Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Challenges faced by the Operators and Mobile Developer Community by Umar Akram

I was approached this week by Danish entrepreneur Umar Akram (see pic) from Mobile Weaver ApS to publish his article which is a discussion about the challenges faced by mobile operators and mobile developers with a call for a unifying standards body for mobile development to ease those challenges.

It seemed like an interesting enough topic to publish, and as I'm not a developer myself, I'd really welcome your thoughts and comments on what Umar has to say and whether or not you agree. Do we need a unifying body? Do any of the industry associations cover any of this off? Where do the W3C standards fit in to this? I'll let Umar take it from here.

"The revenue generated from voice is clearly diminishing with every passing day, forcing the operators to explore new areas of growth through continuous innovation in technologies and services. Recently I had an opportunity to attend a Vodafone D2C strategy briefing which brought out Vodafone initiative for the next three years. During this briefing Vodafone significantly highlighted the fact that despite the anticipated consolidation by European operators, the operators should focus on services other than the traditional voice based services so that they can generate greater revenue for themselves.

In the fast moving competitive market of Europe, operators are not only facing the challenge of competing with low cost MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) but are also continuously struggling to retain their existing subscribers. Besides few exceptions, many operators in Asia and other developing countries have still not been able to implement long term data services strategy, with the result their mobile play is still primarily focused on voice.

As the ARPU (average revenue per user) on voice continues to decrease, data has become the most dominant factor for operators in retaining and attracting the customers. The key factors which have complemented the growth of data services in developed countries are the increasing capabilities of mobile phones, faster networks like 3G and mobile applications that bring a rich user experience by changing the way people live, work and play.

With the changing trends, operators are now expecting their revenues to grow, as the subscriber’s appetite for content has increased. They are always on a look out for a “killer application” that can easily become popular among the subscribers and thus create brand loyalty for them. But from the mobile content developer’s perspective it’s not a simple task to come up with such an application.

The major challenge highlighted at the Google’s Open Source discussion event was the absence of standards for the developers in the industry. Optimizing these applications for different OS and broad range of mobile devices with varying screen sizes and versions remains the biggest problem for the mobile content developers. Even if the portability issues are resolved, distribution still remains a big challenge for the developers. It is the dream of every mobile content developer to get their content distributed through an operator. But the unending list of pre requisites on various issues of portability, certification and in some cases localization can turn this dream into a complete night mare.

The explosive growth in mobile content has transformed it into the buzzword of every article, publication and news around us. A new report issued by market intelligence firm iSuppli forecasts that the market for premium mobile content will exceed $44 billion by 2011, more than doubling the $20 million anticipated for 2007. The major driving force for the mobile content developer is to get an easy access to the information and APIs (application programming interface) which are held confidential by the OEMs and OS providers of mobile devices.

There should be one organization that can set guidelines and standards for content development by consulting all the stake holders in the value chain. This will facilitate the developers to focus only on the core issue, which is to develop applications for the consumers that can add value in their lives. This thing is not as simple as it seems.

Due to various political, economical and competitive landscape constraints, it’s very hard to unite all the stakeholders in one place and develop standards for content developers globally. Otherwise we can rightly say that lack of standards will remain the biggest hurdle for the content developer community."

This article is written by Umar Akram, a Danish entrepreneur who focuses on mobile and internet services. Umar is the founder and Vice President of Mobile Weaver ApS and is currently serving as the member of the board. Youpark, a flagship product of Mobile Weaver, is an online storefront that provides mobile users with over 12,000 best selling mobile software and games suitable for wide range of popular devices.

20 hot trends in mobile gaming

Ooh, how I like a good list, and this is a really good one from the lovely folks at Mobile Entertainment magazine summarising the key points from the Develop Mobile conference in Brighton recently. Michael French has summarised Stuart Dredge's key points from the closing keynote and I've interpreted them below. See the full article for the original comments.

The 20 hot trends in mobile gaming are:

1. Loadsamoney
Folks are making money in this sector.

2. Local Brands
Doesn't need to be a big brand, but you need a brand (same with anything product or service you're selling IMHO)

3. Developers for Sale
Mergers and acquisitions happening.

4. Unified release dates
Same release date for all formats of a game. (Makes sense to me).

5. Herd Mentality
Companies are copying other companies' successful game formats, and doing well out of it.

6. Lack of Innovation
Speaks for itself.

7. D2C opportunities
Games companies are looking beyond operator portals and exploring ways to connect with consumers direct.

8. Ad-funded Portals
Still to be proven. Early days yet.

9. The Gong Shows
Awards ceremonies 'n stuff help raise developer profiles which increases chances of deals.

10. Casual Crossover
Using game formats in other media is helping move folks on to their mobile variants.

11. New Hardware
More devices, improved accessibility.

12. 3D Improving
Is 3D all that on mobile? Go read Stuart Dredge's comments in the full article to make your own mind up.

13. Going Native
A challenge as to who does what and who will win the development war.

14. Play Together
We're still not playing nicely together in the playground which is odd since online social media is huge. Seems this bit still hasn't been worked out yet properly on mobile.

15. User generated content
Some firms are letting their players upload content to personalise the game. I like this idea. The PC game Trackmania, which BeepMarketing did some marketing for a few years back, used exactly this concept. The idea was that you created your own racing track and then connected with other gamers over the internet to share and connect your tracks and enjoy racing on them. I don't like racing games particularly, but I really liked this one.

16. Social networking
Can the "stars" of social networks help promote and sell mobile games?

17. The Whizzy Stuff
Will the new stuff help sell mobile games, like wii style gaming on your phone?

18. Micropayments
Seems more payment models are coming in because of the ability to manage micropayments.

19. Word of mouth
Dredge has some interesting comments on this topic.

20. We love journalists
Can and should editorial sell games direct since they're so important in promoting mobile games.

Tuesday linkage 31 July 2007

I'm having a clearout of all the tabs I have open on firefox so here are a few links for you

Keep stuff secure with your eyes (and your mobile)
Oki Japan has developed software that brings iris recognition security to existing mobile phones. Of course the focus described is security and that's *great*. Can you imagine, no more pin number or password traumas. But I wonder if it could also be used for iridology, either now, or at some point in the future when the resolution improves?

Mobile and fashion
Or perhaps we're better off with a mobile 'colour me beautiful' type service, courtesy of the folks over at HP. It's still in prototype mode but I can see it taking off and is a nice takeaway if you've gone through the whole Colour Me Beautiful (or similar) process. Maybe this is what the fashion industry needs to help get them more mobile. I can't help thinking though that lighting is going to play an important factor as to whether or not this will be successful. In certain lights, it's very difficult to tell what colours clothes are exactly and I'm wondering if the camera can get round this or not.

Get the message right
ICSTIS is investigating anonymous text message services as they seem to be used for bullying and rather insidious messages which is not what they were designed for. There's a public consultation under way, so get in there quick to add your point of view. You can download the pdf http://www.icstis.org.uk/pdfs_consult/anonymous_sms.pdf here and the deadline is 7th September.

