Monday, November 24, 2008

Carnival of the Mobilists #151 is up at Golden Swamp

And I have to say that Judy Breck has done a rather good job of it this week with contributions from faces both old and new (and also of managing to run the Carnival of the Mobilists so well over the last few months). And of course I'm thrilled to bits that I'm included on the list too. Go check it out for this week's best writing in mobile.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fancy getting your hands on some fab mobile goodies?

Then please support MIReview Christmas Presents. It's a great idea. The Mobile Industry Review team gets sent a lot of free mobile stuff to try out and instead of keeping it themselves, they're raffling it off for charity. All you need to do is donate a minimum of £5 to the cause (or whatever the equivalent is in your currency), then you will be entered into the draw to win one of several fab prizes including a netbook, several handsets, bluetooth headphones, free Spinvox accounts, bluetooth headsets and bluetooth car speakers.

The team are supporti ng two charities this year - Childline and the UN Foundation and you can donate by clicking the links on the site, or by emailing Ben as he can sort out alternative payment methods with you if you prefer such as Paypal.

Anyway, you know it makes sense. Click on the link. Donate the money. Spread the word. And keep your fingers crossed you win one of the lovely prizes in the safe knowledge that your small donation has helped change someone's life for the better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mobile Monday & Swedish Beers round up

Yes, I know it's been a while coming but it's been kinda busy at technokitten towers lately so I haven't manage to catch up on everything yet but I thought it was about time to tell you about our Mobile Monday and Swedish Beers birthday party.

If you weren't there, you missed a treat. Tim Green, editor of Mobile Entertainment Magazine did a wonderful job in the role of Parky to host our chat show stylee event with guests Dr Mike Short (VP R&D O2 Telefonica), Russell Buckley (MD Europe Admob and Chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association), Madhuban Kumar (Founder, Ereni Partners) and the infamous Bill Thompson from the BBC's digital planet amongst other things. And the mid-way entertainment was provided by the wonderful guys at MIReview. More on that later.

As I was busy organising everything I was in and out of the room so didn't hear the whole thing but since the rooms was packed there were plenty people who did and some of them even wrote about it including Tom Hume, Russell and James Cameron.

And the MIReview guys were fab. They recorded their weekly show live (the first time they've done this) and also did some vox pops at Swedish Beers afterwards. Below are the links to the official segments and the last clip is from Ribot, who recorded the live recording in all its glory so you can see the before and after, effectively.

MIR Show - Week 45 - MoMo London Live from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

MIR Show - Week 45 - Omar Hamoui, founder of AdMob from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

MIR Show - Week 45 - Justin Davies, Co-Founder of NinetyTen from Mobile Industry Review on Vimeo.

Mobile Industry Review invade Mobile Monday London from ribot on Vimeo.

The Swedish Beers party afterwards at Bar 101 was a blast as usual and special thanks has to go to Future of Mobile and MX Telecom for their generosity and support in sponsoring the evening. There were already lots of people waiting for us by the time we got there, which was great. And there were folks there from all areas of the industry and far too many to name check them all - but included Future Platforms, O2, Vodafone, dotmobi, IIR, Carsonified, NinetyTen, Rummble, INQ, Admob, Ereni Partners, IQinc, MX Telecom, Spinvox, Ring Ring, Media, Trutap, Ribot, Fred's Talent, Hai Media, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Six Degrees, Yahoo!, Google, Kizoom, AdIq, NitroMobile, Symbian, Truphone, Nokia, Synchro Arts, Flirtomatic, Mippin, Ericsson, MMA, Splendid Communications, Vertu, MobGeo, Sony Ericsson, Yiibu, and more besides. It was good to see some familiar faces too and have a catch up over a beer and also good to meet some new faces too.

And a *special* thanks to everyone involved in getting this particular show on the road, especially Sevgi, Stephanie, Lisa and Bryan for their support and help on the night.

Update: in case you're interested, quite a few folks blogged about the evening too so feel free to browse the following blog posts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police text cocaine users

I was chatting with Patrick Smith from SMS is the New Black about the future of mobile (something we'd all been talking about all day at the Future of Mobile Conference and I've questioned here ), and we both agreed that there was still a lot of mileage left in today's technology - not least trusty old SMS.

So I thought I'd check out Patrick's blog and although it's a new blog on the block, I like what's there so far and was particularly interested in his coverage of the police texting cocaine users in St Albans. It's such a simple idea. The police busted a bunch of cocaine dealers who were operating a delivery service not unlike your local pizza delivery service. As such, cocaine buyers ring up their local cocaine delivery service on their mobile and make their order and it gets delivered. So when the police caught the dealers, they also grabbed their phones and checked who had called the order line and texted them back.

"Police also sent text messages to 668 phone numbers they found thought to be of regular cocaine users.

The text messages said no action would be taken against the users and offered receivers help to kick drug addictions.

