Monday, December 18, 2006

So tell me again just why you think non voice is the way forward!

The Times has a report of an IT Specialist who managed to burn his way through £950 in just four days thanks to watching Mobile TV for just two hours on his 3G handset. These two quotes just go to show why I fear that convergence is just a Marketing teams pipe dream.

"Our technology has run away from our tariffs and we are taking action,"
said a spokesman from O2!

"There are about 7m 3G phone users in Britain according to, an online retailer, but only 10% have tariffs allowing for unlimited downloads."

Latest development on Google phone.

The Observer ran a piece on how Google and Orange could soon be getting together to launch a new handset that is based on Google software within an Orange Smartphone. Now the idea is that you will be able to search the web wherever you are!

But guys, I can already do that today on my Orange handset thanks to Opera Mini. What makes Orange think that working with Google they can make it any easier. It is not the case with T-Mobile's Web'n'Walk solution that I have on another phone. In fact it is so poor that I bye pass it and use Opera Mini.

If I was advising Orange I am affraid that I would have to say if you want to get back to the good old days with the Brand invest in Customer Service! What the networks need to do is work on get the number of minutes of use up befoe thinking that they can grab back losed revenues from getting us to surf the web on our mobiles.

Last week I conducted a little experiment with everyone I saw using the same handset as mine. Most of them had the handset for less than two months, none of them were using any data services as they saw them as too expensive. When I asked why the had selected the handset all said because it had a great camera. Asked what they did with the photos they took all said that they stayed on the handset as they were yet to work out the best way to transfer them, but they were not going to use the networks email or mms based solutions as they were too expensive. One did say that her son had uploaded a few picutures to ebay and that they were impressed at the quality.

No if this not very scientific study showed that a number of professionals were happy to have the technology but were not using the technology as they saw it as a rip off then any plan that involves getting people to use data services is flawed. I think that if I were running a mobile network the first thing I would seek to do is build trust with my customers then once they saw thet I was not about to rip them off start to rollout non voice based services. Telling the press and analysts that you have a compelling data service that has done well in trials might be good for short term PR but it does not put money in the bank!

On another note when your brand is tarnished don't expect that you can benefit from the glow of the new Brand darling all that it will do is show how dim your star has become. FT are better off fixing the problems within Orange than looking at how they can make money from getting its customers to watch adverts on their phones.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This year I want....

Dear CEO of my Mobile Network,

It has been a great year and I have bene a very good boy. I have stayed loyal to you and when I did upgrade my handset I did so direct rather than accept the wonderful offers from the Upgrade Centre.

So can I ask for just a few things at this time of year?

Firstly I will like you to spend some of your budget on improving the network coverage for you 3G service. I am starting to get upset by the fact that those around me with the same handset get a better signal on their network when I have no coverage. What is the solution? Could it be that you share basestations in order to overcome planning permission issues. I would be happy to place a pico cell on to my broadband connection at home if that means that my phone works at home and if others want to take advantage for the improved coverage that's fine by me!

Next can I ask that you look at Customer Service within your business, the fact that when I have had to call I end up having to send your EA an email in order to get something makes me think that you are more interested in dumb customers than high spending individuals. When I joined your network you had a reputation for excellent customer service but over the last few years you seem to have given up. Perhaps it is time to once engage engage with those of us that have taken out a contract with you. I am sure that the money invested in changing a few process will pay dividends when it comes to ARPU and if we the customer are spending more you will not have to engage in a cost cutting program.

Finally can you stop trying to control my content when it comes to mobile data? Standing in one of your stores a few months ago the hip geek said that he would install Opera Mini on my device so that I could use my handset just as I do my laptop. I use another software add on so that I can once again send the high quality pictures on my phone to my blog; something that SE thought I would do as I have a 3G handset but you decided to remove when you customised the OS.

What chance that my wishes will come true?

Well lets just say that as I am fat enough to play Santa and in a few more years all the hair on my head will be Grey and so I know the truth about how my three girls get all they ask for on Christmas day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Operators Unite To Build New Mobile Market

Today a GSM Association Press Release tells us that 40% of the Mobile Networks have come together to work on NFC as the solution for Mobile Payments alongside the Equipment manufacturers. My first reaction was NOOOOOOOOOOOO. What about the fact that the last time we saw Mobile Networks work on an interoperable standard we got the failure to launch service that was SIMPAY!

A few shots of coffee later, and I have become a little calmer. This is something under the remit of the trade association and at the moment they are just looking at standards to make the service work. One of the key goals is to build on a secure billing and identity relations that operators have with their customers through the SIM card. I guess this is going to be one of the hardest elements to crack in the development of standards as the system will have to work with the complex relationships between a number of software platforms.

Just hope that Vodafone will see the service for something other than Mobile Ticketing as it has already done in Germany with RMV earlier this year.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Carnival of the Mobilists 53 is Out

This week it is the turn Of C Enrique Ortiz to edit the Carnival, and he has been kind enough to include my post last week about MobIle Monday's 1st birthday in London. I wonder if this means that I might get some answers to what is Voice2.0?

Anyway click on the title and go and read some of the best writing on mobile on the web over the last seven days.

Thursday, November 09, 2006 Kenya: Safaricom to Revolutionise Microfinance

Vodafone Kenya has joined the money transfer trend in M-Payments. The Mobile payment solutions in South Africa and the Philipines see the majority of large payments being made at the expense of Western Union.

I wonder if we will see the same increase in banking uptake as Standard Bank has seen in South Africa. The Economist reported that the launch of payments by MTN has seen over 700,000 people have joined the banking system. It will be interesting to see if once again it will be the mobile phone that extends the middle class in the emerging markets.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

MoMo London is One year old

Last night I attended my fourth MoMo London event, it was also the groups first birthday and one of the three previous I had attended was the launch at Vodafone's offices last November.

Over the last year via MoMo I have made a number of new contacts as well as refreshed a number of others made from the dot com boom days at the turn of the century when I was active in Digital People. Interestingly the quality of MoMo is higher than a number of networks, in that a number of senior industry players attend not just to speak but also to listen, for which great qudos has to go to the band of five behind the group.

Last night we had a number of presentations from Bloggers some I knew and others I had only read thanks to Carnival of the Mobilists etc. All had something of interest to say to lesser or greater extents, but guys why do you need to use powerpoint? The last speak was Paul Goode from m:metrics who had a ton of interesting nuggets gained from the companies research. The soundbite from the night for me is that the average balance on a prepaid phone is less than £4, this goes someway to show just why mobile data services are slow to launch. I guess we can put those plans for mobile2.0 back in the draw for a few more years if thats what we are wishing to retire on.

They question I would have liked to ask but did not get the opportunity to was this, Should we not forget that what we have in our hands is a telephone and as such what will VOICE2.0 look like?

Looking forward to attending some of the events for 2007. Have to say that Shannon Maher and his team at Google London did yet another excellent job in hosting, its just a shame that someone from Orange/T-Mobile/O2/Nokia/Ericsson/Qualcomm does not have the ability to throw open the doors the way he has twice in the last year!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mobile banking in South Africa

The Economist has a feature on how Mobile's have ment that most South Africans now have bank accounts. In just over a year 500,000 people have signed up for a Bank Account. These people are not the traditional middle class who were enfranchised this is the half of the population who do not have a bank account.

My observation is that with more and more people now using mobiles for banking when are we going to see a useable service on our handsets here in Western Europe? M-Pay has to be about more than just buying content off a portal. When will Orange let me pay for my film tickets rather than send me a voucher to get a second ticket for free?

Carphone told it must change to stay on top!

The Sunday Times Business Section has a detailed article on how Vodafone's cancellation of its contract might be good for the retailer. Having interviewed a number of "senior executives" Paul Durman has done a good job in analyzing the fact that CPW's success has come at the expense of friction with their suppliers, its just a shame that he seems unable to get anyone to go on the record.

I surpass the question is will Charles Dunstone understand that the last 17 years worth of success has been a result of the fact that his customers have been the mobile networks rather than the "punters" who walk into one of his 700+ stores? Or will he be able to find others desperate to take over the Vodafone contracts on his customer database as they become available at the end of the 12 month contract terms?

The article out lines that Virgin Mobile are "keen" on getting their hands on Vodafone's former contract customers. I wonder if the Vodafone customers are keen to experience the "customer" service of NTL?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chiltern Railways trials SMS mobile phone tickets - Retail

Chiltern Railways have started a trial of e-ticketing sent to passengers' mobiles. I hope to be able to try this service over the next few weeks as Chiltern Railways provide the trains that run almost to time when I have to go into London rather than LUs' Met Line.

