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2009 World Mobile Congress preview

The annual world mobile congress (wmc) starts today in Barcelona, Spain.  

The WMC will bring a lot of news and announcements. As the largest mobile phone show in the world, GSMA not only attracts people from around the world, but also sets the stage for what will happen in wireless for the next 12 months.

Although this will be the first year in a few that I haven’t had the opportunity to participate directly, I’m looking forward to following some of my favorite mobile blogs and news sites this week to stay at least partially connected to what is happening.  Look for mini-updates in my twitter feed and some summary stories on this blog. 

Look for some big announcements this week including a new smartphone from Toshiba and Acer, an upgraded mobile platform / os from Microsoft, hopefully news of a 3G GSM version of the Palm Pre, more Google Android devices, news on rival app stores to compete with Apple, details into how Nokia is going to focus more on services than hardware and probably nothing from Apple who were noticeably absent last year as well.  

What are you hoping will be announced this week?

February 15, 2009   No Comments

2008 Predictions – how did I do?

Around this time last year I made some outrageous predictions about what was to come in 2008.  Let’s take a quick look back and see how well I did: 

  1. SMS third party advertising will take off.  Didn’t really see this take off in Canada and with the mobile web / and mobile widgets taking off, I can’t see this as a big focus in 2009. Having said that, there are more services popping up that allow media planners to venture into SMS as well as the Mobile web.
  2. Mobile Web Advertising will become part of your media buy. This definitely happened in 2008 in Canada with Quattro and Yahoo offering a good mix of inventory to buy. This will only continue to grow in 2009. 
  3. MMS Common short codes will arrive. This did happen in 2008 – although not all mobile aggregators are able to facilitate this for you. MyThumb mobile was the first to offer MMS short codes and now you can also go through Magnet Mobile too. 
  4. Mobile payments will start to emerge as a new payment medium. There was a great conferences this year on the subject in Canada facilitated by the Canadian Institute.  RBC and Visa launched their pilot program for contactless payments in Canada. Visa also recently launched 4 new international pilot programs. Mastercard also announced this past May that they’re launching a pilot to extend their pay pass program to mobile. 
  5. The iphone will finally arrive in Canada. It sure did – and I was right that they waited until the 3G version came out. I also predicted that other retailers may offer the device – which didn’t happen… although both Walmart and select Sam’s Club stores will be selling them in the near future.  Best Buy and Future shop also announced that they would be carrying it. 
  6. Fixed or low-cost data plans will be universal. Although not as low as we’d like, we finally have affordable plans in Canada. Yah! I was paying $80 for 500 megs last year and now I’m paying $45 for 500 megs and includes a voice plan. 
  7. Mobile web will catch fire. I was partially right here. Thanks to smartphones like the iphone, more consumers discovered the mobile web, but more specifically mobile widgets that grab data from the mobile web have really taken off thanks to the iphone app store. 
  8. New mobile carriers will be announced. This happened and was blogged about here.
  9. Google will launch their own phone (gphone) with their own operating system and buy U.S. spectrum. The first two happened, but they decided not to aggressively pursue spectrum… this time. There are other auctions coming up in 2009…
  10. Social Networking will make the leap from desktop to Mobile as a primary interface / access point. We definitely saw a huge leap in 2008 to mobile – with facebook, linkedin, hi-5 and twitter all offering great mobile options through widgets and mobile web. Twitter saw over 600% growth and a big part of this can be attributed to mobile.  Mobile only social networking sites such as itsmy.com also saw big growth in 2008. They even partnered up with my favorite mobile and social search tool taptu to enhance their member services. 
Overall it would seem my predictions weren’t that outrageous at all!

I published a second list in August as part of a mobile insert at Strategy Magazine.  We’ll take a look at those ones in my next post before making some super crazy predictions for 2009 :)

January 7, 2009   5 Comments

MW08 – Question #8: When will carriers open up?

Q: When will the carriers start to let go of the grasp they have over what applications and content can be put out there on their network/deck?

A: The topic of carriers becoming less controlling & more open has been a very hot topic in the U.S. especially and even led to Google’s initial bid on the U.S. spectrum auction.

Although nearly all carriers say they are open to being open, they also say that without controls and checks built into the system, they fear losing all control of their devices – and therefore their ability to deliver a consistent and positive experience to their customers.

Whether or not you believe that, the reality is that few carriers want to open up their platforms to third party developers until they no longer have any choice – whether that be through legislation or to keep pace with a competitive force.

