Vine illustrates how mobile is truly different: If you work in media, your first reaction to hearing about the new Twitter video app Vine was probably something like, “Just six seconds?!!” That’s the maximum length of any video clip you can record and share on the mobile app. When I first read about the new iPhone app, I had the same reaction.
If you work in the media business, six seconds is a ridiculously short amount of time. Why not cap it at 15 seconds? Or 30? But for Twitter and Vine, it’s about designing for a uniquely mobile use case.
That use case is capitalizing on small moments of time. For example, when you’re waiting in a latte line. Open Twitter, scan the last few tweets and pop open a six-second Vine video. The same goes for recording a clip. Quick and easy. It’s attention candy for mobile snackers.
“In 2013, consumers will look to their mobile devices to maximize absolutely every moment,” predicted Trendwatching last month. “Hectic, urban lifestyles mean that no amount of (micro) time will be too fleeting, or activity too absorbing, to cram in more content, connection, consumption or simply more fun.”
“Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger,” explains Vine founder Dom Hofmann. “They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life.” He adds that “constraint inspires creativity,” just like Twitter’s 140 character cap. Which for the record, sparked much of the same incredulous reaction as Vine did today.
Vine was created for mobile, not as a media extension into mobile. There’s a big difference between the two, and understanding the distinction is critically important as the media industry grapples with the mobile revolution upon us.
A mobile approach to news in New Orleans: I watched the “60 Minutes” profile on the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans paper that recently cut staff and reduced its old-tree edition to three days a week. The story focused on the cutbacks and the complaints, all but avoiding any meaningful discussion about the paper’s digital products or even a single mention of the other fine news organizations in town.
I’ve grown weary of reports like these, which fail to introduce new ideas and merely point the finger back at a dying model. (It was even more apparent when the next segment on “60 Minutes” profiled Ideo, an idea consultancy.) But I thought of an idea, so I thought I’d share:
One of the key points was New Orleans is one of the nation’s least-wired cities, and without a daily paper, this population is not being served. While many have focused on subsidizing broadband access to the city’s poor — unsuccessfully in most cases — I would love to see similar efforts to subsidize smartphone access. This is where news consumption is shifting, and why limit news access within just the home itself?
Imagine, for example, a commercially-sponsored effort (i.e. Pepsi and Verizon) to offer deeply-discounted rates and free, older-model Android smartphones to low income New Orleans residents. These phones would have the Nola.com (Times-Picayune) and WWL’s apps pre-installed. In return, both news organizations offer discounted advertising space for both sponsors to promote the program. Simultaneously, both Nola.com and WWL could apply for grant money to improve their mobile experience, being careful to sustain these older Android editions.
This is just an idea, and I’m not an expert on New Orleans’ digital divide. But looking at it through a mobile lens — instead of a print or broadband issue — may open up some new opportunities.
VC Fred Wilson with some spot-on analysis of the mobile space. Cristina Cordova follows up with a blog post that underlines the value of mobile active users — not downloads. Must-reads for anyone in the mobile business (which will soon make up the vast majority of information consumption.)