SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Mobile World Congress breakfast briefing: day 2

Posted by Jon Russell on February 18, 2009

 

breakfast-briefing-day-twoWe expect that, by now, your breakfast is probably a hastily consumed coffee with perhaps  croissant such is your need to get back to work at breakneck speed.

No fear, check out our breakfast briefing for a quick yet concise overview of news to get you up to speed with day two at Mobile World Congress in an instant.

As always, get in touch with any news, tips or feedback.

Hasta luego.

 

MAJOR TALKING POINT

– As predicted yesterday Vodafone and Google announced the G2 device, produced by HTC, yesterday. Initial reviews of the device, also know as the Magic, has been positive. Reviews are available at TechRadar and CNET whilst Pocket-Lint has an excellent selection of photos.


HANDSETS

LG confirmed that its KS360, announced in July, model will run with an Android OS (operating system) and be available in the UK this summer. Click here for more specs from T3.

Pocket-Lint is doing a great job of covering the show, another of its scoops is the MB400 from Hyundai, a so-called ‘iPod phone’. The device is one of the company’s initial offerings and set to be available in the UK this year.


APPLICATIONS AND CONTENT

Orange and Sony Ericsson further strengthened their joint content initiative with a 2 year deal that will see a fresh batch of Sony Ericsson multimedia phones with “more fun and easy mobile multimedia services”.

Yahoo announced that the launch of its Yahoo Mobile service is ‘upcoming’. The service will provide a personalised homepage for a range of devices. The beta is to be available soon although, from initial details, the service looks like nothing more than a portal.

Adobe announced its plans for Flash to be supported on both the Palm Pre and Nokia Series 60 phones.

Nokia Nseries handsets will be able to make free Skype-to-Skype voice call and chat starting with the N97.

– Annoying when you have the wrong charger isn’t it? Well the GSMA announced its commitment to an industry-wide standard for chargers for new mobile phones. Backed by a raft of global operators, the group is aiming for change by 2010 with micro-USB mooted as the would-be standard.

T-Mobile has announced the ten most popular Android apps, see them here at androidcommunity.com

MySpace has revamped and optimised its mobile site and announced plans to develop bespoke applications for selected Nokia and Palm handsets


NOTEWORTHY REVIEWS

– TechRadar has reviewed the Nokia N86, concluding that it is an improvement on the N85 with the camera and OLED screen alone push it leagues ahead.

– As above, Reviews of the Google G2, aka Vodafone Magic, are available at TechRadar and CNET.

Engadget has put the Samsung Omnia HD to the test.

 

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Anam announces new customers

Posted by Admin on February 17, 2009

At Mobile World Congress, Anam has announced that three new operators have signed up to its Smart Services. The operators have not been named, but they are based in Taiwan, Ireland and Vietnam.

These operators have bought Anam’s Smart Services which means that they will be launching services like Messaging+ – adding email-like functionality to SMS (eg setting up an out-of-office alert); and Anti-SPAM – which blocks unwanted messages.

They could also adopt services like Ad-Funded SMS – which inserts ads into text messages; Parental Control, which allows parents to block unwelcome messages from their child’s handset; and SMS Money Transfer, which allows users to send money to contacts in their address book, simply by using a standard text message.

These new deals all come on top of Anam’s recent announcement about ‘Free Texts for Life’ to operators.

Gerry McKenna, CEO of Anam, said:
“Our Smart Services solutions are helping many global operators create new, revenue-generating, SMS-borne services. Subscribers like these services because they can easily understand and access them, yet they also create increased revenues for operators.”

And he’s right about subscribers liking them – they understand SMS and if a new service is easy to understand and access (because it uses SMS), then it is more likely to get mass adoption.

“These deals highlight the value that our Smart Services solutions can bring to global mobile operators, with about another eight million mobile subscribers now able to access services like Messaging+,” said Jote Bassi, VP Global Sales and Marketing at Anam. “It’s great to see the hard work and dedication of our worldwide team and support staff continuing to produce some excellent results.”

– – –

For full disclosure – I do some work for Anam

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Mobile World Congress breakfast briefing: day 1

Posted by Jon Russell on February 17, 2009

3b5a9_healthy-breakfast3We present our inaugural Breakfast Briefing to give you an overview of all the major talking points from day one of Mobile World Congress

Enjoy!

 

DEVICES

 LG unveiled the Touch Watch, G910, which we can expect on UK shores with Orange branding late 2009.

 LG announced it will support Windows Mobile Windows Phone (see below) devices.

 Nokia unveiled its E55 (immediately dubbed BlackBerry-killer) smartphone with a very RIM-like keyboard.

 Samsung announced an HD version of its Omnia device.

