Happy Mobile Monday!
Tonight I am planning on attending Mobile Monday
. Anyone interested in Mobile Stuff should go too. It's a great group of folks with many spectacular ideas.
So, I just got finished reading The features article on MMS: "Still, Nobody's Using MMS"
. I love this topic and this article. However, the author remains fixated on quality being and size being the primary reason why MMS isn't being used. Ummmm.... Ok, true, but I think there is actually much more going on...
As image quality gets better more people will see lasting quality effects of the photo. I did a number of interviews with Camera Phone users both in school
and at Yahoo!
. It's interesting to learn and think about how the meaning of a photograph is changing. The low quality images present a more ephemeral transitory representation of meaning... they convey a message. Users typically delete them and throw them away. In contrast, ever seen how many people have the typical photo storage "Box"? You know that box where you throw all your double prints, extra prints, maybe it's all your hard physical photos. Anyways, the point here is that the technology is changing the meaning of the artifact. In this article they are saying that with time the image will regain it's properties of a typical photo. But I'm not so sure. While I agree that better quality will improve users satisfaction level, I still think there is something more interesting going on with the "semi-realtime" sharing of images. And I think there is something more powerful that can help to leverage MMS technology. Think about ways to involve community more and presence of those communities available to users at all times. That's the power of the device - a socially networked community of people who can share photos. (i.e., Communicate Visually).
He then goes on to say that the size of the viewing screen matters. Does size really matter? Well, I think so, too, but there is more than just size. There is timing, pacing, and interaction. I've been trying to preach the size bit to people about mobile photo apps for a little while now: Mobile phone ARE NOT great places to view images! They are great places to blink or quickly glance at images, but I don't want to have to find them, retrieve them, load them, etc. I worked for a while on Y!'s photo app. But, I still don't really get it. Why do people want to spend time downloading their images to their phone, when the networks are slow, image size is big, and phone memory is small? Snapfish
, Kodak Mobile (Ofoto)
, Y! Photo
... they all have them. But Why? Ok, so I understand that users do want to show their photos to friends and family and the phone offers a way for users to do that anywhere, but the amount of work involved is insane. Then, after you finally get the image, you can hardly make out details of it. (Although, I will say here, that if you interested in any of them... Snapfish's BREW version is the best in my opinion.)
The feature article says that ideas like Nokias picture frame are great, but Moblogs are not so great. Ummm... huh? The size of the picture frame is great but you get an even larger viewing area on the computer and many people already have them (making the cost issue that they pointed out null and void). Additionally, and more importantly, I think whatever the killer app for photos on phones is going to be is going to involve community more. Picture Frames are a great idea, but too far ahead for now, and too isolated. The web and social community sites, by contrast create a very interesting place to have your image appear on larger screen and be readily viewable by many people (your whole group of friends and family). All the technology is there (not to mention inexpensive), it's just a matter of figuring out a creative way to use it more. Make users feel more connected always. And reduce the work of taking, sending, sharing, and receiving the image. (I've got a couple good ideas for ya... but more on those another time.)
So, the bottom line with what Im saying here is that while on the surface it may seem that quality and size are the key determinants to MMS. I think about it a bit differently and challenge you too as well. Think more about community (presence) and interaction (the full life cycle of taking, sending, receiving, viewing, talking about the image). Think about ways to make people feel connected and leverage presence to make things easier. Think about interaction not only as good feedback (MMS feedback is also a big issue) but as the whole sha-bang: initiation, response, acceptance and the pacing and timing of all of these. If we think about these things more and the other two naturally evolve, maybe we'll actually get a hit and use for MMS and the opportunities the affordances of cameraphones present to photo sharing and photo management.