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Reviewed by:
  • Global Mobile Media
  • Rich Ling
Global Mobile Media by Gerard Goggin. Routledge 2011. $115.00 hardcover; $39.95 paper. 225 pages

In Global Mobile Media Gerard Goggin does a spot-on job of giving the reader a nuanced and well-developed discussion of mobile media and its developments. Based in Australia at the University of New South Wales, Goggin is a central scholar in the mobile communication research community. In this book, he writes not so much about using the mobile phone for texting and talking as about mobile media, leading the reader through discussions of the mobile media industry, the cultural economy of the mobile phone, and, most important, discussions of mobile music, TV, gaming, and the Internet. In addition, he gives us a well-developed overview of the [End Page 181] iPhone and its impact on the mobile scene as well as a discussion of the mobile commons. The reader learns about the structuring of the mobile industry, and also about the hopes and the problems tied up with specific types of mobile media. The book will fit nicely into the curricula of undergraduate and graduate new media classes, and its chapters on mobile music, video, and gaming will be of particular interest to scholars in these respective areas.

Goggin includes a chapter on mobile television and video. He describes how they arose and were received by the public in different countries. Goggin does a nice job of showing us how it was in the period between 2005 and 2008 when the most heat, but perhaps not the most light, was cast on this discussion. The author leads the reader through the jungle of competing standards, and along the way we learn that mobile TV has been pulled between the interests of different actors (broadcasters, content providers, telecom operators). In the end, the reader has the impression that all of these actors have stumbled over one another.

Beyond the disagreements of the different actors, there are other issues that have, at least temporarily, caused mobile TV to founder. First, there are questions in the minds of users regarding when and where mobile viewing is an appropriate activity. In addition, there is a question of the suitability of the terminal for viewing. Goggin asks whether the content should be tailored to the Lilliputian screen on a traditional mobile-phone terminal, since mobile TV is an opportunity for a new form of program that emphasizes short podcasts with framing adapted to the screen and action adapted to nonstandard viewing situations. Goggin describes the rise of a type of mobile "home brew" video on sharing sites that has the potential to elbow aside the aforementioned interest groups and replace them with a user-based alternative in the open Internet world.1 The rise of mobile pads and tablets will bring new issues to this discussion, since they give the user (and the content provider) a new viewing format and a new viewing situation.

In addition to mobile TV and video, Goggin discusses mobile music and mobile gaming. Goggin sees mobile music as a story still in the making. He leads the reader through the issue of ring tones, going all the way back to the ringing devices on the phones of Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray. Bringing the discussion into the contemporary era, he looks at the development of the mobile phone as a portable music player in about 2001 and the accompanying issues of digital music rights. He documents how handset manufacturers such as Nokia and network operators pushed for this development, while the music industry responded negatively. There is a discussion of peer-to-peer sharing (such as Napster and BitTorrent) and, finally, discussion of the development of mobile devices as music store terminals (i.e., the iTunes approach).

As for mobile games, Goggin leads us through a discussion of the mobile phone as a back-channel for TV programs that entail voting and participation in quizzes, and he also discusses the primordial "stand-alone" mobile game, Snake, which was developed by Nokia in 1997. In the end, however, mobile phones are often seen as somewhat gutless by hardcore gamers. After all, most devices designed for...


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pp. 181-183
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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