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.