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Mobile Professional
Personalized Audio Content for the Daily Commute

Turning Commute Time into Productive Time!

(Content Provided by MobileBriefs - a Provider of Personalized Audio Content)

Driving north on Interstate 85 at 7:30 in the morning in Atlanta, GA is not so much a commute to work, as it is a test of patience.  Not only are you “competing” with other business professionals on their way to their jobs, but you are also competing to decrease your own personal “downtime”.  The morning and after work period can easily be considered a professional’s most wasted time—stuck in the car, or on another machine of mass transportation.  Many of us will listen to the radio, or some tapes, or even CDs, but is that really productive or just a means to avoid some kind of road rage.  The question then becomes, "How do I make this time more productive for myself?"

There are only two real answers to this burning question.  Either you can buy a helicopter and get to your job in 5 minutes or find a useful information service that will provide news, content, or data that will be beneficial and thus make that commute period more productive.  Few of us will be able to afford that helicopter, so let’s instead focus on how we can get information as professionals.

Not all commuters are solely using cars as their means of transportation to and from work.  Some will use mass transit, whether by bus, rail, or air.  Others will bike to work or even walk in some metropolitan areas.  This means that any type of practical information service must be able to reach us without traditional lines of communication.  Today’s business professional has become a “mobile professional”.  The issue becomes, how do they get that information and how do you make it specifically valuable for each and every individual?

Satisfying the Information Demand
Many individuals carry a Personal Data Assistant, or PDA, such as a Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, Compaq iPAQ, etc.  And most people have a cell phone as well.  Clearly, there are several different platforms upon which these mobile devices operate.  Some, such as the Palm Pilot, operate on the Palm OS.  Devices like the iPAQ utilize Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system.  And catering to cell phones, web-enabled phones, and RIMs is yet a different format, sometimes even dependant on what part of the country or world you live.

Secondly, each consumer and business professional is different.  They have different interests, professions, industries, job functions, likes and dislikes.  In this age of information, people expect companies to treat them as individuals and that’s why you see web sites offering personalized “My…” pages where the user has been able to choose things based on their own personal preferences.  But this is only a starting point; personalization needs to go even further to satisfy different users' varied personas.

Types of Providers
There are companies in the marketplace right now that are catering to the new “MoPro” (mobile professional) market.  Companies like MobileBriefs, Audible.com, i2Go, and BeVocal have made it their mission to service the growing demand of information anywhere, anytime.

Personal Broadcast (PB) companies.  This is a new breed of service providers which tailor shows specifically to you.  MobileBriefs (www.mobilebriefs.com) is the premier broadcaster of personalized business content.  Their service allows a subscriber to go the web site, choose which areas of business (i.e. marketing, finance, etc.) and/or which industries he/she has interest.  They can even enter a commute time if desired.  Then, relevant content is fed to them every day based on the subscriber’s preferences from MobileBriefs' vast database of business articles, abstracts, and business book reviews.  The user has the option of reading the text on site, downloading the text to any PDA, listening to the audio on site, downloading the audio to any PDA, downloading the audio to any MP3 player, or even accessing their own personalized audio show by a wireless PDA or cell phone.  The advantage in using MobileBriefs service is that you get rich business content that is of direct interest to you, commercial-free, and you place it on any mobile device wherever you go.  MobileBriefs will also be offering their service in several different languages after launch in July.

General Audio Download companies.  These types of companies typically have a large base of general interest audio material for individual download to your desktop or mobile device. The leader in this space is Audible.com (www.audible.com) which makes it possible for you to listen to audiobooks, lectures, public radio programs, newspapers and more, either at your desktop computer or on the go with a portable device. The service allows you to even listen to free samples before you are required to buy, giving you the opportunity to see if it is right for you.  Just by downloading their AudibleManager® software to your computer you are able to listen to audio files on portable devices like any of the Windows-based PDAs or MP3 players.  Their subject offerings include fiction and nonfiction, comedy, education, business information, speeches, spirituality, public radio programs, newspapers, and magazines.

Corporate Mobile Audio Communication companies.  These companies usually specialize in creating internal communication systems for corporations via mobile audio.  One leader in this space is i2Go (www.i2go.com) which has created a mobile software platform that enables companies to provide relevant, rich media content to their customers, employees, and partners.  The information can be accessed on all types of mobile devices, anytime, anywhere.  Their customers also have the luxury of personalizing the audio content they receive.  They have just recently created a Telematics division within the company in order to reach the consumers through the ever-increasing number of Internet-enabled cars that have begun to populate the automotive landscape.

Phone Information Utility companies.  Not as adept as Personal Broadcast (PB) companies but able to reach more users at the moment, these companies enable users to dial into a cetral audio information repository and through menus choose their content.  One leader is BeVocal (www.bevocal.com  whose objective is to extend the power of every phone by providing voice infrastructure software, applications, and services to telecommunications companies and businesses worldwide.  The consumer accesses the information over the phone and he/she can personalize the content based on location.  Users can get information on traffic updates, driving directions, weather, news, sports, stock quotes and flight information, all through voice-activated commands over the phone.

The Future is Mobile and Wireless
By 2003, 118 million US consumers will listen to personalized, on-demand audio content at least once a week (Forrester Research, May 2000).  Analysts are forecasting over 1 billion wireless devices in 2003, with more than 50% of these devices being Internet enabled (Forrester Research, November 2000).  These expectations, coupled with the mobile professional’s longer commute time and desire for personalized information, will dictate that companies, such as MobileBriefs, Audible.com, i2Go and BeVocal, quench this emerging market’s thirst.

Corey Goff is an independent writer on mobile information access and serves as Director of Finance and Operations for MobileBriefs (cgoff@mobilebriefs.com).


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