The only issue seems to be that you pirchase the tick online, but I guess phase two might allow M-Payment. Then again looking how expensive a train ticket is my ARPU figures would go through the roof if Orange were to allow me to pay via my contract.

Watch this space I'll post an update when I have tested the system.

Operators must cut costs!!!!!!

Mark Newman justifies his Thought Leader title over at Informa Group. With a well argued feature on what were the drivers behind the Vodafone CPW split.

He states that the issue in a market in which everyone who wants a phone has one is churn and the high cost of SACs. Over the last few months conversations with other Consultants has shown that the networks are currently running at SACs of €6 billion in the larger markets in Europe BEFORE advertising. Hence the networks current efforts to get as many as possible onto a contract at that contract to last as long as possible.

The new mantra is CLV when it comes to judging the value of a customer. It is no longer about my ARPU or MOU as with margins falling these metrics are not likely to give a network a view on my value.

The issue that I have with the cost reduction strategy currently in play. What will hold back the drive to cut costs is that fact that Vodafone is a twenty plus year old business and as such has a vast legacy system. It is this legacy anchor that is stopping networks moving forward.

What stopped O2 from following the others leaders in the UK towards the adoption of 3G services? It was not the fact that the Executive did not have a desire to jump into broadband wireless services. It's the fact that its billing system is a basket case and as such its has forced the Executives to manage the assets better than rivals!

I am sure that Vodafone has the same issues when it comes to legacy systems holding back the delivery of services that might just cause customers to increase spending.

With Orange and T-Mobile the businesses are only teenagers but as a parent I know too well what that means in terms of growing pains.

So my question to those working in the Networks is this, what are you going to do to remove the issue of legacy systems? In talking to some of the brighter guys, the issue does not seem to be IMS because that will take too long to come to market but rather SDP. The Network at present with the benchmark for SDP seems to be TurkCell who have something that a large number of others can only wish for when it comes to a blackbox that makes all the new and old stuff work.

For the rest out there I guess what the CEO needs to start talking about at investor presentations is the need to resolve the "legacy anchor" with a Y2K type approach that says we have to stop rushing forward to new technology and do some housekeeping if we are to become more than just a dumb pipe because if we keep going on at this rate thats all we will be able to do. Now which of the Networks has a CEO brave enough to tell the truth?

Why MMS is struggling worldwide

i-mode Business Strategy asks why has MMS failed to take off. The post has a few things that ring true with me and my experiences with my K800i and Orange.

The issue is if I sellect a handset that is aimed at heavy photo users what makes the network think I am going to cut them down just to send them to people who cannot open the file and if they do its two small to see.

If you look at what happened in the days when photography was done on film rather than digital. The user took paper copies of the photos and passed them around friends over a coffee. Now how does a mobile network think that MMS replicates such a service?

I guess that MMS might start to take off if what you are sharring is video. In this week when the kids are on half term holidays from school I am getting short films from them sent via wifi shot with my Nokia N93. This is a time shift service that allows me to be in two places at once. The success of YouTube has shown that others also see the point of sharing video. Who knows as the mobile networks get more people with 3G handsets they might just manage to relaunch MMS as they have managed to turn round the poor perception of mobile data services over the last few years.

However I think that none of these services will take off until you see data bundles sold as part of the main contract. E-Mail also needs to be rolled out in a similar manner to that which we see from Vodafone in Spain using Visto as the tool that gets the users to experience the data services.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Now you can go shopping with your mobile phone

The Guardian technology section has this story on how soon I will be able to replace my Oyster card with a new mobile phone.

The writter does not ask if the solution will work across all the Mobile Networks or will I have to hope that Orange as the only "London" based operator wins the contract?

Last year I met with a Chinese firm that had technology that was being used in China it hoped would be of interest to TfL and the operators. So it might after some 18 months now being set up for a trial.

Some of the handset guys are starting to talk about NFC in something more than roadmap terms, which means that they see a market for this. Google says that one of the lead projects for its mobile service is the integration of checkout solutions in an attempt to make shopping easier on your phone.

Just wonder if the network get how/why payments are important. The failure to launch SIMPAY, the small size of the M-Payments market compared to e-commerce both make me think that it will be the operators that are the major block on this. For the last two years I have worked with a number of people in the payments industry who were/are looking for mobile adoption. Most of them have become less interested in the area in terms of developed economies thanks to the Mobile Networks not wishing to enter the payments market.

I guess we will have to see what happens when the mobile replaces the credit card in terms of micro payments. at worse it might just speed up the que at Starbucks if the retail banks are happy to allow such services.

Goobile tells us about ASK's new service

Over the last few weeks I have stood at mobile events and listend to Google's view on the Mobile Search market. Whilst some of what Google was happy to reveal in "lifting its skirt" has meant I want to ask for more detail, which they are not prepared to do.

In catching up on blogs today I saw Walter Adamson's post on what ASK is doing to make mobile serch work. What looks like something that works well on a small screen and provides fast results gets my vote. Only question is that it's at present an American solution, how soon before it causes problems for Google and Nokia in the mobile search world in Europe?

I guess what ASK are experiencing is the fact that the brand does not necessarily lead consumers to think that they are innovators in the search space and so only look at the site after bigger brands have failed. This is all well and good in the fixed space, but when you are mobile your ability to refine and test serch requests is very short, especially when its raining and you are standing in the street!

Another VoIP hype story

TheIndependent has a small article on fring's mobile VoIP service. I guess Nic Fildes like myself was at the Symbian Smartphone show at the start of the week and thought that this was the best PR spin he had all week.

Having worked for a few mobile VoIP start-ups I have to say that what stops most is that the Mobile Networks are finding way to offer ever increasing bundels which mean that you no longer need to find a way to cut costs. The tell tale sign that this is another technology solution that the market does not need is the opening paragraph that says it works on 3G handset. Take a look at the way such phones are sold and I would say it is almost impossible to use all of the minutes you had to buy in order to get the handset for free, so why do you wish to make free calls?

The last paragraph says that the company is considering generating revenues from advertising; this is just such a winner! So because I am a cheapskate and want to save money on my phone bill, I need to buy the latest handset and then accept spam to fund my free calls. Guess I should get over to the companies VCs because it looks like they might just need someone capable of adding sense to the due dilligence process.

The Beeb and its digital future

DAB a dud? asked the magazine programme You and Yours today on Radio 4 at lunchtime. Following on from The Guardians Media feature on Monday the BBC, one of the biggest Evangelists for Digital Radio, asked have we been short changed.

You can listen again to the debate about how we have been trying to live with a technology based on MP2 standards and need to move towads the AAC+ standard if we are to get the digital quality we could have. For me the interesting factiods are the stalled development of DAB across Europe.

The Driving back from my meeting I again was listening to the Radio, this time Simon Mayo on Radio Five and his guest was Paul Abbot the writer of some of the biggest successes on British TV over the past five years. The take away was that before the Broadcasters start looking at technology they need to invest in the talent. The Networks in the UK are not investing in training writers and before they do talk of Mobile TV would be a waste of time.

I wonder if anyone from the Management of BBC Broadcast or ITV will download the interview and take note using the Listen Again service. I would suggest that it could be worth the 30 minutes before they start talking about how Mobile will be an important element of Broadcast TV.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cost of a free handset

Was lucky to spend some time with the Head of Product, Research and Communication at Sony Ericsson who in talking about the development of the product range showed me a number of features that SE had put into the K800i. As a user of the K800i some of what Sony Ericsson have down with the software is excellent. For example when you take a photo with the Camera the first thing it ask is do you want to upload to Blogger?


Only problem is that on my Orange handset the upload feature has been removed because the network wants me to send it as an expensive MMS or email it. This has the effect of me keeping the photo on my phone as little more than a note because it does not do what I want.


As the handset is a free upgrade Orange feel that in paying the €400 SonyEricsson charge they can control just what is and is not on my device. When T-Mobile did this with my N70 upgrade I just went online and downloaded the features that I wanted and have continued to add software I find that matches my needs. The Mobile Networks need to understand that we the users do not usually have the knowledge to optimize our phones for mobile data, however when we do we use more data. If you provide me with an experience that limits my enjoyment I am unlikely to continue using it and have no wish to endorse it.

Vizrea a mobile web2.0 start-up

Last week I was invited to the European launch of Vizrea. This is a Seattle based start-up that has an impressive management team draw from Microsoft and Tivo among others. They have built a service that is more than just another photo upload play this is something that gives a two way connection and so a user can pull down other content to the handset. In the demo I was shown streaming video and music from a PC in the room and in the US which was converted on the fly and played back to me in a basement bar. Tagging and distribution of pictures was also every easy compared with other services. Looking on the web I have found the presentation they did at 2006 Demo at the start of the year if yoy want to get a flavour of what they are doing.

