Friday, January 18, 2008

The battle over the idle screen

I've already made a post on the combination of your favorite feed on your idle screen. Several startups are looking at "non-intrusive" ads on the idle screen:
Celltick’s LiveScreen ‘bypassing operators’ with direct to consumer mobile ads.
what does that do the consumer I'm not sure, to see floating ads on your idle screen. Big yawn me thinks, and rightfully the Ewan writes "I’ve had more than a decade’s worth of experience of dismissing my phone’s standby screen whenever I want to ‘do’ something on it."
BTW, check out Cellogic, who are also in a similar space.

But what if...what if that idle screen had your favorite RSS feed, a mobile version of Google Reader, Facebook feed, including presence/location/mood updates from your contacts in your integrated address book?
There are enough kids out there burning idle time on various occasions between music (hum...publish a playlist from your phone...), games and much more. they would love the trigger from their friends through their social communities on the idle screen.

I think the idle screen is uncharted landscape that will go far. Far beyond advertising for sure.

Mobile Music sideload: Don't fight it, power it

A couple of interesting mobile music snippets:
Brings some thoughts around the fixation of targeting direct OTA content downloads. The mobile gaming industry is seeking ways to work with users, not against them. The spread of piracy these days just shows that something's wrong in the way content is handled. Sideloading is something that will eventually increase sales and will enable more viral spreading and recommendations for content. It should be encouraged through social community gadgets etc. All channels should be used: direct OTA, dual download, sideload etc.

Good space to be in: remote handset testing

Every content and game provider knows how frustrating, difficult, cost and efforts consuming it is to deal with every different phone. I've already blogged on how similar J2ME or windows mobile phone is in reality very different, to the degree that if one is interested to ensure an acceptable user experience, they need to hold the phone in their hands.

Well some people aren't sitting on their hands. Device Anywhere from Mobile complete provides a good service that allows people to access various phones on specific networks. The phones seem to be physically in the country you need testing at. in fact, seems like a number of vendors partnered with mobile complete to provide a developer-friendly service. limited devices and network but great and economic service. (Sadly, the locations aren't always ideal in terms of network coverage: hey Mobile complete check your T-Mobile UK coverage!).
Mobile Distillery is also providing a similar service, and I believe so does Nexperience.

Steve Jobs in 60 seconds

cool. check it out

Fantastic article on the state of music today by David Byrne

Check out David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars. Excellent reading on state of affairs in the music space.
Combine that with the recent Yankee group study "US mobile music worth 1 billion in 2012" and the prediction that increasingly artist will strive to keep more revenue shares by selling directly to consumers.

Beautiful...and worrying

6 months ago, as I was in the middle of developing a leading mobile code architecture (or so I thought), I heard that Scanbuy won the US cross carrier code scanning trial agreed by all 4 carriers. Mix of good and bad news really, wasn't happy they won it, but that meant the market was moving and there will be place for many to play. Specifically, if indeed all carriers stood behind the trial, it would imply interoperability, which is key to this whole ecosystem.
The trial beginning was scheduled to Jan '08 (oh, what time is it?!).

So today I came once again across The pondering primate post who has a link to Sprint's pleasantly surprising and beautifully made page on 2D barcodes for phones, PhoneIQ. beautiful, I really like it. good explanation on what it is, what phones its on (yup, looks like Sprint will preload the app on their leading phones which is great) etc. Maybe a bit on the techy side but that's alright. that's very good use for the VC money Scanbuy got, it will get them far.

The bit that worries me is that:
  • I'm not seeing any PR around it (Found the link in The pondering primate), but I'll confess to not doing much search
  • This page is well hidden in Sprint's web portal
  • I'm not seeing other operators pushing it

This correlates well with a discussion we had with another operator around mid last year who knew very little about this "cross carrier" trial.

The bottom line here is that I'm worried about how wide this trial will be, and how interoperable, widely marketed and recognized will the solution be. Will it be as common as SMS, or will it be as hesitant and partial service like UMA in the US?
They did a good job with Sprint, I'd like to see the same happening elsewhere.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mobile Code Scanning taking off

A few recent trips to UK (IMO Mecca for mobile) revealed advanced mobile code scanning applications and takeup in digital and printed media.
Two interesting stories publishing today on code scanning:

Here's a nice article on the Sun using QR codes to promote video content: "New Sun service merges print with mobile video". (Thanks Antony for posting in FB)

The second piece comes from the pondering primate, covering ScanBuy good progress on establishing patents and interoperable infrastructure for mobile code scanning system in the US: "ScanBuy Gets New Mobile Bar Code Patents As Sprint Adopts Their ScanLife Platform".

It's all coming together now, hopefully it will indeed remove the usability gaps in typing a URL, and bring mountains of applications, services, content and $$ to the mobile scene.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

US Mobile Music Worth $1 Billion In 2012: Report

"Digital music in the United States will increase from $1.98 billion in 2007 to $5.34 billion in 2012 according to the Yankee Group, but mobile will only account for 20 percent of that, or $1.068 billion. Overall this will not replace lost CD revenue, but Yankee avoids the mistake of saying that the “music industry” is in trouble—it’s actually the record labels which are in trouble, and the analysts predicts that artists will increasingly keep the lion’s share of music revenues by selling directly to the consumer. In terms of handsets, Yankee predicts that by 2012 there will be 266 million music-capable handsets in the US, but only 9 percent of mobile users will actively use their handset as a portable music player. Mind you, I would like to see what percentage of the population actively use a portable media player of any type…"

My first reaction to this was big yawn. Seen enough 5 years ahead reports on almost obvious stuff. Yes, everyone's about music in some level, yes there is high integration to mobile phones, duh.

