Product Management :: Product Marketing

31 October, 2006

2D Bar Codes in fields

In July, I posted about making 2D bar codes in fields and on skyscrapers.

Well, someone did it in Germany in May this year using Semacodes. See the flickr photostream or even using Google Earth.

Thanks for alerting me, Oleg!

28 October, 2006

LinkedIn addes service recommendations

LinkedIn have added a 'Services' tab to their main menu bar. It allows people to publicly recommend their contacts to the network.

You can recommend people that aren't LinkedIn members yet - they will of course receive an email inviting them to complete their profile so that they can control what others see of them. Effectively, this creates a trusted company directory. And a method of usurping Directory Enquiry services. Ecademy have had a 'Marketplace' for ages.

One wonders what happens when you dispute a ranking. Ecademy had a 'jail' and an arbitration process, I seem to recall.

27 October, 2006

Microsoft releases Windows Live Barcode

OK, the headline got me excited: Microsoft is getting in 2D barcodes and has chosen QR codes (in comparison to Datamatrix or a host of other barcode standards) and has slapped the "Live" moniker on it. Cool....

I jumped to their site (has an expired security certificate and only works in IE) and discovered some basic information + QR code generators that don't work + a tour with a dismal implementation demonstration.

Nice one, Microsoft, that was useful.

Further browsing revealed that it has come out of their Shanghai offices. Apparently the technology has been running in Spaces in Japan for a while.

No sign of a mobile client yet (assume only on Windows Mobile, n'est-ce pas), but coming soon according to this post.

So what ARE Microsoft doing? I'm none the wiser....

26 October, 2006

UK Insurance agency provides pay-as-you-drive insurance

Norwich Union, one of the UK's largest insurers, has launched its pay-as-you-drive insurance using GPS tracking. It's prefect for Sunday drivers and non-commuters.

The trial has been running since 2004. Speaking to the programme manager at a Cambridge Wireless event back in the UK, then it is actually more of a marketing ploy to allow insurers to communicate with their members more frequently than once a year at renewal time.

But the interesting part is the usage and demographic data that the service provides. Here's a snapshot:
  • serious accidents are more likely to occur at night
  • motorway driving is up to 10 times safer than driving on local roads
  • driving during the weekday morning rush hour is 50 per cent more likely to result in an accident than driving at the weekend or evening.
I am sure, this will permit tighter segmentation of users. For example, with Norwich Union, a young driver will be charged £1 per mile during the "high risk" accident period of 23:00 to 06:00 to encourage them to leave their cars at home.

BT adds authentication to its 21st Century Project

BT is able to start rolling its 21st Century Network to the valleys of Wales in the coming months. This is an amazing £10bn investment, converting a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Systems) into an all-IP network.

Interestingly, it has added identity to the heart of 21CN. See this photo story on URU Voice Authentication system.

When asked, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, said that if he was creating the web again, he would have added better identity and authentication mechanisms. Looks like BT are bridging some of this gap.

IMHO, the UK will be one of the most exciting places to be for Internet and communications thanks to BT's 21CN project.....

Samsung shows off 4G at 1Gbps

Aye, WiMax is coming, but Samsung demonstrated 1Gbps (stationary) & 100Mbps (at 60kph) with cell-to-cell handover too. It used WiBRO, a speedier version of WiMax. Here's one of the better reports of this story.

What is defined as 4G is still very much open for debate: is it 3G+ or a Wi-fi / WiMax? Despite the recent formation of Next Generation Networks Mobile Initiative (NGNMI) - a summary of their objectives is available here - it is a battle for the marketing departments of each camp - prepared to be fogged and battled by B$ at your next industry conference.....

25 October, 2006

T-Mobile (US) trials wi-fi to cellular hand-over for calls

Other operators will watching T-Mobile's trial of its HotSpot @Home service in Seattle closely. The service permits users to make VoIP calls from their mobile handsets (wi-fi enabled of course - T-Mobile hotspot preferred!) and switch seamlessly over to the cellular network when the user drops out of wi-fi signal.

T-Mobile also provide a wi-fi router for free - so they must be taking this seriously! Some reviews at RCR News.

21 October, 2006

Look up the location of friends' phones using Loopt

Loopt allows you to share your mobile location with others and you to view theirs on your mobile phone (on a nice map too). You can create a profile - with privacy settings, set-up events and invite people.

It's only available on Boost Mobile in the US, but I'm sure they're hammering on all the other operators' doors. Their site doesn't indicate the costs of the service though.

The UK has seen the launch of several of these services since 2003, when the operators made their subscribers' location information available to third parties:
There appears to be two schools of thought: social bar-hopping & parental paranoia. As far as I know, none of these services have been a success (although mapAmobile was acquired by Carphone Warehouse).

The reasons for the failure are three-fold:
  • the commercial cost each location look-up
  • the accuracy of the service using cell-id or even triangulation
  • the regulatory issues surrounding the service makes implementation very clumsy. (Imagine the public outcry if a paediophile tracked a child's location - it just doesn't bear thinking about).
Even in Japan, where phones not only have GPS, but A-GPS (Assisted GPS), which is significantly more accurate, then these services haven't been a huge hit.

The only service that has made some inroads are 'where am I?' and 'find my nearest' - both of which are entirely selfish & don't have a social angle (and best offered by the operator directly).