Only question I have is how would I have discovered the company without the kind invitation? How can Vizrea scale, the service is something that the networks will resist because it turns the mobile phone into no more that a fat pipe.

I will play with the service in the same way I have with others such as ShoZu, Litefeeds and WeeMe and see if it is something I keep on my handset or delete.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Orange gets inside the mind to push 'magic numbers'

Mother have created another sixty seconds of wonder for Orange with its new portal advert for the Magic Numbers service.

Now I know that Orange has form on adverts that entertain but tell the consummer nothing but this one just shows what happens when creatives do just that. I have to say that I would rather have adverts that get people to talk rather than show us a phone and say use it, and it's way better than "Hard Nosed Business Man". Guess I will have to wait until I next see one of my creative friends from media like Ged who can try and explain just how this short film gets over the fact that Orange will let me talk to one number for as long as I want for free as a reward for staying with them, and every six months I can add another number if I stay.

EMI and T-Mobile partner for ad-backed download trial

EMI and T-Mobile partner for ad-backed download trial repoprts Brand Republic. In an effort to test the waters, EMI has decided to use the mobile network it prefers to do exclussive deals with to test a service that could rival iTunes.

The only problems as a fat forty year old bloke is that I am not sure that I want to watch a video from Lilly Allen, The Kooks or Robbie Williams even if its free.

The story also says that the advertisers already signed up are, Coco-Cola Zero, General Motors, Gillette, Land Rover, Microsoft, Nike and Toyota. Are these really the brands that young music fans associates with Lilly Allen? I guess that we will just have to see how it will work. The good news is that in the days of One2One they would have got Pearl & Dean to sell location based adverts ;-)

We will have to wait and see how this plays out, but all I can say is at least its a trial and thus not expected to be a mega success.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Vodafone DSL Deal: More Questions than Answers

Keith Mcmahon got up a lot earier than I did this morning judging by his prompt responce to the announcement that Vodafone have jumped in feet first to the DSL market.

Dean thinks its a good deal for Vodafone but I am not sure that what the company needs right now is to be in a fight that will destroy so much value. Just look at how much BT retail is spending in subsidies to retain/acquire customers to BT Home Hub.

I have to ask, who will be the losers in all this? Over in Italy Telecom Italia have decided that savings cannot be made in the converged world and are considering selling its network and/or its mobile arm. As an economist I have to say that at some stage the consumer must pay a reasonable price or the business goes bust, this being the case, we also have to expect to pay a mobility premium for a few more years.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

European vs. American mobile phone use

Mike Mace has written an excellent article on different attitudes to mobile phones on either side of the Atlantic.

I would say that one of the differences is that in the states they have a network with the same quality as we had in Europe about ten years ago in terms of coverage. The other factor is that Mobile Data to an American is the Blackberry for E-Mail, and whilst SMS/MMS are starting to happen they are also "supported" by advertising.

I guess when both countries are using the same standards for phones we can look at both areas and see how the two markets can converge. Most of my European work mates call their phone a "Handy" and that is just what it is to them, it is the device that allows Wireless Foundry to compete with bigger firms because we are available directly rather than clients getting lost in voicemail hell.

What I would say is that Europe does have the same geographic differences as America. Talking to executives in Germany they say that too many users keep their phones switched off using it only when they have an "emergency". Thus the key performance metric for the networks is now the rather rough measure of Minutes of Use rather than ARPU. When you talk to Italian Networks they will speak of the need to migrate customers from Pay As You Go to Contracts in a country that is fast becoming one in which most people own more than one handset and fashion means that they change handsets as often as the update their wardrobe.

The post has got me thinking and time permitting I will try and write a longer piece myself on national differences to mobile use. On one of my first trips to Japan what I noticed was that talking in public on the phone is a social faux par, which I guess explains why they have such high data useage rates.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

When Am I Going To Get a Mobile That Does Everything

Paul Mason has done a good feature on the future of Mobile for Newsnight. In a short film he has managed to look at what the future could be for Symbian based handsets, how Nokia and Philips might use RFiD for NFC Ticketing and shopping and the challenge that WiMAx sets the Networks.

At the end of the blog you can see the film thanks to the BBC's media player. You can also read what a number of other viewers thought about the feature. I guess this is one of the benefits of the silly season in that it forces the news programs to make content.

Just not sure that I agree with teh statement that teh mobile phone industry is one of the few that gives us more than we expect ;-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How would you like to watch your TV

Focus: The battle for Britain's airwaves The Sunday Times has another feature on the switch to digital TV. The paper asks who will get the radio spectrum released by the switching off of the analogue service. The paper sees the competition as Broadcasters against mobile phone networks with the Government making a significant windfall in licence fees.

The journalist looks as DVB-H trials by the Mobile networks as an adjunct for 3G services. The problem is that todate these services have only been in trial format by the networks, and as such have involved a highly selective group being offered "free" TV. Now what will happen when you have to pay for a handset on which to watch TV and also pay a subscription to view programs?

Well if the Vodafone/SKY link up is anything to go by it will be an even bigger flop that the launch of 3G. Friends who have tried the service all stopped within the first month because it was so poor. The other problem is that the Mobile Networls are rolling back predictions on 3G take up, instead they are talking about Camera Phones, Music Phones and Smart Phones. Just look at the highly successful Sony Ericsson K800i very little is made of the fact that it is a 3G handset.

Sunday Times looks at FRee Broadband

What a scandal: the truth about British broadband was the headline in the business section of Sunday's paper, (yes I know its Tuesday but I had a busy holiday weekend and did not get to read the papers until my tube journey this morning)

The findings are that when the internet is busy in the evenings we are not able to get the 8Mbps as advertised. After a number of angry customers report just how bad the service is they go on to say that the providers make a market trader look honest. But when was the last time you went into a pub and the barman asked if you wanted cheap broadband?

Now that over 40% of the population has broadband we cannot expect that the service is a commodity! This is still a technical service that requires some knowledge in terms of what you are buying otherwise you will be left high and dry by salesmen who get you to take the best package for them rather than what fits you. My suggestion to those who have not yet got broadband is first off go and get advice on just what you need then buy it from someone other than the guy who gave the advice. You also need to expect to have to pay for the service because nothing in life is free!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

This years model

Orange did finally manage to get its act together and send me a Sony Ericsson K800i , which after a month I have managed to personalise. I am still trying to get the BestPic function to work. I have downloaded Opera Mini so that the surfing is improved. The RSS reader is greater once you work out how to add your favourite sites.

I am having a problem with the PCLink software because this machine runs Windows Vista and as such SE do not recognise the OS. Once Microsoft get their act together and officially launch the software I guess I will get the update I am looking for.

I have gone out and got a new headset for the phone which I have to say is excellent and was very easy to set up. The audio quality is good and the device does not look too geek like. The sound quality is a lot better than my last headset and so far no dropped calls ;-) The battery life has been good to date.

So what do not like, the new phone and headset have a different charger from the old SE devices and from each other. This means that I have had to head out buy a new travel charger and I am going to find space in my bag for more electricals, not a great thing at a time when we have to take less on a plane!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Can they change orange?

Mobile Today a trade magazine for the Mobile retail sector last week published an excellent feature on just how can Orange once again be bright. This is a question that has challenged a number of friends of Orange over the last few years.

What once made Orange stand out was excellent Customer Service, this lead has been lost as others have improved whilst FT has cut costs. I have to say that the last nine months have seen me contact the Executive team too often in getting issues resolved.

The next problem is one of innovation, just what does Orange now stand for? I want a mobile experience that makes my life easier, something the aspired to with the launch of Wildfire. Today I have Caller Tunes and Music Player.

In terms of network, I am very glad that we have had a heatwave this year as without it I would not be able to get a signal in summer time because I have too many trees between me and the 3g base station. When it rains I cannot get a single at home, so I guess the solution could be that someone in customer service calls me and gets me to switch to Orange broadband. Then perhaps I can make calls over a pico cell in my house and at least have some form of conectivity.

I have to say that I for one have little confidence that Ghillebaert can effect a turnaround of the UK operation. I think one of the biggest issues is low staff morale, which has got worse thanks to yet another round of job cuts. No amount of marketing can help make that better in the short term. Perhaps he can look at what is happening in Germany and decide that what we need is some of the E plus magic rather than a bunch of Animal tarrifs!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Phone of the future steps into the past

Charles Arthur in today's Guardian has written and excellent feature on how we sometimes end up with what we are given rather than what we want.

