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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

iphone sales top blackberry… but here comes the gphone

Although it’s impressive that the iphone outsold the blackberry and it’s also impressive that the gphone has 1.5 million pre-orders, keep the following in mind:

  1. RIM has not been able to launch the Blackberry BOLD in the U.S. (the largest market for them) due to issues AT&T has been having with certifying it. If the BOLD had been on sale the last few months as expected, the numbers would look very different
  2. RIM is releasing a few new consumer driven devices over the next two months including the new clam-shell pearl, a curve with push to talk, and the thunder – RIM’s touch screen version meant to compete with iphone head-on
  3. Don’t confuse pre-orders by a carrier with sales to consumers. They’re very different… and most initial reports on the gphone say it’s no iphone killer as it’s heavier, clunkier and the interface is nothing new or innovative. No word yet on who will be the first carrier in Canada to carry it either.

2009 is shaping up to be the year of the smartphone as all the major players are releasing “iphone killers” and you can expect Apple to have a few surprises of their own. More competition and choice can only mean good things for consumers. 

October 26, 2008   No Comments

@CTIA Day 1 – Exploring mobile web strategies

CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment is dubbed the largest technology event in the mobile industry covering all aspects of wireless data. It’s actually a smaller event than their annual wireless conference in Las Vegas every spring, but the focus at this show is actually more relevant to the mobile marketer. 

The show officially starts today; however, I arrived Monday night in order to participate in a pre-show event called exploring mobile web strategies. The event was organized and moderated by Ajit Jaoker from futuretext.com who did a fantastic job of pulling in some heavy hitters in the mobile space for presentations and panels. 

I took 9 pages of notes – much of which I’ll share on this blog over the coming week as seperate entries…although if you’ve been following me on Twitter you’ve already gotten a preview of what is to come.  Topics that really caught my attention were: 

  • Understanding and enticing the mobile user by Carol Taylor (Director of User Experience at Motricity)
  • Mobile personas and segmentation by Pankaj Asundi (VP Media and content at Ericsson)
  • Panel discussion around mobile social networks with senior representation from myGamma, mocospace, itsmy, mig33 and intercasting corp. This was probably the highlight of the day for me and will warrant it’s own entry with perspective
  • Monetizing digital communities by Jouko Ahvenainen (Chief Strategy Officer of Xtract)
  • Panel discussion around driving mobile web adoption with representation from Openware, Vantrix, Skyfire, Greystripe and Admob
  • Panel discussion around mobile advertising – today and tomorrow with representation from Ericsson, Yahoo!, Admob and Nokia
  • Designing for mobile by Barbara Ballard (CEO Little Springs Design)
  • Mobile search – present and future by Bena Roberts (President, Visibility mobile) and Michael “Luni” Libes (Chief Architect of Medio Systems) – who I ended meeting later that night at the Moco mixer party

Overall it was a great start to the week. I’ve got a full day of meetings and sessions planned today and will likely be taking more notes for future posts. I’ve also brought along my video camera – so you can expect to see some video blog entries similar to what I posted at GSM and CTIA in Mach. 

I’m also still adjusting to left coast time. Speaking of which, it’s time for another coffee :)

September 10, 2008   4 Comments

Apple gets it mostly right with the new 3G iphone which is good news for mobile marketers

Finally the wait is over.

Your new iphone is coming July 11th and it’s twice as fast as the one you bought in Buffalo a year ago and half the price – making this a device made for the masses.

It’s also coming with pretty much everything we were hoping for. My predictions were mostly right – 7.5 out of 9. The .5 was for saying the new phone would look different… I guessed that the new battery for 3G would make it a thicker device and we now know it will be thinner!

Some are disappointed that the new iphone isn’t coming with a front facing camera (for video chat), or a flash – or even a better camera. Nokia has a 5 meg camera with the N95… couldn’t we at least have a 3 meg camera?

Mobileme is a new feature that looks really interesting. Similar to other services i’ve seen such as SugarSync, Mobile me essentially allows you to synchronize your email, contacts, calendar and documents across multiple computers and your iphone. It also comes with push email – so like the blackberry, you will be instantly notified when email comes in. You even get your own login at me.com (I wonder how much they paid for that domain!) where you can access all your info through a web interface – much like MS Exchange today if you are on a corporate infrastructure.

Besides the business / enterprise updates, there wasn’t much to get excited about on the software front – but that’s ok. The official and non-official developer communities will fill in any missing pieces like they did with the first generation phone.

Having said that, it’s very cool that loopt is now part of the iphone 2.0 platform. Loopt is a mobile social networking platform that incorporates location. I blogged about this months ago here when i said the future of social networking is creepy. At the time i was more jazzed about a similar product from Alcatel called geopepper.