 HTC showcased its next releases within its Touch family, the (not so imaginatively named) Touch Pro 2 and Touch Diamond 2.

 Samsung showed an environmental touch when it removed the wrapping from Blue Earth, solar-powered touchscreen smartphone made from recycled plastic.

 Sony Ericsson raised the bar for camera phones with the Idou, a 12.1 megapixel camera phone.

Acer is a new arrival to mobile devices as it launched 8 Windows Mobile supported devices. Details of the collective are scarce but it does include slider devices, candybars, smartphones, touch-screen phones and one model with a dual-SIM option.

– On a busy day for LG, the Korean firm also released details of an as-yet-unnamed eco-friendly phone which promises to “conveniently harness the sun’s limitless and pollution-free energy”. Initial details are scant but it follows the announcements of eco-phones from Samsung, Blue Earth, and Motorola, Renew.

Qualcomm went public on details around its ground-breaking Mirasol screen for the Inventec V112 Windows smartphone. The technology using reflected light to cut down on the power consumption of LCD screens on mobile devices.  LG has gone public in support for Mirasol.

 

APPLICATIONS AND SERVICES

 Sky announced a subscription-based streaming service to allow customers access to music (via their TV, computer or phone). Omnifone will provide support on the mobile side.

 RIM is finalising access to its application store for all of BlackBerry devices.

– Microsoft renamed ‘Windows Mobile’ to Windows Phone whilst revamping the software and user interface on its platform to rival the likes of Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone.

– Of interest to the low-cost handset market, Vodafone and Opera have released details of their partnership to develop Opera Mini for low-end handsets.

 

RUMOUR OF THE DAY

– The Google G2 is set to launch today (Tuesday 17 February) at the show.

 

Got any other stories or tips? Get in touch!

 

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Mobile World Congress – first day impressions

Posted by Admin on February 16, 2009

So, it’s started. But, interestingly, not with as big a fanfare as in recent years. It seems that the global economic climate has come to the mobile industry.

Now, I’m not suggesting that it’s doom and gloom – far from it in fact. To be honest you probably wouldn’t notice if you didn’t know the show well. All the stands are full, there are no gaping holes like those starting to develop on the UK’s high streets; and there are also plenty of visitors – maybe not the numbers that were here last year or the year before, but we’re certainly not watching tumbleweed blow down the aisles.

What is different however is the mood. The people that haven’t come along seem to be the tyre-kickers and time wasters. The show isn’t a target for graduate students trying to research their thesis; junior staff members treated to a few days in Barcelona as thanks for all their work; or even CEOs who just want to wander around and look important.

No, the people here in Barcelona this year seem to be people who are keen to do some business. They know that the industry isn’t great – but at the same time it’s not broken either. There are services to consider and apps to mull over – and maybe this year they can do it in peace.

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Barcelona Bound

Posted by Admin on February 15, 2009

Like much of the mobile industry, I’m heading over to Barcelona today for the week long Mobile World Congress show. It’s the place where the great and good announce what they will be doing in mobile over the next few months and the industry discusses what will be hot or not.

For many years it was the place to go to to see what handsets and applications my friends would be using in six months time. I could check out what was cool and tell my friends what to expect. Obviously they didn’t believe me at the time, but the summer of that year 9 times out of 10 I was proved to be right.

Nowadays however, the show has become almost too big and the industry almost too mature for that to be the case. Like a lot of the mobile industry, Mobile World Congress seems to be a place for the mobile geeks to talk to other mobile geeks about products often designed only for mobile geeks.

I’m hoping that this year that might be a bit different. I’m hoping that I’ll see devices, applications and business models that genuinely appeal to normal users and that I can tell my mates down the pub (and of course you) what will be cool in mobile this summer.

I feel that if we don’t see a lot more of that – the industry actually considering the masses and not just the geeks – then the mobile sector might be one of the industries to suffer during the downturn. Especially in the mature markets. Of course people won’t give up their phones, but they might hold off from that handset upgrade, or think twice about buying a new app that has been badly marketed to them anyway, or hold off from browsing or downloading content because they are never sure of the charges.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the mobile world has decided to start talking to consumers again – or just to itself.

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Competition Extension

Posted by Admin on February 13, 2009

As you know, SMS is the new Black, sponsored by AQA, is running a competition for the ‘best’ text message sent or received in January.

When I set the deadline, I forgot that I would be in Barcelona for the mobile trade show – Mobile World Congress, so I’ve decided to extend the deadline to next Friday.

Get your texts in to smsblack@googlemail.com (subject line ‘Competition’), or forward them to +44 (0)7957 197817.

