Friday, June 10, 2005

Here comes "balaganas"

In Lithuanian, balaganas (pronounced balaGAHnas, I think) means a kind of honky-tonk carnival show and its equivalent in Latvian is balagāns (balagaahns). I remember many years ago, when hearing that a ballerina had performed at the Lutheran confirmation party of a young man with wealthy parents in a Latvian community in the US, my mother described doing that sort of thing as a "balagāns"
It is now clear that various kinds of balaganas or entertainment are going to be part of Bite Mobile's consumer market package in the form of a mobile portal called Bite Plius (meaning Bite Plus, will probably be the same in Latvian), which packages lots of balaganas and private services, including SMS weather bulletins and the like. I am not putting down balaganas, it is where all the value-added paid services revenues will come from - ring tones, games, screen pictures, video clips, Mp3, all that stuff. In the wider world, this is a billion dollar market and the money comes painlessly. I mean, there is some balagāns you can buy for LVL 0.35 or something, which is less than a PET bottle of Coke at LVL 0.42. Tens of millions of users around the world spend that kind of money without thinking and it adds up to huge revenue in micro doses. Unlike Coke, you can (legally, for sale) get all the copies of a ringtone you want without exhausting the supply, but you can only drink the can once before you have to produce all kinds of physical stuff (water, sugar, secret brown syrup) to get the second, third etc. can.
So, dear graduate (nobody, believe me, nobody will understand the movie reference), the word is not plastics (nor soft drinks) but balaganas.
Latvian Mobile Telephone (LMT) has gotten the word and they just launched mobile TV services by putting together an informal alliance of some of Latvia's major commercial balaganschiki (producers of balaganas), Latvian Independent Television (LNT), TV5 and the portal www.tvnet.lv. That comes on the same day as they launched EDGE, the high speed data service (the balagāns looks best on this) so people have something to do with the nearly 60 000 EDGE phones already on the LMT network. EDGE will be charged at the same rates as GPRS, the current slower system, a hint that EDGE will be the data plaform of choice (until EDGE+ or something new comes along, or we all switch to UMTS) on LMT.
So far, not bad. It is also clearly an effort to pre-empt Bite, and here the act is not quite put together yet. Bite Plius can be accessed with a single key on customized subsidized phones. The LMT portal looks distinctly uncool at the moment and has merely added a mobile TV link. Some of the other links (and please note I have not made an extensive study of the LMT mobile internet pages) that used to lead to newspapers and a mobile version of the BNS news service now lead into the arms of the paid Lursoft media archive with few ways of turning around and going back (I haven't figured them out). This is not good. I'm sorry, but in my superficial opinion, these aspects of the LMT portal SUCK.
So basically, while LMT appears to be marshaling the troops to fight Bite with mobile TV and EDGE, it had better get a cool, easy portal together or all this effort will be a waste. The content providers are certainly thinking in the right direction of repackaging their digital content for the mobile plaform. During the demo of streaming broadcast TV, LNT was showing (at just under 5 santims per minute) the paid commercial broadcast TV Shop where an American actress (dubbed in Latvian) was showing some kind of vegetable grinding machine. It was not possible to read the phone number to call (on the small screen) so that anyone watching this and paying for it would be buying a) a program paid for by its producer and sponsor to be watched for free (OK, you sort of pay for free to air commercial TV over cable and satellite) and b) unable to buy the vegetable grinder since the number was illegible. Interestingly, the Russian subtitles on a later "real" TV show could be discerned.
Anyway, mobile content editing and making it user-selectable cannot come too soon to this new service and I think it will.
Why would anyone want to puree (make into a kind of liquid) radishes? This is what I think I saw the veggie grinder woman doing. Any ideas?

2 comments:

Sergey said...

Hello,
Next time if you need to make an extensive study of the LMT WAP site , try to use online WAP emulator. There are the huge selection of these emulators (http://tagtag.com/cgi/wapemulator.cgi# ; http://www.wapsilon.com/; etc. (ask google)). Use "http://www.lmt.lv/wap/" URL for browsing.
Regarding the paid Lursoft: everybody can enter the free pass (vards:bns, id:bns, parole:bns) and pay nothing.
But anyway I agree that LMT WAP is a very poor choice for online reading.
Sergey.
Your regular reader.

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