How does mainstream media know when to take mobile seriously as a distribution platform?

1) When the New York Times unveils a mobile-to-PC application? The NYT’s new ShiftD application allows you to move its content from one device to the other, insead of having to save and move them separately. A bit of a time saver perhaps, but not all that exciting really.

2) When key online social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook develop their own mobile applications? We’re getting warmer here. When we can seamelessly do all the social stuff on our cell phones that we really like to do (and waste too much time doing) on the Web, you know something important is going on.

2) When half the world’s population owns a cell phone? The current global population is just over 6 billion and there are currently 2.4 billion cell phone subscribers, so we are almost there. Also, on average 1,000 new cell phone users are added every minute…which is probably a lot more than first time newspaper subscriptions. So you would think it would be this one. But hold on…

3) When the Taliban threatens to blow up mobile phone towers? Yup, sadly this is the kind of thing that might finally get folks to pay attention. Apparently the Taliban has issued an ultimatum to Afghan mobile providers to shut down their operations at night because the military is able to trace the whereabouts of Taliban fighters via their mobile phones. When the Taliban take interest, for better or worse, it’s generally a good idea for the rest of us (and not just advertisers) to take notice too!

Unfortunately, most media still view mobile as only a way to shrink down their existing print, broadcast, and online offerings and re-format them for a smaller screen. And that’s one important reason why they are not having much success to date. It’s time to start thinking outside newsprint-wrapped boxes and to imagine what can be done altogether differently via emerging platforms. Some more ideas on that here.