Meanwhile, Darla Mack, wishes SMS a happy birthday this week. It's 15 years old. Can you believe it?! I only started texting in 2000 so as much as I like to think I'm an early adopter for some things, maybe I wasn't an early adopter when it came to SMS!

Social media continues apace
Online social networking isn't going away. Via Twitter, I'm finding friends are unhappy about being facebook-less today (it's undergoing maintenance right now - but only affecting *some* accounts, including mine). But never fear, there's always somewhere else to go play and connect with folks like you. So if you're a teenager (I'm not) and you're into anime, avatars and the like, then join 8.5m other teens like you at Gaia. Ok, it's not mobile, but it's big and we need to be keeping an eye on this social media type stuff.

A musical interlude

A few musical bits and pieces have struck a chord with me in the last 24 hours.

First off, coming home from the lovely Oli Barrett's 'Quality Connector' do last night, I ended up sitting next to a guy who, as he read The London Paper, turned to his friends and said, 'I'm gonna be a pop star'. To which I replied, 'good choice'. Anyway, we got talking and it turns out the man who wants to be a pop star is actually Herbie Treehead, a Glastonbury regular (I was in the right field at the right time apparently, but missed them too busy doing something else!), who has an album out and is the man behind the chirpy 'Happy Song'. It put a smile on my face anyway when I heard it.

Secondly, I'm browsing through some blog feeds taking a cursory glance at some of the blogs I don't get round to reading very often and stumbled across this post from popbytes about a British artist Bat for Lashes and their song horse and i. Natasha Khan, the brains behind the outfit, is also a visual artist and was also at Glastonbury, although I didn't see her either, but never fear, she's playing the Electric Picnic in a month's time. Wahey! Anyway, I'm suitably impressed with her quirky but very appealing style and there's a video clip of her performance at Glastonbury on theblog as well as a free download of horse and i. You'll need to be quick to get the download though as it will only stay up on the site for a few days to promote the new album, Fur and Gold. You might want to check out her myspace page too.

And finally, if you haven't signed up yet, then sign up to Ade's TunAtheday.com. It's free and 5 days a week, you'll get something new to listen to to get your day to a good start. There's also a discussion forum where you can talk about what you've just heard, make suggestions about tracks for upcoming tunas and generally put the world to rights. Oh, and in true web 2.0 stylee, you'll also find Ade and his tunatheday on myspace and facebook. Go on, sign up, you know you want to!

Tune in for mobile, marketing and media stuff shortly!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Lots to catch up on

but can't write it up now as I have to dash out, but posts coming soon on...
  • Mobiles and emerging nations
  • Interesting meetings with mobilists Jeff Bloom from Singtones and Sander Munsterman of xs2theworld.com
  • A review of O2's new Cocoon phone (yes, I have one!)
  • A few pictures of mobilists at play
Gotta go - laters!

Are you free on Wednesday morning in London?

Got an interest in mobile, media, things webwise or marketing? Then come along and have brunch with blogger and journalist, Mike Butcher at his inaugural BrunchBites. I'll be there and a few others from the mobile, web, media and marketing worlds and we'll be setting the world to rights and exchanging ideas 'n stuff over a latte (or cuppa) and a piece of toast at Soho's Breakfast Club. So if you have time, and you fancy a coffee morning, 2.0 stylee, then come and join us between 10.30am and midday.

Monday morning linkage

Morning world. A few links for a Monday morning now the sun is finally shining!

First the bad news, a Polish bus driver loses job over text lottery addiction. Oh dear oh dear, where *did* he get the time and how on earth did he think he'd get away with it?

In need of a laugh? Seen Headzup? Anyone used it? For those who don't know, Headzup is 'catch and release comedy' for mobile phones and video ipods. The daily Headzup editorial cartoons and parody clips, many with a political slant, are designed for downloading and sharing as picture messages (MMS) which is why they're so short. With the US election campaigning well under way, the latest headzups do have a political slant and I'm really interested to see what effect this kind of campaigning has in the US.

Got a fancy new Nokia smartphone? No idea how it works or what to do with it? Then you could do worse than head over to check out Smartphonin' where you'll find tips and hints on how to use your phone. Also worth a look is Darla Mack's blog all about mobile phones, including lots of interesting stuff about Nokia phones like this post on a DJ mixer mobile application for your N-series Nokia.

The link between music and mobile gets stronger with Sony Ericsson, Orange and Channel 4 teaming up for a new music talent show. The TV show is called MobileAct and viewers will be able to download tracks from competing bands and vote for the one they want to progress through to the competition. The competition will shortlist 25 bands, who will all record their own video auditions with a further 25 being picked by a music industry panel.

Francois Mahieu, Orange UK's director of devices, said:
"We want there to be a direct link between what they can see on TV and listen to on their mobile. When the TV programme begins, Orange will kick off a number of initiatives so that customers feel they are part of the choice, including getting the music free."
And finally, the first book written on a mobile phone has been published by lulu.com, the self-publishing platform people. The author, Robert Bernocco took advantage of his idle time while commuting to and from work by train, writing his 384-page science fiction novel, Compagni di Viaggo (Fellow Travelers is the English translation), on his Nokia 6630 phone, using the phone's T9 typing system.

By dividing his manuscript into short paragraphs, Mr. Bernocco wrote his novel in perfect Italian, not your typical text-message shorthand, and saved the paragraphs on his mobile phone. Mr. Bernocco then downloaded them onto his home computer for proofreading and editing. The book took him 17 weeks to write.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mobile Marketing Best Practice guide is out

Highlights to the July 2007 Guidelines include:

  • Marketing to Children: define the guidelines for marketing to children under the age of 13.
  • IVR: provide guidance on opt-in and opt-out via IVR (interactive voice response).
  • Mobile Web: ensure opt-ins are also adhered to with each mobile web experience. The Guidelines specify the use of a PIN or phone MO message to confirm the authorized subscriber.
  • Dispute Resolution: defines that dispute resolution is at the discretion of each carrier for their respective customers.
The mobile marketing best practice guidelines are available in pdf format from the MMA global website. You'll find other useful reports and papers available to download from the site too, and they're all free.

Meanwhile in the UK, ICSTIS is having its say on mobile marketing too.

"ICSTIS's proposals on third marketing lists have been received with cautious encouragement by industry members attending a meeting last week.

ICSTIS is proposing that:

1) In the subject/title of WAP Pushes, to have within it details of the short code in question. This is no different to existing requirements for promotional SMS messages.

2) In the subject/title of WAP Pushes, to have within it details of the fact that it's a "FreeMsg". This again is no different to existing requirements for promotional SMS messages.

Some networks already have a rule for the time after which you cannot send users promotional messages - which is set to 6 months, so as to ensure that if a SIM is recycled, the new owner doesn't get the previous owner's promotional messages."

