IFID: Mike Richter’s talk

0michaelrichterr.jpgMike Richter‘s talk launched the second day of the Innovation Forum Interaction Design conference. Richter is a professor at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt focusing on media system design; his other job is iconmobile -a design, technology and content provider company for “the mobile world”- which he founded in 2003. The company grew very quickly and has now headquarters throughout the world (LA, Tokyo, London, Sydney, etc.)

He started by saying that the day before had been mostly about “innovation” and “explorative approaches”, he has to be much more down to earth. His work at iconmobile has to move within set borders, there’s innovation but it has to be do-able and marketable.

Very few people use data services: there’s way too much time investment and not enough return. Iconmobile is more interested in experience. A mobile phone is embedded into a value chain (device itself, GUI, services, network, operators, and third parties.) All these channels have to converge so his company cannot focus on the mobile aspect or the phone aspect only: it has to take other domains into account.

The company has to keep the balance between innovation and the objective to be commercially successful. Take for example QUAM. It was a 40 bilion disaster. The operator made it from scratch, it was very innovative. Too much innovative: the market was not ready.

Successful examples: Paris Hilton Mobile; TIMTou, a mobile variety of mySpace where TV, mobile and web converge; Starbucks selling music for mobile phones (pre-listening, coupons, backstage passes in exchange of 5 latte).

Technology is an enabler not a driver.
The most important criteria in mobile telephony for Richter is the user. They try to understand who he or she is and develops stereotypes scenarios. Helped by what they can find online. A website like “Hot or Not” provides them with precious demographic data for free.

Not the world of mobile phone is gigantic. You can take pretty any element of your life and add the term “mobile” to it: mobile keys, mobile tickets, etc. hard to keep the pace and look ahead. Besides any element in the mobile chain reacts with the others. You can’t focus on just one, you have to get the global picture. Even the music segment has to be sub-segmented. Iconmobile solution is structure, a kind of “industrial flow” where each one knows his or her place and role.

He ended by showing one of their successful projects, a mobilnovela called Mittendrin. Protagonist are aged between 14 and 25. Each of them have their own blog so that fans can interact with them, they are also reachable through SMS or MMS.

Bad snaps of his slides.