Friday, March 23, 2007

Mobilcast/Nokia Demo's at CTIA Next Week


This coming Monday (26th), I am leaving for almost a week to Orlando, Florida and CTIA Wireless phone conference and exhibition. This event is very simular to my recent trip to 3GSM in Barcelona, Spain.

I will be spending most of my time at CTIA working an exhibit booth called "Forum Nokia". Yes, I will again be in the Nokia booth #2537, Hall B1 in the Music section with Audible and MyStrands all sharing two demo pods. If you are going to be in attendence at the event and would like to get a demo of Mobilcast and or discuss mobile podcasting, then stop in. If you cannot attend to get a demo then you can get one by viewing a video demo that I posted at YouTube.

I will be giving Demo's on the very cool Nokia N95 mobile phone and will have headphones plugged into it so you can treat it like a mp3 player or iPod. What is great about the N95 is that it has all the radio's to work great. It has WiFi, Quad-band, GPRS, Edge and HSDPA for fast 3.5G connectivity.

My booth hours at CTIA are are Weds, March 28th from 11am to 5pm and Thurs, March 29th from 10:30am to 3pm. This is my first trip to CTIA, but not my first to Florida as I spent 5 years in my past working on marketing and promotion projects for the Florida Department of Citrus and visited Florida very frequently.

While working for the State of Florida public agency I created the Florida Citrus Industry's first FDOC website at http://www.floridajuice.com and has the site built up here in Seattle. I also created the World's Largest Glass of Orange Juice that is still in the Guinness Book of World Records. Just a little trivia it costs over $26,000 dollars to construct here in the Seattle area back in 1998. I toured with it all over the country to trade shows and it has been featured on local and network TV over the years. It was fun times.

If you want to reach me (Rob Greenlee) at the event or before you can send me an email to (rob at webtalkradio.com) or call me on my mobile at 253-831-5632.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Apple's New iPhone Won't Run Java-based Mobilcast

The truth is that Java on mobile is the only economical way of building applications for mobile phones that will work on a large number of different mobile phone devices on the market. It is phone’s like the coming iPhone, Windows Mobile, Palm Treo and some very proprietary phones by Motorola, LG, Samsung and Sony that make up the 20% of the phone market that break the bank for application developers.

I am with Melodeo Mobilcast that is working to port podcasts to mobile phones all over the world and the missing support for java forces us to spend thousands of wasted dollars building device specific versions of our Mobilcast application.

The mobile industry just needs to make Java standard on all phones.

Mobilcast is available to be installed outside of most of the carrier networks with our Mobilcast v5 beta. http://mobilcast.com/mobile_center

The only carrier that will absolutly not run Mobilcast is Verizon here in the USA.

Is Podcasting Broken? Is Next Step Mobile?

I am sorry to agree with this, but based on podcasting research just released by Edison. Podcasting as it stands today is "broken" and "flat" in the area of listener growth. Edison Media Research reported that while 37% of Americans have "heard of podcasting" but only 13% have heard a podcast and that is only up 2% from the 2006 study.

I believe that it is flat because of the overwhelming dependence the podcasting industry and everyone involved has placed on the iPod.

While this blog is about non-iPod podcasting, this confirms it for me that everyone needs to expand the thinking and potential of user-controlled digital media "podcasting" to include other listening devices besides the iPod. Hey, how about giving a little more attention to the potential of mobile phones and other mobile wireless devices that add to the accessability of portable digital media.

Tom Webster, researcher at Edison blog posted about how the mobile phone could be part of the solution to podcasting flatline and said;

"Certainly, the mobile phone may be to podcasting what cars are to radio--when it comes installed, standard, on every phone you buy, folks will start to "get it". Better yet, when all of our radios are equipped with wifi access and RSS readers, few may even realize that they are listening to time-shifted content instead of live radio. That will not happen overnight, this year or even next. But it will happen.