What is interesting is that Steve Jobs used the Treo 750 and Nokia N95 as comparison devices for loading webpages. It’s interesting because he didn’t mention 2 new products that will challenge Apple for downloading speed; the new blackberry bold and thunder (expected to be out this fall) as well as the new Nokia N96 which is a faster & updated version of the N95.

The new iphone, or iphone 2.0 or 3G iphone is a huge leap forward from the first version released over a year ago, but it’s still not the mostly technically advanced or sophisticated when compared to devices that are already on the market.

Having said that, who cares.

It’s not about the technology, it’s about the experience. Like I’ve said before, a great user experience will trump great technology and Apple has improved on something that was already pretty super awesome.

Why is that good news for Marketers?

Consider this… 98 percent of iphone users are browsing online, 94 percent are using email and 90 percent are texting. Approximately 80 percent are using 10 or more of the phone’s features.

For marketers who think mobile marketing is only about text 2 win campaigns, the introduction of the iphone and other competing products this year will make the mobile device a rich environment to acquire, retain, or grow customers beyond the 100,000 or so iphones that already migrated here in the last year.

June 10, 2008   15 Comments

Social Media is ruling the mobile web

opera mobile web browserWe knew this was coming… but results from a new report from Opera, a Norway-based mobile browsing company even surprised me!

According to the report, 40% of global mobile web traffic starts with popular social-networking sites such as MySpace, hi-5 and facebook

That number grows to 60% when you look at U.S. numbers – which is not surprising as Americans tend to spend more time on the mobile web relative to SMS than other markets. No Canadian specific data was published in the report.

It will be interesting to see how mobile-first social networking site and utilities will impact this number in the next 12 months.

Other mobile social media sites to watch are:

Interesting enough, Nokia’s own mobile social media site (mosh) did not make the top 10 most visited on any of the countries reported in detail within the report. I guess owning ~40% of the global handset market does not guarantee software or mindshare dominance.

You can read the full report here.

May 28, 2008   1 Comment

Nokia changes their social networking strategy with potential facebook deal

nokia buying into facebook?As reported in mocoNews.net, Nokia is in talks with facebook to both port their platform to Nokia and to potentially buy a share. With around 40% of the world hand set market, Nokia could significantly increase facebook’s exposure in Europe.

This proves that just because you build it, it doesn’t mean they will come.

Partnering with facebook to get their mobile platform on every Nokia device could mean their own mobile social network Mosh will never make it out of beta as it has not been successful in capturing significant mind share. This follows another mobile social networking flop from 2007 – the Sprite yellow yard.

Looking at the failure of mobile-centric social networks just re-enforces my point of view that mobile can’t be treated as a stand-alone channel. It’s a natural extension of interactive (web & email) and works best when supported by a multi-channel marketing plan.

This will almost certainly remain true until the mobile web catches up to the “desktop” web in terms of consumer usage and adoption.

January 21, 2008   2 Comments

Ten 2008 Mobile Predictions

new year predictionsIt’s a silly excercise, but everybody does it.  After a banner year for mobile in Canada, here are 10 outrageous predictions for 2008:  

  1. SMS third-party advertising – every SMS you send is 150 characters…most of which is sent as blank space. I predict new services will take advantage of this in 2008 to deliver SMS advertising to off-set mobile costs for the consumer (but only if they opt-in of course)
  2. Mobile Web advertising will take a piece of your media buy. We’ve seen it happen with online media…now with more inventory becoming available off-deck, the time is right to test and pilot this channel
  3. MMS Common Short Codes will finally arrive and usher us into a new era in Mobile marketing in Canada….or at least catch us up to the rest of the world.
  4. Mobile payments (m-Commerce) will start to emerge from text books, blogs, and sales pitches.  Look for pilots from Interac, Visa and at least one of the major banks next year.
  5. The iphone will finally arrive in Canada – but it will be the second generation 3G phone that will support higher internet access speeds and cool features like video calling. This will be offered exclusively on the Rogers network – but don’t be surprised if another non-mobile retailer offers them for sale first
  6. Fixed or low-cost data plans will be universal across all carriers in Canada. It’s already started with Bell and Rogers now offers an $80 / month plan for 500 megs of data – plenty for most of us. It’s still a long way from other plans around the world that are 4 times cheaper or better, but it’s a start
  7. Due to fixed or low-cost data plans, look for the mobile web to catch fire.  Marketing campaigns will start incorporating mobile web strategies as part of their marketing mix
  8. A new mobile carrier will be announced. The Canadian government announced the opening of new spectrum and is reserving a piece of it for a new player and with special engagement rules that will make it easier for a new competitor to enter the market.
  9. Google will continue its charge towards world mobile domination. Look for their gphone sometime in the 3rd quarter and look for them to either bid on spectrum in the U.S., buy a carrier like Sprint outright to own a piece without having to go through the auction process or leverage their new mobile platform called Android to get direct access to many subscribers across many carriers.
  10. Social Networking will make the leap from desktop to Mobile as a primary interface / access point 

Even if only a few of these come to fruition in 2008, it will be a great year for Marketers and a great year for Consumers.

