SMS is the new black

A review of mass market mobile apps

Posts Tagged ‘Mobile World Congress’

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.

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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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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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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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