Either way, common sense applies. And the old adage, "Do as you would be done by" certainly holds true with mobile marketing regardless of any legal requirements.

Bluetooth messaging from the boys in blue

West Yorkshire Emergency Services has started 999TV featuring short video clips about the emergency services in the area as well as some tips and hints on keeping yourself and your possessions safe and well. Some of the videos are also posted up on youtube under username 999TV.

The video that I was alerted to from Mike Butcher at mbites, was the one about the local police using bluetooth to assist with crime prevention. The campaign is called 'Sneak-in' and is specifically aimed at reducing burglary in hotspot areas. There isn't a direct link unfortunately, but if you go to the website, it's easy enough to find.
David Harrison, Crime Prevention Officer says: "We are using cutting edge technology, which is utilising the mobile phone. The idea is to use PCSOs to go into the hot spot areas and send out messages in the form of the video clip through the mobile phone, which detects other devices such as mobile phones, Sat-Navs and computers.

Once the device has been detected, the officer will then send the message, and it is up to the owner of the mobile phone as to whether they accept this message from West Yorkshire Police. If they do, it gives a clear message of the sneak-in campaign - a hand reaching through an unlocked door."
At first sight, this might seem like the local bobbies are engaging in bluespam, but if you have a look at the video clip, you'll see that it's peer to peer messaging rather than a broadcast system and is genuinely aimed at the greater good as you'll see from my comments on mbites blog.

I'd be very interested to know how the Sneak-in campaign worked so if anyone knows anything about it, please comment on this post.

The Internet in Britain research report launched

And what a chunky report 'The Internet in Britain' is and well worth a read. I realise it doesn't talk about mobile habits, but it does describe general consumer behaviour and some correlations can be made whatever sector you're in. I wonder how soon they'll be doing similar research into mobile usage - data or otherwise? Let's hope it's soon.
The Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) are core to the research of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) – a leading world centre for the multidisciplinary study of the Internet and society. The OII is a department within the Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford, focusing on Internet-related research and teaching, and on informing policy and practice.

The Internet in Britain, launched by the Oxford Internet Institute in 2003, OxIS has become an authoritative source of information about Internet access, use and attitudes – and the difference this makes for everyday life – in Britain. Areas covered include: digital and social inclusion and exclusion; regulation and governance of the Internet; privacy, trust and risk concerns; and uses of the Internet, including social networking, entertainment and online education.
I haven't read the whole report yet, but there are some interesting tidbits I've spotted from the executive summary:
  • Two thirds of Britons use the Internet and access it at home in 2007.
  • The digital divide continues to exist in 2007. Men, students, higher educated and higher income individuals are all more likely to use the Internet than women, retired, disabled, lower educated and lower income individuals.
  • The great majority of those with home access use a broadband connection.
  • The percentage of ex-users (people who used the Internet before but stopped using it) has remained the same at 5%.
  • The number of non-users (people who have never used the Internet) has decreased to a quarter of the population in 2007.
  • Internet users tend to consider themselves more extroverted and social than do non-users.
  • While Internet use in certain lifestage groups, such as students and people in employment, has gone up, in the retired group it has remained the same over the years at around a third of retired people.
  • The Internet is the first port of call for the great majority of Internet users when trying to learn about something new – more important than family members, colleagues or libraries.
  • Users have changed their information search patterns. In 2007, almost two thirds of users depended primarily on search engines to find information: up from one fifth in 2005.
  • According to a quarter of Internet users, the time they spend watching TV is reduced due to their use of the Internet.
  • Emailing remains the most popular Internet activity.
  • Instant messaging is another popular communication activity.
  • Less than one fifth of users maintain a social networking profile or presence on the Internet.
  • Gender differences persist, although they are not large. Men use the Internet more than women, especially for entertainment and content production. Women tend to look for health information online more than men do, and are more likely to use the Internet to help their children.
  • Lifestage is associated with Internet use. Students are the most active users of online entertainment and social networking sites. Employed users are frequent users of financial services and information seeking sites. Retired users are less active in all areas, with the exception of civic participation and financial services sites.

Youth and digital life - what's really going on?

MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft have jointly prepared an in-depth study of 18,000 or so young people globally to find out how they're spending their digital lives. And there are some interesting findings, including:

Mobile usage:
Indian youth are most likely to see mobile phones as a status symbol and globally, under the age of 14, kids generally use the phone as a toy. After 14, the mobile phone quickly becomes a means of self-expression and communication.

68% of 8-14 respondents said they felt safer having their mobile phones with them outside the home, rising to 81% in the UK, and 71% said their parents use the phone to find out where they are.

Digital life:
Globally, the average young person connected to digital technology has 94 phone numbers in his or her mobile phone, 78 people on a messenger buddy list and 86 people in his or her social networking community.

Yet despite their technological immersion, digi-kids are not geeks
  • 59% of 8-14 year-old kids still prefer their TV to their PCs
  • Just 20% of 14-24 year-old young people globally admitted to being "interested" in technology.
They are, (as anyone who's ever watched a teenager at work), expert multi-taskers and able to filter different channels of information.

Kids and young people don't love the technology itself
  • they just love how it enables them to communicate all the time, express themselves and be entertained.
  • Digital communications such as IM, email, social networking sites and mobile/sms are complementary to, not competitive with, TV. TV is part of young peoples' digital conversation.
  • Despite the remarkable advances in communication technology, kid and youth culture looks surprisingly familiar, with almost all young people using technology to enhance rather than replace face-to-face interaction.
What's happening in China?
China has lower mobile usage amongst young people, a less-evolved print media market and a family life of no siblings with parents and multiple grandparents. As a result, the internet provides a rare opportunity for only (and lonely) children to reach out and communicate using social networks, blogs and instant messaging. In stark contrast to their Japanese peers, 93% of Chinese respondents aged 8-14 have more than one friend online they have never met face to face.
"Chinese kids inhabit a world very different from their parents, and because of that they would rather find advice and support through their friends than through family," said Colleen Fahey Rush, Executive Vice President of Research for MTV Networks. Amongst 8-14s globally, only in China was TV not the No. 1 choice. "This is encouraging 8-14-year-olds in China to select online over TV, a trend not witnessed in any other market," she said.
Typical activities haven't changed much
For kids (8 to 14 year olds), they may be immersed in tech from the day they were born, but the things they enjoy doing most are:
  • 85% watching TV
  • 70% listening to music
  • 68% hanging out with friends
  • 67% playing video games
  • 51% spending time online
As they grow into teens so the ranking of their favorite pastimes change. At the top of the list of 14- 24s favorite pastimes is
  • 70% listening to music
  • 65% watching TV
  • 65% hanging out with friends
  • 60% watching DVDs
  • 60% relaxing
  • 59% going to cinema
  • 56% spending time online
  • 55% spending time with girl or boyfriend
  • 53% eating
  • 49% hanging out at home
"There is a powerful link between TV and the Internet, especially for 14- 24s. TV is watched to relieve stress. Sixty percent said they watched most of their TV lying down. But the Internet is cognitive and active, especially if young people are using it for studying or social situations," said Fahey Rush.

