Monday, January 22, 2007

Qwikker and Virgin Bites are up for a 3GSM Award

Qwikker, the mobile content distribution company, is up for an award for its work with Virgin Mobile (who incidentally 'don't believe in mobile marketing' or so it was claimed at a Virgin meeting I attended a few months ago!). The award they're up for is 'Best Mobile Advertising' category.

To keep Virgin Mobile customers amused, Qwikker created 'boredom busters' for Virgin BITES service. Also part of the promotion, Virgin Mobile wanted to reach beyond their own subscriber base and also promote acts at the V-Festivals by distributing mobile content via bluetooth.

Qwikker’s service enabled consumers to download the non-intrusive [sic], branded Virgin Bites mobile channel, via Bluetooth, and browse and select music-related mobile content, which was relevant to them. Critically the Virgin content channel remained on the consumers’ handset, which is updateable over-the-air (OTA) – further extending the brand relationship.

As the service is for Virgin customers only, I can't try it out to tell you exactly how it works. Nor was I at V-Festival to try it. And I'm wondering how many people actually played around with the system when they could be seeing live bands or drinking instead? Now *that* would be interesting to know more about rather than the concept per se.

If the O2 wireless festival is anything to go by, or FourDocs bluetooth poster campaign or the Casino Royale bluetooth cinema campaigns are anything to go by, there could be a high failure rate - none of the afore-mentioned campaigns worked on my phone :( - none of them were run by Qwikker AFAIK.

Having looked at the Qwikker website, I'm guessing it's a java based download which updates over the air in a similar way to mobizines.If you're in a Qwikker location (pub or London Underground station) then you may get a bluetooth message asking you if you want to receive the content and at that point you 'opt-in'. The trouble is, in sending the message to your phone at all, you haven't opted-in. Having spoken to some people in this area, because that initial message *isn't* stored on the phone, it's ok to send it and isn't covered by the European Data Privacy rules. I have *no* idea why that is acceptable rather than a text message per se. It's just as intrusive, it's just as time-consuming to deal with (or not) as a text message and it's still an electronic message. And I am yet to see a reliable bluetooth delivery system. Hmm, I'm not convinced. Come on Qwikker - convince me that bluetooth is ready for the masses and that my personal experiences are not the norm. I want to be convinced...

I wish Qwikker the best of luck with the award and with their service, but I don't see why it should be one rule for bluespam and another for text spam (equally odious IMHO). The direct mail analogy is that Junk Mail is equivalent to a text message but a Bluetooth notification is the equivalent of a door-drop - the difference being that you don't have the address (mobile number) of the recipient. You still end up with junk on your doormat (phone). Hmm, the vagaries of European law!

The GSM Association’s Global Mobile awards will be presented at 3GSM 2007, Barcelona on the 13th February. More information is available at GSM Awards.