Kinepolis meetup

My old friends at Kinepolis invited me over for a blogger meetup 2 weeks ago, something they had set up together with Proximity BBDO (represented by the one and only ‘Druppels’) and Adhese. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but given the fact I worked at Kinepolis myself for some 7 years I had more than enough reasons to go check it out.

I don’t really want to cover the content of the meeting (as others have done that already) but I was mostly interested in the approach of the company towards the community. And the commentary after.

Kinepolis
Photo by Dipfico

I once wrote a post called ‘not for sale’ and featured it in my side navigation since then. And then people started asking me why I don’t like advertising on my blog… I tell them to read it again, it’s not what I’m saying. The whole social media approach, the whole thing about being more consumer friendly, about engaging in a conversation, … is something that needs to be in your soul so to speak. A lot of companies get some recognition because ‘they get it’ whereas they just started using social media technologies to do one way communications. Sigh. I like genuine innovation, genuine openness… and yes even when you could argue about why it didn’t come any sooner.

Kinepolis is a company that gets it, maybe late but they showed me they do. Why? Because of the genuine openness and honesty of the conversation we had with the Kinepolis management during the meetup, including their CEO. The 20-some bloggers present at the event will probably agree, when was the last time you had such an open conversation with the CEO of a company the size of Kinepolis? Very curious to see how this will evolve, I guess that’s where I still can go wrong. At least the goodwill is there…

Looking at the commentary after the event I realized even more people don’t seem to make the distinction between ‘I approve how they did this’ and ‘I will now believe whatever they say without thinking’. Did I buy everything they said at that event? Did I think they are now all saints? No. But they did show in a very honest way what their plans are and how they want to have this conversation. I liked that a lot. And for the naysayers, if you really care about this just tell Adhese about it and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be part of this.

There were only 2 things I missed really, one being some more food and the other one a demo of the big screen gaming they do because I always loved that. There’s really nothing that beats playing COD or other on a 24 meters wide screen in full THX Dolby Surround sound ;)

My mobile life

Sometimes I think I live on mobile. If there’s a device I really couldn’t miss it’s my mobile phone. Ask my wife, if on occasion I don’t take my mobile phone with me, she’ll wonder how it’s possible I forgot it. It’s just too odd for me to be without. According to my mom, it’ll grow on my ears one day. Whatever ;)

Anyway, it’s true that mobile is important for me, ever since I got my first mobile phone some 10 years ago. Every year I hope that mobile will really breakthrough, but unfortunately also this year won’t be the year of mobile, just like 2007, 2006 nor 2005 were the year of mobile. It’s that one prediction that I wish it were through, but you know it won’t be.

It’s not even in our hands. I think the devices are there, thinking of the N95, the iPhone and some Windows Mobile devices that are all capable of doing amazing things for such a small device. The iPhone has the interface to love, my HTC is less slick but comes with 3G, built in GPS and all the power of Office and Exchange on mobile. Or the N95 with it’s superb camera. And now I’m not mentioning a ton of other great features these phones have.

Apart from all that greatness, I’ve been a very active user of the mobile web for the last 6 years or so as well. First on WAP on my old Nokia 6310i for instance, later on Vodafone Live with a Sharp GX30. Back then I was still working on Kinepolis‘ new media strategy and we invested in this back then already. Today Kinepolis is still one of the very few Belgian companies with a decent mobile site, for which you got to give them credit. But even outside Belgium, there aren’t many mobile specific sites, which already resulted in a shout-out more than a year ago.

The mobile sites I currently use are: BBC, Bloglines, Gmail, Hotmail, Messenger, Dopplr, Facebook, Google Reader, Live Search, Kinepolis, MSN, Twitter, Technorati, Wapedia, Flickr, Yahoo and WordPress. I don’t really know many more that are of use to me, or that aren’t in a walled garden like Vodafone Live.

I also use client versions like Live Messenger (which you can download for all kinds of devices), the Live Search client as well as the Google Maps client, Yahoo!Go, … as well as apps that run in the Java environment on mobile like Gmail and Opera Mini. On the N95 I also tried the Widsets, but whatever the phone, the browse services still top them all.

Today, with the iPhone’s browsing capabilities, or other mobile browsers that enable better viewing of ‘normal websites’ on mobile we will probably skip the further development of mobile specific sites. With Skyfire for instance (see announcement) or Deepfish I expect to see more ‘regular’ browsing in the future.

Still, the problem remains, now even more than ever I guess. We will have access to every site we want, with great browsers but at what cost? There’s a good explanation why I use so much mobile: I can use it obviously but more important is that I don’t have to pay for it. The day I have to pay for it, I’ll cut back for sure, need or no need. How much I love the Wifi on these phones, that’s not truly mobile for me. It’s when in a taxi, or before checking in a plane, while waiting on someone, … that I love to use all my catching up. Not only in my sofa at home for instance.

So unless operators change their models on data costs, mobile will never really breakthrough and that’s sad. And yes you can discuss devices etc aren’t ready yet either, allow me to say they’re well ahead of the game when you compare them to operator attitudes. And I’m afraid they won’t change that soon either. There’s too much money to be made with TXT messages to allow you to use IM on mobile instead for instance. What’s your take?

PS: Also check out the upcoming FF for Mobile now we’re at it ;)

PPS: And Twitter, for god’s sake, at least add a replies tab to m.twitter.com will ya!