Blogging might seem to be uniquely broadband-centered, with its emphasis on links, searchability, and now video. But, at the same time, the live, journalistic nature of the medium suggests it could work well on highly mobile devices – cell phones with cameras, for instance. And two recent developments – the introduction of the Helio wireless service and the addition of blogging to Sweden’s Mobispine platform – suggest that mobile blogging is on the rise.
Mobile blogging (also called “mo-blogging” or “mblogging,”) isn’t completely new. For years, bloggers on the go without laptops have been able to use tools like Rabble from Intercasting, FoneBlog from NewBay Software, and Google’s Blogger Mobile. These applications are typically available to consumers through their wireless carriers.
But they’re primitive services, and not generating much revenue, says Lewis Ward, a wireless communications analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC). Ward thinks Helio may give a boost to that activity. “Mo-blogging’s been around now for a couple of years,” he says, “but what [Helio] gets at is the community element of the Internet merging with the very communications-oriented, personalized strengths of mobile devices.”
IDC has not gathered statistics on mobile blogging, but Ward says the market is developing enough that he expects to put together a market forecast on the phenomenon before the end of the year.
Helio represents the latest MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator): a company that resells service from a current wireless provider, in this case Sprint. A partnership between the Internet service provider Earthlink and South Korea’s SK Telecom, Helio offers a variety of services, including the ability to blog photos and text to the wildly popular social network MySpace. As Ward points out, Helio is also notable because its service requires expensive phones, costing between $250 and $275, whereas current MVNOs tend to be focused on low-end markets.
One barrier to the use of mobile blogging has been that most services handle blog posts via MMS (multimedia messaging service), which is costlier and more difficult to use than simple text-messaging. Because Helop uses MMS, it doesn’t fix the expense of mo-blogging.
But Sweden’s Mobispine does. It lets users post blog entries without using SMS or MMS (although phones must have a data service, which does have a cost). Mobispine’s new blog tool is an extension of its free instant-messaging application, released last year to let callers use instant messaging without paying SMS fees.
Mobispine’s cofounder and head of sales, Joakim Hilj, says the company added mo-blogging because users wanted the service. “It’s starting to be really cool,” he says. Mobispine hosts the blogs and sells advertising around it, which provides revenue for the company.