SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

G1 battery … FAIL

Posted by Admin on March 25, 2009

I’ve ranted about this before … but for God’s sake!!! I mean what’s the point of having the damn phone if it’s not going to work for longer than a day – or actually even as long as day.

So I charged the phone over night last night and then took it off with me to my day of meetings. I don’t use voice on it as I know the battery can’t cope. But I did check how to get to the meeting, catch up with my email when I could to see if I was missing anything and do a little bit of browsing – but I turned the phone off when I was in my meetings intentionally to save battery life. So now at about 8pm (about 12 hours after I set off) it has died on me.

What a pile of crap!

Fortunately I don’t need it right now and can probably survive without it until I get to a charger – but come on! Why should I have to manage my consumption like that.

Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, oh … and RUBBISH!

Posted in Annoying, Handsets | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish

Posted by Admin on March 14, 2009

That was one of the first comments on a bittersweet post on Mobile Industry Review. Bittersweet because it is a successful way to monetise the site for Ewan, but it deprives us the regular readers of the insight and opinion, the gossip and videos and the all round great resource for mobile related stuff that MIR was.

As you’d expect on a post as earth shattering as this there have been a number of comments. Most of them have been people just wanting to express sadness at losing the site as a resource and with Ewan and the team good luck. But some have verged on the angry – which is a shame.

What a lot of the comments have highlighted are two key questions – which I’m not going to try and answer here. The first is how to make money from a blog. If a site like MIR can’t generate enough sponsorship to keep it afloat then what hope is there? MIR had a hugely loyal readership and also a huge readership of people that mattered in mobile. On top of that the quality of the articles and videos put many ‘professional’ sites to shame. Yet still the advertising model wasn’t working.

The other question, and a slightly more philosophical one, is who owns a blog. Several comments have been made on the article that suggest that Ewan shouldn’t have made this decision as he’s letting people down, as if MIR was some sort of public broadcasting. I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to that view at all. The blog was Ewan’s to do what the hell he likes with. The man’s got to eat and as readers we should just be grateful that he was generous enough with his time (and so were Ben, Dan, James and all the other contributors) for so long.

For me, it’s going to be a shame to see it go. It was a regular source of news for me (and sometimes a source of news for this blog). It was also a way to plug into the community as reading some of the comments and discussions was almost as important as the articles themselves. I was even lucky enough to be able to write a few pieces a while ago.

But now the time has come, so as ollysk2 said so eloquently in the comments – “So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish.”

Posted in Industry | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

No charity in mobile as club turns to SMS for survival

Posted by Jon Russell on March 9, 2009

The weekend saw Darlington FC, of England’s League Two, adopt an innovative form of fund raising in a bid to avoid administration and a potentially crippling points deduction next season.

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Fans of the club, which needs to raise an estimated £300,000 to survive the rest of the season, have created an SMS donation service to increase awareness of the club’s situation and help it pull through. 

Sky Sports News reports that “players, management and all other staff at the football club were not paid during February and a wage deferral scheme is now being discussed with the administrators.”

To help support The Quakers, as the club is known, would be donors should text ‘GL SAVEDFC’ to 87070. The SMS will cost around £1.50 with around 95p going to the club’s survival fund.

The real news here is that the middleman fee is as significant as a one-third (55p of £1.50). The campaign is an excellent idea in theory but in practice donations are best received from more traditional channels that avoid service costs.

Surely, in the name of saving an 125 year old, historic club on the brink of extinction, the companies handling the service could be a little more charitable?

The publicity of the campaign could help promote the mobile donation service to a wider audience and potential customers, instead the club loses one-third of all donations made by the SMS service.

Sadly the companies involved are unknown to us at this stage so no naming and shaming.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

10 things you didn’t know you could do via text

Posted by Admin on March 4, 2009

There’s a great post over on Technokitten’s blog (inspired by one from Mobile Maven) about the various different things that you can do via text message – aside from sending a note to a friend.

Many people in the industry forget that the humble text message is an incredibly important tool for two main reasons. The first is the ubiquitous nature of it – ‘everyone’ uses text messaging and there is no learning curve or education to go through with regards to a new service on text. Even my mum regularly occasionally sends me texts and would be happy to use relevant SMS-based services.

For me, I use SpinVox all the time (or at least as often as people leave a message) and if I’ve got any niggling questions  to be answered then I drop AQA63336 a message and am certain to get back an astute or humourous (or both) response. I also, as Technokitten points out, really like it when people use text messages for customer care – telling me a delivery is on the way, letting me know that a cab has been dispatched, that kind of thing.