Update (October 26th):
Nokia have released their all singin', all dancin' N95 with GPS and a mapping application. Nokia have also licensed GPS software from Trimble for their handsets.

20 October, 2006

The story of Friendster - lessons to be learnt

Great story about the rise and 'fall' of Friendster from NY Times.

KISS & make it work, before worrying about the competition & diversifying.

T-Mobile permits VoIP on its network

T-Mobile falls in line with other UK operators by permitting VoIP - but only on its highest data package. Those on the £44 web 'n' walk Max can make VoIP calls, those not prepared to pay the additional £15 surcharge may see their connection speed slashed.

T-Mobile have also reversed its (ridiculous) decision to prohibit IM on its network.

This segmentation strategy makes sense - and I'm surprised that other operators don't have similar policies to protect their voice revenues.

Perhaps because the type of user that this effects is cost insensitive and therefore would make a network voice call rather than a VoIP call. Perhaps because of the effort of detecting and policing VoIP on their network.

19 October, 2006

Privacy 2.0 - a lack of privacy CREATES community sites

Venky Harinarayan makes some excellent points about Privacy 2.0 on VentureBeat.
Privacy 1.0 operated in a binary world: information about a consumer was either totally private or totally public....

The reality is that a consumer’s expectation of privacy changes as they participate more fully on the Web. Rather than expecting absolute anonymity, or absolute visibility, consumers as publishers of media now have expectations similar to that of media companies.....

This is Privacy 2.0 — the consumer as a media publisher, who expects all the rights and protections afforded to traditional media publishers.
Yeah, but a KEY point about that misused moniker, Web 2.0 (I'm pretty sure he means social software), is that some lack of privacy (detractors might say 'abuse of privacy') is essential to kicking off and growing a so-so site.

If it was all a gated community and you couldn't see anything, then is it a prison or an exclusively wealthy community??

If you implement highly ethical privacy policy, then the service becomes much harder to use, particularly for the casual user and creates a much higher barrier to entry.

Does Privacy 2.0 require an 'Experts Only' warning? It ought to, but the Marketing dept would have a fit.

Is there a need for Privacy levels? Yes, but I don't see a strict technology solution here - only time and consumers' familiarisation with the issue can patch up the difference between expectations and reality.

18 October, 2006

FON releases wi-fi router which lets you access grassroots wi-fi community

FON, that well-funded 'start-up', has released 'La Fonera', their own, branded a wi-fi router. Once you're a FON user, you can access others' Foneras, ie FON's community of wi-fi hot spots, for free in return for allowing other registered users to access yours.

Fon's CEO Martin Varsavskk talks about it here.

Nice idea. But what's really nice is the price: $5. And I've just bought a hub for $40 last weekend :(. There's half a dozen in downtown San Diego at the moment.

Barablu demonstrates free calling between wi-fi enabled S60 mobiles

Barablu demonstrated VoIP calls from Nokia Series 60 handsets (E & N Series to be precise) at GSM Asia yesterday. (cf Skype problems with their version of Skype Mobile).  

Will link to the press release on Barablu's site when I find it.

Skype Mobile hits road blocks & Skype 3.0 beta

Skype's mobile offering on Symbian devices, Mobile Skype, appears to be hitting a heap of technical problems, according to

The release was slated for later this year, but Skype have now pulled back from specifying a date.

More Skype news from ITExpo in San Diego that I attended last week: Skype 3.0 beta will be coming out in mid-November. It features 'plug-in support' - less impressive than it sounds - it is simply a tab that lists Skype third party applications that users can click on and install.

Rebtel - connecting people by local numbers

Rebtel permits two people in different countries to dial local numbers to connect each other. Here's the deal:
  1. You enter numbers into your Rebtel address book.
  2. Next to each entry, there's a local telephone number (local to you, the caller).
  3. You dial that number and your friend's phone rings (even if it is one the other side of the world.)
  4. They answer. (The call appears to come from a local number to them.)
  5. They hang up (you stay on the line).
  6. They call you back on their local number.
  7. You can talk for the cost of a local call.

The whole concept is very nice indeed. In calling the UK, it failed at step 5 - the recipient couldn't hang up and call me back - I was still on the line. 

If they called me in US and I hung up and called back, then it worked fine.

I'm sure Rebtel will have other innovations to follow. (See also Jajah)

17 October, 2006

3Jam (Rely-All text messaging) launches

3Jam, mentioned previously, which provides 'Reply-All' functionality for text messages. Unfortunately, it is significantly clunkier than some of the offerings from yesteryear (eg Group Messaging from Vodafone Ireland and Orange UK from circa 2002).

Here are some of the commands:
  • Add a friend to your 3jam address book: add john brown 14123423534.
  • To send the first text message along with the 3jam initiation, include a dot (.) after the 'text' command and then type your message: text John Kyle Jane . Hey guys what up?
Looks like lots of hard work to me!

16 October, 2006

All change

No postings for a while - why the peace and quiet for the last month?

I got married at the end of September in Cambridge, UK. Following our honeymoon, we've moved to San Diego, California to where my wife's job has transferred. So it has been pretty frenetic over past 4 weeks!

So, I'm looking to hook up with some people that know the internet / mobile space around here. Get in contact if you're in the area!