In 2006 the telecoms and tech author Tomi Ahonen coined the term "Seventh of the Mass Media" to explain why services on mobile need not be copies of internet or TV content - it describes the evolution and convergence of mass media from print to mobile. It's an interesting concept that I often get asked to include in introductory presentations about Mobile Marketing.

The seven mass media in order of their introduction are:
1 - Print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc) from the late 1400s
2 - Recordings (records, tapes, cassettes, cartridges, CD's, DVD's) from the late 1800s
3 - Cinema from about 1900
4 - Radio from about 1910
5 - Television from about 1950
6 - Internet from about 1990
7 - Mobile phones from about 2000

There's fascinating stories about these all along the way, but we're going to focus on Internet and Mobile.

The internet was the first "inherent threat" mass media channel. Inherent threat means that the internet could challenge any previous media and cannibalize it  - for example, print articles can be read online, tv shows viewed online, radio shows listened to etc. Additionally, the internet introduced three powerful concepts:

1. It was the first interactive media,

2. It offers search, and

3. It enables social networking

Mobile wasn't born as a "Mass Media" until Radiolinja (in Finland) launched the first downloadable content to mobile phones - the downloadable ring tone - in the Autumn of 1998. This started the shift of mobile from telecommunications to media.

Ahonen points out that there are seven features that distinguish mobile from all the other media:

1.  Mobile is the first personal mass media
2.  Mobile is permanently carried
3.  Mobile is always-on
4.  Mobile has a built-in payment mechanism
5.  Mobile is available at the point of creative inspiration
6.  Mobile has the most accurate audience measurement
7.  Mobile captures the social context of media consumption

Many may claim that the internet offers some of the benefits (personal, payment, audience accuracy and social context). However, as Ahonen states:
The internet is only semi-personal such as shared computers at internet cafes, home and the office, and the ability for example of employers to read content consumed by employees. The internet in its native form cannot handle money or payments, and requires work-arounds such as Paypal accounts and using credit cards. On mobile payments can be enabled on the click, such as with downloading ring tones.

The Systems View blog explores some of the unique dimensions of Web and Mobile in more detail.

Mobile is also often referred to as the "fourth screen", the first three being Cinema, Television and PC. Nokia sums it up quite nicely in this advert:

Posted
AuthorDave Duarte
CategoriesMedia, Mobile