Monday, February 12, 2007


I am so excited: Smart Communications, leading wireless telco in the Philippines (22.9M Subscribers), had launched their mobile code scanning service, named DECODE, last Saturday, Feb 10th, 2007.

What's exciting about it, is that the team at Smart did their homework on the factors that will drive consumer adoption:

  • Short learning curve: The Smart DECODE application, although robust, is unbelievably straight forward to understand and use. Moreover, Smart made sure there are guiding ads in newspapers and media

  • DECODE Distribution: Smart made DECODE easily accessible for free on WAP as well as a shortcode to download the application. But- they've taken it one step further: the code reader contains an option to invite your friends to use the application.

  • Attractive offering drives user adoption: During the campaign Smart are "giving away free content during the launch, including free polytones, mms wallpapers and logos"

  • During the launch, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid): Smart team were smart to not overload the consumers on launch with all their options. They get the code readers out there, and gradually introduce new codes with compelling use cases. Very clever.

  • REACH: Everyone has this problem, but Smart, a wireless telco, took control and managed to get DECODE on over 70 (!) of the more popular phone models. It means that in most cases, consumers can share the excitement with their friends, almost no one is left out.

  • Select the right occasion for the launch: Well, this one is a question of taste, Smart chose "LovaPalooza" to launch DECODE: "This past weekend, 6,124 kissing couples in Manila broke the world record for “Most Couples Kissing in One Event”! "

          • Control over the codes: Yup, Smart chose a proprietary code format, mCodes. They had their own reasons, but let me propose just one possible scenario (apologies in advance to QR/DM lovers out there): What if this was based on an open code, say QR. What if some punk, on the launch event, would print some malicious code (I mean, everyone can do ANYTHING with QR, right?) and spread it around Asia mall. What would be the color on the organizers faces?? If you're a telco, better watch out for that trick mate. Smart want and will allow their subscribers to create codes, "Decentralizing the power" to their subscribers. By using this code format, Smart moderate the use format of codes such that all consumers can enjoy predictable user experience, key to a service success.

          • Distribution to intended user base (quote from this blog): "Take note that you need to use your Smart cellphone to download Decode. You cannot download the application using a Globe or Sun SIM, or even your good ol' DSL connection.". OK, you think, what's the big deal, right? teclos can control who downloads what and when. But there's much more here: Smart intended for this application to be for a defined user group: their subscribers. More to come, watch this space...

          And finally, another quote from the chette Blog: "Decode proves that Smart still embraces cutting edge technology. ...If Smart plays its cards right, this technology will be a breakthrough in future mobile services."

          The team at Smart, IMHO, are smart people. Nothing they did here was an afterthought. The way they've handled it so far, they'll take it far, just like other unique, successful services they have. I applaud you!

          I wrote in an earlier post: The jury is still sitting in court (talking about eagerness to see code scanning campaigns consumer feedback). Well, in this case, the jury is slowly leaving the room. I can't wait to hear what they have to say!

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