In testing a WiFi handset he points out some of the obvious problems such a quantum leap will require, which bring back the happy days when I was just starting paid employment and cellular telecoms had just started up in Europe some 21 years ago.

Charles asks "Does this mean, I asked myself, that soon we're all going to be making phone calls over the internet, using wireless hotspots rather than these annoying "mobile network" companies?"

He then goes on to say "
Analysts are talking up the possibilities of WiMax, a long-range wireless system which isn't compatible with Wi-Fi: the other day, Jupiter Research forecast that there will be 21.3m WiMax subscribers by 2012, perhaps using it as an alternative to mobile companies' 3G networks.

But the prospects of Wi-Fi getting that big, at least in the UK, seem remote. Hotspots have been around for at least five years and their price - around £5 per hour - shows little sign of falling. Are you really going to pay £5 just to tell someone you're going to be on the train, and that once you're there you won't be calling them because you've given up mobile phones?"

I guess I don't need to worry just yet to the threat that WiFi phones will replace mobile. If you want to see what others are thinking on what the Industry is calling take a look at Dean Bubley's Diruptive Analysis blog.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pay by Mobile Phone

Mobiletrax takes a look at the Infrastructure and International Issues in Mobile Payments. The writter asks if the US is prepared to adopt an International Standard that they have not designed for EMV and contactless cards.

It is interesting to see how the US is developing. In one paragraph they talk about how the economics of card payments are changing as the number of transactions >$25 increases. Whilst here in Europe the attempt to pay for a coffee with anything other than cash can result in complaints by others waiting in line to get served.

I wonder how soon his predictions come true in the Far East and Europe compared with the US and Africa? The more work I do on Mobile Payments the more important is the social attitude to credit. Those countries that have a cash economy are the ones that I think will be the success stories rather than those that are heavy users of Credit cards.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Carnival of the Mobilists 34 is at W2F!

Jan Kuczynski edited this weeks Carnival of the Mobilists and was kind enough to put one of my posts up for Most Favourite Post.

He has done a great job pulling together all the other blogs on mobile so go have a read of what others are saying.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Manners on the move

BBC NEWS has a feature on Five ways mobiles erode etiquette. Aside from clients who feel they are aloud to be late my biggest problem is with peers in the Mobile space who hold executive posts.

A number of friends have become very good with time keeping once they have left corporate jobs to work for themselves. All of a sudden when they have lost the large numbers of co-workers who report to them they are once again able to make that meeting on time. With one friend who is a Partner in a large firm the only way to get him to turn up close to the agreed time is to make sure that you are the first person he sees that day.

I am surprised that the fact that we do not turn phones off when we meet someone is not seen as poor form more than it is.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

So just where did you get my number?

I am coming to the end of my contract with Orange and am now bombarded by texts and calls from people telling me so and offering me an upgrade. These claim to be from the "Orange Upgrade Team", when challenged they admit that do not work for the company directly or terminate the call.

The next time I meet Niel Macgeorge (head of Pay Monthly @ Orange) after asking if he has kept his job in the reorganisation is going to be one of data protection. As someone who spends too much on mobile I am a Premier Customer and so can update every nine months. This means that a dealer cannot just use the number range to guess that I am coming up to the end of my contract but must have access to the Orange CRM system who are the only ones with my details as I got my phone direct from Orange.

Whilst I am frustrated at the lack of choice when it comes to upgrading. I have had two 3G handsets from Orange so why would I go backwards and select a non 3G handset? That being the case why is the product range so limited compared to what the rivals offer? What I find more of a concern is that my contract details are available to Orange distributors. These individuals have had there commission structures changed by Orange and Vodafone and so want me to leave and join T-Mobile because thay are paying over £200 for new customers. Do not believe me, just walk into a Phone Shop and see if you can get a contract from Orange or Vodafone.

The economics of the Mobile market are flawed and at present not likely to change. One of the biggest problems is the why in which the customers are signed up. When I first started in Mobile the industry was highly regulated, and Networks were not allowed to own the customer, thus we had a group of Service Providers who sold contracts. This regulation fell away when Four Networks became established and Pay as You Go was launched.

A number of Service Providers were bought up by the Networks and others became retail outlets. Now we have a situation where we have too many retailers and competition has become fierce as the market reaches saturation. The Networks are starting to remove some of the distributors whoes actions are too aggressive, but these people still have there own customer lists who they are prepared to Churn to another Network. The need to keep customer numbers up rather than grow Margins means that the offer of a few thousand new ones is too much to reject.

I just hope that a few of these dealers go bust veru soon so that I can get some time to work rather than deal with unwanted calls offering me a phone I do not want.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nokia, Siemens Plan to Join and Conquer

Businessweek has done a great review on the merge of Nokia and Siemens equipment-making units. The reasoning is that such a merger is needed to build business in the emerging markets of China and India.

I would say that another key driver is that with customers looking to cut costs the removal of one level of complexity would protect the new business. I remember talking to a network CTO about the prospects of the Chinese new entrants , he dismissed them saying that his CEO was looking for the removal of one of the network players rather than buying an additional company. Since that time we have seem Ericsson and Nokia buy market share via outsourcing deals.

I think we can expect the M&A bankers to make more money over the coming months as consolidation sees Nortel, NEC, Motorola and Huawei seeking to grow, it might just force Cisco to do a big deal.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Making mobile payments work 101

Little Springs Design an American based mobile design and usability firm have written a good starter on how the phone could replace the wallet. This is something that this week has become more important to my work with a number of developments.

The first was a mail shot from PayPal asking me to activate my mobile phone. Now I am not a big user of PayPal, as I do not have a big eBay habbit. Thus I have to think that the marketing people are expanding the offer to the casual user having seen a good take up by the regular users.

The other little gem that popped up on my radar was the developments of BT in launching Click&Buy for the wholesale market. With the service WAP site owners will be able to identify the users browsing their sites, this allows them to bill without using reverse SMS. The interesting element is that 60% of users of click&buy do not have a credit card.

The reason that these slow developments in mobile payments are becoming more interesting is that the Networks are opening up their portals to advertising, something that is already common in the States. Orange will allow agencies to place brand adverts as banners and text links, later they will allow content firms to advertise. When the content firms are able to enter the market then we could see more requirements for mobile payments.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The summer is coming and I am feeling blue

Over the last few weeks I have been like a little child again waiting for Chrismas.

For the last month I have been able to upgrade my handset with Orange here in the UK. Ever since the GSM bash in Spain I have been waiting for the first sight of the M600 from Sony Ericsson. I have been watching the Central London stores that are business centres who have new handsets before they hit the web.

Well guess what the date has slipped ever back. The latest story is that it will be over three months before we can see the QWERTY based UMTS handset in London with an Orange logo. The guys in the stores are saying that we will get the upgraded P990 before we have the M600. Indeed ask someone in an Orange store for an M600 and they at first think that you are talking about the SPV and not the Sony Ericsson handset. If I were a different type I would say it is the fact that Orange are selling such a device faster then they can get them in a store, and these Orange handsets are lower in price to buy than a Sony Ericsson handset.

Talking to someone in the handset market he tells me that the M600 is in production ahead of the P990. Thus I should be able to get my new handset faster than I can get a HDTV receiver from Sky but both now look like I will wait until after the Summer holidays before I get my gadget fix.

I am upset with Sony Ericsson that it has created a market that it cannot serve. I am more upset with Orange that it has lost sight of the fact that I am the customer and as such I should be able to buy what I want rather than what they sell. What Orange was know for was excellent customer service and since it changed hands it has lost this edge. The only saving grace is that all of Orange's competitors are as bad as it is when it comes to customer service.

I guess that I will have to use LinkedIn to see how many degrees of seperation I have from a senior Product Manager at Sony Ericsson so that I may once again have access to the test handsets so that I can get my fix.

Friday, May 19, 2006

WeeWorld gets $15.5M funding

Red HERRING reports that one of my favourite companies WeeWorld has managed to secure the money needed to take it on to the next level. Celia Francis tells me that she has another big deal in Legal at the moment and that she hopes to beef up the staff.

Cannot wait to see what new functions are coming, looking forward to the animation services that will mean that I can use WeeMe for MMS rather than just send others photos of what I am upto.

Well done Celia on an excellent first year and I know that the next year will see yet more success.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

28th Carnival of the Mobilists

Rod McLaren kicks us off this week with a question on what happens when Operator's replace devices because it is cheaper than repairing them. This is something that happened with me when my 3G handset started to disconnect from the network. The problem I had was that all they replaced was the handset and ever since I have a problem with battery life!

