Mobile Operators need to wake up and smell the Content Coffee

I had a conversation about Mobile Operators approach to dealing with bad content, after EDM08 last week, which I spoke at along with Steve Ives (CEO Taptu), Carl Taylor (Strategist at 3) and Helen Keegan (Beepmarketing).

The issue is that the operators are digging their own graves on the issue of content moderation. I understand it’s a complex area but the MNOs are making their own lives more difficult by perpetuating the idea with users that they are the one-stop shop for users for handset, content and applications.

Atleast traditional fixed line ISPs had the sense to say – “We are your pipe; we give you access to the internet; we are not responsible for everything that is on it.”

MNO’s seem to think that by taking that position, suddenly they devalue themselves completely. This is not the case. While its inevitable data services on mobile will become commoditised (its already happening) this does not prevent MNOs from doing something innovative to provide added value, or generate revenue. Revenue generators could include:

* An area on the screen for ads which the MNO controls, which is context relevant to the data being fed to the other 80% of screen area.
* Providing priority to apps/partners/their own content with in the UI and their own on-deck directories (which is what they already partially do)
* Provide faster data services for a premium
* Partner with content providers to deliver their services faster, in return for revenue share from the content

..and that’s just off the top of my head.

If MNOs begin promise (and continue to perpetuate) the idea that somehow they are going to be able to control and deliver “clean” content on mobile, they will make the entire situation ten times worse. Users realise that the internet is offered down a pipe by their broadband provider – the jump from that to mobile internet, is an easy one to make in terms of understanding that their phone provider now provides access to the internet.

MNOs would do far better to get out of the way of internet services, stop transcoding and blocking services; provide a best of breed 3rd party application to filter content (which could be bundled on handsets and turned on by default for under 18 year olds or something) and educate parents and others that the same risks on mobile are on the computer screens and console screens every day.

As for the press, they should grow up and stop using mobile as another opportunity to spin and blow out of proportion the same rubbish they did when the internet came along and they said that everyone was going to get raped because of internet dating. Its just not true. Humans can be evil, and they manage that quite well going down the local pub and date raping someone – with or without the mobile internet.

Rant over.

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