Consumer-controlled content is clearly the future for both audio and video, and podcasting, by whatever name you choose to call it, is the precursor to that vision of the future. But realizing that vision takes vision--and persistence."

Even broadcaster, podcaster and journalist Frank Barnako of MarketWatch "Internet Daily" podcast says;

"Even the most rabid podcast producer will concede that downloading shows is too complicated for most people. On the other hand, they will argue that while people have heard of the word "podcast," they often don't know that they are listening to one when they click a "play" button on a Web page. As a podcaster, I hope what we have here is a failure to communicate."

I think we most certainly have a failure to communicate that downloaded audio and video content is not centered around the iPod exclusively. The "Podcasting" term craze around the iPod has clouded the listeners view on the content they may want if they can easily understand and get access to the content they may not even know they want. I know you may be thinking that I am just anti-iPod and Apple in all ways, but that is just not true. I want this new digital media medium to succeed as I have been seeing it grow since the late 1999.

I just want to expand the discussion and understanding around downloadable and streaming portable digital media. I know we need a term to build awareness around and it may be too late to not use the term podcast with over 37% awareness. It may take a very long time now to expand the awareness beyond the tight association between portable digital media and the iPod with listeners.

Rob Greenlee

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mobilcast: Personalized On-Demand Radio


I am taking a different approach to talking about mobile podcasting or as we like to call it around here this time “Personalized on-demand radio and podcasts straight to your mobile”.

It is almost a daily and hourly thing now that I am hearing from current podcasters, wireless carriers and tech people that I have met at places like the Microsoft MVP Summit this week in Seattle and Redmond. They all say the same thing that the word "Podcast" is just not cutting it anymore as the word for the ages in the context of the evolution of "Podcasting" into the mobile realm. Mobile is trying to reach the mass user market with podcast content and I am feeling push back at all levels on using the term "Podcast".

It is a good thing that we have positioned "Mobilcast" as an alternative name and our brand in the marketplace around this alternative distribution platform for the same content currently being delivered to the iPod.
The challenge for us now is that how do we change the topic so dramatically like Adam Curry was able to do around the iPod. I just need to spark the same energy and enthusiasim as was generated a few years back around the word "Podcast".

I was part of the discussion at that time (here, podcasting precursor, broadcast early adopter)and would like to be key to starting a new burst of energy around a new term to describe a new distribution platform that has all the same and more benefits of "Podcasting" and it is "Mobilcasting".

I spend some time this week with Paul Colligan of the Profitable Podcasting Blog. Paul was also in attendence at the Microsoft MVP Summit and we attended as a Microsoft Frontpage MVP and I attended as a Microsoft Digital Media MVP.

Paul and I talked a lot about podcasting and he made a blog post about mobile phone podcasting "Mobilcast".

Here is the meat of Paul's blog post;

"Met up with Rob Greenlee from Mobilcast.com last night. I had been to their site a few times in the past but never paid much attention as my phone (Treo 700p) wasn’t on their list.

My problem with phone-based Podcast clients is the simple fact that every phone is so different that it’s really hard to plan a strategy from the whims of companies who believe customer service is all about making it easy for me to buy ringtones. The more “generic” options (I am using the Kinoma client on my 700p) just don’t seem to be worth the effort and the really cool stuff always seems to be on the network that I’m not on.

Mobilcast is a very impressive product (how could Rob not give me a demo?). The news issue I mentioned above is fixed because it brings you the latest episode (and checks hourly) when you ask for it. He showed me an NPR news update just 55 minutes old. Nice.

But the problem is this:
The phone is a crazy little platform. With our kazillion carriers over here (and almost as many handset makers) the chances of getting everyone on the same phone (and same feature set) is only likely in the corporate rollouts."

Paul, you are correct that it is difficult to support all the phones, OS's and carriers to provide a great seamless and trouble free experience. We are doing very good at performing in these areas and support for smartphones like the Treo, Blackjack, Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices is coming soon.