The report is very relevant around "direct to consumer" and that the record labels are in trouble. People begin to realize how many middle men are between the content creator and the consumer. Rightfully, they want those removed, or reduced.
In the wireless world, operators have been great at providing better than ever technology and throughput. They brought the mobile web to phones. Device vendors are making unbelievable web & Multimedia phones. Which brought both to struggle whether they are technology vendors or want to go into the content business.
The answer is that the wireless content business is best managed by content aggregators on behalf of people like the labels and artists. You can distribute content directly from the web today. Reduce operation cost by one deployment fits all. Everyone, the operators, the vendors and the content owners all get a piece of the cake. further, subscribers get ubiquitous, optimized experience, sometime cheaper.
It's a no-brainer. Some UK operators get it, some in the US. It's just a question of time until everyone will get it.

Mogility: Mobile Social Networks for the Common Good

Mogility: Mobile Social Networks for the Common Good
Recently I had the pleasure of getting together with Jothy Rosenberg (nope, not a relative), a legend himself, and Chairman and CTO of Mogility.

The product, LocalEyes™ is a compelling new take on community generated mobile alerts on public safety events. " It helps to build mobile social networks for the common good". After Katrina and other horrific recent events, this is becoming very relevant:

"The key is a simple applet called a Gizmo™ that is downloaded and run on a mobile phone. Mogility's patent-pending agile mobile application framework makes it easy for anyone to create, modify, and deploy Gizmos. Gizmos are transmitted over standard data plans or as SMS text messages making them work broadly across handsets and carriers."

The key message here is that everyone can report an event that would be relevant to their surrounding, and that message would immediately be shared across many mobile users using ubiquitous distribution mechanisms.

In terms of go-to market, seems like the first customer is the City of Annapolis. When considering technologies, cities are well positioned in that they can easily deploy masses of Nextel devices to their police/fire/... departments. Also if Mogility went to the enterprise department of any carrier, they would love to drive handset and account sales through this application. But that, IMO, is where the buck stops in the US, for now. reaching the mass public will require approval from operators, especially the CDMA ones, and mass effort in fitting the application on every handset.
Beyond that I think Mogility will do well overseas. Where handsets and networks are open. And there are, sadly, enough countries where the need for such applications is real.

Check out the video below; Jothy gives good coverage of the company, market and product. Good luck guys.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Couple of thoughts on mobile triggers

Thinking mobile presence, facebook and the home screen
In the past I've made quite a few posts about mobile address-book integrated presence application. An application that would show the presence status of your contacts, from your address book or from any of your online communities. Specifically, that presence application would show the change in the contact's status, which hopefully, would trigger an action: if someone comes online you may want to call or IM them. If someone goes offline you won't call them but send an email etc. Obviously this presence application would have a couple more gems like location awareness, so you know you and your friend are now in the same city and can grab a beer tonight, it could have mood etc.

But the more I think about it, I'm pretty much describing the facebook mini feed! It's not so much about the current presence of your friends as much as the change in their status that is interesting. Like facebook, you may want to explore the same applications or groups they do, post messages, videos etc., make a call, send an email etc.

The other thought that came to mind is that ideally this application would run as a background application and would populate the idle, and home screen of one's mobile phone. Combined with advertising. Obviously phones need to have multi task support but Symbian, windows mobile and Blackberry already have that last time I checked.

What else: twitter updates, blog feeds, location and travel (like Dopplr), it's all there. content (music, videos) sharing and recommendations. Yelp, etc. the sky is the limit.

Imagine the phone enabling the wealth of all facebook applications in the idle screen. Let the community work for you. If you know the approach uLocate took in their location-aware application suite 'Where', which is location specific, it is similar.

If I had the energy, that's the startup I would build.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Trolleys allowed in Heathrow

Following an earlier post on one-piece allowed in Heathrow, BA just announced today that people can board again with two pieces:

"I am delighted to advise you that following an announcement by the UK Department for Transport, we will re-introduce our two-piece cabin bag allowance at London Heathrow, London City, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester airports with effect from 7 January 2008. "

Till next panic...

Friday, January 4, 2008

Beautiful: 5min Receives $5 Million in Series A Financing from Spark Capital

5min get series A funding from Spark CapitalI'm so happy to see that 5min got their series A funding. This is very exciting. A great startup with a really innovative idea to facilitate community 'how to' videos. this, to me, is exactly web 2.0. It's a bit disappointing that they're not saying anything about it in their Blog.

Their product is really well equipped to motivate video creation and uploading as well as repost the videos pretty much everywhere. Alongside with the almost-given community commenting/rating/...
You can send the video to your mobile via SMS (Free?) however I've not seen a mobile site or client where you can search content directly or maybe upload. I've not spent too much time searching I'll admit. I'm sure mobile's high on their radar, maybe not made it to the top just yet.

I was looking at them back when I was dealing with mobile code scanning, I was thinking about direct launch of a video from your mobile phone. Imagine you get home with an Ikea piece of furniture and there's a little code that launches the assembly video instructions on your cell (why on your cell? because your PC may not be next to you).

Anyway highly interesting innovative idea that's been picked up by Spark Capital. Good on Spark and congrats 5min team. Does that mean you'll spend more time in Boston? :-)

Here's a nice one: Cool Juggling Tricks with Devil Sticks. Enjoy!