Product Management :: Product Marketing

12 December, 2007

Big feature on QR Codes in major UK newspaper

The Sun, the most read newspaper in the UK (famous for its topless Page 3 girls), had a series of pages promoting QR code last week:

Mobile Content News reports that News International, the Sun’s owner, is watching the take-up of the service closely, and may roll it out across all of its titles if it proves successful. Naturally the Sun is looking at the advertising potential and have already signed up Ladbrokes, Sky and Twentieth Century Fox to the service.

Also from
Google has stated that Andriod will feature a basic, but functional “format agnostic” QR reader, to be preloaded on all devices shipping with the Android Open OS.
The same link also contains this:
many of the major US carriers are getting behind the technology, giving the downloadable readers some fairly prominent deck placement over the next few quarters (sources confidential).
Obviously, I still haven't researched how the legals in QR Codes outside of Japan have been overcome. Any pointers anyone??

05 December, 2007

Opera mini over one million downloads in 10 days

Selling like hot cakes!

Opera Mini 4, the newest version of the world's most popular mobile Web browser was released at the start of November. Overall, Opera Mini has already been embraced by more than 26 million cumulative users who view more than one billion Web pages every month.

From Opera's own press pages.

O2 and Nokia test mobile wallet in UK for travel and payments

O2 has launched the UK's first large scale pilot of NFC (Near Field Communications) technology on mobile phones reports MobileMonday.

500 users in London will be able to making purchases in retail outlets and travelling on London's public transport system.

Trialists will also be able to touch the NFC-enabled handset on selected smart posters at the launch and at other locations over the course of the trial. The smart posters contain embedded tags which serve as shortcuts for services enabled through the handset. Once the user taps the poster with the handset, they will automatically dial a number, send a text message or be sent a shortcut to a mobile internet site with more information about the subject on the poster e.g. an event taking place or downloading content.

The trial will also examine mobile payments using the Barclaycard payment application in the O2 Wallet for purchases under £10.

1.7 million new GSM subs every day

Blimey - this even makes Facebook look pedestrian!

No surprises - India and China provided most of it.

GSM has over 86 percent market share of all mobile systems, 2.2 percent increase since the end of 2006.

From MobileMonday

03 December, 2007

LTE reaches 100Mbps in the lab

Nokia has announced 100 Mbps data transfer speeds using LTE. Story from MobileMonday.

LTE (or its official name 3GPP LTE (Long Term Evolution) - definition at wikipeidia).

From the same article:

Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group plc shocked some in the industry when the companies announced they were considering LTE as the 4G evolution path for their respective networks. However, neither company has yet fully committed to the technology.

Many still expect Vodafone partner company and CDMA operator Verizon Wireless to eventually select Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) technology, which stands on the CDMA evolution path, and is often touted as an alternative to LTE technology, which is the WCDMA evolution path.

WiMAX: two steps forward, one step back, but the dance continues

Excellent summary of the state of the WiMAX implementations from Analysys.

Sprint Nextel revealed on Friday that it would not be following through with the previously announced plans to build a mobile WiMAX network with Clearwire; at least not within the timescales previously mentioned.
Both WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution) are aiming to meet the ITU’s 4G requirement of 100Mbit/s data rates in a mobile environment.

Here's another summary of WiMAX's prospects (also from Analysys) from March '07. It poo-poos the opportunity in developing world, citing high Cap-Ex and the greater value placed on voice (rather than data) services.
In developed markets, head-to-head competition with DSL could be disastrous for WiMAX.
Here are Analysys' success criteria:
  • a WiMAX operator with a large existing customer base, strong brand and substantial marketing budget, to expedite the growth in customer numbers
  • strong demand for mobility, to enable a significant price premium over fixed broadband services
  • free spectrum available
  • low frequency of operation (2.5GHz), to minimise the number of WiMAX base stations required
  • strong leverage over terminal vendors, to drive substantial price declines
  • existing base station and transmission infrastructure, to minimise capital investment.

Google's My Location

Google Maps has My Location in beta.

It displays your current location on Google Maps. It works with a GPS-enabled mobile phones - so no real surprises there.

What I like is that it works (using the same interface) on non-GPS phones using cell triangulation. You press '0' on your keypad to do the location look-up. Here's a YouTube explaining it.

Now, we all know that mobile operators charge for location look-ups using cell triangulation (eg about 7p in the UK (about 15 US cents)- I know because I experimented launching an LBS service in 2003).

Google's service is in beta - what happens on launch? Presumably, it will be funded by Google's giant advertising machine. I also assume that there will be a geo-location version of their advertising service to follow.

CommNexus GadgetFest 07

I attended the excellent GadgetFest in the middle of November in San Diego.

Companies presenting are listed below. The winner was Shopping Assistant from Motorola. I would have awarded the prize to WiseDV - see below.

CompanyProductMy POV
  1. Make a local call.
  2. You say the person's name in your address book that you would like to call.
  3. You're connected. (More here)
Very similar to Rebtel, which I have just configured for my wife.Interestingly, the COO is the former Head of the Mobile Product Group at Skype.
Not differentiated enough from other VoIPs
MotorolaIn-store handheld advertising.
  1. You pick the device up and the entrance.
  2. You swipe your loyalty card, so it knows your regular shopping list
  3. Coupons and offers are presented, ALONG with the map of the store (nice!)