Mike over at mymobilephoneguide takes a look at the Motorola PVOT which could solve my battery problem in that its hand cranked to charge the battery. At the moment it is just in design phase so might not make it to market, but the good news is that it does not look like a RAZR.

Regular Troy Norcross looks at how Mobile Culture affects Mobile Marketing which looks at the if we are to get mobile marketing to work we could remember that its phone and the return path it best if we call rather than go to a wap site. Justin Oberman over at mopocket looks at how the US is using text messaging for Mobile Politics, which is another look at how they do things differently in the States from over hear in the UK. Continuing the theme David at Mobile Marketing Magazine points us at Kathryn Stevenson's post on how together, we're beautiful which chimes with a lot of what Troy is saying.

Russell wrote Mobhappy's post on Adding Value to MMS which is a great follow on on Troy's post. Russell looks at a new start-up from Israel that allows you to annotate your picture before you send it. This is the Mesh Up solution that a number were talking of at the last MoMonday event I went to in London.

Mike Evans asks will Dell be the next competitor for Nokia as it starts lists N-Series terminals as "multimedia computers". Xen Mendelsohn has a reply that says that if Nokia want us to think of the N-Series as a computer she wants a keyboard and mouse!

Jordy is the newbie this week, of his two submissions I went for his analysis of Facebook's entry into mobile. In his email Jordy says that he was motivated to launch his blog after reading MobHappy for a couple of months. Not sure if it was a complement or he just thought he could do better than Russell and Carlo, but good luck hope that he manages to post frequently.

Daniel Taylor over at mobile enterprise gives RIM a cheer for finally getting a version of the software out that works for the field force professionals who don't use e-mail on a day-to-day basis. Having read the post I felt like emailing some of those I know who work in messaging to get them to comment, but hopefully they will see it here and comment on Daniel's post.

Martin's excellent blog has a look at how the deployment of GSM and UMTS networks are doing. All I would want to add is although the map says that I have 3G coverage at home it only works if the trees behind my house don't have wet leaves on!

Dave Beers has a look at how Motorola has gone open source of its Java ME. He has done an excellent job of looking as just what can be done with the software which has given me some interesting insights for my chat with Symbian.

Moonsider looks at banning phones in school, in which he gives a good analysis of the pros and cons before saying that like fire we cannot take it away so learn how to use it responsibly. Judy Breck's blog tells us how the Metropolitam Museum of Art lets visitors get Queen Hatshepsut on the phone.

OK that's me done, I don't have a post of my own put while your here why no look at the other posts? I have enjoyed reading the submissions and sorry if you did not make the cut. Its been interesting to see behind the curtain, and it would be great if some of my favorites started submitting posts. Next week the Carnival moves onto Open Gardens and I hope that Ajit will have as much fun as I have pulling together the weeks news from the Mobile Bloggers.

The photo comes from the RBKC website on the Notting Hill Carnival sorry cannot credit the photographer.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

IMobile phones as a tool of social change in Africa

In todays Independent I read a feature on how mobile phones are giving hope to a new generation of African people. Diane Coyle writes about how the rise of mobile telephony has helped those in the most poverty to pull themselves out of the gutter. After hitting us with the stats about how the continent has been the fastest growing in numbers since the late 1990s she goes on to repeat the good news stories from the GSMA's outreach programmes of fishmen in Tanzania able to find the best price before landing there catch.

The article then goes on to talk of the resent resaerch project undertaken by the LBS paid for by Vodafone on the economic and social effects of the rapid spread of mobiles. Indeed in some areas communities are lobbying for their own mast and celebrate its arrival, how Vodafone wish that the same were true in the UK.

The only thing missing is a fact that I picked up on last year at the time of Make Poverty History when one of the speakers said that Mobiles were a tool of regime change. The speaker said that in countries were penetration was greater than 20% it was no longer possible for a dictator to control the media and so they were kicked out by the people. I guess that a large number of African states still have very low penetration rates!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The 27th Carnival of the Mobolists is at 3G portal

Steve Jones, has pulled together the 28th Carnival with the usual collection of new and regular posters covering all things mobile.
Next week it is my turn to host the Carnival, hopefully this honour will also stop me being lazy and write more about what I think it happening.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My phone's internet experience just got a lot better

I have spent the last two days doing a lot more surfing on my phone. The reason for this is that I have upgraded my browser from Opera Mini 1.2 to Opera Mini 2.0 and the difference is that I am now even happier with the experience. The new browser is even more pared back than the first with very little clutter on the screen. So not only do I have a fast browser I have a simple reading experience thanks to Opera.

over at Mobhappy is also a fan.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

15th Edition of Vodafone's receiver ezine

Vodafone has a little know ezine called receiver, which is published four times a year. The ezine this time is about that yearning factor that comes with using the mobile phone, about the meta-message which is always present: 'wish you were here'.

Off the articles that I have read the one that strikes me the most is "The duality of effects - the mobile phone and relationships" by Joachim R Höflich. Part of his piece looks at the why that the telephone is a radical tool as demonstrated by its use in East Germany. I remembner being told by someone that the mobile phone has been shown as a key tool for revolution in that once the population has a mobile penetration rate above 20% it becomes very difficult for governemnets to control the media.

He goes one to write, Not all communication experts were initially convinced that the mobile phone would be a great success. The private nature of telephoning was seen as a barrier. People would not want to let others gain too much insight into their private lives. At times I just wish that the sociologists were right, but it is amasing just how fast mobile's have become eccepted.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Microsoft gets mobile search

'Huge opportunities' in mobile search, says Microsoft exec - Computerworld a number of others sites have picked this up and run with it. But I would also like my two penny worth.

Over the past six months I have been asked by a number of senior executives for a view on Mobile Search. I have said that mobile is not the same as the internet, for a start most users are still not big users of data services thanks to the high cost of the service. So this being the case they mobile user is not going to be happy with the current Google service which is more guess than answer.

What Windows Live seams to be is a local service which gives better results, however I am still not sure about the semantics involved. My favorite example at the moment is searching for a coffee shop, how does Orange now that if I am asking about a coffee shop at the weekend in Amsterdam its not java I am after, as opposed to the same question on a wet Monday in Bristol? And with both cases I would be unhappy to be sent to Starbucks.

Just wonder how much of this is based on the recently bought MotionBridge technology and how much has been developed in house. I guess the important thing is that it demonstrates that Microsoft is happy to take the battle to Google when it comes to Mobile which is more than can be said for some of the others.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Undercover Economist looks at how phone plans are hard to understand

Why are cell-phone plans so confusing? asks Tim Harford over at Slate.

First off let me say that I read Tim Harford every week in the FT, and as with Freekanomics I think that he does a great job explaining economics to the lay man.

Is this article he has done a great job explain how the Phone companies are using price to confuse the customer in over paying. It is this fact that has enabled Carphone Warehouse to become so powerful. Just last month my niece said that because she was at the end of her contract and trying to fond the best price had given her a headache she went into an independent phone shop and the "nice man" had changed her network to another cheaper carrier and "upgraded" her handset to the new Fashion phone from Nokia. I then spent twenty minutes explaining that the tariff she was on was not the best for her but was the best for the SALESMAN becuase he was paid a healthy bonus for every one sold. After we had spoken she used the cooling off period to cancel the new contract and phoned her existing supplier who was happy to change her price plan and send her the Fashion phone.

My issue with Tim, is that he does not understand the history of the mobile industry and that most networks do not have a single simple billing engine. It is the fact that networks have a number of billing systems used for Consumer, Small Business, Corporate and Enterprise that means that price plans are so complex. He also has to remember that the price has to include interconect fees due to the owers of other networks hence on and off network rates. Thus what should be a simple task, giving me the best price possible is complex. I agree that it should be easier and I also agree that at times we are taken for a ride by the Networks. But hey here in the UK if you want the best price for Gas and Electric you don't buy them from a company that used to sell them when they were a state monopoly.

I come back to my assumption that the Mobile industry needs something akin to the Y2K bug that allows all legacy systems to be scraped and a new billing system installed. But at present with the focus on keeping the cap on OPEX that will not be something undertaken by internal decision makers.

Monday, April 10, 2006

T-Mobile is doing well with Flext - NOT

Mobile Today, a trade magazine for the Mobile Distributors reports that the new contract from T-Mobile is doing very well for the indirect channel.

Well good luck to T-Mobile I have been a customer of the network for a very long time and on the 5th of April I was due a handset upgrade. So off I shot into my nearest local town to find a T-Mobile store. The only one I found was not a direct outlet but rather an independent who was branded T-Mobile. On entering the shop, I wait 2 minutes for the assistant to end his phone call with a friend before we can start.

