Monday, July 31, 2006

Primped is made for mobile

More movement in the world of mobile TV. Primped follows top model, Vida Guerra, as she helps to transform three 'plain Janes' into gorgeous divas with the help of her team of stylists and advisors. You can watch and learn tips on hair, make-up and fashion as the three girls compete for a $20k prize which also includes a 5-page spread in Show magazine.

The series is available exclusively on a mobile phone near you (if you're in the USA that is) where you can get all 30 mobisodes on your phone for US$6.99. There are also text to win activities around the series as well as receiving Vida's top tips of the day via SMS in conjunction with Dollhouse magazine.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

If you're ever in San Francisco..

and are not sure where to go or what to do, then go ask my friend Virginia Miller for advice. She's a regular on a local SFO radio station, KFAX, as their food critic giving recommendations of the best places to eat in the Bay Area. And since she's so good at this, she's now set up a website, The Perfect Spot, where you can get Ginny to create personalised itineraries and recommendations for your visit to San Francisco. It's like having a personal shopper but for food and entertainment.

Which reminds me, I'm well overdue a trip to the Bay to visit her. [Note to self, must organise trip to the West Coast.]

Need to boost your popularity ratings?

Then try the Popularity Dialer created by Jenny Chowdhury and Cory Forsyth, a couple of students from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program [note to readers - is there a UK equivalent to this course?]. Users of the service can elect to be called at a particular time so they appear popular or busy by using a simple web form, with a text service coming soon (now you're talking - sending a quick text while you're in the loo to book a call to help you escape the date from hell sounds like a useful service to me).

If you're also bad at faking conversation, don't worry as the pre-recorded voice talks to you, complete with pauses and questions to help make the call seem natural. There are currently 4 choices of call including the affirmations one and a call from your 'boss'. You can listen in to sample calls on the website.

The service is funded by the students at the moment, although they are looking for sponsors. I wonder why they haven't implemented premium rate IVR or SMS to charge for the service? Popularity dialer is only available in the USA at the moment.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The serendipity of the underground

I bumped into Penny last night (pictured on the right in the white shirt) on the tube after not having seen her for more than 10 years. It was fun catching up and I'm pleased to say that she looks pretty much the same (albeit in more 21st Century clothing). She thought I looked much the same too.

web 2.0 list of companies

There's a useful list of web 2.0 companies here that you might find interesting. Unfortunately, there's no list of mobile 2.0 companies included... Any offers to compile it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Rise of the Women Gamer

There's a really interesting article over at FierceMobile about the rise and nature of the female game player written by Sande Chen of Women in Games International.

There are some top tips there about why designing games (casual or otherwise) for women is important due to their loyalty and longer shelf-life. Hence, more attention should be paid to creating and providing mobile games for women. The key points as to what to do are not exactly rocket science, but sometimes we need reminding of these things.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

since when did 25p = FREE?

since when did 25p = FREE?
Originally uploaded by technokitten.
You'll notice the small print at the bottom of the campaign for the new Miami Vice film as seen on a poster on London Underground this morning (20/7/06)...

Text 'Miami' to 61313 for Movie info + free Miami Vice wallpaper*
*sms costs 25p + your standard network charge.

So that means, it could cost you 37p for your "free" wallpaper. Hmm. Wonder how they're getting away with that then?

Added 31 July 06

I tested the service. It's a bit rubbish. I got my wap push ok but there was no supporting SMS in case I didn't get the wap push or lost it in my inbox (which happens on some handsets - and until I connect to wap, they don't know what handset I have).

Then I got the freebie wallpaper picture on the left. Oh dear. Not well designed for mobile. You can't see what the pictures are supposed to be, you can't read the writing under the film title, and most importantly for a film promotion, the opening date isn't on there anywhere.
This is definitely a case of "let's just repurpose what we already have" rather than "let's make something that will actually work on mobile". My preference is always for the latter ;-)

Oh, and there are plenty of wallpapers for sale at £2 each, and they're just as poorly designed IMHO. There's a game too at £5. Maybe that's better. Anyone tried it?