As with any research commissioned by large corporates, there's bound to be some bias towards the commissioning company, not least, because of the asking of the right questions 'Ask the right questions and you'll get the right answers'. MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft, clearly want to demonstrate the link between TV and online (and clearly there is a link as I write this with the TV on at the same time) but it's worth a look nevertheless. I'd love to see the whole report but I can't find any links to it. So if anyone else has found the link to the full shebang, please let me know by commenting here or dropping me an email.

You might also want to take a look at the official Viacom press release here and the MTV one here.

Tips and hints on marketing via email to blackberry users

Yes, it's true. Blackberry is addictive. Some say that it's as addictive as hard drugs. In fact, once you have email on your phone (I use gmail for mobile) then it really is addictive, but it's a very different experience from the pc or laptop based version. Personally, I use gmail on my phone to take a cursory glance at my inbox to see if there's anything really important in there. If there is, the chances are I will call the sender back as it's easier to talk something through than tap it out on the keypad. Or if I do reply on my phone, I use text speak (and all the associated abbreviations and emoticons) which might look a bit odd to the recipient.

Marketing Sherpa has recently completed a report on how key decision making folks are reading their emails and it seems that 64% of them are reading them on blackberries or other mobile devices. This is important news to email marketers.

Marketing Sherpa gives some interesting pointers as to how to make your marketing email mobile and blackberry friendly including using the full URL i.e. http://www.technokitten.com in the message rather than a hyperlink. The chances are the full URL will be 'read' by the email reader as a website and create the hyperlink for the reader. Whereas the link will just give you the link words and will not be a hyperlink.

They also have some information (with a US bias?) about who's using email on their mobile and why, including:
  • 38% are ages 18-44 vs 12% for ages 45-64 (so does that mean 60% of survey participants don't use mobile email?)
  • 80% access their mobile email at home (yup, guilty as charged)
  • 39% admit to checking email while driving their cars (I don't drive, so this doesn't apply to me, I do check it on the bus though).
  • 87% access the same email accounts from both their mobile device and through a computer at home or work (yup, that's me - in fact, that's one of the reasons I route all my work email via gmail so I can do precisely this)
  • Mobile email users scan their email for important one-to-one messages, leaving the rest for perusal on their PC later (absolutely)
  • Sales reps and road warriors are the main mobile email users, but this is going to change in the next six months as the software and pricing becomes more accessible to consumer users.
If you also have a look at GigaOM's roundup of AOL's latest mobile email research (of US customers) there are even more tidbits of info of email usage:

Mobile email:
  • 59% of people check email in bed (yup, guilty of this one too!)
  • 53% in the bathroom (only while I'm waiting for the bath to fill up)
  • 37% are checking email while they drive (don't drive, see above)
  • and 12% admit to checking email in church (absolutely not! The phone goes to silent and is put away as soon as I enter a House of God of any denomination).

Who's addicted to email generally:
  • Women (16%) are more likely to describe themselves as addicted to email than men (13%), and are actually spending 15 minutes more per day on email than men.
  • Forty-three percent of email users check their email first thing in the morning, and 40% have checked their email in the middle of the night. Twenty-six percent admit to checking email on a laptop in bed while in their pajamas.
  • Sixty percent of people who email admit to checking their personal email at work an average of three times a day. While only 15% of those who do so have been busted by their bosses, 28% say they feel guilty about it.
Read more of the special report for technical guidelines and further hints and tips for marketing via email to mobile devices and you can request a free whitepaper on the topic from the folks at Exact Target.

And it seems that emozes is giving RIM (the folks behind Blackberry) a run for their money.

How e are you ?

According to the guys over at How e are you?, I'm an e-expert* and in fact, come 385th out of 10814 respondents to date. Enhance Media is the team behind it and they're interested in finding out about how online savvy we are in the UK.

In addition, they have teamed up with children’s internet charity Childnet International to help support and promote the valuable work the organisation is doing to help make the internet a great place for children.

As 'how e are you?' develops, they want users to be aware of Childnet’s vital work in educating children and young people on how to be safe online and ensure that they are e-safe. So they're donating 5p for every completed questionnaire and encourage participants to take a look at teh Know IT All website which gives up to date information on arange of safety and information security issues for children and grown-ups alike.

"e-experts are well above average in their understanding, exploration, and use, of the digital universe. An active online consumer, you really appreciate the benefits of digital devices to your life, which includes work, leisure, keeping in touch, shopping, travel, and entertainment. You are keen to share your enthusiasm, and are already thinking about your next e-nlivening e-xperience!"

Are you a Paparazzi in training?

Got a cameraphone? Do you spend your time celebrity-spotting in training to be a fully-fledged paparazzi? Then if so, Mr Paparazzi might be for you. You can send in your pictures and Big Picture will attempt to sell them for you if they're hot. In addition, they have a celebrity tracker text message service with each message costing you 50p and you'll get no more than 10 messages a week tipping you off where the latest celebs are hanging out... thus keeping you up to date like their own paparazzi. Hmm, £5 seems a bit steep to me for a week's worth of messages, but if this is your kinda thing, then I guess it's a small price to pay if you get to sell your picture for £1,000. It's all backed by Big Pictures, which is arguably the world's biggest picture agency in the world.

Scoopt set up something similar a couple of years back and is still going strong now it's backed by Getty Images. Scoopt accepts pictures of all kinds and has even teamed up with the fab Shozu so you can upload your pictures in one click. This means they get a better quality picture than the ones Mr Paparazzi will get via MMS, and it's not restricted to celebrity pictures. And it doesn't cost you anything to send your picture in (save for your standard network data charges).

Mobile Rules! Business Plan competition

Mobile Rules! is the world's leading annual competition for business plans and applications
in the mobile environment and is backed by Nokia.

They are searching for innovations that will bring the mobile business to a completely new level. So if you're looking to see your business plan come to life or get your mobile application in the
hands of millions of Nokia device users, here's your chance. The competition gathers together the most promising designers, leading vendors, funders and media in the world.

There are two tracks - 1 for mobile applications and one for business plans and the prizes are pretty good with the chance to get your project live, or if that doesn't pan out, a cash alternative instead for the winners in each track. The application deadlines are November for the mobile applications track and January for the business plan track but time moves fast so don't leave it to the last minute if you're interested. There's a pdf here that you can check out outlining the basics.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday thoughts

Well for thoughts, read links!

Over at SMStxtnews, Ewan tells us about Voxpops which has just launchedwith their library of research video voxpops and a very neat idea it is too. Worth a look.