The recipients were also directed to a website with links to the Talk to Frank drugs advice website where they can get help."

So simple.

There is no future of mobile

Or at least that was the title to my 6-minute talk at yesterday's Future of Mobile conference at Kensington Town Hall. I was one of the 6 x 6 bloggers (alongside peers Vero, Andrew, Ewan, Whatleydude and Jemima) and I had 6 minutes to wax lyrical about any topic I liked.

There was a sharp intake of breath as I announced there was no future to mobile. As you might imagine, as an advocate of all aspects of mobile technology, and especially mobile marketing, advertising and media, it was not a sentence the audience expected to hear coming from my lips.

[Photo courtesy of Justin Davies of NinetyTen]

But let me explain...

There are 6 reasons why, if we carry on the way we are going, there will be no future to mobile.

1. We carry on focusing on technology rather than people

The technology is a hygiene factor and not the raison d'etre. The technology needs to be reliable, affordable, usable, fast and context relevant. There are very few folks out there who care which gizmo or platform you're building on. They just want it to work. The technology needs to be invisible and seamless. And of course that's a challenge to developers and service providers, but the fact still remains that this is all about the people and not the technology.

2. We continue to have silly mobile tariffs

Why are mobile tariffs, let alone data tariffs so complicated? Why are the tariffs, in particular data tariffs, focused on contract customers who are prepared to commit to an 18 month contract when 60% or more of the UK's mobile customers are on prepay phones and either won't (it's too scary, don't know what to expect, or are transient) or can't (poor credit rating) change to a contract. But more than that, why are they going to switch to a contract to use mobile data if they have no idea what the experience is going to be like?

Back in the early days of the internet, internet service providers, like Freeserve (now Orange), revolutionised internet access by introducing the penny a minute tariff up to a maximum of £12.99 a month. You knew that if you were online for 10 minutes, it would cost you 10p. You knew it would never cost you more than £12.99 a month. You didn't have to have a contract and therefore it removed the risk. Admittedly dial-up could be a bit flaky, websites could be a bit slow to load (sound familiar huh), but still folks could try it risk and commitment-free. And it meant a huge increase in internet usage.

3. We create applications and services for people like us

There was an excellent turnout at the Future of Mobile and I'm guessing that 99% of the people in the room were Promobs - as in professional or "super" mobile users. You know the type - have a N95 in one hand whilst checking their email on their blackberry in their other hand and live streaming qik at the same time.

The trouble is, the market is full of people who are *not* like us. Our customers are normal people. The ones who use their phones for talking and texting. The ones who have no idea that they may need new firmware or may need to change their handset settings. My family is a case in point.. bearing in mind I've been working in the mobile industry for more than 8 years, you wouldn't be able to tell that by my own family's usage of mobile technology...

My sister, well she's just about changed her ringtone and clings on to her Nokia 3310.

My brother has a Motorola Razr and when he got it, thought it was a seriously cool phone (and more to the point, thought I would think the same).

My parents are just too elderly now to get their heads round mobile technology. It's too complicated to learn, their fingers aren't as nimble as they used to be and they just don't have a need. They've lived their long lives without mobile technology. In fact a lot of their lives was lived without telephony in the home at all.

My nieces - well it's all about SMS and to a lesser extent listening to music (and sharing music files via bluetooth). The perception of mobile data to them is still that it's scarily expensive and a £5 a month commitment just so they can check facebook is just a step to far to the average teenager or twenty-something.

And my Auntie, well she just loves to chat. Whether it's a landline or a mobile, she doesn't care. She just wants to talk.

So my question to you is how do we create useful, relevant, entertaining, interesting services for Normobs so that we can bring them into our mobile world without dragging them there kicking and screaming in pain at the experience? How do we create that demand?

4. We continue to nurture the culture gap

Yes, there is. There's a culture gap between web people and mobile people. I've met a lot of people in both camps on the development and the commercial side and in the main, they really don't talk each other's language. Web centric folks can't understand why mobile folks put up with the complexity of the development task let alone trying to access the internet via a 2 inch screen. And then add in the disconnect with the handset folks and the web and the mobile development folks. And then add in the network operators. And then add in brands and agencies and we have a melting pot of folks who just don't understand each other. And in many cases don't even want to play nicely together in the playground due to perceptions about each other that are largely unfounded.

So I have a request that we are more open with each other. That we try to understand each other's points of view so that we can all move forward together in this brave new world.

5. We remain Western-Centric

The next billion customers are not going to come from the USA, the UK or the rest of Europe. The next billion customers are not in the West. This means that the "rest of the world" is not bogged down with the feeling that the internet on mobile experience is second best to the full fat internet on a laptop or desktop screen. It means that they can leapfrog technology rather than go through the evolution that we are still experiencing. And it means that there will be innovation based on needs today and solving problems today rather than working on 'the next big thing'. The speed of growth of mobile penetration in India, China, Africa, South America is phenomenal. This is where we'll see innovation. This is where we'll see real people come up with new ways to use mobile technology to solve their day to day problems or enhance their day to day lives.

