Address book wars (idea #88)
Recently, I posted about using location-based advertising to find a local plumber or cheap milk in the local Tesco Metro. How might the plumber bit work?
Well, in certain circles there is a lot of interest in the address book on your mobile phone, as it is the centre of user attention and is what drives phone activity. In the previous post, I talked about the local plumbers competing for your attention and using pay-per-call advertising, which means that each time they get a call, they pay a result fee to the advertising company who put their number on your phone.
There are numerous ways this could be implemented. It could be done in the network. In other words, there is no number for the plumber stored on your phone, just a generic address (email@example.com) which when it gets to the network is routed via the advertising database to find the next available plumber. "Next available" could be determined in a number of ways. (If plumber doesn't work for you, then think "pizza" or, even more generic "take-away").
It is likely that the user will want to know who they are calling, so this information will need to be displayed on the phone. However, this could be pre-fetched and a list of the top N advertisers immediately gets displayed on the phone and the user takes his or her pick based on the name and perhaps a few word description. If still unsure, they could click on an entry to get more detail or simply ask for more advertiser links. For busy places, like pizza shops, the network could also determine that the lines are all busy and indicate thus in the listing on the phone, giving the user the option to skip to the next shop.
Currently this doesn't exist, but it would be easy to do on some phones today using a MIDlet application in place of the standard address book. Various thinkers and companies out there are beginning to realise the power of the address book and will be chasing the opportunity to get you to use their one. There are a few logistical (and potential technical/usability) problems with this model, but it seems like "address book wars" are coming to a phone near you sometime soon...
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