Monthly Archives: February 2009

Telco 2.0 Guys put the Boot into IMS RCS

Well, I’d like to say I disagree, but I can’t. And I write this as someone who wants RCS to work so that we can integrate Dial2Do with some of the elements it offers.

Anyway – the boffins with bigger brains than ours have firmly stuck the boot in over at the Telco 2.0 Blog on RCS and indeed, IMS. Forgetting about IMS for now, I have much sympathy for their concerns with RCS. In addition to their gripes, I’ll re-state some of my concerns:

  • No internet player is involved with the IMS RCS initiative. Saying “well it’s free for anyone to join” is *not* an answer. Someone needs to get out of their chair and talk to Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, …anyone who is a player in IM and get them involved. Without that, what you have is the world’s smallest IM ghetto. Why is this hard to understand?
  • Even if you cannot get them involved, surely you should take best practise as it is now from the IM world regarding presence and status, and just re-use it? That should make some of the meetings shorter and help get to market faster.
  • You know that by the time you ship RCS there will perhaps be 500M people or more who’s first experience with IM with have been with Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook or someone else? You know they’re going to look at your version and go “how do I include my current IM friends”? And then when they hear the answer, they’ll never, ever use it again? See my first point.
  • And lastly, what *is* the obsession with video? Seen a lot of people doing video telephony recently? Even MMS has been remarkably slow and low in takeup! Get real.

Rant over.

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#mwc09 part 3

This is the last of three short posts covering some of our thoughts post-MWC09.

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First off, let’s mention ONE-API and BONDI. I’m mentioning these together as these are part of the potential ying/yang Zen solution that I dreamed about in my post about Alan Quayle and Developer API fatigue. Exec summary: BONDI – common APIs for Mobile Web Apps; ONE-API – common network APIs for accessing cool’n’groovy operator functionality.

So ONE-API (not sure of the capitals are part of the brand or not) is a new initiative from the GSMA to offer a common set of Network APIs that could be supported across operators. When I first heard about this, I laughed. Yes, it was a hollow laugh. Why? Because the notion of operators collaborating on something a fundamental and useful as network APIs (say, to send SMS’s, or trigger a call) seems pure fantasy based on past form. We’ve had some initiatives along these lines before, and they didn’t really work. The vision thang, as per this diagram, will look familiar.

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The promise is for common APIs for messaging, charging, etc. As I say – I had a “not again” reaction the first time I heard of this. However, from talking to people at the show, it seems things *may* be slightly different.

This initiative has come from the GSMA, as in, the operators themselves, and apparently, has significant and senior backing. I imagine it’s a reaction to the ongoing and relentless lunch-eating threat from “those Internet players” who continue to swallow or disrupt major chunks of the traditional Telco business. I don’t care why. If they’re serious about it, that would be good.

Of course, turning the high level willingness in to lower-level action and rollout is hard, but the feedback I picked up at the show was that this was going to receive pretty major attention and effort over the coming year to make it a reality. Apparently there are over ten operators on board. I wish them well. If you’re a developer and you’re interested, you can even try out some of the APIs here.

Next, BONDI. The focus of BONDi is device-side, in the browser, and specifically about providing APIs for mobile web (browser and widgets). It’s part of the Open Mobile Terminal Platform initiative, and has several elements, including a security policy, common APIs to access device capabilities from the browser, and also SDKs.

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BONDI has some good momentum in the telecom ecosystem, with support from handset makers and operators in many regions. It was also given a boost by LiMo a few weeks back. The approach they have taken makes it easy to get involved and also to get access to the latest versions of the specs. As BONDI progresses, one of the effects we may notice is that the line between web applications and native applications becomes increasingly blurred. Once a web application can access the GPS, Bluetooth, SMS, address book and other elements on the phone, many developers will choose to offer their applications as web-apps instead of download-and-install native apps. I was sceptical about this initiative when it began, but have been proven wrong in terms of both progress and potential to genuinely affect things within the next 12-24 months on volume handsets. Well worth a look.

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Both ONE-API and BONDI were prominent at the WipJam event at MWC on Thursday. If you don’t know what WipJam is, you may have come across it as the DeveloperJam or DevJam at other MWCs or conferences. It’s organised by the Wireless Industry Partnership (hence WIP), and is a developer-event, for developers, largely by developers. It has a deliberately low-key and informal tone, designed to encourage anyone in the mobile development arena to join in and take part. This one was well-attended (I’d say maybe 75-100 people over the day) and was really good. It has a two-phase format: there’s an unconference in the morning, followed by a structured set of discussions, in small teams, around a flip chart, in the afternoon. They get great people for the unconference (in this case for example: Christopher David of Sony Ericsson, Nicholas Landrin of I-Source, Jason Lim of Microsoft, David Woods of Symbian Foundation, and James Parton of O2 Litmus).