Having said that, “off-deck” mobile websites are growing every day and offering content and services not currently available through on-deck.  Mobile browsers are getting better and are now rendering richer and richer experiences – so the need to have a fully open carrier may become less important as most of what consumers want can be serviced through the mobile web.

November 11, 2008   4 Comments

Google ignites world browser (and OS) war II

Yesterday Google followed up on earlier statements that the browser is now the platform by releasing their own browser dubbed “Chrome.” Click here for full details from Google.

This is not Netscape vs. IE all over again. It’s not even Windows vs Mac. 

It’s more like cold war Russia vs. USA where instead of fighting in proxy countries such as Korea or Vietnam, they’ve chosen the browser as their proxy for world interweb domination.

The browser is the gateway to everything else – from desktop to mobile and everything in between that connects technology to people.  Check out Sachendra’s article here as he goes deeper into some of the other implications to other browser and mobile players in the ecosystem.   

I downloaded the browser last night on my home system and was impressed with the overall experience.

Here are a few things I really liked:

  1. URL window is ALSO a search window. Now type in what you are looking for if you don’t know the exact URL without having to open a separate search window
  2. When you open a new tab – it shows you large thumbnails of sites you’ve recently visited. 
  3. Beautiful & simple interface that optimizes screen space
  4. Bookmarks and cached sites were pulled in from firefox
  5. Download window appears nicely at the bottom
  6. Multi-threaded – meaning your browser will no longer crash or get hung up while waiting for wonky javascript

Things I didn’t like? Like firefox, my web Outlook mail does not render correctly. There doesn’t appear to be the equivalent to the Firefox IETab pluggin – but i’m sure this is coming soon.

Ironically, I had just finished pimping my firefox browser on the advice of co-workers with coComment, IETab, Delicious, Faviconize, Firebug, FireFTP, Linkwad, Live HTTP Headers, PDF Download, PicLens, ScrapBook, ScreenGrab!, SeoQuake, SnapLinks, StumbleUpon, Twitterbar, WebDeveloper, and Window Resizer. 

How soon will it be before Chrome has their own list of custom plugins? Chrome is open source – so it shouldn’t be too long before we start seeing them.

Will there be a mobile equivalent too?

Until there is a declared winner or somebody beats everybody else into submission, I’ll continue to run with Opera, Safari, Firefox, IE and Chrome for all my daily browsing needs :)

September 3, 2008   14 Comments

Location based services will really start to fly with Fire Eagle

This week Yahoo! announced that they now know where you are… well as long as you give them permission first with their new Fire Eagle location based services (LBS) platform.  

Isn’t Fire Eagle really another term for describing a phoenix… as in the rising of the Phoenix - or is that a bit too ironic… or iconic for them given everything they’ve gone through with Microsoft this year?

Marketers should be really excited about this new platform. Besides making social networking kinda creepy (as blogged here last November), it adds context and relevance to your online ads.

Adding location (aka relevance) to an online behavioural targeting program attached to a CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per action) model is an online marketer’s wet dream. 

The way Fire Eagle works is that you either tell it where you are (country, city, town, zip etc…), or give permission for GPS enabled devices to do it on your behalf.  Fire Eagle will then publish your location information to the services that you have approved – whether it be a restaurant review site or facebook. Relevant ads will follow.

The neat thing about this new service is that it is completely open to the development community with a robust API – which means you can add geo-specific information to virtually any web service you want. It could be as silly as tracking where your friends are on the way to Collingwood for that weekend getaway on a google maps mashup. It would be like getting directions then seeing where people are relevant to those directions.

Already over 50 services have adopted Fire Eagle’s platform into their own offering including Six Apart’s blogging service Movable Type, messaging platform Pownce and neighborhood news site Outside.in

Whether or not this service will compete with Apple (they have similar services on their iphone platform) or the upcoming Google Android platform or becomes a complimentary web service to the above remains to be seen.

I’m not sure people really want everybody to know where they are at all times… but fortunately you can control your own settings – even manually update location to defer people from where you actually are…. like saying your current location is your home address where you are “working from home” instead of announcing that you are actually on the golf course AGAIN on a Friday afternoon :)

August 14, 2008   2 Comments

Cuil is cool… but it’s not very social. Or Mobile.

Former Google employees launched a new search engine today called Cuil – pronounced “cool”

Stating that they index three times more sites than Google and ten times more than Microsoft, they believe their entirely new architecture and breakthrough algorithms which focus on the content and not the user is the future of search.

I think the future of search is social… and local – through mobile.