I explain that I am due an upgrade and he asks for my number and bank card as proof of ID. I am then asked to complete the contract paperwork. Hang on I say what can you offer me in terms of handsets I say.

All we can offer is hear on display. I look around at a rather sorry display of handsets. I ask when can I expect to see a SE P990 or Nokia N80.

I am told he has not got a clue, but new phones are expected in June.

Thus I decline the "service" as I don't want to replace my 12 month old Razr with another one or take a SE W800 if they are not prepared to offer the bribe of a free PSP to keep the kids happy.

Today I get a call from Orange whom I also have a contract with as I got feed up with waiting for 3G with T-Mobile. It is time for my upgrade handset and would I like to go into my nearest shop to see what they can do for me. So I stop off at the nearest Orange store who take my number, check on the computer and say that yes I am due a new handset look we have these handsets in a limited number for key customers which have yet to go on the website. After a cup of tea and a brief demonstration I head for the train home with a new Smartphone and I have set my alarm to wake up me up early so that I can play with it before another day at work.

I will wait for T-Mobile to refresh the handsets but I don't think that they will get me to switch from the current contract to one of the new ones especially as they are now for 18 months and they want to charge me for voicemail. You see I have one of the original staff tariffs that means that I get free calls evenings and weekends and so I am very popular with family and friends as I encourage them to use my phone as much as possible. I have also explained to my niece that the nice chap in Phones4U ripped her off on Saturday when he got her to switch networks to take advantage of the great offer from T-Mobile and naff Nokia handset. A few calls and she is still with O2 but this time with the Nokia handset she wanted.

I guess the new MD at T-Mobile will need a few more like me to say that they have no clothes before he gets the message and tells his boss to stop treating the UK as a sales office and start updating its product range rather than spend a fortune getting people to switch to a bucket full of minutes and very little else.

Friday, March 31, 2006

21st Carnival of the Mobolists

My post on What good might come from EU Roaming law has been included in this weeks Carnival over at MOpocket. You can also see what other bloggers having been writing about this week including Mobile for Change and Mobile Marketing.

Another get round up, and another week closer until I get the opportunity to edit The Carnival at the end of May.

Don't forget that you to can submit to the Carnival, details are over at Mobhappy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What good might come from the EU Roaming fight?

A number of others have posted comment and reported on the European Commissions stance on Roaming tarrifs. As someone who pays his own phone bill I am happy to see a fair market created for roaming. I also hope that rather than hold back innovation as the Networks and the GSMA have claimed that such regulation will do we can see a positive attitude taken by the networks.

Just as Y2K gave CIOs the power to ask Boards to sign off investment budgets perhaps we will see the more enlightenend mobile networks take to opportunity to fix the underlying issue in roaming, namely poor billing systems. If Messers Akhavan, Badrinath and Geitner could show some leadership and convince their Executives to sign off on a total one off replacement of ALL billing systems with a single system perhaps we could see mobile fulfill its potential. With a new billing systems what we will see is a resolution of the wholesale system that at the moment sees calls made to two people holidaying in Spain go all the way back to the home country before connecting just so the payment can be settled.

Now in the early days when few had phones and not many of those travelled with them the current system was created. Now with most having phones, and none of us wanting to be seperated from them we have a system that is in needed of replacement. However because the Networks have a long investment list thanks to the roll out of 3G the ability to replace a billing system is limited. Think of it as someone who has moved into a new house and needs to replace the central heating system, this is something that costs alot to do, causes vast unrest in replacing pipes etc. and in turns oif return on the investment is a very long payback. However if you live in the cold North of Europe does need doing.

If we get a new billing system into every International Network we can expect to see a spurt of innovation as the launch of new products and services would be fast and effective. We could also expect better inter networking services. I remember talking to the VP of Marketing for one large Network who told me that all new product launches had to include the hiring of a speadsheet jockey whoes role it was to reconcile the billing data so that everyone got charged for what the used and suppliers got paid for what they provided. Hence a new billing system should mean that such problems are removed and so we can expect more products faster.

Not only should the boards accept the investment, they also have the perfect scapegoat in Ms Reding. They can say to Investment Analysts "sorry that we have not invested in CAPEX as predicted but the new EU regulation means that we have had to pause and replace our Billing systems."

So we have an easy sell for once on investing in the Billing System rather than buying more faster network equipment that stands un-used because people cannot be charged to do so. Somehow I guess that as this is too logical we will not see this happen. However such an investment works for all other than the billing system vendors who are making ransom demands to maintain and ammend the present legacy systems. Perhaps I should start seeing if I can meet with the three wise men above and sell them some consulting services for the benefit of all in the Mobile ecosystem.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cognitive Radio

Emerging Technologies and their Impact over at Technology Review flags up what sounds like more work on software defined radio except that this time it has a new name - Cognitive Radio. The introduction gives view of a system that selects the best radio from all that is available, this is what was outlined by the Strategy guys at Orange at the time of the 3G bidding wars.

When the auctions were over they went out on a PR blitz tell all that the futures as well as being bright was going to be connected.

The clever bit from the researcher at MIT is that they have added Game Theory into the mix to allow software to analyze the environment and select the best protocol for transmission. However as its a US site they are missing that some European firms have been at the forefront of this development as well as Panasonic whoes European Lab were one of the leaders in the development of the IEEE standards for SDR.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Political Ringtones

The weekend edition of The Times had a comment feature on how the ringtone has become the latest tool for politicians looking to show support.

The article talks about how the trend started in the Phillippines last summer. The trend has developed so that Canadians had their own Mash-up tones. Finally George Bush has suffered from organised protests following his poor performance over the New Orleans non-performance.

The piece ends with a request for possible tones for the PM. This being the case, in light of the current complaints about loans for honours how about Brown Sugar by the Stones, or we could have I predict a riot underpinning the present speaches on the Iraq conflict.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Carnival of the Mobilists

My post on Getting to disappointed quicker got picked up for this weeks Carnival, which sounds like I wrote something worthwhile as Enrique, this weeks host says he had lots of entries to make his choice from.

As well as my post a lot of the regulars have also been picked up of which I have already read and also comented on where I felt that I could move on the debate. Others I had missed and will spend sometime catching up on over the weekend.

Russell sent me an email this week say that it will be my turn to host the carnival in the middle of May so it looks like many others are joining the group and helping to spread the mobility virus.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Getting to disappointed faster

Had my regular catch up with the Former CTO of one of Britains largest Mobile Networks. Over our Pizza and Salad we set about putting the world to rights.

One of my observations was to do with why are operators launching HSDPA when they cannot get customers to use 3G services? His reply was that they have been upsold by the Manufacturers on the basis that if you build it they will come. However after five minutes to mapping out what delights we could expect to see he agreed that it was a question of build it and you will have a white elephant.

What I pointed out was that if we take mobile TV as a business case you see that the whole thing is an example of Marketing leading innovation. Here in the UK we are asked to pay £10 per month for access to Mobile TV on a 3G handset. For our money we can access a number of services that I already access via my £28 per month subscription to SKY the only difference was that I now have to watch in on a two inch screen rather than my 42 inch Plasma screen. I am already upset that I pay an additional TV tax for a lience to receive TV and so the demand for me to watch is limited and most likely it will be on a Pay Per View basis rather than monthly sub. My friend agreed that even Mobile Porn was limited at present as he had been unable to find anything suitable for personal use or to show to mates for a laugh in the pub, and this thus demonstarted that we were not yet ready for Mobile TV. When I went on to say that a recent meeting with the Chief Creative Officer of Endermol, the company who produce the highly successful Big Brother, told me that whilst mobile has given a highly effective interactive element to his programs they are some way away from looking at content because they have too many other challenges at present namely HDTV and falling add revenues.

Thus we agreed that whilst it was possible to narrowcast TV to mobiles it was unlikely that it would take off.

This made as invert the question to what technology is needed to make mobile a better experience?

The quick answer was that we need to look at improving the present network coverage in building. The solution is Pico cells we agreed the problem is distribution. Perhaps the Mobile networks can take a lead from the fixed guys and adopt a strategy similar to WiFi Hotspots. So if I offer to improve the 3G coverage in my area with a Pico cell for Orange they can offer me a cut of the revenue from others using my cell. This was seen as an interesting conundrum but it falls down because of problems with the billing system being able to record the traffic over my system and insure that I receive the agreed fee.

The next issue was the improvement of voice quality so that we can connect with services automatically. We spoke of a number of technologies that are looking at solving this problem and in a effort to discover more we have agreed to visit the FT labs as others have said that they are leading the development of voice services.