Monday, July 17, 2006

160 Characters and NOC Summer Drinks on Wednesday 19th July

160 Characters and NOC (Network for Online Commerce) are having an informal drinks and barbecue event on Wednesday evening from 6.30pm at their local hostelry, The Horseshoe Pub, 26 Melior Street, SE1 3QP. There's no entry charge AFAIK, just turn up and mingle and chat about mobile technology and commerce.

I doubt I'll be able to make it due to prior commitments, so if you go, do say hello to Mike Grenville for me!

Kids wanna watch mobile TV

I've been reading over at New Media Age (print edition) and Brand Republic about the latest research into kids wanting to watch mobile TV from research agency Quaestor.

They've discovered that, given the choice, children would like to watch their favourite TV programmes on their phones. I can imagine the scenario now...
  • Researcher, 'so Johnny, tell me what's one of your favourite TV programmes?'
  • Johnny, 'umm, I like cartoons best like The Simpsons'
  • Researcher, 'Do you have a mobile phone?'
  • Johnny, 'yeah, course I do. Everyone's got one.'
  • Researcher, 'If you could watch The Simpsons on your mobile phone whenever you liked, would you do it?'
  • Johnny, 'you mean, I can watch tv on my phone the same as I watch at home? So, like if I was in the car or something, I can just turn on my favourite programmes? And I just have to press a button on my phone to do it, yeah, course I'd do it'.
Ok, i'm being slightly facetious here, but it's not going to be hard to sell-in an idea like Mobile TV to the average 11 year old. If they have a phone, that happens to have tv on it, they'll use it. It's not a question of whether it's mobile tv or not, it's a question of do they want to watch tv at that time and if the answer is yes, and there's a button on the phone that says 'watch TV', I guess a fair few of them would press that button. It's not that it's 'mobile TV' per se. It's just TV.

More importantly, if tweens are going to be a key market to drive Mobile TV forward, then further consideration has to be put into the question of data costs. Most of these tweens are on PAYG phones with extortionate data charges. I'm sure Johnny and Jamila's Mum and Dad are soon going to put a stop to Mobile TV usage as soon as they realise it's going to cost them several £s an hour for the privilege.

Quaestor used a combined methodology, beginning with an exploratory qualitative study of 12 friendship pairs conducted in-home. The sample was split across boys and girls aged 10, 11 and 12 in the north and south of England. Outcomes helped develop a list of questions for a follow-up quantitative stage of 300 online questionnaires, again completed by 10-12 year olds.

Women in Mobile Data event - Tues 1st August

Jessica Sandin at Fathom Partners is kindly hosting the next Women in Mobile Data Association event (the website is *very* out of date) on Tuesday 1st August at their offices in Riding House Street, London W1.

We're lucky to have Paul Goode from m:metrics come and talk to us about mobile content and services for customers outside of the male 16 to 35 segment so it promises to be very interesting.

Men are welcome to join us at this event but should be accompanied by a lady from the mobile data world where possible, and have an interest in underserved markets in mobile.

For more info or an invitation, please contact me directly.

MoMoLondon pod- and video-casts

can be found here courtesy of Clarity Capital Partners. The recordings are from all the London events and not just the most recent one on funding. They're quite chunky files, but if your hard drive can take it, they may well be worth a look. You might even spot me in one of the video files.

The next MoMoLondon will be a drinks event in August. Venue/time/date (although I'm guessing the first Monday of August!) tbc.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bluetooth enabled bus stop cleaner robots

Just spotted this over on flickr... I imagine you use your bluetooth phone to activate the cleaner robots in the bus stop. That's more interesting than a bluetooth enabled poster where you may or may not be lucky in receiving the content file (video, music or whatever) back to your phone.

I like it.