From my perspective, the future of search looks a lot more like Taptu. I posted a video blog / demo of their service here and here back in February of this year.

From a marketer’s perspective, the fact that Cuil also doesn’t track search history or behaviour means it will be difficult to match Yahoo or Google for behavioural ad serving. As of now, there is no “Ad sense” equivalent with the service – but that may change in the future once the investors ask that they monetize their fancy new search engine.

What do you think – are your search needs not being met enough today to drive you to Cuil? What do you want from your search engine?

July 28, 2008   10 Comments

Going beyond Google

How do you find or track websites, content and information?

For many people, it’s Google all the way. Some people even find typing in a website into Google easier than remembering an exact URL in the address bar. It’s certainly a testament to the simplicity and power of their user interface.

Having said that, people are going beyond Google.  Nearly 50% of my total blog traffic now comes from search engines. Here’s a list of search engines in order of traffic volume to this site:

  1. Google
  2. Google Images
  3. Windows Live
  4. Yahoo!
  5. Digg
  6. Alexa
  7. del.icio.us
  8. Stumbleupon
  9. AOL
  10. Ask
  11. Earth Link
  12. MSN Search
  13. Comet toolbar search
  14. Icerocket

Although Google still clearly rules my reference traffic – does it rule yours too?

More importantly for marketers, does your search engine marketing (SEM) and optimization (SEO) strategy include most or all of the above?

It should be noted that rates for SEM in Canada are still relatively cheap when compared to the U.S. and other mature search markets.

Combined with a good SEO strategy, you can virtually own a category in a very short period of time

The future of search? It’s social and it’s mobile. But I already referenced that here.

June 26, 2008   2 Comments

Countdown to CTIA Wireless 2008

ctia2008logo.gif I’m on my way to listen, learn, and contribute to the conversation next week in Las Vegas for the 2008 CTIA Wireless conference – the largest mobile conference in North America.

This will be my first time back since 2006 – and much has changed

I’ve signed up to follow the mobile marketing track and have made several appointments with all sorts of players in the mobile ecosystem.

Here are a few things I’m especially looking forward to this week:

  1. Alcatel’s session on 4G networks…and their after-party
  2. U.S. Spectrum announcement – we’ll find out this week who won the new spectrum that was secretly auctioned off this year. Will it be AT&T, Verizon, Google…. Somebody else?
  3. Sneak peak at the Blackberry 9000 series. We’ve seen pictures on the interweb, now let’s hope we can get a closer look
  4. Also looking for more Google phone or gphone previews
  5. The official kickoff of the “I love the mobile web” campaign which was started by Bango and inherited by the dotmobi MAG to extend the campaign out globally. Their party on Tuesday night should be fun too
  6. Examples and application examples of how 2D bar codes are being applied in America
  7. Meeting other mobile bloggers!

I’m not a gambling man, but I’m betting this week will be a hoot.

March 28, 2008   4 Comments

Microsoft + Yahoo = Micro-hoo?

As rumoured since 2006 and reported this morning by Engadget, Microsoft formally made an offer to buy Yahoo today. There is a long way to go from making an offer to actually acquiring & integrating Yahoo into Microsoft, but the concept of the two Web 1.0 companies getting together to battle the new world online order is intriguing.

The fact that Yahoo’s shares have also dropped around 15% year to date also means Microsoft probably saved around 5 billion by making an offer now.

Acquiring Yahoo is clearly a strategic play to counter the growing dominance of Google on the interweb which now includes an impressive lineup of “office” like applications available for free.  

Given Yahoo’s relative success in the mobile space and Microsoft’s investment in facebook last year, it looks like they have armed themselves for a good fight… but the question is, are they too late? 

Will the new Micro-hoo really be Micro-who before long? 

February 1, 2008   4 Comments

Yahoo set to announce biggest layoffs since the dotcom bubble burst – Social Networks are to blame

yahooA few months ago I blogged about the impact of facebook on traditional print media. 

Many promoters had stopped printing flyers and started leveraging the power of the social graph available through facebook in order to reach and promote their events.

As reported by Yahoo last week, Yahoo is poised for hundreds of layoffs this week as advertising revenue has dropped significantly. 

Social Media sites have become everything Yahoo used to be – but simpler.  And easier. And more open.

Marketers have followed consumers to popular social media sites such as Facebook and MySpace. It would appear that facebook has moved on from eating the print shop’s lunch to eating the lunch of Web 1.0 sites.

Who’s next?

January 29, 2008   14 Comments