Given that I am the guy credited with the term "7th mass medium" which explains why mobile is unique and distinct mass media from say comparing to the internet (6th) or TV (5th) or print (1st). Since my book "Mobile as 7th of the Mass Media" came out in 2008 (a global tech bestseller, thank you all who bought it) – many keep asking me what is the 8th mass media. And up to now, I have said I don’t know.

Google Glasses is the project that will take Augmented Reality not into mainstream, but become pervasive window from real to digital world
Google Glasses is the project that will take Augmented Reality not into mainstream, but become pervasive window from real to digital world

Last year a friend and colleague of mine, Raimo van der Klein (a long-time MoMoista – Mobile Monday – from the Amsterdam MoMo chapter) now the CEO of Layar, the Augmented Reality (AR) browser company, suggested that AR is the 8th mass medium. I thought about it then, and as the only commercially practical uses of AR in ‘mass market’ uses (for consumer media, not for example military goggles for fighter pilots) were on smartphones, I felt AR was only a media format for mobile. I did immediately accept that Augmented Reality was at least the 8th unique ability of mobile, for which obviously Raimo gets the credit. And I told him I’d keep my mind open about it and consider what evidence we might have of the future of AR.

Now I read a Tweet from another very dear friend of mine, Antti Ohrling, known in the past for co-creating Blyk and earlier for his award-winning digital ad agency of Finland, Contra. Antti is one of those super-duper bright people that whenever you meet, you feel like you want more time, and just hope you could take a tin-can opener, open up their brain, and just eat it all… Like our Alan Moore, Dan Applequist, Jouko Ahvenainen, Richard Ting, Jonathan MacDonald, Lars Cosh-Ishii, Russell Buckley, Matti Makkonen, Mike Smith or Rory Sutherland. People who really get mobile – and get digital – and have lived this industry for decades and have enormous insights. So Antti retweeted something about those cool Google glasses we heard of last week. He did not even make the statement that shook me, it was an article written at TechCrunch by Josh Constine, entitled "Apple and Facebook should be Terrified of Google-Tinted Glasses". Now, the headline is somewhat typical ‘hype’ headline as most modern tech articles seem to be (just look at my overhyped article titles :-). But for Antti to bother to retweet that, I sensed Antti agreed with the sentiment of that headline…

I would trust Antti’s judgment 100% and it didn’t take me long into that article for a massive thought to emerge. Yes, AR is cool on smartphones. But that is ‘part time’ use of AR. What if AR was the first unavoidable mass media channel? The first pervasively consumed mass media? Mobile phones as we know from the 7th Mass Media theory – have unique abilities such as being always connected and being permanently carried. So too will be AR (on glasses) but we don’t consume media on our phones in uninterrupted way. The media consumption is in our pocket but we also put it into our pocket, away.

These AR glasses by Google will change all that. We are seeing the birth of the first pervasive mass media (that might not be the best term; I have to think about it). So yes, am ready to call it. Augmented Reality is the 8th Mass Medium. Thank you Raimo van der Klein for discovering AR, and for first postulating that might be so. I am your first convert. Here is the new list in order of their introduction:

1st mass media PRINT – from 1400s (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, billboards)

2nd mass media RECORDINGS – from 1890s (records, tapes, cartridges, videocassettes, CDs, DVDs)

3rd mass media CINEMA – from 1900s

4th mass media RADIO – from 1920s

5th mass media TELEVISION – from 1940s

6th mass media INTERNET – from 1992

7th mass media MOBILE – from 1998

8th mass media AUGMENTED REALITY – from 2010

Note also how instrumental Google has been in this development. The first Layar AR mass market solutions were on Google Android smartphones. Once more, it’s Google Goggles – jumpstarting this fledgling media industry. Google is ‘creating’ a massive digital media environment to thrive in, not inviting other players to the party.

In our signature book, Communities Dominate Brands, Alan Moore and I argued how to ‘create new market space’ using Apple’s iPod and iTunes as the perfect example. Now, it looks like Google learned that lesson and then put the Google massive scale spin to it indeed. This is a new mass medium and it will be massive. I would suggest immediately that it will be far bigger than the 5th media TV and 6th media Internet, and I am willing to suggest, it may become bigger than mobile the 7th media itself. Awesome!

I will return with much more on this but for now, wanted to post it and celebrate. Now we know what came after mobile as a mass media channel, it is AR. Feel free to share the info, the updated list, and links to this article.

Looking forward to reading your comments!