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@ paidContent Mobile: NBCU’s Alan Wurtzel On Mobile Phone And Content Use

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At paidContent Mobile today in New York, Alan Wurtzel, the president of research and media development of NBC Universal (NYSE: GE), outlined how mobile is ready for prime time with the Vancouver Olympics as a $100 million research lab. The major case study he focused on was the change in behavior between the Beijing Summer Olympics and Vancouver. The research, detailing phenomenal growth during that two-year period, is influencing future investments, such as the decision to develop Android applications.

The complete presentation is embedded below:

Wurtzel endeared himself quickly to attendees, saying that the people in this room probably use their cell phones more than normal people “who have a life.” Secondly, he noted that he doesn’t have all the answers to how to advance mobile media, because if he didn’t, he’d be wealthy and not in Manhattan at the end of July.

And with that, he launched his presentation. He said he wanted to focus on consumers outside of the media belt of Manhattan, where it seems like everyone has an iPad, an iPhone and an Android device. “It used to be a company would have years to adapt to technological change,” he said. “It took AOL (NYSE: AOL) 14 quarters to reach 10 million users, it only took the iPhone two quarters. There really is very little time to watch and see how things will shake out.”

After NBCU’s experience with mobile after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the company realized that the mobile web wasn’t ready for primetime. But things changed quickly with this past year’s Vancouver Olympics coverage. Mobile usage started to become more mainstream — not completely, but there was clear progress. For example, during the Beijing games,15 percent of viewers experienced the games through their mobile devices. Just 18 months later, in Vancouver, that number rose to 27 percent — quite a leap.

Wurtzel then turned to an important lesson about the gap between what technology can do and what users want. For example, in the 1940s, a TV in a car was marketed (that only took about another 50 years for consumers to adopt that to some extent) and the “TV stove” didn’t take off either.

So where is mobile viewing now? The average person accesses only 4.5 sites a month. Most people aren’t power users; for them the internet is a toaster, meaning that they use it for a few basic functions. But again, there’s that phenomenal growth, especially for apps. App users grew 28 percent between April ’09 and April 2010. Vancouver Olympics had 1.2 million app users.

Mobile video: Feature phones are down, while smartphones are up 26 percent. Why are people watching mobile video? To kill time. One-third like to keep up with shows they missed. Less than half of video viewers access mobile less than once a week. 60 percent short clips. More from Wurtzel’s presentation below.

The Media Consumer and Mobile: Ready for Primetime