I also agree that we must do a better job of communicating the benefits of podcast access through a mobile phone.
One of the biggest benefits is getting access to frequently updated hourly podcast feeds from places like NPR and CNN.
It is just not practical to get access to the many hourly and even daily podcasts via an iPod as users just don't sync their iPods that often.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Appears Bluetooth Stereo Not Ready For Prime Time

The dream of getting rid of the wires from mobile phone music and podcast listening headphones is still alive, but is going through some technology development growing pains right now. I have been reading blogger posts giving reviews on the current available Bluetooth stereo listening devices and the verdict so far is not good. Stay Tuned as the verdict will only get better.

The MobileBurn blog post said this:

My first experience with a set of A2DP Bluetooth stereo headphones was Motorola's HT820, which was included with the Motorola Q that we received back in May of this year. I was quite pleased with the experience overall, and was very happy about finally being able to lose those wires. But back then there were few devices available with A2DP support, so I had kinda just assumed that all A2DP headphones would work with all A2DP devices, just as pretty much all Bluetooth headsets work with all Bluetooth phones.

With that naive thought in mind, I decided last month that we should do a roundup of A2DP headphone here at MobileBurn. We matched up four pair of stereo headphones with four A2DP devices. The headphones in question were the BlueAnt X5, the Motorola HT820, Nokia's BH-601, and the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970. Our test phones were the newly released LG Chocolate for Verizon (VX8500), a pre-production MOTOKRZR K1 from Motorola, Motorola's Q Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphone, and the Sony Ericsson W710i Walkman phone.

The results of our testing were quite depressing. No headset worked properly with all of the phones, and no phone worked properly with all of the headsets. Because of the nature of the testing, it is hard for us to determine whether the phone or headset is the cause of any particular problem, though a few issues seem consistent enough across the board that we can level blame.

Here is another article source on Stereo Bluetooth from PocketPCMagazine.com

I still keep the dream alive that stereo bluetooth will be a reliable replacement for all those pesky wires.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What Happened To Audio Streaming Online?

I think streaming audio is getting short-changed right now online, as I think streaming delivery is just changing. I have been hearing tech podcasters make quick judgements that streaming is dying a slow death online. I have been delivering audio content online since 1999 and my experience is that streaming can be much more powerful to reach a larger audience then just relying on downloads. I think that people who are heavy followers of tech like Todd host of the Geek News Central podcast show do get a lot downloads, but much of the listening online now is happening in flash players which counts as a download, but is really streaming.

I just think that as the online content moves to other genre areas besides tech, that it will see stronger growth again of stream distribution. The definition of a stream needs to be widened to include Flash players, WinAmp, Windows Media, Real and now Mobilcast with adaptive chunking streaming to mobile phones. I know the problems with streaming is complexity for the content provider and the listener as the listener need a certain player and with flash it is already installed on most computers. I am not saying that Windows Media streaming will come charging back in popularity, but that ease of access to the content via streaming is powerful. What some podcasters are really saying is that listening is shifting to mobile devices like iPods and mp3 players as the reason downloads are growing faster then Windows Media like streaming.

All you need to do is look at sites like YouTube and Google video to see the power of flash based streaming players. Streaming is happening more now with video then with audio, because of the bitrate of the media file that makes it very large to download.

I am seeing first hand with logs from growing mobile phone listening with "Mobilcast", it is streaming that is dominating the delivery platform by over 95%. We are seeing downloading of longer-form programs on the mobile phone, but it is about 5% of the mobile episode consumption. The dominant length of mobile podcasts accessed through Mobilcast is 1-2 minutes in length. I think that episode playback length with get longer as networks, mobile phones bet more media enabled.

We at Mobilcast are wanting to offer all the very best podcasts to our growing mobile listeners. Please submit your video or audio feeds to us for inclusion. http://www.mobilcast.com/ and my blog at http://www.mobilcaster.com

Podcasters should be sure to use all the available methods of delivering your program.

Rob Greenlee

Singapore Offers Mobilcast via M1 Wireless

Here is a link to the Mobilcast page in Singapore on the M1 Wireless Carrier website. This carrier offers Mobilcast bundled with Unlimited Data access.

