collaborating, gamifying, gaming, pioneering

The Great Game: Of Paradigms, Creativity and Intrinsic Rewards … Lessons and Musings on the Joys of Gamification

the above awesome video is Jane McGonigal’s presentation to Cannes this year, at which Jane explored how we can harness the power of games to solve real-world problems and boost global happiness. Jane is introduced by PHD’s very own Mark Holden, who was inspired by Jane’s book to add a game layer to our global operating system, Source.

it’s been a genuine pleasure to have been involved in not just the development of Source over the last two years, but more recently being able to help lead the charge for the great gamification in the Australia. we’ve written a book called Game Change (available on Amazon from January) which explores the background, history and current context of gamification … and at the start of this month in conjunction with Mumbrella we facilitated a Gamification masterclass …

the amazingness of Colin Cardwell of 3rd Sense and Marigo Raftopoulos of the Strategic Games Lab led sessions which walked the assembled masterclass crowd through approaches, strategies and tactics for gamifying their own businesses or marketing efforts. whilst Colin and Marigo were talking I was struck by several things:

first up, and this is a point made brilliantly by Jane in the above presentation, gamification is genuinely a new paradigm in how we work. in his book The Play Ethic, Pat Kane suggests that “Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the Industrial Age – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value” … the potential is huge – if we unlock even a fraction of the engagement currently spent on play to create shared human value the effects could be genuinely transformative.

the second though that occurred to me is that like any great project a problem well defined is a problem half solved. similarly when gamifying (I’ll call it G from here on in) a process, you need to be crystal clear on what your business and / or marketing objective is … applying G shares many of the same considerations and questions that a conventional approach to tackling a brief requires – don’t forget the basics.

Marigo and Colin both made clear the point that the process of G comprises around 10% design and 90% iteration. I was struck by the parallels in the efforts of game design and how marketing efforts work in a post-digi, content socialised age. in a reversal of the broadcast model (90% effort crafting the message, 10% effort towards shouting it as loud as possible), G requires that your projects have a beta sensibility (PHD’s Source is still in beta despite being live for almost a year) – think always on, always listening, always redeveloping, always creating, always deploying.

focus on what the ‘desired target behaviours’ are … what do you actually want people to do as a result of your gamification efforts? being really clear on this helps you navigate the mechanics that you look to bring to bear on a project or process.

G isn’t a replacement for an idea. the best examples of G often have an awesome, smart, idea at the heart of them. think the speed camera lottery or Jay-Z’s decoded (below) … in both these cases G isn’t a replacement for two awesome ideas – rather it was the approach that allowed the ideas to flourish. creativity counts.

the final thought that occurred to me was that when you think about the rewards you offer when gamifying a process, intrinsic beats extrinsic. always. perhaps it’s the Spotify Christmas playlist that I’m listening to as I write this, but G is a reminder that we are generally much more motivated by intrinsic forces (for the love of doing something) than we are by extrinsic rewards (eg payment) … yeah we can offer some dollars here or a prize there, but what really gets us humans going is a cause or task – no matter how audacious – that we can care about.

which gives us something to ponder between the mice pies and sprouts … whether its adding value rather than demanding attention (or as John Willshire would say ‘making things people want not making people want things’), designing utility, or creating communications that are as responsive and relevant as each and every user they reach – what does intrinsic thinking … intrinsic marketing look like when its radically embraced by marketing and communications.

speaking of intrinsic rewards, I’ll leave you with the first seven seconds of the below Mumbrella Hangout with me, Tim and Mark Holden. wait for it … “and we’re live”.

Merry Christmas everyone

advertising, creating, gaming, planning

The game of the movie or the movie of the game?: The opportunity of choosing the immersive over the immediate

(featured image source)

“Several years ago in the video game industry the big buzz word was “transmedia”.  it was a term that was coined for original worlds and properties that spanned multiple venues, from the game to the TV series to the movies to the books. everyone was aflutter with this idea; these mega properties were going to dominate the entertainment landscape and change how we consume media.

flash forward to now and it’s clear that very few studios were ever able to pull off this “holy grail” of world development. budgets skyrocketed and very few wanted to take a gamble on building a new world. Ubisoft, however, pulled this off with Assassin’s Creed, and they did it with flying colours.

let’s face it – we live in a digital and connected world. a distracted world. there are always multiple things vying for our attention, be it social media or mobile devices. in this era creatives need to craft games and worlds that gamers “marry” not ones that they casually “date”. there are numerous ways to accomplish this, but one of the best ways to do it is to make a game world that is so extraordinarily deep that it takes an army to sort through all of the facts and details. the world of Assassin’s Creed is one that is easy to get into but can take years to fully understand and appreciate.”