Monday, July 10, 2006

He's a method actor, and his method... murder

Corpse the movie - coming to a mobile phone near you sometime soon...

I've been working with Ben from Sentinel Entertainment for the last few months and the final edit of Corpse is now complete and the fab website is up and running. Great soundtrack (courtesy of Michael Smith of Gorillaz fame), top cast (Philip Jackson, Angela McHale, Oliver Chris and Roy Drinkwater), top director, Joseph Bennett) and a really good series of mini movies even though I say it myself. You'll find lots of background information on the website including interviews with the cast, a preview trailer and a photo gallery.

And of course, if you're interested in taking on this content (video, ringtones and wallpapers available) for mobile phones, or Sony PSPs or video Ipods, do get in touch!

Geek Dinner with Chris Anderson

I went along to the geekdinner on Friday night and listened to Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame. Caroline, who I met there, has done a great round up of his talk on her blog so I won't repeat it here. Go read her blog instead.

Caught up with a few of the usual suspects and some new ones and a good time was had by all!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Music vids from the 80s

can be found here. Classics include Heaven 17 - Temptation, Hipsway - The Honeythief, Bauhaus - Ziggy Stardust, B-Move - Nowhere Girl, J Geils Band - Centrefold, Adam and the Ants - Kings of the Wild Frontier, Hayzi Fantaysee - Shiny Shiny, Cutting Crew - I just died in your arms tonight, Bryan Ferry - Slave to Love, The Lotus Eaters - First Picture of You and lots more besides. I expect I was dancing to something like Bauhaus's Ziggy Stardust or The Smiths or Echo and the Bunnymen in the picture to the right at 'Alternative Night' at The Barn in Worcester. The memories are flooding back!

Enjoy! A wonderful waste of time :-)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Carnival of the Mobilists 35 is up

and I'm in it! Woohoo! Xen from Xellular Identity has done a great job of rounding up this week's blogging on mobile. Go check it out and well done Xen.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Are you suffering from Continuous Partial Attention?

Ewan is. I am. It's a malady of the modern age. As I read the article over at johnmac's rants, I had the TV on in the background (Sugar Rush on Ch4 if you must know) and having a chat on MSN as well. And thinking about that I still need to do my washing up before I go to bed.

And earlier this evening I spotted my google quote of the day from Andy Rooney.

"Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done."

Something to think about...

Vodafone's latest guerilla marketing campaign

Vodafone Desk Car
Originally uploaded by Mardagg.
Has anyone seen the Vodafone car cum desks roaming the streets of London complete with water cooler? Anyone know anything about the campaign?

Via Marketallica

Timor-Leste's Foreign and Defence Minister quits by SMS

Just spotted this over at Mobile Jones. Debi's picked up on a story where Timor-Leste's Foreign Defence Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, quit his job by text message to the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri.

The text message apparently read:

"I do not wish to be associated with the present government or with any government involving Mr. Alkatiri."

I think that's a first! We've had divorce by text message before now, but I've never heard of a governent minister resigning by text before. I wonder what's next? You can read more about it here on Cellular News.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mobile Marketing continues at Lakeside

Those of you who know me, may remember that I cut my teeth in mobile marketing as Head of Customer Experience at ZagMe back in the mists of mobile time in 2000 and 2001 working with Russell Buckley of Mobhappy and Admob fame. For those who don't know about ZagMe, we sent text messages to shoppers at Lakeside and Bluewater shopping malls and in the 9 months that we were operational, ran over 1500 SMS campaigns to over 85,000 opted-in customers across the two malls. Obviously, as an employee, I was signed up to the service.

Unfortunately, ZagMe died in October 2001 and the database was sold to a SMS push marketing company, The Mobile Channel, for a pitiful amount. The fact that it was probably illegal to sell the database at all (due to the privacy policy in place) was swept under the carpet. I do vaguely remember getting an opt-in message from that company and they sent me quite a few messages in 2001/2 all marked "(TMC)" thus identifying the sender. Anyway, the company who bought the database moved into online market research (Valued Opinions) and AFAIK ditched SMS marketing per se. Yet, I'm still getting messages from Lakeside with no other identifier than the word 'Lakeside' in the return path. So I'm guessing that Lakeside bought the database and are sending these SMS themselves.

