The Malcontent of the Term “Mobile Content”

The Malcontent of the Term “Mobile Content”

The following article discusses how to better convert a web user to a mobile user and the challenges that lie within.
We all know the immutable laws of web site conversion can be summarized as follows:
1. You have less than eight seconds to capture a web page visitor
2. Once captured, the next click must be obvious
3. Once clicking, minimize the steps needed to complete the desired action
The difficulty lies in maximizing information in a minimized process. You must be able to present what the majority need to see to complete your desired action. There will always be those who seek more information and tangents can be provided for them. Now, add another dimension to the “desired action” by making that action something that you wish for them to do offline. That, my friends, is largely the challenge that we have at www.4INFO.net.

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Not to take anything away from our web search service, because it does try to do something that the other engines do not by actually giving you an answer and not pointing you to one elsewhere (see 4INFO Blog: 4INFO’s Bond. James Bond & Focused Search). But, getting a user to make the leap from, “I can get all of this info from my computer,” to, “I have access to all this info when I am NOT in front of my computer,” can be challenging. Especially, when dealing with an industry that hasn’t quite settled on what to call the segments within it. Mobile search’s popularity is increasing every day, yet there is still an opportunity to sanity check the terms we use to describe the industry.
There are four terms that we use on a regular basis in the world of 4INFO mobile. These are, Mobile Content, Mobile Download, Mobile Information, and Mobile Search.
Before we get into how these terms apply in the mobile sense, let’s first look at what they mean in a general (and very simplified) sense:
Content
Something contained. The proportion of a specified substance present in something else.
Download
To transfer a file or program from a one computer to another computer.
Information
Knowledge derived from study, experience, or instruction. Knowledge of specific events or situations that has been gathered or received by communication
Search
To make a thorough examination of; look over carefully in order to find something; explore.
Now that we have these definitions in front of us, let’s look at the industry’s current definition of Mobile Content. [per Wikipedia]
Mobile content is any type of media formatted for mobile phones, like ringtones, graphics, games and movies. The use of mobile content has grown dramatically. Ringtones, for instance, are currently (2005) the most widely used mobile media forms. A mobile game is a piece of content that is installed on mobile phones so that the user can play the video game right no their mobile handset. A wallpaper is simply a graphic that is formatted to fit the screen of hand held devices, mainly cell phones.
At 4INFO, we define the remaining terms as follows:
A mobile download is a piece of content (ringtone, wallpaper, game, audio, video, etc.) that is transferred from a host location to a mobile device.
Mobile information is comprised of the categories of services that we provide via our suite of search channels, such as local directory, sports scores, fantasy stats, weather, flight schedules, movie times, and stock quote searches, to name a few. These impart knowledge through communication with our servers.
Therefore, mobile search is the process of locating mobile downloads and mobile information via a mobile device.
So, where does this term “mobile content” come into play? I believe that you can shorten the above statement to read, “Mobile search is the process of locating mobile content via a mobile device.” For this case, the definition of “mobile content” must add “mobile information” to its list of attributes.
But, that is not what I would do.
What does the consumer think? I took a quick poll of 10 non-mobile search types, where I simply asked them to define the four phrases that we’ve been discussing. I realize this technique will not go down in the annals of mobile research, but if there is one thing to take from it – every single person defined a “mobile download” the same way, while fewer than half stated a definition of “mobile content” similar to that in Wikipedia.
I am not content with the term Mobile Content. Let’s get rid of it.
I have been dealing with these terms over the past several months as we have been redesigning the 4INFO web site in an effort to address these types of issues. It didn’t occur to me to write this post until I read a statement by the Pondering Primate earlier this week where he said, “Every time we hear the phrase ‘mobile search’ let’s replace it with ‘mobile info.’”

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At first, I whole-heartedly agreed with him. Then, I turned around to resume testing 4INFO’s new Mobile Downloads Search service and realized that “mobile search” is more than just locating “mobile information.” It is also the location of “mobile downloads” now that 4INFO has this service in beta.
Mobile search is the process of locating mobile downloads and mobile information via a mobile device.
That’s my stake in the ground and I am here to defend it.