Cliff Bleszinski – Design Director, Epic Games

it’s strange reading the above commentary outside of a media planning text, the parallels are so similar as to be striking … “buzz word was ‘transmedia'”, “change how we consume media”, “a digital and connected world. a distracted world” …

Bleszinski’s comments were written for the prologue to the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia, a beautifully designed hardback book included as part of the Animus Edition of Assassin’s Creed Revelations.

Assassins_creed_2 Assassins_creed_3 Assassins_creed_4 Assassins_creed_5

Ubidoft’s unboxing video of Assassin’s Creed Revelations Animus Edition and images from the Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedia: careful, spoilers alert

that games now come with encyclopedias may be news enough for some readers, but the fact that Assassin’s Creed does (in fact there’s an audio CD and a short movie in the Animus too) bears testament to just how evolved some game worlds now are.

evolved, and big business.

a Guardian article last week reported that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had set a five-day worldwide sell-through record, with sales of more than USD $775m.  it went on to comment that “the number also far exceeds the opening revenues from any movie or album release in 2011 – the biggest film of the year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, made $202m in its first five days. It is likely that Modern Warfare 3 will join the select group of £1bn-grossing entertainment properties by Christmas.”

some digging courtesy of the same article notes that DFC Intelligence puts the 2010 global games industry figure at USD $66bn, whilst the LA Times puts the 2010 global cinema box office figure at USD $31.8bn and eMartketer estimate recorded music revenues at USD $35.1bn.  games win.  by a long shot.

the article ends however by observing that total reach of cinema far exceeds that of games, and comments that “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is big, that’s for sure, but as a mass cultural event, it still has a looooong way to go” … the fact that this observation is disputable aside (include social and casual gaming and there’s plenty of examples of games with scale and ‘cultural event’ status – Angry Birds anyone?), the difference between movies and gaming audiences is a reflection of the difference in the type of content/context between movies and gaming.

movies are inherently lean-back, immediate and assessable. games (casual and social aside) are inherently lean-forward, immersive and require time, effort and energy. it’s no surprise that the former has a bigger audience footprint than the latter, but that the latter generates significantly higher revenues per head than the former…

what’s interesting from a media planning perspective is the choice that it presents – ask yourself what context/content we in the advertising and communications industry generally create?  is it lean-back, immediate and assessable … or lean-forward, immersive and demanding of our time and energy.  advertising was born and grew up in the mass-broadcast era – its no surprise that we predominately not only produce in movie-mode, but have extensive metrics and marketing theories (Byron Sharp anyone?) to prove its validity.

and yet we know we have to move on.

we take our content and we re-purpose it.  we’re media and channel neutral, we create experiences and promotions and we socialise and innovate around our movies.  we create the games of our movies.

and in doing so we’re missing a huge opportunity.  because Assassin’s Creed and games like it don’t create games from movies (that would inherently limit their scope – search for ‘successful movie-based game franchises and you’ll see what I mean) … Assassin’s Creed creates movies from games, and more specifically, from an imagined world in which that game is set. they start, always and every time, with an immersive and lean-forward content/context – after which spinning out lean-back immediate content is childsplay.

the point is that we have a choice.  stay as we are – create in movie mode and spin out the immersive and engaging game stuff off of the back of it … or we can decide to more often start in gaming mode.  what world do we want to create?  what are it’s rules and stories and mythologies? (all brands have them – we just don’t think of them in these terms) … then how do we create lean-forward, immersive and rewarding ways into our worlds?  and then, and only then, how do we create content – of thirty seconds or three hours duration – that expands the penetration of our worlds, and of our brands, via more immediate and assessable means.

it’s harder to do.  it’s expensive to fund.  it’s difficult to measure.  and it takes longer to produce.  but that’s our choice … and as anyone who has ever completed a game will tell you – it’s more than worth it.  speaking of which…

brand extending, branding, campaigning, co-creating, community-building, connecting, earning, gaming, owning, praising, social media-ising, user-generating

Big Planning and Big Thinking: How Bendigo and Adelaide Bank use owned & earned media to deploy a little utility into the world