Examples from the last 3 months include:

"Principles at Lakeside SALE starts on Thursday 29 June. Huge savings across the store! Don't miss out."

"House of Fraser Lakeside sale starts tomorrow with up to 50% off across the store plus an additional 10% off for Recognition Card holders until Sunday."

"Lakeside Gift Vouchers make the ideal present for Father's Day. Why not treat your Dad to a meal at Old Orleans and watch the World Cup on the large screens?"

"Triumph lingerie fashion show this Saturday at Lakeside. Shows at 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm. SAVE 20% on Triumph and Sloggi at participating retailers."

"BBC's Strictly Dance Fever at Lakeside tomorrow 6pm - 6.30pm. Come and see the last 3 couples perform in the central atrium!"

"House of Fraser Lakeside Mega Day up to 20% off across the store. Wednesday 24th May at 6pm-11pm Thursday 25th 8am-12pm, Friday 26th 8am-11pm."

"FREE face painting at Lakeside this Sunday between 2-4pm on the foodcourt, Level 3, by Sproggs Playcentre."

"FREE fragranced candles when you spend 35 pounds on Lakeside Gift Vouchers. Whilst stocks last."

"Goldsmiths level 1 at Lakeside exclusive Wedding Fayre now in store till 26 April. Free expert advice, designs and prize draw. Visit today!"

"House of Fraser Lakeside sale starts tomorrow with an extra 10% off sale prices for all Fraser Recognition card holders till Saturday."

So that's about 10 messages then. A few comments...

1. Thank you for keeping up the mobile marketing but can you be a bit more interesting with your offers and copy please? There's nothing exclusive, there are no barcodes or 'show this message' type campaigns in there (and there hasn't been since ZagMe days, rest assured). There's nothing measurable here.

2. Each time the reply path is the word 'Lakeside' so I have zero opportunity of opting out. I tried telling them about this a couple of years ago to no avail. Come on guys - haven't you heard of the Data Protection Act or best practice mobile marketing? Are you too tight to offer a 'stop' function?

3. I wonder how many other ex ZagMe customers are still getting messages nearly 6 years on without every having been asked if you want to stay on the list. Ho hum.

4. Ever thought of asking customers for feedback? Voting? A downloaded picture that entitles you to something free (free coffee with every sandwich with this picture of a cup of coffee)?

5. Not sure if these are targeted messages or not. They're fairly generic, aimed at the female shopper over 21. I'm guessing they're not very targeted.

So this is a 6 out of 10 I reckon for mobile marketing effort. It's a case of 'this is almost how to do sms marketing'. Good effort but could definitely do better (legals of ownership of the data aside). Anyone else have any comments?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

MoMo London at 3i last night

A quick round up of MoMo London last night. It was a very very hot evening but fortunately the offices at hosts 3i were pretty cool. The place was full - not least because this was a night talking about funding mobile ventures. And there were 4 VC/investors on the panel judging a variety of 4 minute presentations followed by questions from the panel.

I missed most of the WeeWorld presentation as I arrived late due to client commitments. But that's ok, I kinda know WeeWorld anyway from my own MSN usage and because I've worked with Yomego in the past who are a WW mobile partner and they've had lots of funding so not really on the lookout for more dosh. If you don't know who they are, they're a virtual community where you can create your own avatar to express yourself.

Next up was Active Media who teamed up with flytxt to work on Orange Wednesdays. Ramesh and Pri did a good job of summing up what they've been up to in the last few years and the headway they've made, particularly in India, where they are one of the main mobile marketing service providers.