Then we looked at what could be done improve the Management and Strategy of the networks, this was when the lunch decended in dispair when we tried to judge just which CEO was the most effective at distroying value.

Thus with the bill paid and other meetings to attend we left the Pizza House and went on to our next meetings upset that the industry we have spent a long time working in is in need of so much development if we are to reach what was mapped out when we were happily bidding for 3G licences.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bonfire of the Vanities

Like a politician caught in a sex scandel, Vodafone must dread Sunday newspapers at the moment. Today the "broadsheets" all have placed Vodafone on the front page of their Business sections.

The Observer has a piece on the plot to oust boss of Vodafone and "Big beasts fight it out for soul of Vodafone". Over the two storries we have an insight into how Arun Sarin, the Vodafone CEO, is fighting to establish himself following his appointment and how he has been unable to impress the city.

The Independent tells us that Penny Hughes will leave the board after eight years as a Non Executive Director. She is pictured as another victim of the power struggle between Arun and out going Chairman Lord MacLaurin. As a footnote they tell us that the board are also looking at the sale of its American opperation to partner Verizon, but new CFO Andy Halford is sceptical.

The Telegraph pitches the story differently saying that Lord MacLaurin has been forced to back Arun by releasing a statement backing the embattled chief. They go on to say that the statement is likely to be seen by the City as a triumph for Sarin in his bid to stamp his authority on the board.

Then a look at the Sunday Times tells us that Lord MacLaurin has just come back from a ten day break and is not happy with what he has missed. Did he not take his phone with him so that others could call and inform him of just how bad things have got. He is "incandescent" that others in the company are briefing against him and his reputation has been damaged. They also say that he has meeting with five of the biggest investors tomorrow all of whom will be asking for the CEO's head.

This is better entertainment that any soap operas. We have seen over the past few weeks more and more turn on Vodafone. Is the business itself in crisis or is it the share price that has been in difficulty at a time when the business needs investment?

Friday, March 10, 2006

When the Guru shows that he is as deep as a puddle

Haymarket publish a number of weekly Marketing magazines, the biggest is Marketing which comes out every Wednesday. Mark Ritson writes every week on Branding and this week he puts Vodafone under the microscope (very good as it has been under a lot of pressure). The error is in the second paragraph were he writes " Fortunately for its chief marketing officer, Peter Bamford, Vodafone has so many problems that he and his campaigns are unlikely to come under the spotlight."

Later on Wednesday we are told that Mr Bamford is leaving his post having lost out in the internal warfare currently under way with the Vodafone board.

The intereting play will now be who are interviewed and offered the role of Chief Marketing Officer at Vodafone. I guess that Mr Ritson will not be one of those asked for possible names.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Del, for your mobile phone.

I have been keeping a watching brief on Mobile search and the Search Engine Journal tells us of a mashup that combines bookmarks with Google's mobile search tool. This allows your bookmarks to be mobilised, i.e. rendered for your phone browser. Whilst this is an interesting solution I have to ask why not just download Opera Mini and let it do the work, I have to say that since November when I first got a copy I have been surfing more on my phone.

I know that Web 2.0 is all about tags rather than search, but I think it will need more focus on the context under which we are look before we can say that we have found the killer app that is Mobile Search.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

What's going on at Vodafone?

The Sunday Papers today have decided to turn on Vodafone. The business section of the Sunday Times (largest quality paper in Britain) reports that Sir Chris Gent has fallen out with the man he appointed to succeed him.

The Sunday Telegraph tells us that Vodafone plan a record £5Billion dividend payment in an effort to keep the CEO in his job, could this be greenmail from the hedge funds? They also write in the comment section that the problem was that they forgot the shareholder. Well I beg to differ, the problem with Vodafone was that they forgot that the business is based on infrastructure and allowed Marketing Executives to take control at a period when they were entering increased complexity thanks to UMTS. In allowing Marketing to run the business they have raised expectations whilst reducing the ability to execute. Some of the ideas developed by Consultants have been very good based around Vodafone Simple and Handsets in general have been good, but Live have not been the success that it should be.

The Observer focuses on te fact that Vodafone is shrinking its footprint in a effort to keep the City happy the Company might be broken up. They interview a number of analysts about the prospects who say that times are hard but if Vodafone can execute then they might just turn in around.

Can Vodafone achieve what they outlined at the hight of the market when it became the biggest company in Britain? Looking from the outside in I have to say that the problem is that too many excellent managers have left the business. The big question has to be can the incoming Chairman get the business back on track? The generation that has just ended with Lord MacLaurin stepping down as Chairman has seen a business that was very young put in place formal processes. Now that the business can be managed by professionals the challenge is will the executive team blink? If they are talking about paying an extraordinary dividend thyen I would have to say they have done so.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sony Ericsson does it again

I thought that we had seen all the excitement we could manage at 3GSM last month with a raft of new handsets on show. Yet in advance of CeBIT this year Sony Ericsson have shown a number of new handsets that have got a number of people excited.

Looking at the Microsite for CeBIT the device that gets my interest is a new Car Speakerphone the HCB-100 which uses Bluetooth and is detachable. This means that not only will I be able to use the device in my Partners Car but I will also be able to use it in the Au Pair's car and the Holiday Hire Car (my car has a factory fitted car kit) I can also take it out and us ot in the office. They spec also says that I can have upto five handsets paired with it, another great feature for someone with multiple SIMs!

They have also updated by current handset, but I am going for the new W950i & M600 handsets when its upgrade time having used them in Spain. (Hey perhaps I need to talk with Nick Denton of Gawker and see if I might just be able to get him to push SE into sponsoring this blog and they I would not have to wait so long for my toys.)

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Wireless VoIP 101

This weeks carnival of the mobilists as well as picking up my post on rethinking the mobile device has a post from Martin Sauter on Wireless VoIP in which he outlines the various technologies on available for such services.

However he does not mention the service I picked up yesterday on Spain's trial of VoIP using Disk On Key technology. In trying to discover more on the Start-Up that has developed the technology I spoke with someone who said that I should also take a look at Tatara Systems. In doing so I discover that they have quitely been used in deployments by both O2 and Vodafone but the PR has been extremely poor or the Networks don't want too many people asking questions about lower call prices.

My To DO list now has yet more Companies to meet in trying to get the information needed to make a judgement.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who says that you need a handset for Mobile VoIP?

In catching up on my reading after Barcelona I finally picked up this story from Telecom's Tsunami, the original page link no longer works.

This looks like an enhancement to the standard services one gets with a connect card from one of the Mobile Networks but it does look like a cool enterprise solution, something that the networks don't usually seem able to do. Guess in reading this I am going to have to do some work around DOK services most of my clients are still trying to get a view on WirelessVoIP.

Off to read some more and will post more once I have finished.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Re-thinking the mobile device

Mark Lowenstein, Managing Director of Mobile Ecosystem, has written for the latest edition of Vodafone's journal an article on next generation useability.

Mark has placed voice at the centre of 3G wireless which continues a theme from discussions I had last week in Barcelona. Senior members of McKinsey's mobile group have said that enhanced voice is the key to unlock mobile revenues, this is a something that a number of executives from the networks are also speaking about.

With the third generation of mobile upon us can we hope that networks can be designed and maintained in an intelligent manner that would allow speach engines to be more than IVR? Can I expect my MNO to install a system that places voice at the centre to run unified messaging and PIM, or will it just be blue sky thinking from the visionary planners?

I hope that the networks do understand that the business is fundementally about communication, with this being so voice is at the centre of it with text and instant messaging adjucts. Other data services such as email, blogging and surfing are not things on which to build a business but are likely to be central services for advanced users. Mobile TV and M-Commerce are not likely to be more than hype in terms of genuine products that western users will pay to use.

VoIP is not the elephant in the room that some make it out to be. For most of us VoIP is additional calls rather than substition in the same way that email means that we communicate with more people more frequently than we ever did when letters were written and stamps needed to send them.

With these concepts it will be interesting to see if the handset manufacturers can adopt a "build to order" concept as outlined by Mark. This would see a genuine personalisation far bigger than even iXi Mobile saw when they developed the PMG concept. However I do thing it is something that has potential just as I have a number of systems to play music on, if I have to pay full price for handsets then I want to specifiy what features and what software my handset will carry. This is something that we could do today using Widgets from someone like Opera, in the future the system could become drag and drop.

The only downside of such a vision is that it turns the Networks into little more than bit pipes and alas that is the last thing that the Marketing guys want to be even if they started out working for FMCG firms.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Another Sony Ericsson handset that I just love

One of the few upsides of 3GSM was that for me it provided an opportunity to view to what every handset maker hopes that we will be using over the coming year without having to visit Carphone Warehouse.