Got a big idea that you want to bring to life? Create a plan, share it and make it happen with help from the PlanBig community

so the lovely and awesome Zaac posted a link to my wall of the above effort from Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.  it's called PlanBig and, in it's own words, its…

"… a way for people to get together to make things happen and make a difference.  We [Bendigo and Adelaide Bank] believed that there was some real value in giving people the chance to come together in one place to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice or help make things happen for themselves or someone else.  PlanBig brings together the experiences, knowledge and expertise of people with different skills from all walks of life and all ages to help each other get ideas kick started."

it's a delightful and instinctively attractive platform, which elegantly ticks a range of boxes including – amongst others – socialisation, co-creation, crowdsourcing and gamification.  it also has a elegant and seamless execution that connects with the Book and other social platforms…  the badges-as-reward effort has been borrowed from FourSquare, as has the Book's Like concept (in fact the functionality is a bit like a social network functionality greatest hits, which isn't a bad thing – better to use functionality with which we're familiar … makes it more, well, functional).

as the site observes, "Bendigo and Adelaide Bank feel so strongly about helping people realise their dreams, they’ve been doing it in local communities for over 150 years" … so this platform is just a natural extension of a brand proposition that's been in market for over a century.

it's also another example of the owned and earned media combo (note the absence of bought media) to create (1) utility (2) meaningful connections with a community of people and (3) content ripe for the amplification – if even a few of these ideas get big it will be marketing gold-dust.  all of which makes a great deal more sense to me than buying a shedload of ads telling people what competitive lending rates you have.

this genuinely feels like a brand / product extension with sociable and marketable assets built in from the ground up.  it's a communication for people, by people, and its infinitely better for it.  good on 'em.

engaging, gaming, marketing, planning, rewarding, selling

Quid Pro Quo and the generosity of our age: how engagement and reward are the new reach and frequency

it may just be me, but I seem to have returned from my Easter adventures in TasVegas to a bit of a utility and relationship-building love in.  generosity, it seems, is all around…

first up, as reported in Contagious, is a trailer (above) for mobile game The Nightjar, an experience which places you alone in space and challenges you to escape using only sound. the app will use 3D sound and will be voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch of the parish of Sherlock Holmes.  all generously provided by the marketing efforts of Wrigley's 5 Gum and all very brilliant, but its what lies behind it that is even more intriguing…

AMV BBDO creative partner Thiago de Moraes explained to Contagious that The Nightjar is the first in a five-year (ie forever in marketing terms) effort to create 'The 5 Experience'.  combining film, art, fashion and music, the project aims to "create a new and unique experience for participants at every single touch point. the idea of The 5 Experience is to turn Wrigleys into an entertainment company as much as it is a company that makes gum … [we're] going to create brilliant new sensorial experiences that people can take part in."

Wrigleys5gum_5experiencethe 5 experience from Wrigley: we like

imagine that.  a company that makes gum deciding that its not – as far as marketing is concerned – in the business of making gum.  but is rather an entertainment company.  imagine the combined available marketing spend of Wrigley's 5 Gum being invested in entertainment utility for it's target audience.  if I was a competitor I'd be keeping the closest eye on how the 5 experience progresses.

next up, generosity knows no bounds from Turner's TruTV, who asked fans to rally to the 'Operation Repo' Facebook page.  in return they got nothing less than an entire episode made just for them.  AdAge reports that for the first time, a program has created a Facebook-only full-length episode as the fans' prize (for reaching 500,000 likes).

TruTV_operation_repo_facebookthe Operation Repo facebook page.  reward fans for liking the show?  hell yeah!

it a significant gesture to existing and potential fans but also to Facebook.  the economics of the exercise must have had to shift, with the cost per viewer on Facebook being significantly higher than the equivalent CPV on broadcast TV.  but, as TruTV may have gathered, not all viewers are created equal.  they have, quite rightly, decided that the increased cost per view for a dedicated and advocating audience is more than worth it.

but wait, there's more.

the spirit of generosity is also alive and well with new media megaliths Google and Facebook, who in recent days have both launched outreach programs to agencies of all people.

Mumbrella reports that the Google Engage For Agencies program will see agencies and consultants looking to help clients with products such as AdWords and the Google Display advertising network get preferential support including training and events.

meanwhile, this month saw Facebook launch Facebook Studio.  the effort see's the social network create a platform on which creatives can share ideas, comment on (Facebook) campaigns and learn what it takes to create a successful FB brand page.

