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With mobile blogging technology, sharing your cell-phone pictures is finally easy. And that’s just what carriers have been waiting for.
By Om Malik, July 26, 2005
Put camera phones together with blogs and you get the next big thing in mobile communication: “moblogs.” A moblog is a blog composed of pictures uploaded from your cell phone or other handheld. (If you saw the pictures of the London bomb scenes that were posted just after the blasts, you’ve already seen moblogging in action.) Check out Flickr to see a vast array of these mobile photo albums. While users seem to love the ability to post pix on the fly, the real beneficiaries will be carriers, who’ve been looking for ways to plump up their flat revenues-per-customer.
Here’s why. Everyone expected camera phones to unleash a flood of photo sharing and, with it, growing demand for bandwidth. But that didn’t happen because sharing pictures with your cell phone is a real pain in the neck: Uploading them is awkward and often doesn’t work. But moblogging relies on technology that makes it a snap: Sign on with a moblog service like Flickr and start e-mailing photos from your phone to that account.
No wonder sites like Flickr and Picoblog have been growing 30 to 50 percent every month. As more and more consumers share their pictures, you’ll start seeing carriers selling more lucrative flat-rate data plans in addition to their standard voice-only plans. I recently upgraded my $10-a-month mMode data plan from AT&T Wireless (part of Cingular) to a $25-a-month flat-rate plan, and my monthly phone bill went from about $60 to $75. You can see why carriers should be giddy over the growth of moblogs.
They can goose this growth even more. The key is to lean on handset makers to add moblogging software to their devices. Right now, only Nokia offers such software, Lifeblog. Its rivals could easily pick up the technology from a handful of tiny startups such as Splash Data and PicoStation. When that happens, camera phones will turn into real gold mines.