I usually don’t write about PixSense’s products and customers. Recently, however, I was questioned at great length about our experiences by many of our potential customers after they read our announcement of exceeding one million unique visits in less than a month after launch. Considering it to be a well worth milestone achieved, I decided to share it on a public forum and get comments from others on their experiences and thoughts on UGC portals.
Most of us are familiar or avid users of UGC portals. However, as of late, they seem to have become specialized in terms of media sites (Flickr, Photobucket and Snapfish, YouTube) and social networking sites (FaceBook, Friendster and MySpace). Maybe, it’s due to the fact that there are specialized devices for each; digital cameras for photographs, camcorders for videos, and PCs for maintaining contact information and uploading and viewing the media. One of our customers/partners launched a mobile UGC portal in China and wasn’t sure as to what areas to focus on initially. Looking at how broadband UGC sites have developed over time, it’s natural for us to speculate whether our mobile UGC portal will become a photo site, video site or a social networking site?
When you look at today’s mobile phones, a 5MP camera is becoming commonplace (At this point, I would add that I do feel empathetic for all of us in the U.S., where a 2MP camera is still the standard camera phone offered by our mobile operators) and so our logical speculation was that we would become a mobile photo destination. But wait, taking a YouTube style video is possible from most new moderately priced camera phones too! So, why wouldn’t our mobile portal be a destination for videos? Lastly, consider social networking sites: At a very basic level, it’s a combination of an address book, e-mail and the users’ media. Every mobile phone has a very potent address book. That, coupled with the users’ mobile media and text messaging capabilities indicates that social networking should dominate the mobile environment.
So, what have been the results so far? In less than four weeks, over 12,000+ media pieces were made public, and probably the same numbers were kept private. About 60% of the public media comprises of user generated videos, while the rest is comprised of photos. Interestingly, videos started out slow, but now seem to be dominating photo uploads. Like other media sites, there are lot more viewers than creators, the ratio being 100:1. Interestingly, users are viewing the content not just from their web browsers, but also from mobile devices, using WAP connections. Moreover, users are sharing media with their friends, with some sharing it from mobile to mobile, but most through their existing social networking sites.
Summing it up, here is a quick overview of some of our findings on mobile user generated content sites and how they differ from broadband user generated content sites:
Mobile camera phones are an integrated device. As they come equipped with capabilities for both video and photo capturing, mobile UGC sites will be able to host and manage both, and hence, stand out (i.e. these sites will have no difference and will host both videos AND pictures).
There is a higher percentage of content creators in the mobile UGC world than in the broadband UGC world. Why? Maybe it’s because it is easier to create, upload and publish content from a mobile device using the right software (like our partner, Paiker, has experienced).
Most people want to post their content to more than one social networking site directly from their device, which, in this case, was a mobile camera phone. Would users shift away from their existing social networking sites to start using mobile social networking sites? The statistics don’t support this; users still want to use their preferred social networking site. A mobile UGC portal, thus, needs to be able to integrate with already preferred social networking sites. Offering familiar media-posting destinations coupled with an ease of mobile media management, makes for the ultimate mobile UGC experience.
What are your experiences? Similar or Different?