Facebook_Studio Facebook Studio – building bridges with agencies

aimed at ad agencies, PR firms and media strategy companies, creativityonline reports that the move is "a first step in a give-and-take dialogue between Facebook and the creative advertising world … until now, Facebook has been mostly hands-off with agencies, letting them navigate the frequently changing Facebook waters without a compass" … Blake Chandlee, head of Facebook's newly formed agency relations team commented that "we need to do a better job of engaging with agencies" … this from the new head of new agency relations team.

from Wrigleys' efforts to entertain the young people of our planet and Operation Repo's reward of it's show's fans, to Google and Facebook's generous agency outreach and support programs, the spirit love and understanding (as Cher so eloquently put it) does seem to be all around at the moment.

the cynic might observe that these are nothing more than veiled attempts to influence an audience.  that Wrigleys just want to sell more gum.  that TruTV want more fans.  that Google and Facebook just want more ins with agencies to sell more of what they sell, to more clients, more often…

of course they do!

and that's absolutely fine.  in fact it's great.  because if a company want's me to buy more of their gum I'd rather they entertained me into it.  if a TV show want's me to like them on Facebook I'd rather they rewarded me for doing so.  and if Google and Facebook want me to be more effective at planning their wares by making me more familiar with what they have I'd rather they engaged me in and rewarded me for having a conversation about doing so.

because it's quid pro quo.  and it always has been.  and it always will be.  the game hasn't changed, but the currency has.  engagement and reward are the new reach and frequency.  and thank goodness for that.

ad funded programming, advertising, branding, broadcasting, content creating, converging, engaging, gaming, innovating, internet, planning

From theory to practice: the challenge of planning Transmedia

Keith Arem's graphic novel Ascend, for which a game is currently in development

it's now been over two years since Faris bought transmedia planning to our attention in his post of the same name on TIGS.  the theory has been well expounded in the period since then; with

I'm sure that the idea of TP has cropped up in most media, comms and ad agencies by now…  it certainly has in Mediation's.  but we've yet to see – as far as I can make out – a significant campaign emerge based on TP principles.  the same is actually true of the entertainment industry; in an interview with Games TM magazine(edition 75), Henry Jenkins – the Godfather of TP – concedes that truly persuasive examples have yet to arrive.

they're doing better than us though.  transmedia planning should be everywhere by now.  the theory is familiar and is not only relatively unchallenged, but is offers the very solution to some of the biggest marketing challenges of the moment.  of its many advantages, the primary benefit has to be the extent to which it pays back on the time taken to consume it.  Jenkins goes on to observe that "regardless of the commercial motives behind it, transmedia entertainment done well also provides rewards for fans".

so why is getting the theory working in practice so difficult?  here's some starters for ten…

firstly, the financial investment required.  the reason the best examples of TM largely remain in the entertainment arena (the Matrix, Cloverfield, Heroes, Lost etc) because it takes a significant chunk of investment to develop and then create the content often required.  the commercial models for Fox or Paramount are set up to do this, the commercial models for marketeers often aren't.

but this is a bit of a cop out.  for the cost of making three 30 second ads you can certainly afford to make an episodic drama for online distribution.  and no it doesn't matter if it's not going to go on broadcast TV because those people who consume AV content online are exactly those people most likely to 'get' transmedia narratives…  this means of course that the media budgeting has to evolve just as much as the production pot.

no, the real issues in making TP happen lie much closer to home than 'we don't have the budget' territory.  they are twofold, the first of which is we're bound to the conventions of the media spaces we use.  in the Games TM article mentioned above, .  he observes that:

"if a project requires a 30-minute budget introduction, games can do that, but the medium could just as easily offer six high-budget five-hour episodes to revolutionise the story.  film and television are still limited by rigid series structures and minimum lengths".

advertisers on those channels are bound by those same conventions; conventions we as an industry – planners, buyers and media-owners (and indeed Ofcom) alike need to start challenging.  it's the limitations of the spot model that in many cases is preventing transmedia's breakthrough into broadcast channels; and as long as transmedia only exists online, it's unlikely to capture the imagination of marketeers or the budgets of FDs.

but the final barrier to making TM happen in brand comms is the closet to home of all.  Jenkins notes that TM experiences can "be a source of … frustration [for consumers] if it's inconsistent, undermines the coherence of the work, or promises insights it never delivers".  Arem's solution is simple: "have a good team of like-minded individuals around you … my philosophy for all of our projects is to have a core team to supervise all creative and technical aspects of the production.  the main focus of that team is to keep the story and assets consistent, and integrate them with the entire franchise".