I’ve also realised that I should probably provide a bit more of an explanation of ‘best’. For the competition, best can mean a variety of things:

– funniest
– strangest
– most effective (ie a marriage proposal that worked)
– cutest (if it’s your kids first text – it’s got a good chance)
– most romantic (especially if it’s sent tomorrow)
– worst (shock value is good)
– or, of course it could be the best answer you got from texting a question to 63336 for AQA to answer recently

Whatever it is – send them in and you could win the Brilliant Answers book.

– – –

More about Brilliant Answers

With 13 chapters covering food and drink, nature, celebrities, sport, language, travel, sex and the pick of the odd unanswerables and most bizarre, Brilliant Answers is AQA’s madcap fans and ingenious answer gurus at their very best.

Find the answers to such questions as:
− What is the best type of biscuit to make a mattress from?
− I want to write a film script which makes me millions, what should it be about?
− Which British football club has no letters from the word ‘football’ in its name?
− What is the world’s funniest word?
− Why are smiley faces yellow?*

Answers:
− The best type of biscuits to make a mattress from would be fig rolls or strawberry Newtons. They would be soft, but still provide some back support.
− Based on the top-grossing films, your script should be about a young wizard and a robot looking for a ring on a pirate ship which sinks. Good luck.
− Dundee is the only British football club that has no letters from the word ‘football’ in its name. Founded in 1893, Dundee play at Dens Park.
− The funniest word in the English language is fartlek (an athletic training regime); other funny words include furphy, pratfall, parp and firkin.
− The smiley face, first used by Harvey Ball, is yellow because the logo was influenced by Kolobok, a yellow spherical being in an East Slavic fairy tale.

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Gartner gazes into crystal ball

Posted by Jon Russell on February 11, 2009

[A little late on this one but…] Last month, analyst industry giant Gartner used its considerable expertise and position in the mobile industry to reveal its ‘Eight Mobile Technologies to Watch in 2009 and 2010’. Always worthy of note, and no particular order they are below.

As ever, please get in touch with your thoughts and any predictions of your own.

– – –

1. Bluetooth 3.0

The Bluetooth 3.0 specification will be released in 2009 (at which point its feature set will be frozen), with devices starting to arrive around 2010. Bluetooth 3.0 will likely include features such as ultra-low-power mode that will enable new devices, such as peripherals and sensors, and new applications, such as health monitoring. Bluetooth originated as a set of protocols operating over a single wireless bearer technology. Bluetooth 3.0 is intended to support three bearers: “classic” Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ultrawideband (UWB). It’s possible that more bearers will be supported in the future.

2. Mobile User Interfaces (UIs)

UIs have a major effect on device usability and supportability. They will also be an area of intense competition in 2009 and 2010, with manufacturers using UIs to differentiate their handsets and platforms. New and more-diverse UIs will complicate the development and support of business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-consumer (B2C) applications. Organizations should expect more user demands for support of specific device models driven by interface preferences. Companies should also expect consumer interfaces to drive new expectations of application behavior and performance. Better interfaces will make the mobile Web more accessible on small devices, and will be a better channel to customers and employees.

3. Location Sensing

Location awareness makes mobile applications more powerful and useful; in the future, location will be a key component of contextual applications. Location sensing will also enhance systems, such as mobile presence and mobile social networking. The growing maturity of on-campus location sensing using Wi-Fi opens up a range of new applications exploiting the location of equipment or people. Organizations delivering business or consumer applications should explore the potential of location sensing; however, exploiting it may create new privacy and security challenges.

4. 802.11n

802.11n boosts Wi-Fi data rates to between 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps, and the multiple-input, multiple-output technology used by 802.11n offers the potential for better coverage in some situations. 802.11n is likely to be a long-lived standard that will define Wi-Fi performance for several years. High-speed Wi-Fi is desirable to stream media around the home and office. From an organizational perspective, 802.11n is disruptive; it’s complex to configure, and is a “rip and replace” technology that requires new access points, new client wireless interfaces, new backbone networks and a new power over Ethernet standard. However, 802.11n is the first Wi-Fi technology to offer performance on a par with the 100 Mbps Ethernet commonly used for wired connections to office PCs. It is, therefore, an enabler for the all-wireless office, and should be considered by companies equipping new offices or replacing older 802.11a/b/g systems in 2009 and 2010.

5. Display technologies

Displays constrain many characteristics of both mobile devices and applications. During 2009 and 2010, several new display technologies will impact the marketplace, including active pixel displays, passive displays and pico projectors. Pico projectors enable new mobile use cases (for example, instant presentations projected on a desktop to display information in a brief, face-to-face sales meeting). Battery life improvements are welcome for any user. Good off-axis viewing enables images and information to be shared more easily. Passive displays in devices, such as e-book readers, offer new ways to distribute and consume documents. Display technology will also become an important differentiator and a user selection criterion.