The mobile internet made easy from Mime. Find and share links and create your own mobile site with those links in to make it easy to navigate and retrieve the stuff you like on your phone. I've just tried it from my PC at www.usemime.com and there are a selection of popular sites to choose from and the option to add your own and then you can sort out the order (although I'd have liked to categorise and not just put them in order) and then get a link sent to your phone via SMS or wap push (although I don't know anyone outside the industry who would know the difference). Works really fast and it's useful, but of course there' a rather large Mime logo at the top followed by a large banner ad which detracts from where your links are but apart from that, it works for me. But will I remember to use it? Time will tell.

Under the Radar is looking for mobile startups to join the party in the US. The application deadline is looming even though the event isn't until November across the pond in the US. Via SMStext news.

Do you charge UK customers for stuff from their mobile phones? If so, are you payforit compliant? Well, it's worth checking with those nice folks at Bango who have produced a guide to help you through the process. And what's more, the guide is free!

Thought for the Day

I love this one, as stumbled upon over at Tom Hume's blog:

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction" - Albert Einstein.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

8 Random things about me blogtag

Like Xen, I've been tagged before for the 5 things blog tag and now she's tagged me for the 8 random things blog tag so as it's a rainy afternoon in South London, I thought I'd do the honours. However, I believe my original 5 things are much more interesting but in the interests of the game, I'll dig up some new, very random, stuff about me for you.

So, here are the rules of the new 8 Random Things tag game:

  • We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
So, let's see.

1. I love a good festival - namely Glastonbury and the forthcoming Electric Picnic this year. There's something very appealing about hanging out in a muddy field full of music and random folks enjoying themselves, very often wearing wellies. I reckon I dance better in wellies than high heels anyway!

2. I like hats and at the weekend went to deepest Deptford with pal Lisa Devaney for a Cat in the Hat photoshoot courtesy of photographer, Rebecca Portsmouth, and much fun was had by all.

3. I have size 5 feet. I'm not sure why you'd want to know that, but it's random so there you go.

4. I've just started getting weekly deliveries of organic veg to my home so I've been experimenting more with cooking. And I'm very pleased with Farmaround's service, including their lovely driver who delivers to me every Friday morning.

5. I'm an ENTP - well at least I am according to a couple of tests I took on t'internet this week. I don't think many of my friends will be the least bit surprised by the results.

6. I own 2 tents. One is green and supposedly a 3 to 4 person tent but actually accommodates 2 girls and their kit (just) and is extremely comfortable for one girl and her kit, and the other is blue and a cosy 2-person tent so it's really only big enough for one. See point 1.

7. I don't like marmite, goats cheese, mayonnaise or savoury egg dishes. However, I do like my Mum's homemade vegetarian soups *a lot*. She also somehow manages to cook potatoes much better than I do and I've never worked that one out.

8. I was bridesmaid to a stripper in 1996 at Hedonism II in Jamaica during a body art convention. I met Sarah, the bride, when she was my next-door neighbour when I lived in Wood Green. At the time, she was a wig maker and then switched profession to be an "exotic dancer" at a clip joint in Soho as it was seriously better money and a better work environment than making wigs in Covent Garden for the theatre. Anyway, the marriage didn't last, and the now ex-husband, Simon, was featured on a documentary series, Pleasure Island, all about Hedonism II on the tellybox a few years ago.

So, who do I tag.. I reckon random stuff from Lloyd, Deirdre, Sheila, Tom, Sergio, Whatleydude, Lisa and Rachel will be worth a read.

Want to work as senior designer doing mobile things?

Well, then maybe this is the job for you based in sunny Brighton in lovely offices (I know, because I've been there) with lovely folks (I know because they're friends of mine) doing great work (their work speaks for itself) at Future Platforms. Here's the blurb about the job opening:

Senior designer

We're looking for someone who's got a strong track record of mobile design, with an in-depth understanding of the technical constraints of mobile. Excellent skills originating and implementing visuals is essential, backed up with solid interaction design thinking. If you've gone so far as building WAP or XHTML sites, that'd be a bonus.

You'll be contributing to a multidisciplinary team working for a broad client base; over the last 6 months we've carried out projects for Nokia, the BBC, Hotxt, Discovery US, BAA and Robbie Williams. As well as hands-on design work we'll expect you to get involved with pitches and contribute to proposals, help us hone our approach and processes, and develop our design capability.

This position is full-time and permanent. Please send CVs and a covering note to hello@futureplatforms.com

Strictly no agencies please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Carnival Catch up

If you're interested in things mobile, then the weekly Carnival of the Mobilists is a must-read every week. Each week there's a different host and that week's host does a round-up of the best of the blogs on mobile. I've been catching up on my carnival reading and links to the last few are here:

No 83 is over at the hostess with the mostest, Judy Breck at Golden Swamp
No 82 is over at C Enrique Ortiz's About Mobile blog (love the carnival picture btw).
No 81 has an Egyptian theme over at the relatively new Symbiano-Tek blog.

Tuesday Tasters

In no particular order:

India's primary web connection is via mobile not PC

Vodafone is linking up with DatingDirect to offer mobile dating. I thought they must have already been doing mobile dating, but clearly not. And by the sounds of it DatingDirect is having troubles of its own if you read the comments on the link above so I wonder if Vodafone has chosen the right partner. Hmm. Elsewhere, Mobestar has teamed up with Bone Fish to offer mobile dating using its mDate service.

Mig33 is doing exceptionally well with 400 million customers in 200 countries for its mobile messaging service. "Simply download the application onto your mobile phone, and you’ll be connected to everyone around the world through the most popular online services. So you can IM, visit chat rooms, send email, share photos, SMS and, of course, make cheap calls—all from your mobile phone." More info at Mig33's website. Of course, they also have 10m dollars in the bank, so that's going to help get the service out there.

Meanwhile, MVNO Amp'd is shutting up shop leaving thousands of customers network-less. Customer services stopped yesterday and the service will shut down completely at the end of the month.

Incentivated is ramping up its recruitment.

Skandia Cowes Week is using SMS for research purposes. A series of short questions relating to that day's sailing will be sent via text message to each of the competitors. Questions will be asked on numerous topics, including the quality or difficulty of the course, the accuracy of the weather forecasts and the standard of stewarding.

And finally, young Britons prefer meeting face to face than using digital methods. Get away! You mean young people prefer going out socialising, going to gigs, dancing the night away, chillin' at a festival and hanging with their mates than spending time in front of a computer screen. Well I'm not sure I actually needed a research paper to tell me that. But there are some other findings that you might find interesting in there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday musings

  • Bill Thompson discusses security risks in the new i-phone and the wider implications of a networked customer base and how the corporates need to adapt to our needs and not the other way round. I think he has a point but it's a challenge.
  • Any phone can be a credit card as the clever folks at Masabi has come up with a new way to manage secure transactions using your mobile phone using just 3kb of handset memory.
  • Desperate for the loo? Don't know where your nearest one is? Then help is at hand with Mizpee. Trouble is it only works in the US and I find it hard to believe they have every single loo in the US on their database. But hey, maybe they have. Anyone tried it?
  • User generated content, social media and how to make money from it. Well these were the topics tackled by the w2forum last week. Unfortunately, no-one had any definitive answers as it's still too early to know how best to monetise this area.
"Roy Vella, Head of Mobile Payments at PayPal, summed up the feeling in the room when he pointed out that none of the best-known social networking sites on the web, such as MySpace and FaceBook, were initially about monetisation, and that “the monetisation stuff” is only happening because there are so many eyeballs.
“You want to know how do big companies make money out of all those eyeballs” said Vella. “The answer is, I don’t think we know yet.”