One of the other uses that I’ve seen around a lot, but haven’t used yet, is creating a ‘real’ social network of your friends or colleagues for important and immediate updates – eg sports teams confirming the kick-off time, or that the venue has moved. The kind of service that allows many-to-many messages to be sent and received easily and intuitively. I also think that the use of SMS in helping me to automate my life will grow – eg allowing me to turn on my heating as I’m on the train home etc.

Have a full read of the original post and comments here.

Posted in Texts work | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Interesting companies at Mobile World Congress

Posted by Admin on February 27, 2009

I didn’t try and see everything at the show (I would have needed more than a week) but I did try to find a few smaller companies that were doing interesting things in Barcelona. So here’s a very quick summary of some of the ones I thought were cool.

I’ve talked about Movidilo before (here), but I got chance to see it in action in Barcelona. It looks as good as it sounds and is a great way to access information from your mobile without having to 107 different automated voice recordings telling you to ‘Press 1 for …’

To be honest if I’ve phoned up to speak to customer services at a company I pay good money to (my mobile operator for example), I expect some service. The voice recorded menus are annoying because they force you to fit your query into their system and sometimes it’s not that easy. Also, if they give me a long list of options I’ve forgotten them by the time I get to the end.

Movidilo lets you avoid that by allowing you to search under your own search terms and also to receive relevant information visually on your mobile screen. I think any company that uses call centres should look into this as a great alternative for some (maybe not all) of their customers.

A company I saw for the first time that looked quite interesting was Dial2Do. They offer a voice automated system for the user to do a range of functions on their mobile. So taking it way beyond just dialing someone by saying their name, now you can send an email or a text message, update Twitter or find some music files.

It looks great for road warriors who can now sit in the car, with their bluetooth headset in and be far more productive than ever before.

Talking of bluetooth headsets, novero is a German company that is trying to make headsets more fashionable and chic than the existing choices. The first product is called, appropriately enough, The First One and it certainly looks a lot better than most of the other options around.

I also bumped into a Canadian company called Mob4Hire, who I thought were quite interesting. They offered a solution that helped application developers test their applications cheaply and more effectively.

One of the problems of mobile is that there are so many different handset models, languages and operator requirements to resolve for each application. A Nokia handset in the Czech Republic will handle an application in a very different way to a Sony Ericsson will in Denmark. Previously developers would have had to have all the different handsets themselves and either set up expensive ‘lab’ systems to replicate the operator requirements in the Czech Republic or Denmark, or go to those countries themselves. Expensive and timely.

Mob4Hire aggregates all of that testing by having testers available in different countries, on different handsets and different operators. Now to test your application in Poland, Greece and Italy on 12 different handsets, just get Mob4Hire to organise it all for you – including final reports and feedback. Hopefully this will allow developers to create new applications that can target specific niches that have previously been too expensive to contemplate.

Posted in Industry | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Business in Barcelona

Posted by Admin on February 26, 2009

I know that I’ve been back nearly a week now, but I’m just getting my head around Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week. I’m not going to attempt to do a full round-up of every announcement or even really talk about what the big boys had to say. You can see all of that elsewhere. For example:

– We brought you a couple of round ups of the big announcements here and here
– The team at Mobile Industry Review did some great videos at the show – definitely worth watching
– Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC does his round up here
– While Fierce Wireless talks about the winners and losers in Barcelona

I am going to give a little bit of my perspective of the show though.

Every year after the event people try to pick it apart and decide what the ‘theme’ was and what Mobile World Congress tells us about how the mobile industry will change (if at all) over the next 12 months. Well, this year is no different and I don’t claim to be original either.

One of the themes was the lack of a strong theme. For the last few years the show (and the industry) has become too big to allow for a single theme to dominate completely. In many ways that’s a good thing, it shows the maturity of the market and the fact that we are not just blowing in the wind. However, it can make it less fun and feel less like we’re driving the industry forward for a week in Barcelona.

In terms of handsets, although many new handsets were announced there wasn’t one that stood out. HTC announced the new Vodafone Android handset – the Magic, but there weren’t any other major Android announcements. In fact in terms of the people at the show the one manufacturer that did dominate wasn’t even attending – Apple. Nearly everyone sported an iPhone and I saw very few G1s at all.

Unfortunately I didn’t see too much at the show that was targeted at the average consumer either. Of course there was the odd thing and of course all the major players would claim that they incorporate the average consumer, but … well, my mum wouldn’t haven’t seen much she could understand, yet alone get excited about. I still think this is an area the industry is ignoring at its peril. Where products and services are introduced that require less in-built geekiness they are mainly aimed at the emerging markets.

