This was one of the questions asked during the afternoon session of the 2nd day at the iBlog3 — what’s slowing mobile blogging in the Philippines?
Actually, Globe Telecoms (G-Blogs) and Smart Communications (AMBlog) have already entered into mobile blogging years ago. An old friend who works for Smart’s Marketing department approached me 2 years ago asking how much we would sell PinoyBlog for. I told him it wasn’t for sale. He then asked how much (monthly retainer) do we want for it to be re-branded as a Smart property allowing us to retain editorial control while the mobile company gets access to the content. Nonetheless, Connie and I didn’t push thru with the deal as we feel it doesn’t add much value to the service we’re doing. Obviously, Smart and Globe were already looking forward to the time when moblogging will be a hit in the country. Why it did not, I’d like to share a few thoughts.
It’s not that moblogging is expensive. On average, a phone user sends 15 text messages per day. I don’t know how many MMS they send but with the still thriving number of content providers, I am sure that people are spending a lot on other mobile content such as ringtones, wallpapers, mobile updates, SMS contests, and other downloadables. Smart 3G is now also as cheap at internet cafe rates (Php10 per 30 minutes) so uploading pictures or content wouldn’t be any more costly either.
I don’t think its about usability too. Twitter seems to be gaining grounds in some sectors of the blogosphere yet you don’t see many of them using their phones to post updates. Considering that we’re the texting capital of the world, the Twitter model for mobile blogging should have worked if it was all about usability and “one-liners”.
I think the real reason is that, despite the allegedly 40 Million cellphone users in the Philippines, not many of them are actually interested in blogging. According to Globe, there are currently 34,182 G-Blogs to date. I’d bet a huge percentage of that figure are one-time users only (just check how far part each update are and the last update was way back April 1). As for Smart’s Addict Mobile Blog, it used to be a mobile photoblog until reality sinked in that they need to regularly monitor the blogs for pornographic pictures — something that is logistically expensive for Php2.50 a pop.
Just look at how much those SMS Channels (with the obligatory Text Jockeys) on cable are raking in every night. If you’ve watched those endless one-liners every day (estimates are in the Php10k up for just a few hours), you’ll realize that a huge number of Filipino mobile users are into dating, not blogging.