Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Mobile service only usable from a PC...

How dare you use a mobile to do this - go find a PC! Posted by Hello

Bluejacking on steroids...

SmallPlanet sent me an email to say that the latest version of CrowdSurfer mobile phone software is available for download through the SmallPlanet.net Web site. CrowdSurfer turns your Bluetooth enabled mobile phone into a radar device for finding friends and meeting new people.

The guys from SmallPlanet say: "for any geeks out there like us, it's like Bluejacking on steroids".

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Exchanging minutes...

My last post about "mobile money" made me think about the whole process of mobiles and currency.

Have any operators thought about letting users exchange or sell minutes from one phone to another? It must be quite common to find a group of friends on pre-pay packages and one of them runs out of credit and needs a quick top-up. Why not let them get their minutes from a friend?

Furthermore, given that mobile minutes are such an essential currency for everyone these days, why not allow minutes to become a tradeable currency? Perhaps on websites, incentives could be offered to users by topping up minutes on their phone. I need to speak to my operator CFO friend to see if this makes financial sense. I'm sure he could see the financial benefits, if there are any.

Chip and pin...

There's always talk of mobile money - "digital wallets on the mobile". But, as my CFO friend at a major operator remarked, who's going to upgrade their EPOS systems so that people can buy things with their mobiles? What's the business case?

I wonder if the chip-and-pin recepticles being deployed in most stores allow a card to be inserted that can connect with a mobile using Bluetooth over ultra short range? Would a BT chipset and antenna fit inside a chip-and-pin card?

All aboard for wireless wonders...

I was checking "Wireless Wonders" in the search engines to see if my new blog was indexed. No luck yet. However, I did find that GNER trains in the UK now offer onboard WiFi coverage on their 80 Mallard trains. They call it "Wireless Wonders". What else?

To maintain constant coverage, they have two GSM receivers and one satellite receiver on the train. Obviously, if they're using GSM to connect, then WiFi inside the carriage is not going to be like using WiFi in the office, or home.....much, much, slower!

The GNER site says: "Connection speeds are a minimum of 56k and up to 512k in places."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Blog or die...or maybe text it instead...

Everyone who knows of Tom Peters usually knows a quote from his work. The killer quote for 2005 is probably going to be "Blog as if your life depended on it" to be found, where else, but on Tom's blog.

The buzz this week is the Blog Business Summit, in part because Tom's blog is giving it so much coverage.

Can us Mobilists get Tom's interest in text messaging perhaps?

In a recent discussion thread with Tomi Ahonen, my attempts to advocate widespread use of mobile email (with push) a la Blackberry were given a rude awakening by Tomi's insistence that mobile users prefer texting any day. His ever-so-heavy put down was:

Today Blackberry has 2 million users (vs over 900 million SMS text messaging users). Wow, big deal.
OK, so we can argue about the implications of this statement, but Tomi's other statistic is perhaps more revealing:

Of the 7 trillion person-to-person (non-Spam) messages sent in 2003 e-mail covered 86% and SMS only 6% (most of the rest was IM). Yet SMS delivered 94% of the 50 billion dollar global revenues generated by messaging traffic.

The point is that if blogging is supposed to be an essential part of the business communications armoury, then texting deserves a consideration too. There are certainly many in the texting world who argue that marketing folks just don't yet get the importance of texting as a potential marketing tool. Surprising, because it's ability to enable news to spread is surely well known by now, such as during the SARS outbreak in China. Officials tried to deny it, but after 2 million messages had already been sent to the contrary.

100 Mobile Product Ideas...#1...

Last year, on my old blog, I posted an article about the usefulness of cookies to track consumer behaviour, and more potently, extending this tracking information into the location-sensitive mobile world. I promised an update...

The proposal is simple. We need all major brands, shops and so on to post their latest offers and essential product information via web services. What we also need is a useful, affordable web services client on our mobiles, by which I mean an RSS client of some description.

The client should have both push and pull capabilities....this is essential.
Let me take B&Q DIY centres as an example.