Happy Holidays!

December 25, 2007   9 Comments

Microsoft joins the mobile advertisting party

In the past few months we’ve been watching as Google, AOL, Yahoo, and Nokia have been making moves to extend or enter the mobile advertisting space.

Microsoft has decided to also join the party and has started placing ads on their U.S. MSN mobile page to follow efforts already made in Belgium, France, Spain, Japan, and the U.K.

The Bank of America will be one of the primary buyers of ad space – supporting their innovative mobile banking website and experience at bankofamerica.mobi. Paramount Pictures and Jaguar are the other two primary buyers.

Microsoft also plans to bring new features such as astrology, movie tickets through movietickes.com, ringtones, wallpaper, games and video clips on MSN Mobile via an agreement Microsoft has with Thumbplay.

Although Microsoft is late to the game, the mobile advertising space is still young and relatively small.  This is not like the nineties when Microsoft had to catch and kill Netscape who already dominated the browser market.  

December 12, 2007   No Comments

Google vs. Nokia – the next cold war?

coldwar.jpgThe announcement of Google buying Jaiku is making waves in the industry. Imran Ali at Mobile Messaging 2.0 is calling it the most significant acquisition ever by Google. I’m calling it the continuation of a cold war arms race between Nokia and Google for world domination. Well World Mobile domination (the new WMD?) anyway.

From the East (or near-East… or near-near-East) there is Nokia. They are already world leaders in the mobile device space and have a neat mobile social network called MOSH. With their acquisition of Enpocket they now have a best in class mobile ad-delivery platform. With their acquisition of NAVTEQ they now have a best in class GPS-based mapping system to compete in the location based services (LBS) space.  With the Gartner Group forecasting that GPS based handsets will grow to around 40% by 2011 from 13% in 2007, clearly GPS or LBS could become the next killer mobile application. With all these acquisitions in the social networking / content space, Nokia is starting to look a lot like Google… 

From the West we have Google. They own search world wide and have become a massive advertising power with their Google AdWords platform…. a platform that is now being offered for free for mobile for a limited time.  Some have speculated that a mobile AdWords platform could subsidize carrier costs for the eventual release of a Google phone into the marketplace. Imagine a 3G phone loaded with Google widgets that costs little to nothing for the consumer. The g-phone could be an i-phone killer… or anything Nokia killer.

World Map of Social NetworkingCombine the Google acquisition of Jaiku with the other recent announcement that Google also purchased Zingku – a mobile social utility tool that is web and SMS based and we have the makings of a mobile social networking platform that will rival all others.  Consider that Google already has a great installed base with Orkut (which is more popular than facebook in some parts of the world), it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’ll be playing in the mobile social networking space very soon. With all these acquisitions and developments, Google is starting to look a lot like Nokia…

Who will win this cold war…or will one buy the other eventually? One thing is for sure, following the mobile space is going to be very interesting over the next 18 months!

UPDATE 10/11: Nokia is also going into mobile search – check out this article on mobile semantic search!

October 10, 2007   19 Comments

Identity 2.0 – where does it begin?

Nokia’s MOSH social network for mobileRecently I’ve come across discussions around the future of online identity – specifically around the idea of creating a global or universal ID badge / profile etc… that you can reference or link to when you need to. Instead of filling out multiple profile forms for every social network you register for or instead of creating multiple online avatars for your favourite metaverse, why not have one global digital identity mechanism….kind of like having a passport or driver’s license that will be recognized across the web as authentic ID.

Today we can identify visitors through the tracking of their I.P. address and /or through cookies…but the problem is that it’s nearly impossible to track people as they switch computers or restart their machine (assuming dynamic IP addressing is turned on).

Check out the video by Dick Hardt. The video really brings to life the idea of “identity 2.0″ and offers some insight into where or how this will evolve on the web. You should also check out Mitch’s blog entry on global avatars and Mike Kujawski’s article on the importance of branding yourself as an authority online.

In the mobile space we use phone numbers instead of I.P. addresses as an identifier. With people changing their phone numbers less fequently then they would change computers, leveraging your mobile number as your access key to a global digital avatar is an interesting concept to explore.

Recent efforts by Sprite and Nokia’s (with MOSH) to create mobile social communities could mark the beginning of the mobile device becoming the primary digital interface…and therefore a potential leverage point for those seeking the holy grail of identity 2.0.

August 28, 2007   5 Comments