"Podcast" Name Not Globally Used


I came across this very interesting blog post at all-podcast-secrets.com that talks about how universial around the world the term "Podcast" is used to describe the process of creating and distributing audio and video via an RSS feed.

"In German, Spanish and Dutch, several alternatives were offered. For example, the Spanish initially toyed with translations like “audioblog” and “radioblog”, but ultimately settled for the English term “podcast” although it is difficult to pronounce for Spaniards.
In French, the Canadian state of Quebec prefers the terms “baladodiffusion” and “baladiffusion” which is difficult to translate into English, but which means something like “broadcasting for walkman”. These terms can be heard on Public radio in Quebec. In France, one of its many official language commissions has recently tried to impose the term “Diffusion pour baladeur” but no one uses it. Nice Try Big Brother!
And in China? Podcasting is called 播客. Say what?! Don’t worry. It looks “worse” than it sounds. The word is pronounced “podcast” and it means “users who broadcast”.

There is one place where the term has been localized, and that is South Africa.
In April 2005, the term “potgooi” was introduced into Afrikaans, and in fact, Afrikaans podcasters prefer it to the term podcast.

Thanks to Glen Verran, Fabio Bacigalupo, Bertrand Lenotre, Jose A. Gelado, Jack Gu and Jean Scholtes for contributing."

Seems the state of podcasting on a global scale has finally started to get some interest online. I am very glad to see it happen and hope to be a focal point for fostering this discussion as Mobilcast is expanding very fast across the globe.

More folks in other countries are jumping into the conversation that have been up till now dominated by USA based conversation on this topic. It is also interesting that this growing conversation seems to have a strong mobile phone component to it.

The other interesting development is the formation of the World Podcast Forum to address podcast and mobilcast issues world wide.

I am working hard to make local language content catalogs for each country. Podcasting is not all in english. This is a point that needs to be reinforced that podcasting is not just an english opportunity.

Rob Greenlee

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Music Rocks Mobilcast Listening with Launch of a2z Radio

Music has been growing in importance to users of Mobilcast, so we are taking action to improve the overall listening experience. The top music genres are Hip Hop and then Rock. We have just launched our new Mobilcast v5 beta that has HiFi audio quality if your phone supports AAC+ audio codec. This increasted audio quality now makes it possible for audio playback in Mobilcast to be like FM radio quality.
Update 3/6/2007 Official Announcement

See flash player below to sample some of these feeds you can get on your phone with Mobilcast.

We have also revampt the entire on-phone content catalog in Mobilcast v5 beta. It is much more compressed now with only the most popular and highest quality content.

Here is the current catalog breakdown the comes up when you launch Mobilcast on your mobile:
My Favorites
Search
Music
Comedy
Entertainment
News
NPR
MSNBC
Tech, Biz, Sports
* Refresh
* Link to Web

We are also applying most of these above changes to our wireless carrier catalogs at Alltel, Cingular, 3 UK and our other wireless carriers deployments. But each wireless carrier deployment is slightly different as some of them have exclusive content that is only available in those carrier catalogs. The 3 UK catalog has much more content from UK and Europe.

Now back to the music launch announcement, Dave Dederer, Jon Anderson and I have been working to create and have now launched 5 new music feeds in Mobilcast.

Four of the music feeds are titled a2z Radio and feature Rock of Ages, Country, Hip Hop and Top Hits. These episode feeds are about 30 minutes long and are just like a streaming radio station, except for the fact that we are only playing to greatest and most popular in each genre.

Dave Dederer, who is now our Sr. Director of Digital Content and co-founder and former band member of The President's of the United States of America is starting to produce his own weekly music Mobilcast called "Dave's Picks". When his new podcast is officially announced next week he will have produced two 30 minute episodes that plays and discusses his favorite Grunge rock music from Seattle's Grunge hayday and other songs he likes to share.