I think you know where I'm going with this.  agency structures are lucky if they can do this internally let alone with other agencies, resulting in the presention of a joined up and unified transmedia solution to a client.  not only might different creative agencies have to work to one vision, but that vision has to be molded by the space planned by its media agency, and of course vice versa.

the reality is that as long as the conversation with a client only gets as far as "how big is the pack shot?", both agencies and clients will be bound to a dynamic that not only acts as a barrier to transmedia planning, but actively works against it emerging into the mainstream where it so surely deserves to belong.

engaging, gaming, innovating, internet, praising

Shaking up YouTube: Brilliantly creative use of YouTube courtesy of Wii

click the above picture or here to see some brilliantly creative use of YouTube for Wii's 'WarioLand Shake It' game.  very smart breaking of the conventions of the YouTube infrastructure to bring to life the nature of the game…

in fact it says much about just how used we've come to the left-hand-screen-surrounded-by-other-clickables format that when it starts to fall apart it is really rather unnerving.  and the fact that you can still click on the components of the page once it's been destroyed is just genius.

lovely lovely stuff.  thanks to Daryl at Vizeum for the heads up.

content creating, designing, engaging, experiencing, gaming, social networking, user-generating

What brands can learn from Superstruct’s invitation to fix the future

you are officially invited to create and explore the world in 2019. but be warned, it's not going to be pretty.  the Institute For The Future has developed Superstruct, an ARG that aims – with a massive number of players' help – to chronicle the dark future they predict for us, then help them fix it.

"With Superstruct IFTF introduces a revolutionary new forecasting tool:
Massively Multiplayer Forecasting Games (MMFGs). MMFGs are
collaborative, open source simulations of a possible future. Each MMFG
focuses on a unique set of “future parameters,” which we cull from
IFTF’s forecast research. These parameters define a future scenario: a
specific combination of transformative events, technologies,
discoveries and social phenomenon that are likely to develop in the
next 10 to 25 years. We then open up the future to the public, so that
players can document their personal reactions to the scenario."

its a fascinating concept.  taking the ARG to the next level and using Surowiecki's Wisdom of Crowds to capture and identify our most likely (and most successful) responses to multiple 21st Century threats.  you can join the simulation and watch videos outlining the 'superthreats' we face on the Superstruct website.

brands could learn a lot from this endeavour.  at it's most basic, the IFTF – thru Superstruct – is encouraging a community of people to engage with an idea.  that isn't a million miles from what most advertisers want people to do – only they generally use advertising to convey the idea.  and are then a bit vague about how people can get involved; other than buy stuff of course.

but if a brand really wanted to break the mold.  if a marketing team really wanted to explore and communicate something in which they believed by creating a platform thru which a community of people could genuinely engage with the idea, the brand and each other… they could.  think how much more powerful M&S's Plan A campaign would have been if they had engaged with a massive community of people to explore ways to make sure we didn't have to resort to plan b.  think how much more traction you could get by using media to communicate the project and report its progress.

the risks are huge.  you have to be radically transparent; but most brands have to be radically transparent already.  if you get it wrong no one will care; but if you get it wrong now people can filter your messages out.  you have to be hyper-creative; but creativity has never been more important.  you have to rely on people pro-actively and constructively contributing to the platform; but people demonstrate time and time again that this is something they're increasingly comfortable doing.

and if the risks are huge, the rewards are greater.  get it right and you not only engage an audience in something your brand stands for, but your brand may even make a bit of a difference…  as well as creating affinity and customer value – and therefore revenues – on the way…

content creating, gaming, user-generating

Spore’s Creature Creator: creativity has never been so fun or addictive

so I’m addicted already.  only an hour playing with Spore’s Creature Creator and I sense the precious few hours I had remaining this summer evaporating.  its a beautiful bit of software, allowing you to create and then test out creatures in a habitat – their mating calls, dances, moods and attacks.

its round one of Will Wright’s Spore, due for release in September.  the game will see you navigate a species from single cell being to galactic conquest…  and EA have pulled a blinder…  one of the key elements is the Creature Creator, software that’s integral to the game as it allows you to design the species you’ll be taking care of – and EA have given it away for free.

a whole couple of months ahead of the game’s release a key component of it free to download from the game’s site…  a million creatures have already been created (a video of my own little contribution – furdock – is above and a little pic below).  the creativity you’re afforded is staggering, and the hardest part is coming up with a name for your little fellas…


its one thing to play the neat trick of getting millions of people addicted to a core element of your game before its even released.  but it’s quite another to make sharing those creations so simple and intuitive.  if this nugget is anything to go by, Spore will be a genuine milestone; not just for gaming, but for the whole of popular culture.

engaging, gaming, internet

Let the AR Game begin!