6. Mobile web and widgets

The mobile Web is emerging as a low-cost way to deliver simple mobile applications to a range of devices. It has some limitations that will not be addressed by 2010 (for example, there will be no universal standards for browser access to handset services, such as the camera or GPS). However, the mobile Web offers a compelling total cost of ownership (TCO) advantage over thick-client applications. Widgets (small mobile Web applets) are supported by many mobile browsers, and provide a way to stream simple feeds to handsets and small screens. Mobile Web applications will be a part of most B2C mobile strategies. Thin-client applications are also emerging as a practical solution to on-campus enterprise applications using Wi-Fi or cellular connections.

7. Cellular Broadband

Wireless broadband exploded in 2008, driven by the availability of technologies such as high-speed downlink packet access and high-speed uplink packet access, combined with attractive pricing from cellular operators. The performance of high-speed packet access (HSPA) provides a megabit or two of bandwidth in uplink and downlink directions, and often more. In many regions, HSPA provides adequate connectivity to replace Wi-Fi “hot spots,” and the availability of mature chipsets enables organizations to purchase laptops with built-in cellular modules that provide superior performance to add-on cards or dongles.

8. Near Field Communications (NFC)

NFC provides a simple and secure way for handsets to communicate over distances of a centimeter or two. NFC is emerging as a leading standard for applications such as mobile payment, with successful trials conducted in several countries. It also has wider applications, such as “touch to exchange information” (for example, to transfer an image from a handset to a digital photo frame, or for a handset to pick up a virtual discount voucher). Gartner does not expect much of the NFC payment or other activities to become common, even by 2010, in mature markets, such as Western Europe and the U.S. NFC is likely to become important sooner in emerging markets, with some deployments starting by 2010.

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Networking in Nottingham

Posted by Admin on February 9, 2009

If you live in or around Nottingham and are involved in technology, then you should come along to the Nott Tuesday networking event that is being held tomorrow night.

It’s the brainchild of Adam Bird of Esendex and promises to be a good evening. Apart from being the first event of its kind and something that the Nottingham tech community will benefit from, one of the reasons that will help to make it a great night is that Ewan MacLeod of the Mobile Industry Review blog will be giving a talk about getting your message heard. Or as Ewan says:

“So I’m speaking on the subject of GETTING YOUR MESSAGE HEARD. I’m thinking blogging, I’m thinking Twitter, I’m thinking personal brand vs company brand. I’m thinking connecting to and finding others in your niche industry. I’m thinking reactive vs proactive communications. And I’m going to structure that into a veritable mind-dump. Without slides, I might add.”

Excellent. I’ve Ewan heard speak about this kind of thing before and he’s very good.

The event is at The Cape Bar, 23 Victoria Street, NG1, 2EW. So sign up on the Nott Tuesday blog and come along.

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“I like to say that all my friends loved it, but all my friends were engineers.”

Posted by Admin on February 7, 2009

I saw that quote in an article on Nolan Bushell, the founder of Atari, in yesterday’s Guardian. The quote describes the first game that Bushell sold – or in fact didn’t sell very many of.

“I like to say that all my friends loved it, but all my friends were engineers.”

If Bushell had continued to just create games for his friends would the gaming industry be what it is today? The answer is probably not and certainly Atari wouldn’t be the household name that it is.

Yet, the mobile industry to a certain extent is still guilty of this – creating things that appeal to people already within the ecosystem. If we want to create more companies with the reach and recognition of Atari that model has to be scrapped and people have to look at products and services that can reach out to a mass market.

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E.Factor networking event

Posted by Admin on February 6, 2009

If you’ve not heard of it, E.factor is a network of entrepreneurs. And later on this month it is holding its first UK event in London, with the topic for the evening – Commercial opportunities in mobile phone entertainment. They’re going to be looking at three areas in particular:

– How much does your company know about this exciting new phase that is engaging advertising as never before.

– Global Trends in Mobile Entertainment & how this brings terrific export opportunities to companies.

– Impact of social media on mobile entertainment

It sounds really interesting and they’ve got a great speaker lined up too – Ralph Simon, who is President and CEO of The Mobilium Group and is recognized as one of the founders of modern mobile music and entertainment in the USA, UK and Europe.

All you need to do to attend is go to www.efactor.com, sign in as a member, click on the event on the homepage and then click register to enter your details!

More Details –

Venue: Davenport Lyons
30 Old Burlington Street
London W1S 3NL
Tel: (+44) 020 7468 2600

When: 23rd February 2009

6pm – 6.30pm Registration and networking
6.30pm – 8pm Talk and Q & A
8pm – 8.30pm Networking

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