6. We forget that the mobile phone is a communication device

It was designed for us to talk to each other. It was designed for us to be able to communicate with our friends, family, colleagues and lovers by voice, text, instant message, email, facebook, twitter, whatever. But it's about communication. In every region of the world, mobile data traffic is largely driven by social networking - whether that's Peperonity, Cyworld, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter - it doesn't really matter. It does mean that it's the human communication that's important to us and drives the desire to explore mobile devices further in order to find other ways to communicate with loved ones.

The mobile phone is personal, it's precious, it's an object of desire and it's our access to the outside world. It's also a necessity and a basic tool to participate in UK society (according to the latest Joseph Rowntree report).

So please, don't abuse my mobile life by clogging it up with stuff that doesn't work, stuff that is memory hungry, stuff I don't need or want. Think about the real people who are using real phones in real life and make their mobile life better. And maybe then, just then, there'll be a future of mobile.

Update: After my session, I did a short audio interview with the lovely Jemima Kiss discussing my talk a little more and it's now live on The Guardian.

Update 2: My talk was video-recorded by Mauricio Reyes. He also caught my fellow 6 x 6 bloggers.

Future of Mobile 08 6x6 Bloggers perspective #3 from Mauricio Reyes on Vimeo.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ring Ring Media hits the $1m mark

Independent mobile advertising agency, RingRing Media, today announced that it has already booked well over one million dollars worth of search and display mobile advertising for its clients, since its launch just four months ago in June.

The mobile buying and planning agency runs both low risk, performance based advertising campaigns on a cost per click basis, constantly monitoring campaign performance and fine tuning it to deliver unrivalled click through rates as well as CPM
campaigns on all of the tier one trusted mobile advertising networks.

The news comes on the back of RingRing Media’s recent launch of its flagship product, I’AM, the mobile industry’s first mobile advertising network optimisation platform. Matt White, head of mobile at Yahoo said: “RingRing Media fills an important niche in
the mobile advertising space. The company is one of the few agencies that completely understands the market and its potential to create a unique and personalised advertising experience for users. “In its first four months the company has risen to become one of our most important and valued partners.”

Way to go Ring Ring!

Mobile Monday & Swedish Beers celebrate together on 10th November

Yes, it's true. Both Swedish Beers and Mobile Monday London have their birthdays round about now - 7 years and 3 years respectively. And to celebrate, we're joining forces and having a big bash combining the best of both events in one big night out on Monday 10th November.

So the format's going to be a little bit different, but we hope you will still enjoy it immensely. So what's in store then...?

The Mobile Monday bit:

Well we have Tim Green, editor of Mobile Entertainment Magazine who is going to be our host with the most on the evening. And he's going to be interviewing four mobile industry celebrities for our delectation, talking about the year just gone and the year ahead and the odd anecdote or three in a chat show stylee. Our esteemed guests are Dr Mike Short from O2, Russell Buckley from Admob, Bill Thompson, a regular from the BBC's Digital Planet plus a mystery guest. There will be time for questions from the audience too.

We will have the MIReview Show joining us too and in the spirit of the evening, they will be presenting and filming some of their show LIVE on stage. (If you don't know them already, think Top Gear but about mobile technology instead of cars.). And we're still hopeful for a surprise or two.

This will all be happening at the CBI at Centrepoint (Tottenham Court Road tube) - Doors opening at 6pm for a 6.30pm start. Don't be late, otherwise you'll miss the Mobile Monday Chat Show as it will only be on for about an hour to an hour and half.

The Swedish Beers bit

Then once the show's a wrap as they say in TV land, we'll move on straight away to Bar 101 (it's underneath Centrepoint at the back) to join the Swedish Beers crew and enjoy some free beer, random chat and general good cheer courtesy of our very generous sponsors - The Future of Mobile and MX Telecom.

There's no formality at Swedish Beers, just turn up, be friendly, drink beer (or soft drinks), chew the fat, talk about mobile stuff (or not) and generally enjoy the vibe. To claim your free drink, you'll need to find one of the generous sponsors, one of the Swedish Beers crew or one of the Mobile Monday organisers to claim your beer token. Without the token, it's a pay bar. But it's open until late, so we can talk mobile nonsense until the wee hours if you like.


If you'd like to come to the Mobile Monday Chat Show, please RSVP here by 'adding record' with your name and company details. No RSVP required for Swedish Beers. You don't have to come to both parts of the evening, but it would be fun if you did. The more the merrier as they say and both venues can hold a lot of us mobile types. So spread the word!

See you Monday 10th November in celebratory mode.