Vella also warned brands that they would need to exercise caution if they were going to try to establish a presence on social networking sites, mobile or otherwise. “If you threw a party and a corporation showed up, how would you feel about it?” he asked. “It’s a new space, and we all have to tread carefully. The way to succeed is the way it has always been – to delight customers.”

Heated debate about i-mode's exit from the UK

One of the newsgroups I belong to, focussed on the mobile market in Japan, is up in arms about this article from El Reg claiming that it's cultural differences that have determined the success of i-mode in Japan. Unfortunately, the myths about Japanese life today still exist and the writer of the article has succumbed to them in terms of the Japanese not having home computers and the like (except that you can get rather nice laptops these days to desk top real estate isn't the issue it was 10 years ago). Not what one would expect from El Reg but hopefully it's a one-off.

Anyway, it prompted me to think about why i-mode failed in the UK...

1. It was an exclusive deal with o2 so had no chance of gaining critical mass. There were probably folks on other networks who would be interested, but not if it meant switching networks. AFAIK, there was little marketing effort to move existing o2 customers to i-mode and instead the marketing effort that I was exposed to was about recruiting new customers and it is common knowledge that it is way more expensive to recruit a customer than to retain one.

2. There is little awareness in the UK as to what i-mode is unless you happen to work in the mobile industry or are really geeky about mobile phones (in which case, you're probably working in the mobile industry!). I know of a few folks who had i-mode phones for testing but it never became their primary phone.

3. Timing was out. We were already in the start of the 3G world in the UK by the time i-mode came out. Why are you going to go 'back' to 2.5G/i-mode when you can have the overhyped wonders of the 3G world? The network operator Three had already spent millions on extolling the virtues of 3G so the i-mode message was lost in translation

What do you think? Was i-mode always on a hiding to nothing in the UK or could/should it have worked if handled differently?

Mobile marketing for pet lovers

Go2 has launched a wapsite dedicated to pet lovers which is sponsored by pet food major, Purina.

go2 Pets includes information such as pet-friendly outdoor dining, dog beaches, parks, campgrounds, trails, hotels, off-leash dog parks, airline travel policies, toll-free emergency numbers and much more. It also includes pet tips for cat behavior, dog training, dog walking and pet picture-taking thus incorporating UGC. You can find out more about it here.

I like the fact that this marketing for Purina is about added value rather than just pushing advertising messages. And hopefully, it is truly useful for pet owners. I expect we'll see more brands going down this route.

Unfortunately, the service is only available in the USA so if any of my US readers would like to give it a go (and since there are 71m homes in the US with pets, maybe there are one or two readers who might be up for it), then please come back and tell me how you got on by commenting here.

OK, so it's a year old

but this study from BBDO from last year is still worth a look. Thanks to Tomi Ahonen for the tip-off.

Mixed response for phones for the elderly

It won't come as much surprise to many that the mobile phone operators and handset manufacturers squarely target youth segments - you only have to see their advertising which mainly seems to be focussed around using phones for enjoying music, ipod stylee. Just occasionally, you see advertising promoting mobiles for business. But if you visit any mobile phone store, Carphone Warehouse, Phones4u et al, their in-store offers are all aimed at the youth segment (by which I mean under 30s) - free Sony PSP, free wide screen telly, xbox 360 or a free ipod Nano.

But having met Dick Stroud not so long ago, my eyes have been opened to the lucrative over 50s segment, which is incredibly diverse, but under represented when it comes to technology offerings - mobile or web.

Recently, there's been a phone launched on to the market, the Emporia Life, and it seems the network operators have snubbed it. The phone is aimed at the over 50s, although, I think they've made the assumption that all over 50s have trouble with their eyesight, hearing and manual dexterity. And having a brother and sister who are over 50, I can safely say that although they wear glasses, they have no problems handling their Motorola Razr and Nokia 3310 respectively. Russell's noted that they're going to find it tough and thinks their approach is patronising. And I have to agree. Defining customers by age is a bit daft these days. There are 50 year olds out there who have more in common with a 20 year old than they do with a 60 year old. Age is a state of mind not an accumulation of years.

I think it's disappointing that Communic8 has got the Emporia Life marketing and PR message so wrong. There are clearly a *lot* of folks out there who would find this kind of mobile phone incredibly useful - easy to read display, nice big buttons for easier dialling and texting and a simpler UI (user interface) as well as an emergency button. But Communic8 need to sharpen up their marketing to reach their market better. Not all over 50s are the same as Dick Stroud will happily tell you. And if they do that, then maybe, just maybe, the network operators will sit up and take notice.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

some thoughts on social media

As lots of my friends will tell you, I'm quite a sociable creature and I enjoy more than my fair share of on- and off-line networking. Well, it seems that this online social networking lark is actually a good thing. Yes, I know twittering can seem like it's a complete waste of time and you can easily get lost in facebook for hours at a time and end up getting no work done (guilty as charged m'lud) but Clive Thompson discusses how Twitter can help you develop a Social Sixth Sense over at Wired Magazine. It's a good article and I agree with Clive's findings.

In fact, Deirdre, Lori Faye and I were only discussing last night about different industries and how suppliers get chosen and a lot of it, historically, is down to personal relationships and that if you're not in London, it was very likely you'd miss out on opportunities - we were talking about TV production in particular. And I wasn't terribly surprised at that conclusion. Ultimately, people buy people, all other things being more or less equal.

But of course, before we were all online or had mobile phones, those personal relationships meant being in the same physical location and meant nights out, lunches and morning coffees with your clients. And if you weren't in the same town, then it was very unlikely you'd ever bump into them serendipitously in a bar or event. So it often meant you lost out because you weren't top of mind with the client so someone else gets the gig.

I believe online social media is helping to change that. Yes, business is still about relationships, but you can have relationships with people via the internet (messaging, email, blogs, communities, forums etc). It means you can manage more simultaneous relationships than ever before (thus increasing your chances of stuff happening). And you can serendipitously 'bump' into someone somewhere like facebook (you're in the same random group for example or have a mutual friend) and a lot of this is happening not by being in the same physical location but by being in the same *virtual* location. And this certainly seems to be the case for me. Lots of people feel they 'know' me because they read my blog or they read my facebook or twitter updates or see a videocast or listen to a podcast of me or look at my pictures on flickr. And I certainly do generate work on the back of this visibility.

