Mobile phones are about to take a step beyond games and text messages thanks to Hollywood, that eternal font of content.  Late last week, USA Today ran a story that announced:

In what appeared to be the first arrangement of its kind, Twentieth Century Fox said Wednesday it would create a unique series of one-minute dramas based on its hit show 24 exclusively for a new high-speed wireless service being offered by Vodafone, the world’s biggest cell phone company.

This marks the first time a Hollywood studio is specifically developing content for the mobile phone platform.  The content—mobile episodes or “mobisodes”—will be distributed to Vodafone’s 133 million wireless phone subscribers in 23 countries and will launch in the UK in January.  In the States, 24 fans will have to wait until the spring to get the mobisodes via Verizon.

How hot is this?

As you’re reading this, I’m sure some other studios or brands are in discussions about other content that can be transported onto, or created for, the mobile format.  It’s so early in the game that the next couple of iterations of this won’t be called out as cases of “me, too.”  In fact, the field is still wide open for a brand to be the first to distributed true “branded” content. For example, I’m waiting to see if the next round of American Express’ Seinfeld and Superman webisodes finds a home on the mobile platform.  They certainly could, provided that 3G phones can handle the amount of data that’s contained in the four-minute pieces. 

My guess is that brand marketers are doing rough, back-of-the-envelope analyses on which of the brands in their portfolios this application is right for.  A smart place to start would be to look at brands whose consumers have a high propensity for the latest tech gadgets, are comfortable with technology and use it as a status symbol.  I’d also look at brands that have a history of leveraging technology.  For example, here are some consumer segments that would be ripe for this application:

  • Hip-hop
  • Urban mindset
  • Teens
  • Gamers
  • The mass affluent/high-end luxury market
  • Tech-savvy early adopters
  • Mobile professionals
  • CTOs/CIOs
  • Software developers

Of course, some of these are lifestyle plays and some would be B2B applications or offers.  You could, for example, target mobile professionals.  The right service or solution will eventually take advantage of this medium.  As was the case for standard-setting content such as BMW Films, the new mobile content will have to respect the limitations of its platform, yet strike the right balance of entertainment and message in order to be effective. 

This is definitely an area to be watched.  If you have any thoughts on how this latest development will affect other industries, please comment below.

Read the USA Today article here.

Posted by Rob Fields

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