Eventual winner.

I envisage lots of implementation issues here, but Motorola's brand name will most probably mean this will become a familiar feature of shopping in the future.

GPSitA sturdy GPS tracking device that can be bolted onto the bottom of a vehicle (for example) and tracked for many days.Not blowing me away with innovation here
Novatel WirelessGlobal tri-band HSDPA/UMTS and quad band EDGE/GPRS modem stick with 4Gb data storage.
Not sure I'm doing it justice here....
Looked darned useful.
Your Truman Show Err, YouTube with a little more social pixie dust, I think. Nice UI, but didn't see much evidence of pixie though.
Truphone Wi-fi VoIP - similar to a former client of mine, Barablu.
The Presenter was Tom Carter, co-founder of BridgePort Networks (MobileVoIP + FMC) who presented last year at GadgetFest.
There's much more to this than meet the eye. I'd like to know more please!
Pulse~link First room-to-room distribution of multiple HDTV streams and multimedia content over both coax and wireless connections simultaneouslyAs one of the judges said, "I think I'll buy another DVD player instead".
The Pulse~link presenter was flummoxed.
WiseDV Handheld device that gives the attendee at sports stadiums, arenas and concert halls more angles, more views, replay, stats to enhance the viewing experience.The winner, IMHO.

Doc Searles on writing our own privacy rule

Doc Searles, someone whose views I admire a lot, writes a great post on this blog about how it's time for US to write our own privacy rules.

Doc's passionate about VRM, Vendor Relationship Management. Here is the definition:
Create an ecosystem of tools, protocols, and services that help users manage vendor relationships.
Hmm, I agree, but see my previous post on privacy - people expect high standards and assume that this is the case. They don't read the privacy statements in depth (neither do I). So a much simpler rating system is needed.

Facebook's Beacon cranking up privacy concerns

Mighty rumbles across Facebook universe as it has implemented a new advertising technology, called Beacon, to make the online shopping experience that much more social ... and has now reversed out the most intrusive elements of the new functionality.

What's the fuss about?

When Facebook users shopped online, Beacon told friends what they looked at or bought. More than 40 websites, including, and Blockbuster, signed up to use Beacon software on their webpages and report what Facebook users did when they visited. Could be useful, yes?

YES, but naively Facebook launched Beacon as an "default opt out" system (ie everyone knew what you had bought, unless you specifically said 'Absolutely no way').

International Herald Tribune reports that there was a pop-up box alert to FB users that indicated that information was about to be shared with Facebook unless they click on "No Thanks." The pop-up disappears after about 20 seconds, after which consent is assumed. Admittedly, this pop-up appears on every partner site that has adopted Beacon.

Here's one the more harmless examples of where it went wrong, also from IHT:
"People should be given much more of a notice, much more of an alert," said Matthew Helfgott, 20, a college student who discovered his girlfriend just bought him black leather gloves from Overstock for Hanukkah. "She said she had no idea (information would be shared). She said it invaded her privacy."
At the other end of the scale:
"What if you bought a book on Amazon called 'Coping with AIDS' and that got published to every single one of your friends?"
Yukky, basically.

For users of social software, best practices in privacy are assumed - and those practices don't vary. Messing with these principles messes with the brand.

So guess what? Disgruntled Facebook users formed an online protest (more than 50,000 of them) and forced the mothership to rescind - Beacon is now 'default opt-in'.

As the BBC reports:
The changes to Beacon may not be the last that Facebook has to make to the technology.

Two rights groups, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy, are believed to be compiling a complaint to the US Federal Trade Commission about it.
I'd be much more afraid of further Facebook backlash - further investigative reports like this don't help: Facebook's Beacon More Intrusive Than Previously Thought.

02 December, 2007

Huge Data breach in UK opens further questions about National ID card scheme

UK Government's Customs and Revenue mailed 2 CDs for 7 million citizens who receive child benefits from one end of the country to the other. Unfortunately, the CDs become lost in the post. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown had to stand up in Parliament and apologize profusely for the department in question 'not following the proper procedures'.

Side note: For the opposition party, it was a wonderful opportunity to pour scorn on the Labour Party. It was a situation, delightfully described in the Guardian:
This wasn't just shooting fish in a barrel - it was harpooning a porpoise that's got into your bath.

Anyway, the real issue is that it raised further concerns about the controversial National ID card scheme. As Nick Robinson from the BBC writes in his blog:
What is clear to me is that the public would like to see the information they provide guarded like a dangerous virus in a lab. In reality, there is clearly a culture of casualness toward it which allows one man, apparently, to copy 25 million names and details onto two discs and chuck them in the post.
Clearly, the vulnerability in the system is most likely to be human or systematic. This ID card initiative has many, many tortuous turns to make before it becomes reality.

Much harder (ideologically) to implement in Europe than in the US and even harder in the UK, given its suspicion of centralization.

Symbian dismisses Google's mobile foray

Cute quotes from John Forsyth, vice president of strategy at Symbian:

"mobile OS is a very specialised form of rocket science. It's not search rocket science. "

"Search and a mobile phone platform are completely different things."

"About every three months this year there has been a mobile Linux initiative of some sort launched. "It's a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round..."

from a BBC report.