But there lies a deeper issue. Once you put yourself out there online, it's always there so you have to be prepared that absolutely *anyone*, in theory, can access your stuff (leaving the identity theft issue to one side). This means that the divide between work and personal life is much more blurred than ever before because the internet is 24/7. Gone, or at least, going are the days when you were one person between the hours of 9am to 6pm at Acme Inc and then as soon as you got home you become someone else. The way I see it, this is all my life and I'm just going to be me. It's just too hard to pretend to be someone else for 9 hours a day as well as doing the job. Believe me, I tried it early on in my career and it was exhausting and emotionally draining. And I had many a heated discussion with a male work colleague who was more than happy to compartmentalise his life. I've never been very good at that.

But what happens to all those folks who say work in a boring office and push paper around for a government organisation or financial firm? The workers who only do the job because it pays the bills. The individuals who actually hate their job. And maybe the ones who don't have honed social skills in real life, let alone a virtual life. The ones for whom the thought of anyone at work knowing *anything* about their private life is abhorrent. I've heard tell of women who don't tell anyone they work with whether or not they're married, have children, or even which area of town they live. I can't imagine being like that, but I'm quite sure there are plenty people out there who just want to remain very very private. How is that going to work going forward? And how much will that matter? Does this mean the digital divide will get bigger?

Will there be a time when it's no longer possible to have a very separate work and home life in our mobile/web ten point seven and a half world? Will the prospect of privacy become irrelevant as the myspace generation start to do the jobs we're doing now? And what happens when they start to become MPs or judges or doctors and all those pictures emerge of them dancing the night away, scantily clad in a bikini and clearly being stimulated by more than coca cola? Will we care, does it matter, and does it affect your ability to do your job? And will it mean the tabloids can no longer have their fun exposing folks as it's all out there anyway?

And if that's not enough to worry about, some employers are claiming ownership of their employee content if it was created during working hours. Another good reason never to have a proper job again. I have absolutely no wish to hand over all my contacts details willy nilly to any employer. And where does the data protection act sit on this one anyway? Hmm.

I don't have the answers, maybe there aren't any and we'll just have to wait and see what happens but these are questions I often ponder about.

What do you think?

Mobile Advertising News

So Nokia is saying 'no' to adult ads and yet the 'community' is stunned at this. I'm not really sure why they're stunned. As a brand, I can quite see why Nokia would want to steer clear of advertising erotica and gambling as it's not the brand fit they're quite looking for. Whether that will change once they work out the economics remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Google Adsense is launching on mobile and Debi Jones wonders what impact this will or won't have on Admob over at the Mobile Messaging 2.0 blog. And not only that, but the word on the street is that Medio is ramping up to tackle the EMEA market more aggressively in the coming months. And surely it's only a matter of time before the likes of Doubleclick finally make their move into the market, now that everyone else and his wife has already done so.

But advertising doesn't solve all your marketing and sales problems. Success starts and ends with a good product or service and too many folks don't start with a good enough product or good enough service. Marketers can't hide behind their old advertising, marketing and sales tricks any more. As an audience, on the whole, we're too savvy to be taken in any more. If you have a good product or service, then advertising, marketing and sales are going to help for sure. But you need to have the basics right first, otherwise you're wasting your cash.

I recently stumbled across a new mobile video service that had gone live. Having gone to their website, I eventually found a demo buried amongst their none too coherent corporate blurb. I entered my number. About 30 minutes later, I get a text message telling me to go to the mobile internet to a specific URL. Note, I didn't get a wap push. Note 2, there was a typo in the SMS message I received. D'oh on both counts. Anyway, I click on the link, only for the wapsite to hang on me and I still haven't seen my 'free' video clip. I'm not going to name them to give them a chance to redeem themselves but I do know this company is about to do a big marketing push, but clearly the demo product isn't ready. And if that's not ready, what's the end product going to be like?

Hmm, something to think about.

And if you'd like more on which to ponder, then this Seth Godin video is well worth a look. It's not very long - about 17 minutes. And while you're at it, it's also worth having a look again at this advert for Microsoft.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Implications of the New Gambling Act - seminar 25th July

NOC and 160 Characters have joined forces to put on an event to discuss the implications of the new Gambling Act. This has implications for the way quizzes and competitions are devised and managed on television, but it also has implications for sales promotion quizzes and competitions too and how those are handled. NOC has brought together a variety of speakers (and delegates) to discuss the impact on the service providers in this sector and to assess the future landscape of this currently lucrative industry sector after the Gambling Act comes into force in September 2007. There are new compliance and regulatory rules to consider and if you are active, or considering being active in this sector, then this seminar is probably well worth a look.

The seminar is being held at 3pm on 25th July and costs £50 for members of 160 Characters or NOC and £80 for non-members. More information on their website.

The topics and speakers include:
"Bringing the GA to Life - The latest views and decisions of the Gambling Commission"
Tom Kavanagh, Deputy Chief Executive,
Gambling Commission
"The new regulatory framework for PRS in broadcast"
Paul Whiteing, Director of Policy & Innovation, ICSTIS
"What does the new GA mean for the Interactive Media Industry? - A checklist of actions to consider"

Brinsley Dresden, Head of Media, Brands &
Technology, Lewis Silkin
"Defining the roles and responsibilities of service providers and their customers within a clear regulatory framework"
Scott Davies, Director, Million-2-1

"Vote for independence - the importance of getting that external assistance for all promotional activities"
Jeremy Stern, Managing Director, PromoVeritas

Manhattanhenge - today's the day for it

If you're one of my Stateside readers, you may not be aware that it's Manhattanhenge today!

So if you're in New York City, you can check out going.com to find places to go where you can experience the phenomenon. And maybe Spinal Tap will do a Manhattan version of their rock tribute to Stonehenge.

May your equinox be well today....

Via my pal Lisa via her friend Danielle Cyr.

dotmobi database to make mobile developers' lives easier

Andrea Trasatti dropped me a line the other day to let me know about his new appointment as Director, Device Iniatives for dotmobi. As part of this, he'll be overseeing the new device database that dotmobi is putting together. It's early days yet, but Andrea's in charge of designing, building and launching this new service.
"The database will provide structured data, accurate to a degree not found in existing public resources. Information will be obtained from – as well as shared with – the global development community and published online. This will simplify the development process and enable developers to create the very best experience for users, based on comprehensive and reliable intelligence."
Sounds like a great resource. Good luck with it Andrea!

Ringtones are the thing... or are they?

Well, it's pretty busy as usual at technokitten towers so just to keep my hand in with what's hot in mobile right now, here's some Friday linkage about ringtones 'n stuff.

Tele2 is running a user-generated ringtone competition in Sweden. Unfortunately, I don't speak Swedish so I can't tell you much about it! Perhaps a Swedish speaking reader could shed some light on this for me?