The problem was that with everyone in Hall 8 it was like the crush found in most supermakets on Christmas Eve. However amoung the handsets that got my attention was the new 3G walkman phone from Sony Ericsson the W950i. Like the recently launched M600i it has a large touchscreen and jogdial. However it also has a 4GB memory and uses a Walkman player to play music. I was lucky enough to be able to spend 10 minutes using the phone and I might just for go the M600 and its Blackberry like push email for this handset. One of the interesting techie things is that the DRM system look different from what we have now with some music locked and others not so allowing for better distribution, but I was unable to get much information on this thanks to the fact that the people on the stand had not been fully briefed.

However a black cloud might be the strategy adopted by Sony Ericsson when it comes to selling handsets in the UK. The last 3G Walkman handset was launched exclusively by Vodafone at Christmas and will not be available on any other network until after Easter. I have a contract with Orange and no wish to churn onto Vodafone which means that if the practice continues then I might just be able to get the free upgrade for Christmas. Alternatively I will just buy one the next time I am in Europe from an Orange shop and except that I have to forgo the free handset. Lucky for me I still have a few friends and I should have the handset when they are launched in the UK for free but then I am not the normal customer.

My view on Barcelona

So I went to 3GSM at the start of the week. First impressions were blunted by the travel issues, but unlike some my delays were caused by the delights of Britsh Airports rather than the distance traveled. Yes getting to the conference was a lot better than when it was in France.

Once I was at the site I thought that it might as well have been in Hanover becuae this was no longer the congress it had started out as. Informa and the GSMA have turned the whole thing into a trade fair. I have not problem with the fact that it has no become a big commercial event rather than somewhere that you came to in an effort to build bridges and cemment ralationships. However with this now just one big shop window and everyone trying to sell to everyone perhaps its time to review whats it all about?

I for one spent a little time in the exhibition halls. I did a quick spin around two of the giant halls before heading off to talk with people who were based away from the main area in Hospitality suites. The more enlightened had decided to make use of the near by hotels whilst others use the large sheds to try and create rooms but lacked any facilities compared to the hotels. The downside of all this walking is that in an effort to pack as much as possible in my feet to a pounding and by the end of the day I was not a happy bunny.

I managed to bunp into a few friends whilst there and they like me were questioning the value of the event, two were unhappy that they seemed to waste time meeting co-workers rather than spending time with clients.

The most interesting point was that of the thirty people I spoke with only ONE was there to attend the conference and he worked for the GSMA. This I think proves that it has now become little more than a trade fair and as such I can give it a miss every other year by alternating it with CeBIT. The problem for the organisors is that the exhibitors who pay for this event might start taking the same view and like me decide that they need not attend and that the whole thing impodes on itself.

Perhaps now is the time for everyone to review what GSM World is about and how best it can meet the needs of the Mobile industry? It is evident that we need some global event as well as local ones in an effort to expand the business and show off. However too many people thinking like me and we will not have many more events like Barcelona.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Yet another new key pad for us to learn!

I got a press release today about new handset from Sony Ericsson due to be in the Shops by the summer. The interesting thing is when you look at the image of image of the phone and see that it has a rather interesting arrangement when it comes to text entry. Gone is the standard 3/4 letters spread across the 2-9 keys and we get a Qwerty keypad spread across all the keypad.

When you look at the details for the phone you get to see that it will use the Symbian software found in smartphones which I think gives a clue that this could be a handset that focuses on being more than just a phone whilst being not too big. It should give the user a machine that does more than just texting when it comes to messaging whilst still maintainging the small size that most of us want.

Reading the small print on what you get the interesting feature for me is that it comes with Stero Bluetooth. Will this mean that we can expect to see voice becoming an important element of the data features once third parties get involved? Last week another Press Release spoke of France Telecom's work on Stero VoIP, perhaps that might just make it over to Orange in the next few years, thats thats another posting!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Etiquet Reminder Cards

mopocket has a great post on getting mobile users to remember that they are in public and thus should acknowledge the fact that most people are not interested in what we are talking about.

The Society of Hand Held Hushing just raised a smile and the Dear Phone User cards are something that I think we could all do with a stack. I have downloaded the pdf all I need to do now is dust off and power up my printer (being a laptop owner I just don't do paper that much now).

Friday, January 27, 2006

It's about value not shareprice

The Economist, which I have been reading since school days has a feature this week on Vodafone following its results presentation. It has me asking just how dumb are the analysts in investment houses. It looks at the performance of Vodafone against O2 in terms of performance against the FTSE Index. Whilst O2 has done better than Vodafone in terms of shareprice the difference is that O2 has been managed to attract a buyer whilst Vodafone has been managed to have a future.

The thing that gets me most angry is that Mobile Telephone is about VOICE and so saying that Vodafone is too dependent on voice and needs to focus on Convergent products. I guess these guys need to talk to a few of the CTO's I know who will explain the economics of running two networks. What was planned for 3G at the time of the bidding war was that the new faster networks would allow operators to provide a better voice service with speach engines driving services.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Social Pressure as a tool of change

Over the weekend was talking with a few friends on the differences between the Japaneese mobile market and Europe. One of the most interesting points was the comments about how using your phone in public to make a voice call is seen as extremely rude, and thus only undertaken in the case of emergency.

Now, whilst I am not saying that we adopt the same level of social control here in Europe, some form of correction might be useful when it comes to making calls whilst driving. Just as we have managed to reduce the number of drunk drivers by using social presure over the last twenty years perhaps we can start a "hang up on the driver"?

The simple logic is that the person at the other end of a call needs to be convinced that in speaking to a driver is wrong and what they should do is say "pull over or call me when you are not driving". Such actions would see more of a change than hoping that the Police will actually enforce the law.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Six Wishes for Wireless for 2006

Looking around the web at the turn of the year we see a number of sites offering either a review of 2005 or predictions for 2006. I started to write my own review of 2005 and gave up after a few hours as it made depressing reading for me personally in just how poorly the mobile industry had performed. In thinking that 2005 was not a good year I did not see that 2006 was going to see a recovery. Thus I took a leaf out of my daughter’s books and have written a wish list for 2006.

My first wish is that the Mobile Networks remember just what they are a UTILITY rather than a Media/Entertainment business. In understanding the fundamental fact they need to improve coverage so I may use my handset where and when I want to. Once they have fixed the coverage issue they can then turn their attention to a CRM system that remembers what I am, what I use and what I do not use and using this information perhaps they can allow me to personalise the service I want. Once they see themselves as a first class utility they can finally fix the billing system so that it becomes something useful rather than an inhibitor as it seems to be now.

My next wish is that we remember that 3G wireless was spoken about as an enhanced voice service. Let’s remember that we are using a phone, rather than a microcomputer/music player/gaming console, this being the case voice should be at the centre of what we do with it. By enhanced voice let’s look at some simple things like Stereo sound as well as impressive “Star Trek” services that are driven by intelligent speech engines. I can remember Orange justifying the investment in 3G with a presentation called Adam & Eve I loved it so much that I believed.

A Genuine Unified Messaging system is my third wish. If I am to make my mobile phone the central communications device I want to be able to review my Email, texts, Voicemail, IM just as I can with my laptop using a simple screen. I do not expect to be able to respond in the best way to these messages using my handset just to be able to make a decision as to what’s important and what’s not. Within this great UM client I also want the ability to set presence and in doing so my handset and Network to respond to those settings. For example, when I am in a meeting switch everything over to a text based service and when I am driving my car switch it all over to voice.

A DRM system that works for everyone is fourth on the list. When I buy content from a media company I would like the opportunity to enjoy it on my phone should I wish to. Once I have bought a ringtone for example when I upgrade my handset as well as copying all the contacts I would like to copy the tones that I have assigned them, if I am using them with the same mobile number what’s the issue?

Handset manufacturers take a leaf out of the Car makers design handbook is my next wish. Volkswagen bases its whole car range on a small number of spaceframes, yet we the consumer are offered VW, AUDI, Seat and Skoda styled cars. Thus Sony Ericsson needs to offer more handset to us consumers so that we can find the style and functionality that best suits are needs rather than walk around with a handset that we are happy with some of the time.

My last wish is that everyone in the mobile industry remembers that it’s better to have a small slice of a bigger pie than own the whole of a tiny pie. At times it has to be better to make a sacrifice that allows everyone to benefit than holdback in fear that someone else might make some cash.

So that’s it six wishes for Wireless in 2006. How many will be realised? Will any be achieved this year? Is anyone reading this and if so has it made them think?