GOING MOBILE

The Iphone showing my manga
Recently I was talking to the creator of the most famous animation here in China and he said that, in making animation, you must know, "Who is your customer?" and "What are you selling?" I took this thought further and added the question "Where is your customer?” Naturally, in consideration of the mobile market, your customer is everywhere! Why is this important? To answer this question, I set about studying the market. I arrived at some interesting conclusions that show that I may have been on the right track in my iPhone Alchemy days, a project, built around the idea to make manga for the iPhone, I, perhaps, shouldn't have abandoned.

Let's start with a discussion of users. If you consider the install base of users who own the iPhone (all versions) or the Sony PSP, you have a group larger than the install base of DVD and Blu-ray combined. If you factor in the rest of the mobile world, considering the large install base of other phones with video capable screens, the numbers become quite staggering. Putting aside the different resolutions and file formats to be encountered, there is no greater potential market anywhere, except possible with physical books.

There are, of course, other advantages to producing content for the mobile world, for the forward thinking indie. The small screen size and the data rates would be one. If you tend to work alone, creating content for this end negates the need for high definition images, incredible detail, high polygons or any of the other requirements that might be associated with producing image based content for the cinema or HD delivery. Even though a couple of the most recent smart phone offerings have screen resolutions that approach 1/2 HD, the screens are still 4-5 inches. No one is going to see the super detail one might put into film or HD resolution artwork. The indie suddenly gains the freedom to be fast, focus on story and get really creative.

If, like me, you have an interest in series work, it all suddenly becomes viable. Mobile episodes tend to be short. While some outfits are simply repurposing television or film content to the small screen, they are not creating an experience specific to the device in the user's hand. They will be outpaced by those who choose to do so. For example, many films contain scenes which are entirely too dark or have characters and other details too small for mobile viewing. A user wanting to watch something while commuting on the train will find themselves staring at their own reflection rather than the movie. Mobile content should be bright, colorful and fit to the habits and motions of the viewer. So, just who is this viewer? They can be pretty much whoever you want.

According to CNN, "...there are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones, even though they do not have electricity at home..." Far more than the number of people who have DVDs or even TVs, for that matter, there are billions of users out there. This means that every little niche, even the one which is a perfect fit for your story can be catered to. CNN also claims that, "By 2013, more people in the world will access the Internet on a mobile device than on a PC..." This is, of course, talking about the real internet. There are already more mobile subscribers getting content directly from their carriers than there are pC owners or internet users in the world.

This topic always leads to the question of whether or not PCs will go away in the future. I would say the answer is a resounding YES! Of course, not for us, as creators of content. We can't make our shows on a tablet or smart phone, but consider these simple facts. Up until the personal computer was introduced into the home less than 30 years, by the late Steve Jobs, computers were confined to huge laboratories and government facilities. Normal people simple didn't need them. So shall it be again. I would venture than 99.9% of PC users don't do anything that couldn't be accomplished on a tablet or smart phone.

Those of us in the creative industry aren't really using personal computers. We use high powered work stations designed for graphics and other intensive tasks. This market is already minuscule compared to the vast PC market as a whole. Task specific workstations will stay around, but the average user, who does their email, net surfing and other simple things, has no need for such power or expense. Their phone will do it all. We are already seeing this trend in the space conscious markets of Japan and South Korea. PC sales are dying. In the developing world, people can't really afford PCs to begin with. Their introduction will be with a powerful mobile phone. The best of the best phones today will be affordable in the third world tomorrow. This is where everyone will be found. This is where I am purposed to go. For my future projects, I am definitely going mobile!

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