After that we saw Otodio who have a very interesting concept about being able to 'hear' your newspaper or whatever instead of reading it. So a bit like automatically podcasting your morning newspaper but with some navigation tools added so you can go forward and back (like you would with an audio typing system) and speed up or slow down - all from your mobile phone or voice activation. The technology sounds pretty fancy but it's gonna be a long journey to change both consumer and publisher behaviour. Good luck to them!

Then we saw Red Bend, a deeply technical company who sort out OTA updates for handset manufacturers thus making the user experience better and enabling bug fixing and the like.

And finally, Dennis from Zzizzl Films was up talking about his early stage short independent film aggregation business. He made a big play around the fact that he was offering a 50:50 profit share but that's pretty standard fodder for the mobile video on demand world. What that 50:50 actually means in reality could be 50:50 of 30% or less profit depending on how many other partners are in the value chain taking their cut. The panel seemed very keen on his concept and awarded him the £1,000 prize that was up for grabs that evening and told hiim to chat to them afterwards. And out of all the presenters, Zzizzl was probably the one that needed the funding most of all.

Met some new people and bumped into some old friends too - Jan from W2forum, Nick from Juvino, Daniel from Equal Mobile, Mark from Leiki, Julie and Damien from Vodafone, Richard from ARN, Nandi from Bango, Richard of KidsOk fame, Nate (ex Win), Tom from Red Oxygen and a lovely lady from the BBC whose name I have completely forgotten! I'm sure there were others too. Richard, Tom remind me who she is! Drinks and canapes were courtesy of 3i and we all came away with goodie bags. Now that *is* a posh networking do. In the bag was a notebook (saves me buying one), a pen, some WeeMee stickers and some 3i blurb on mobile bits and pieces in a posh bag. Oh, and Dan Appelquist did some vlogging of the event and I got caught. Dunno if it will make it to the final cut!

Definitely the best MoMo event so far. Well done guys.

Zyb ur mobile

I've been hanging out over at Ewan's blog of late not least cos he's been writing about me! Anyway, trust Ewan 2 kno bout the latest latest kewl ting in da mobi hood - it's Zyb. A fab online OTA back up your mobile contacts and calendar service. And it's err FREE.

Anyway, I've just signed up and backed up my contacts and calendar in about umm 2 minutes. Go do it now before you forget or lose your phone or something. Thanks Ewan for the tip-off and thanks Zyb for being fab and free :-)

Monday, July 03, 2006 and Xerox team up on mobile advertising

Just read over at Brand Republic about Xerox targeting Blackberry users for their latest campaign. It seems that although the was viewable on Blackberries, they couldn't serve ads. That's all been fixed now and Xerox has bought the current inventory and you can click on the ad and be taken through to a landing page telling you all about the new Xerox products and solutions.

Interestingly, Xerox claims to be ahead of the curve on mobile. Richard Astley, account director at MEC Interaction, Xerox's digital agency claims "Xerox has continually used mobile devices as a way of connecting with their audience and our strategy has been paying off with great results".

Have I missed something? What other mobile campaigns has Xerox done? I did a bit of googling and couldn't find much except that Xerox sponsored CNN's mobile news service in 2004. Can anyone shed any light on that please? It's always interesting for find out what b2b companies are up to in mobile. They're off my radar a bit as I'm more focussed on b2c clients.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Admob works

If you don't know what Admob is, it's a wap advertising service - works a bit like google adwords. They have global reach, you can pay a fixed price per click thru or you can bid automatically up to your top price.

Anyway, I used it for one of my clients in the last week or so and we're very pleased with the results and the conversion rate. So I'll be using it again for my clients. We'll be trialling some of the other wap advertising networks over time as well to see how they compare, but it seems to me that Admob has comprehensive global reach and is getting the conversion rates.

And if I'm allowed to (I need my client's permission to do that), I'll post more information about the results here further down the line.

Carnival of the Mobilists 34 at W2Forum

Jan Kuczynski over at W2Forum has done a great job of this week's Carnival of the Mobilists. Go check it out.