With pull, I can subscribe to the B&Q information channel and pull down information whenever I feel like it. More importantly, when I walk into a B&Q shop, I can pull down, there and then, all the latest offers in that store. What's more, all items should have a link to the product on the B&Q e-commerce site. I have often walked into the store, not found what I want, only to be told it's available on their site (or at the super-sized stores). So...I walk out of the shop. If I could order it with one-click AND be rewarded for doing so with a "you came to the store and didn't find it" discount, then they might get the business.

With push, I can receive latest updates to any channel via text message, which would contain a link to my channel telling me that it's been updated. This allows me to be notified of changes to any channel. This has all kinds of advantages.

Push also allows channel updates to be pushed whenever I move into the vicinity of a store, which is already do-able, especially with those handsets that come with integral GPS, like the Motorola handsets on Three. THEREFORE, the RSS web services channel MUST ensure that the store co-ordinates are available in the feed.

[Note that to do the handset location-sensing stuff, we need to have an API from the client into the GPS component of the device. We also need an underlying feature in the GPS component, whether its at the OS level, or application level, to do proximity sensing. There is some indication that all of this can be achieved via J2ME MIDP 2.0 and the location extension API JSR-179.]

Even this relatively simple and easy-to-implement idea would be useful to a wide number of mobile users.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Spot the difference...

Crossing the Chasm is a widely-read marketing book by Geoffrey A. Moore that focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products.

One of the ways to ensure that a product does cross the chasm from early adoption to stardom success is to deploy "whole product design". In essence, this means designing something that really does meet the user's expectations/requirements entirely, at least for features that matter.

Spot the difference Posted by Hello

The above slide from one of my training courses/seminars shows an "old-fashioned" journal address book on the left, and a mobile phone address book on the right. Can you spot the difference? Most seminar attendees can't see it.

What's missing from the left is a pen, or something to enter the addresses with! There are lots of people with address books and pens who can make entries, but who can't store entries in their phones. In my opinion, most mobile address books are not whole product designs. A simple option to get operator assistance to enter addresses remotely might be one solution. There are others. Think about it for yourself.

Pearls of wisdom...

“Entering a url into your WAP address bar can be tedious..."
Source: T-Mobile website 2004

Thank you T-Mobile for this advice.
And the solution?

".....use bookmarks..” Source: T-Mobile website 2004

Hands up if you can easily add a bookmark from your average mobile browser.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

John Battelle's Searchblog: Sell Side Advertising: A New Model?

John Battelle's Searchblog: Sell Side Advertising: A New Model?

The above article by John Battelle might have relevance to the future of mobile. The essence of sell-side advertising is that advertisers put up their ads into cyberspace and someone - anyone - can take it and display it on their site. If they get some clicks, then the advertiser pays them. The idea means that advertisers don't chose where they advertise, they let "the net" do it for them, which means a community of site publishers (e.g. bloggers) who fancy that they can get some clicks.

Why is this relevant to mobile?

Tomi Ahonen, the mobile marketing guru argues that mobile networks need to embrace market segmentation much more than they do today. He argues in an interview on The Feature that today's mobile market is woefully under-segmented. It's the equivalent of a car showroom only having 10 cars (inc. the options) - such as a blue saloon, a red hatch, a white estate etc. Laughable for a car showroom!

Mobile operators have huge amounts of information about their customers. Everything you do on the mobile phone is tracked. It has to be for billling purposes. Mining this information should reveal segments in the userbase. This could be exploited for selling services.

However, as Tomi claims, this mining process is very difficult, so it requires special techniques. One method, which Tomi has a particular fondness for, is artificial intelligence in the form of neural networks, in particular something called Self-Organising Maps (SOMs).

That might work and we need Tomi to shed more light on this topic.

Thinking about sell-side advertising, my response is why use AI when you could use RI, or real intelligence - i.e. real people. Let the users of the service create their own segments. This feels like it ought to be possible if users were given the means to promote services to each other and are then rewarded for it. The good news is that were this possible, then there's already a system in place in the mobile world to allow micro-transactions (i.e. referrals) to be billed.

Clearly, this needs more thought, but I can't help feeling there's some interesting possibilities here.