Wireless Wonders

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Generic phone settings (PLEASE!) (idea #83)

I got an invite to a public meeting about mobile content. Here's an extract:

"Complex settings, confusing interfaces and disabled functions show that the customer seems to be the last thing on the minds of the mobile operators and handset manufacturers."

Actually, the last bit isn't true. Nearly all the revenue comes from talking and texting, so these interfaces tend to work quite well and are highly optimised in most cases (although there are still some incredibly daft interfaces to the address book on some phones).

If you've ever bought a new phone and then plugged in a SIM card, you will know the pain of having to work out the settings in order for WAP/MMS to work (or any other service - e.g. IM). This all seems unnecessary to me and I'm sure that the OMA are working on a solution. Meanwhile, here's mine...

All operators should support generic settings, which means exactly the same APN names, usernames and passwords. These settings will be pre-programmed in the phone by the manufacturer. At the very least, this will enable the phone to establish contact with a server to download operator-specific settings appropriate to the user's account.

Can it be that easy? I must be missing something.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

After a long day in Morocco telling the operator how to deploy 3G apps, I tried to blend in with the locals in preparation for bargaining in the hotel gift shop, which didn't work of course - no one appeared to wear those hats. This picture was taken by my colleague on his Moto SLVR and subsequently uploaded to Avvenu and shared from there via email, sucked in via Picasa and then uploaded to my blog. Posted by Picasa

From Lego to Mobile (idea #82)

My son built this lego plane using the rather clever 3D lego builder on their site. After building any model, the site allows a kit to be ordered to build it! Could it also be exported from there into a mobile game for a round of mindless laser zapping? Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006

Differential charging (idea #81)

The last couple of posts talked about exploiting the "bump into effect" (BIF) to encourage phone users to make calls to people not called recently, such as the "tickle list" of contacts. The BIF can be very powerful in its own right - on average I view (by which I mean click to enlarge) a few photos every hour thanks to the Google sidebar popping the thumbnails in my peripheral vision. When I don't display the sidebar, I view a huge zero.

The visual element here is attractive. That's why I think adding pictures to the phonebook on the phone and using these to remind the user to make calls will have a stronger BIF than just the text directory.

However, there are further obvious incentives, like cheaper calls. The network can simply offer to make the call to an infrequent callee cheaper, such as half-price for a limited time or as a one-off tempter - "Call Fred now for only 5p a minute".

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Encouraging MMS (idea #80)

In my previous post I mentioned how I like the Google sidebar widget that cycles through my pics. This is a "bump-into-effect" app. I mentioned doing this on the phone, but to remind me to call old friends - just pop up their picture on the phone with a note "it's a while since you spoke to Fred" and a button to press "call Fred".

Another idea is to simply implement the Google widget on the phone, assuming that I have photos stored on the phone. Anyhow, each time a picture popped up (probably as a screensaver), it could come with the button "MMS to a friend?"

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Bump-into-effect on my mobile (idea #79)

The sidebar for Google's desktop tool has a nice panel called "photos" which continually cycles through thumbnail images of the "My Pictures" folder and sub-folders. If you see one you like, it can be opened in a jiffy. As these are my photos and not ghastly banner-ads, I tend not to blot them out of my vision - I will frequently have a quick look and occasionally open one up.

This is the "bump-into-effect", which I first remember hearing on a Tom Peter's tape - I think he talked about leaving books lying around so that you read them and also leaving bikes by the back door so that you ride them. I've mentioned it a few times before.

I wonder how this might be utilised to good effect on the mobile? I remember the old idea (and I can't remember where from) of an app on the phone prompting the owner to "tickle their contacts" - call people not called recently just to say "hello". A photo-enabled phonebook would make it more compelling.

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Blackberry 8700v

Just got it and love it. Patent woes aside, the BB is a great product. Why? It's simple - it works! It just works out of the box, very intuitively. I always get my email and can always respond.
-- Sent from my Blackberry