I’ve wanted to get my teeth into planning a good Alternative Reality Game (ARG) for a while now, so I was interested to see this come my way courtesy of Stew Gurney.  it’s an ARG based around the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.  what strikes me is how slick this is…  very high quality audio-video content and great design of the navigation of the evidence.  the whole site can be viewed here.

it will be interesting to see where this one goes…  ARGs as a concept, have struggled from a perception of being too niche – capitalising on the Olympics could be a sound strategy to breaking into the mainstream (it would seem that the nature of the interface has been designed with entry-level in mind)…

also I’m clueless as to which brand this is for, or whether it’s for the Olympics itself…  but I’m not sure this entirely matters!  half the fun will be finding out…

Daniel Terdiman has written a great summary of the initial box of evidence which he received here…  let the AR Game begin!


Update: Thanks for Stephen Bedggood for the heads up that this ARG is for McDonalds…  great effort on their part… smart and unexpected.  it will be interesting to see how and if this translates to any in-restaurant activity come August

converging, gaming, IPA|ED:three

The Potential Watershed in the Mobile Media Stagnation

Mobileevolutionit one of the great wonders of the modern media world; why mainstream use of mobile phones for broadcast media consumption has never really been adopted – despite some very good reasons…

one; the mobile is ubiquitous.  there were well over two billion of them in the world by 2005 (source) and in the UK we have more mobile phones than people (source).

two; we’re very emotionally attached to our phones, as Ahonen and Moore observe in Communities Dominate Brands p129;

"a cellular phone is distinctly personal … this personal association creates a very powerful attachment … one very close to addiction … European cellular phone companies have coined a name for the new concept, called "reachability" … on the fixed line phones you call a place, on a cellular phone you call a person … reachability is the human need to feel connected … a passive continuous connectedness in case the important call arrives or event happens … reachability is the single most addictive aspect of a cellular phone"

three; it’s already a device we use (in albeit for some a limited capacity) for interaction with other (mainstream) media, as anyone who’s ever voted on a Simon Cowell show can testify.  whilst out on Friday night a friend sent a facebook message via his mobile – essentially disintermediating the phone network in the process.

four; unlike the internet, we’re willing to pay for stuff on our mobile phones.  a report cited by Dr Jaques Bughin in an essay for IDS’ volume ‘New Language for the New Medium of Television’ (see here for details) found that mobile users would be willing to pay between 5 to 10 euros a month (and up to 15 euros for month).

five; mobile phones have won every battle they’ve taken on. in 2001 global sales for camera phones numbered less than 2 million, with digital camera sales well over ten times that amount.  by 2002 camera phones were up to 18 million worldwide, 84 million by 2003.  and by 2004 digital phones outsold digital cameras by 4-1.  the rest is history.  a similar stories can be told for PDAs vs smart phones, and many more people play games on mobile phones than any other platform (source: Ahonen + Moore p49, 55, 68).

but for a combination of reasons – including-but-not-limited-to – lack of a standardised revenue model, downloading capacity and hardware and software limitations, media consumption on the mobile phone just hasn’t happened.

then last week the omnipresent Google – the highest-profile member of the Open Handset Alliance made an announcement.

the Android platform  is (arguably) Google’s answer to the i-phone.  but it is not – repeat – not, a phone.  its software.  software that is open to be developed by anyone – including advertisers and brands – who’d like to develop some.  the opportunities for brands are multiple and varied – TV access, gaming, retailing (eBay phone application to track your auctions anyone), or bespoke applications that allow consumers integrate and interest with broadcast advertising campaigns… in real time, whereever they are?!

Google have even put $10m up for grabs to those that develop the best applications.  as Google point out, the vast majority of stuff that will work on phones isn’t out there yet.  what’s new news is that creating that stuff just got a lot more accessible…  does it represent a watershed?  very possibly.

the mobile phone’s waited longer than it would have liked to become a mainstream media device, and now with Google’s backing, that ambition could soon – finally – become a reality.