Product Management :: Product Marketing

28 November, 2006

Google does click to call for free

Google Maps has added Click to Call to their results. Briefly, as you browse Google Maps, you see a store that you want to call, you click on the 'Call' link and a dialog pops up. Enter your telephone number and press Call. Google calls your number first, when you answer, it dials the store, connecting both of you. More details here.

Here's an example of hardware stores in Seattle. I don't know how international this is.

The fascination is that Google is providing this service for free. It does, of course, give all stores / anything on Google maps a freephone number.

The opportunity for pranks is unending - you could besiege your next door neighbor anonymously. As for getting the local pizza company’s phone to ring off the hook with puzzled customers on the other end of the line ... well, you can see the possibilities for a malicious script....

27 November, 2006

The Rise of Social Relationship Mining and its implications

Social software is maturing out of simply 'connecting'. We’re seeing the start of relationship mining existing across services:
  • LinkedIn, the most successful business relationship network have added their ‘I recommend this person / company to the community’ feature (blogged previously). They are definitely going up the personal directory flagpole. With public profiles, LinkedIn represent an aggregator for other services.
  • Submit a name to Zoominfo and it will return a picture and relevant articles on containing that name.
  • Spock does something similar (Still in beta, but 100 million profiles mined apparently).
  • Proxpro does something similar, but to your cell phone (very handy) - much improved on their previous business models.
  • Hoover has partnered with Visible Path to create Hoovers Connect to allows users to mine their personal networks to find experts who might be able to help them whilst researching a topic.
By the way, what HAS happened to FOAF (Friend of a Friend) – the project that allowed people to define their friends in secure protected format. Was it a solution looking for a problem? Please comment if you know the answer.

One can mirror the development of these services with the development of the www:
  • metadata in each Webpage (page level)
  • Directories from Yahoo (directories)
  • Cross Linking from Google (search via relevancy)
The next generation has already started to occur: privacy private investigators. In the same way that you have pay be to alerted whenever your credit report is checked, garik is monitoring service that finds, tracks and monitors your personal information online. I can’t help thinking that this indexing service falls into the path of the mighty Google.

All of these services are ultimately half-way houses to fully fledged identity management where one manages one’s own information and who has access to it, when and why. Those in the industry can see the advantages of it, but really struggle with how to implement something that's easy for the mass market to understand.

Are microformats & semantic web the key to take us to the next level? I believe so.

23 November, 2006

Mobile Operators pin hopes on Mobile TV and HSDPA

Mike Grenville over at 160 Chars critiques Informa's 'Mobile Industry Outlook 2007' Report here. Informa concludes:
The industry thought that 3G would be the ARPU driver but now it is pinning its hopes on mobile TV and HSDPA.
Mike comments that there was no mention of SMS - still growing at 30% per year in the UK for example.

What about WAP or mobile internet? This I think is the undiscovered gem (or rather discredited years ago in WAP's case).

See stats indicating the penetration of internet browsing at Mobile Internet Access Grows (thanks to 160 chars again).

3 launches X-Series - Mobile Broadband bundle - when will they learn??

3 announced the upcoming availability of the ‘X-Series’ bundle – a mobile broadband offering that includes:
  • Skype – unlimited calls from their mobile phone (using data tariff, rather than voice minutes). On further reading, Skype service is NOT wVoIP - it's a circuit-switched call from the phone into a Skype VoIP gateway in 3's network according to this post.
  • MSN Messenger
Guideline cost per month is £15-20. Each country can set their own price tariff. To be launched in the UK on 1st December with other countries to follow in the New Year.

For an additional premium, 3 customers can use:
  • Sling – watch their home television on their mobile (and set their home recorder - nice)
  • Orb – access music, video and other content their home PC remotely
Plus there’s an announcement of a relationship with Google and Yahoo – search, of course, being the key enabler of the mobile internet.

Love this sound bite from Frank Sixt, Group Finance Director of Hutchison Whampoa:
"We are tearing down the wall around the garden and going naked into the world outside."
I can’t see this being a massive success for 3. Sure, it sounds cool and all and early adopters will point at this announcement excitedly, pontificating that the mobile internet has arrived and that one operator has seen the light etc.

But, it’s too early for this type of bundling – much better to drip feed these features onto the market. For the mass market, is there any precedent indicating the requirement for these features? For some, yes; for all, no; for all together: NO.

Users don’t want all these features – they want to trial a couple of them (with low barriers to entry, of course) and then to sign-up to the ones that are relevant to their needs. Presenting them as a bundle means that consumers think that they’ll be paying for features they don’t want - and won't try any ('Too much, too complicated, don't have time'), leaving a sour taste in everyone's mouth.

Much better to launch ‘Any two for £5 per month, free for the first 2 months’ or even catchier, ‘3 for 3 months for free’.

Will the other operators be impressed by 3’s announcement?

Nope, bundling too early means that everyone has to produce bigger and better bundles at ever lower costs OR other operators have to hope that this will be a damp squib (think of 3’s previous too-early-to-launch of video calling) and they can reset the market 9 months or a year later.

Overall result is that this may well stymie the market before it even exists.

Conclusion: Amateur marketing - 3 has p*ssed in its own pot and soiled it for everyone, including themselves.

19 November, 2006

Update on Loopt - the geo-tagging service

Loopt launches on Monday 20th November - download available from It's a location-based social mapping service that's only available in the US on the Boost network that I have mentioned before.

The system automatically updates the location of everyone in a private network of Boost customers and displays that information directly on a map on the phone. When a friend in the network is nearby, it sends an alert. It's the first geo-tagging mobile service.

The service is free for the rest of this year and $2.99 per month from 2007. We'll watch this with interest...... it looks darned good... gettin' jiggy to switch over to Boost just for this.

10 November, 2006

Missed Digital Identity Forum in London last week

Looks like it was an cracking conference in London last week - I'm looking forward to the presentations being posted.

General rant about mobile internet - good

Mike Rowehl has some excellent rants at the bottom of his post on this week's Mobile 2.0 conference in San Francisco earlier this week. He's bang on.

Skype 3.0 beta is out

Here are my headlines
  • Significantly bigger installation file (from 10Mb to 19Mb)
  • The most immediate change is a new UI - much nicer I think. Here's some of the details.
  • Public chats - basically Skyecasts but for instant messages (don't worry, there are moderation controls to allow you to kick people out of chats and to let them join in etc).
  • The promised browser extensions that allow you to simply click on a any telephone number on a webpage and for that to trigger a Skype out call (IE or Firefox only)
  • Access to Skype add-ins got easier too.

02 November, 2006

Verizon has OTA sync with Plaxo for phone contacts

Verizon customers can now synch their phone contacts with an online directory using Plaxo's Java-based application, according to MobileCrunch. It costs $4.49 per month.

Interesting that Plaxo has gone for its own Java solution, rather than using SyncML.

Incidentally, Plaxo's membership has grown from 10m to 15m in the last 6 months - see their press release.