I want to disagree with what Scott said about Mobile 2.0: “but it was the same old crowd with new, better-designed slides. As an industry, we are clearly still not ready to grab the opportunity and use whatever tactics necessary to grab it.” I don’t think the slides were really all that much better in terms of design, they were about what I had seen before. Overall I don’t think we achieved what I had set out to do, which was to draw the existing online world closer to the mobile world – carrying the principles of user focused design, transparency, and open platforms from one environment into the other. The event of course was not a failure, we made a lot of introductions and connections and hopefully have set the stage for the kind of evolution I think needs to happen. But we definitely aren’t where I was hoping to be.
So the rest of this is going to sound a bit rough, but take it as some tough love. Lots of people are really excited about the event and looking to try to push forward as quickly as we can to keep the movement up. There’s talk of doing another event some time soon, possibly in Europe somewhere. I would definitely love to see it happen, but given my overall position I’m not sure I would be able to make it. So here are some of my takeaways from the event to try to help whoever wants to build on what we did.
There was way too much powerpoint going on. Way too much. Way way way way too much. God, I wanted to slam my head into the table at times when people launched into their stock marketing pitch. 300 of the most passionate and driven people sitting in the audience in front of them and all they can do is yammer on with their canned schpeal? Very frusterating. Fortunately it didn’t keep people from communicating. It slowed it down however, and what I was looking to do was speed it up. Some of the folks were sponsors of the event, and other people besides me had significant social capital tied up in pulling the event together, so I couldn’t just shut people down the way we do at the MoMo meetings.
If I do this again, no sponsors. They’re more trouble than they’re worth. Or we need to do something like Niall and Om did with the widget conf. The sponsors gave money, and then someone else heard the pitches for who got to talk. The sponsorships weren’t tied to any other perks in any way. Excellent idea, wish I thought of that. Our event ended up costing somewhere around 50K to put on (though my numbers might be a bit dated in that respect I think it’s pretty close). We ended up with about 300 people in the room. Most everyone I spoke to said they would be willing to pay $200 for a day long event of the kind. That means we should be able to clear that 50K mark no problem.
We checked out the cell reception in the presentation room when we went to check out the venue, and it seemed to be good. However the day of the event there were a lot of issues with connectivity. I’m not sure what you can do to vet the situation further (and of course this is only really an issue in the US), but not having device connectivity is really a hinderance for people wanting to show off what should be the most kick ass stuff. Maybe getting a hold of a booster to use at the event would help out, just in case.
There are a bunch of hard issues that are in direct conflict that I don’t think we emerged and got talking about. Here’s just a sampling:
- Lots of people looking to publish new content for mobile were upset about the number of browsers and incompatible standards they needed to be familiar with in order to get anything up and online. However the people working in mobile for a while were pissed about anything that tried to plaster over all the differences they’ve spent years learning the ins and outs of and building up adaptations for.
- People coming from the web world insist that the only real way to get mobile used is to make sure that mobile and the web integrate well, that there should be seamless blending of the web and mobile. People coming from places without fixed internet access yell and scream that we really need to stop shoving the web into their perfectly usable mobile only environment.
- Mobile service providers list the myriad ways that people developing mobile applications and content can simply and easily put their content up online and start making money from it. People with mobile content and applications moan that none of the methods for publishing and monetizing their content and applications come anywhere near the simplicity they need, and they just can’t bear the margins provided.
- Existing web publishers keep telling us that mobile is just too early to try to make money off of, don’t bother trying yet cause the ecosystem isn’t ready. However people with novel new applications (the ones that are most well positioned to respect the context of mobile implicitly) have no chance to bring their disruptive application to fruition because the only way to make money is to bolt on a crappy web experience as well.
- People working on standards for the mobile web and application programming environments can list for you a complete alphabet soup of acronyms describing the millions of ways in which mobile application development will be better just a few months from now. People working on applications feel like the standardization efforts take way to long and don’t deliver anything that really makes their lives any easier.
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I don’t mean to crap all over my own event, but I think it’s very important to hold ourselves to high standards and call out what wasn’t done. Otherwise we’ll all end up cheerleading for another 1999 style failure. I view being an event organizer in The New World Order as a position you get to keep because people are willing to give you what is probably the most valuable thing they have, their time and attention. It’s my job to give them enough information and conversation that they’re willing to give me their attention the next time around. Notice of course that nowhere at all does money or sponsors enter into the primary principal. I’m hoping that whoever tries the next one of these (or if I’m allowed to give it another shot – the next time I do one of these) that we can really push the money and sponsorship into the background and concentrate on making it the best event possible for the people in the audience.