Cellfish.com introduced its Mobile Threat collection of hardcore punk, metal and indie rock ringtones, videos and image downloads for mobile this week. This means that the next time you ride public transport, you just might get an earful of GWAR, Shadows Fall, Everytime I Die, Chimaira and The Devil Wears Prada – consider this your early warning notice. Cellfish Media has partnered with the Sounds of the Underground summer music tour to bring the hard rocking genre of music fans a collection of mobile entertainment to suit their tastes... I think I'll stick to the theme tune from Fame as my ringtone for now ;)

But it seems that mobile games are the new black when it comes to revenue generation rather than ringtones. That comes as no big surprise to me as you can use mp3 files now for ringtones and it's not *that* difficult to make your own from your existing mp3 files.

So it's no surprise that free mobile content seems to be gaining popularity and some serious traction. Zedge.net now has over 5 million subscribers. I'm not sure how many of these are active, or what they're actually doing, nevertheless, it's impressive.

And since April 2006, I'm reliably informed that Cellufun, has delivered close to 4 million downloads to consumers in 160 countries. Cellufun offers free, ad-supported mobile products, predominantly free games ranging from Sudoku to casino to space battles and racing games. You can join the community by going to http://wap.cellufun.com from your web-enabled mobile phone.

And if you're a mobile addict, gaming or otherwise, you can now play with your phone safely in the bath as DoCoMo has just launched a waterproof mobile phone. Actually, joking apart, this would have been handy at Glastonbury this year, I know a few folks whose phones died after getting wet in the rain or being dropped in a puddle or the mud!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday tidbits on mobile marketing and advertising

Is Stelios planning to take Blyk on in the ad-funded MVNO game? Looks like it, with a model that sounds suspiciously similar to one of Spotcast's original models whereby a phonecall was interrupted with an audio advert - albeit targeted. Via SMStextnews.

Meanwhile, Virgin Mobile USA reported that it signed up roughly 330,000 of its 4.8 million subscribers for its Sugar Mama program, which "pays" them one minute of free call time for every 45 seconds they spend interacting with an ad on their phones or the company's Web site. Since the program was launched about a year ago, Virgin has given away 9 million minutes of mobile talk time. Read more about the programme here.

Mobile advertising works... if you bribe customers with free mobile content. And text based marketing seems to work best.

But others believe that the mobile marketing and advertising future is still too far away. I think the author has a misconception that it's operators who lead the mobile marketing and advertising world, when it fact it's mostly happening outside the network operators. Not least, because, anecdotally, I've been told that one large UK network operator isn't concerned about mobile advertising and it's barely on the radar... "if they make £100m this year on voice and £50m on data (I forget the actual figures) why would they worry about making £100k on mobile ads". And this seems to be borne out in a recent roundtable discussion (subscription required) on the topic with operators.

Monday, July 09, 2007

more Monday meanderings

but this time from Mike Grenville at 160 Characters... a few articles worth a read:

A new place to share ideas has been created, aimed specifically at NGOs, charity and NFP organisations to pool their ideas and resources about how to implement and use mobile technology effectively for social change. Shareideas.org is a wiki style community and blog with some very interesting stuff on there. It's refreshing to read about activity outside of the UK and USA, especially with a social or environmental bent.

How many sims do you have? And what's the impact on the *real* statistics about mobile usage? Informa's latest report might just have the answer. [I have 3 active sims - 2 contract, 1 pay as you go, and many pay as you go sims waiting to be activated when I need to test something].

Wap payments are more reliable than SMS payments according to those in the know at Bango.

A short history of telecommunications. Did you know it is 170 years since the first signal was sent by telegraph starting a period of rapid expansion of a communications network in the nineteenth century?

Monday meanderings continued

Dotmobi is giving city domain names away including Birmingham.mobi, London.mobi and Manchester.mobi. All you have to do is apply for the domain you want with a proposal of how you're going to offer a comprehensive city guide on the mobile phone.

Virgin bags online and mobile rights for The Football League to allow Coca-Cola Football League matches to be shown on its broadband and mobile channels. Highlights of Football League matches will be available to watch on-demand for up to one week after transmission.

Streamthru offers free flight information via your mobile phone. Really useful if you do much travelling. You get updates 4 hours before departure time, shortly before boarding and immediately if your flight is delayed by 15 minutes or more. I could have done with knowing about this when I was travelling earlier in the year.

And if you're travelling to exotic climes, the new malaria information service by text message might be for you.

But whilst you're travelling, don't buy cheap mobile phone batteries from China or Hong Kong for your Motorola or Nokia mobile phone... because it might explode. Nokia and Motorola, however, say they are very concerned about the substandard goods, particularly because their reputations are at stake in China, which has the world's largest number of mobile phone subscribers at over 400 million. Best to stick to the branded batteries for now.

Monday's mobile marketing tidbits

Blyk's delaying its launch until October. No bad thing as July and August are quiet times in retail. IMHO, Blyk should be launching in September to get the school, college and university kids signed up as they go back for the Autumn term, and that starts early September for schools and Sixth Form Colleges. Come October, we'll already be into half-term and well into silly season for Christmas which may be too late to launch something. I wonder if Blyk realises what an enormous task they've taken on? And I wonder if they've managed to sort out data charges so they can offer their customers a proper mobile content and media experience via wap or mobile internet?

Borders is extending their mobile marketing effort to provide sample chapters to customers' phones for free to promote new book titles. Details are currently a bit sketchy. I'm interested to see how this works in practice. The best example I've seen of this in the past was a poster campaign I saw at a railway station promoting a new thriller, Mr Clarinet. You texted in a keyword to a shortcode and by return, got back a link to a wapsite where you could read a synopsis of the book, part of the first chapter, find out more about the author and also click to buy the book. Perfect for whiling away 10 or 20 minutes while you are waiting for a train.

Three UK has launched 3next.mobi which is a user generated catalogue of stuff to do on your phone. A very nice idea where you can add applications and services that you like and add them in with your review of the service. It's free to join and not restricted to Three customers although it's designed specifically for Three's X-Series customers. Worth a look as an example of how to market content services. http://www.3next.mobi

And finally, Admob has now served more than 4 billion wap adverts, the last billion being published in the last 35 days. Way to go!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ever wondered what to do with an old computer keyboard?

Well, I've been wondering. Not least because I've had a dead keyboard sitting in my kitchen for 6 months or more as I'm not allowed to put it in my normal household rubbish, and the other options are to take it to the local recycling centre (that's half a day out of my life to get there and back without a car) or to pay the council £5 to pick it up! It seems my local electrical retailers have not heard about the WEEE directives around electrical and computer waste nor have my local council thought about creating recycling bins for this stuff so as a result lots of computers, tellies, toasters and the like just get dumped on the street.

Anyway, I'm not going to do that. I think I might do this or this instead. Now, just need to clear some space and time so I can go off and be creative...