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Monday, April 24, 2006

VodaWeb 2.0 – Photo Sharing

Continuing the theme started by James Enck on possible directions that VOD could go in the Web 2.0 world, I believe the time has come for MMS.

Three factors are converging:
1) Camera Phones are becoming ubiquitous;
2) Picture quality has vastly improved; and
3) Huge numbers of people are using Web Based services such as Flickr for storing and sharing photos.

The prices are still too high, but it is well within VOD’s capability to drastically drop the prices, I suspect even dropping the prices to SMS levels will lead to the service to being extremely profitable. Theoretically, MMS should carry a premium to SMS, but a 300% differential seems like daylight robbery especially when you consider the price model for email.

One important element that VOD is missing is the easy sharing and downloads with a Flickr like tool. Vodafone have a tool called “Studio” which is less Web2.0 and more like Web0.1. The product is the definition of anti-user-friendly with ridiculously low storage limits (5MB).

I believe VOD has three options:
1) Upgrade Studio to something usable with a decent interface. I suspect Studio is a 3rd party product probably an add-on to the MMS platform, so the upgrade is not something that VOD could differentiate with in the medium term; or
2) Do a deal with Yahoo and integrate Flickr onto the MMS platform; or
3) Jump directly to the Web 2.0 and do a deal with company like Riya who has got to be one of the most exciting Web 2.0 services out there.

I discovered Riya via Om Malik’s blog, he mentioned back in November that Google was already sniffing around. I think the face recognition software and categorization is even more important in the mobile world than the web world, just because every single typing of a character on a phone is a pain in the neck, even for the text-wizards.

My favourite option is number 3 and even if a complete takeover is not currently possible, VOD could place some of recently arrived Californian Venture Capital and fund the mobilisation of Riya with of course an exclusivity clause.

For an interesting read on MMS see the report, “How and Why People Use Camera Phones” Although this study dates back to 2004 and is with a limited sample of users, I believe it identifies the obstacles to sharing photos via MMS and I think a lot of the conclusions are still relevant today.

Speaking of identities, my next blog entry (hopefully tomorrow night) will be Identity 2.0 and some other technology coming out of Japan (not the eWallet) which Riya also seem to specialize in.

And it’s goodnight from me…