The biggest theme however was getting work done. The economic situation hasn’t hit this industry too hard, but it has made people focus. Despite what the GSMA says the numbers at the show were clearly down, yet those that did attend it seemed they were here for business – the people left behind were those who in previous years have treated the show like a mini-holiday. Nearly all the booths were full (literally only one or two blank spaces), but I can imagine nearly everyone was assessing whether they will be there next year – to make sure they will be, they got busy with business meetings and that should be a good sign.

Posted in Industry | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Pocket Express for Europe

Posted by Admin on February 26, 2009

I’ve not written much up from last week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yet, but one piece of news that I did see was that Handmark is launching a European version of its popular Pocket Express application. To reach as much of the European market as possible they’re also making it available in eight languages – English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Finnish, and Swedish.

The application offers, quick, simple, and FREE updates on news, sports, weather, stocks and shares and business story updates. They have relationships with everyone from Reuters and the BBC through to Agence France Press and various other content providers. It’s free to download on http://www.pocketexpress.eu and apparently it even comes with its own Mobile Concierge service.

I haven’t had chance to have a play with the service, but from the images it looks pretty good. It’s available across a range of the most popular Nokia, Sony Ericcson, Motorola and Samsung phones and they will be adding to the list (including Blackberry and iPhone) through the year.

It’s great to see a US player coming into Europe in this way. Many people that have conquered the US, not surprisingly, look at Europe and get scared – small individual markets, different handset preferences and perhaps worst of all a lots of different operators and different languages.

I remember working with the games publisher iFone and the issues they had porting games across a variety of handsets, operators and languages – it’s amazing how many varieties you have to produce when you start to multiply all those variables together.

But Handmark has done and well done to them. As Paul Reddick, CEO of Handmark says:

“We have established a popular mobile service millions of people in North America rely on every day for accessing the content they need to stay informed and entertained on their mobile device. We are excited to introduce Pocket Express with local content for mobile users throughout Europe so they too can enjoy a better mobile experience regardless of what language they speak.”

Some of the key elements of the service include:

– More than 300 customisable news categories.

– Up-to-the-minute sports scores and statistics for hundreds of teams and leagues.

– Weather and ski forecasts for virtually any location in the world.

– International stock information from virtually all major North American and European exchanges, including NYSE, NASDAQ, London Stock Exchange, Euronext Paris, and Milan Stock Exchange.

– Real-time flight status and schedules for nearly all major airlines and airports around the world.

– Content provided by the world’s most trusted content providers including the Associated Press (AP), Agence France-Presse (AFP), AccuWeather.com, Dow Jones, and OAG.

– A “Store” that features popular, high-quality games and applications from top-tier developers, including Capcom, I-Play, Reset Games, and Mobifusion, Inc.

– Optimised data usage as it “caches” the information you have already used instead of refreshing all the information.

If you’re interested go to www.pocketexpress.eu to download it.

Posted in Mobile Content, Travel | Leave a Comment »

Swedish Beers rocks Barcelona

Posted by Admin on February 19, 2009

I went out last night to the excellent Swedish Beers event organise by the wonderful Helen Keegan and basically it rocked!

It was at Dostrece, which is a funky little bar just off la Rambla in the centre of Barcelona – but I’m not sure the bar knew what had hit it. We filled it up by 7.30pm and it just stayed full all night. I watched people come and go throughout the night – but there always seemed to be a full room of mobile industry people willing to mingle, chat and of course, drink beer.

I’m sure in due course you’ll be able to read more about the event from people that can remember more than I can (although on second thoughts …). But I just wanted to say ‘Thanks Helen’.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

New revenues from roaming

Posted by Admin on February 19, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk recently about roaming, in particular talk from the EU about regulating the industry. It’s one of the issues that confuses regular users the most – “I’ve just about worked out how much a call costs when I’m at home – but what if I go abroad?” Of course what happens in that case is that they don’t use their phone or use it as little as possible.

Well, one of the companies I got the chance to talk to this week, Roamware, announced products here in Barcelona that will enable operators to meet the new, proposed EU regulations and create new revenue opportunities.

The regulations include the introduction of tariff transparency, control and safeguard mechanisms for roaming use of data services. Roamware’s new Data Tariff Advisor does all of that and also increase customer retention, increase roaming data usage and reduce fraud.

To my mind the increased revenue bit is fairly simple – if people can be confident of the prices of using their phone abroad (even if it is a little higher than back home) they’ll use it more.

Posted in Travel, Voice | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blogging thanks to T-Mobile

Posted by Admin on February 19, 2009

Things have started to die down here at Mobile World Congress, so I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on a bit of work and do  a bit of blogging. I’m able to do that thanks to T-Mobile – as I’m sat in its hospitality area using the free Wi-Fi.

So thanks T-Mobile.

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Posted in Operators | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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