera!

Most AR apps I’ve seen are kinda gimmicky or not very compelling. For instance, seeing local coupon offers overlaid on a camera app (which Junaio does), or local tweets similarly overlaid, hasn’t really thrilled me.

But being able to compensate for poor vision or a lack of information about what things are? That’s useful.

Now if only someone could do a similar service for audio that would automatically filter out noise in a train or bus station to tell you what the hell those announcers are really saying…

Free Kindles, local mobile news, and pissed off fanboys: My recent CNN.com Tech mobile stories

It’s been a very busy month and a half for me. I spent a week in Los Angeles as a featured presenter for the Mobile News Week at the journalism school there, and now I’m finishing preparations to travel to two other journalism schools next week for the Knight Digital Media Center’s Mobile Symposium. So I haven’t been letting Contentious.com readers know what I’ve been writing elsewhere.

But I’ve been logging a lot of cool mobile stuff for CNN.com Tech. So here’s a quick list of what I’ve been covering there…

Continue reading

E-mail on your phone? Watch out for phishing

My latest CNN.com mobile blog post concerns the recent Epsilon e-mail security breach. I received four e-mail notifications from companies I do online business with (banks, etc.) about this break last week, so I knew it was a big deal — but as the scope unfolds, it’s pretty staggering

Then I found a recent bit of research that has special relevance to mobile e-mail security. So I wrote this article:  Mobile users more vulnerable to e-mail phishing scams – CNN.com.

My favorite comment: “The reason iPhone users are 8 times more likely to enter a phishing site is because with an iPhone you can actually get to the website. Ever try to use the web browser on a Blackberry…their built in phishing security is that the web browser can’t open websites.”


Local, mobile, paywalls, Google, more: My latest KDMC news for digital journalists posts

Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…

Continue reading

What’s a mobile app?

First: What’s an app? This concept has gotten pretty mushy.

“App” is short for “application,” and traditionally this was just a really generic term for any standalone bit of software that runs on top of a computer’s operating system — the way that Microsoft Word runs on top of the Windows operating system.

Apps used to mean tools. That is, they were originally mostly about DOING stuff — and in my opinion, the best apps still are…

Continue reading

Mobile media and PR

I am not a PR person, nor do I play one on YouTube. But it isn’t hard to see that mobile media is rapidly altering all parts of the media landscape — not just news and entertainment, but also public relations, media relations, and marketing communications.

This week I’m speaking at several sessions about the implications of mobile media at the Annenberg school for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Their event is Mobile News Week 2011.

On Feb. 28 I’m addressing two PR classes. I’ve done a little research to spot some trends and resources, in addition to the mobile overview I posted earlier: The mobile landscape: 10 things media pros should know.

Here are some interesting tidbits about mobile and PR…

Continue reading