There was a *lot* of good discussion at the unconference, much of it regarding App Stores, pricing, and of course Apple. I’d say thirty percent of all conversations mentioned the word “Apple”. It’s constantly entertaining how spooked the whole industry has been by the boy-wonder non-Telco player 🙂 As a sampler – check out this interview at the show with Strand. The comment stream makes for good reading too – my rant included 🙂
Anyway – at the WipJam I helped with the session on “Making Money”, and the first picture in this post is our “mind map” from our discussions (it was an *excellent* few sessions – and I’m going to create an annotated version for the WipWiki site). If you’re going to be at CTIA, then sign yourself up for the next one at CTIA Las Vegas, Thursday, April 2, 2009, 10am – 5pm, Rm N262, LV Convention Center.
Ok – a few last items and then I’ll shut up.
  • Android: I thought Android had a “low key” show; not much news; not many handsets. It was the dog that didn’t bark 🙂
  • Alan Quayle has a nice roundup of some of his thoughts from the show
  • The guys at Telco 2.0 have their own informative MWC roundup

#mwc09 part 2

Ok, part two of our round-up from last week’s Mobile World Congress. First off, I thought “The Social Phone” had a good show. By this I mean there was quite a bit of activity around new phone models that support or enhance social networking, about mobile social networking, and general continued buzz on that “space” as the analysts like to say.

In the run-up to the show, we had some great stats emerge, like the fact that Facebook has 25 million mobile users per month now, up from 5 million at the start of 2008. MySpace is at 20 million a month. And Bebo? Well – it’s hard to tell as numbers seem to be thin on the ground. Given the growth rates however, it’s small wonder then that there’s buzz around trying to create a “joined up” experience for people accessing their favourite social sites from the phones. Motorola has openly declared that their new Android phones will have quite an emphasis on “social”, and witness also the success of apps like the Facebook app on the iPhone. While the iPhone as such, hasn’t gone hell for leather for social features built-in, look at the rang of apps that populate the store.

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You get the idea – phones are of course a brilliant tool with which to update and review your social network activity, because of their characteristics: they’re with you when you’re out and about, being social, they let you capture audio, video, text “at the point of inspiration” – when you have an idea, a thought, a feeling or just see, hear or notice something that you want to share with your mates. Increasingly, apart from vertical social networks, the idea of one without a strong mobile component, or even a mobile “centre of gravity” will seem odd.

Anyway – in to this fray steps the INQ1, winner of the Phone of the Show award at MWC09.

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I have to say I think this was a well-deserved award. INQ1 have tried very hard to really stitch social networking, and especially Facebook, right in to the DNA of the INQ1. They’ve tried to help figure out things like connecting your address book (on the phone) to your contacts (in your social networks). And they’ve made a great start. It’s not perfect, but then few things are in this very-quickly changing area, and they are to be congratulated for what they’ve got right. Such as? Such as:

  • Yes – you can pull your contacts in to the address book – right from Facebook
  • Your address book as a result “comes alive”. So first, you don’t have to set photos for your contacts (duh, as Martin Geddes pointed out a long time ago) – those photos are pulled from profile pics on Facebook. Nice. In addition, you can see latest status updates from your contacts right in the address book, one of the places that it’s really useful (“um, better not call John, seems he’s in Oz and it’s 3am there….”)
  • Push updates on Facebook activity. Tricky to strike the balance here between “shut that goddamn phone up” and “why does no one update” – but I think they’ve done a nice job. It beeps with “stuff” you might want to know about every so often.

And there’s more – you get the idea. Suffice to say though, I think the devil is in the detail. There’s lots of small things about the way the INQ1 does its business that takes a while to appreciate. They team show that they “get it” and may have actually used a social network site in anger at some point, as opposed to some implementations we can think of. Award well deserved imho. And yes, I plan to try and do a full, detailed review of the INQ1 in a future post.

Back to the show. We were exhibiting on the Enteprise Ireland Stand at the show. They threw a party on-stand on Tuesday evening – and it was MOBBED!!!

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Seriously. Hundreds turned up to sup Guinness and mingle and munch canapes. And then we headed to the Irish Bar where the real trouble began 🙂 A very well-organised event, and kudos yet again to Enterprise Ireland, who consistently outclass other Country Pavilions at these events and punch way above their weight.

Speaking of countries – there’s been some good chatter on the MoMo London newsgroup after MWC with a good debate about whether MWC09 was good (or indeed, whether it’s ever good!). It was kicked off by this blog post. And then the group has dived in either echoing these comments or in defense. Mostly in defence so far it has to be said. My favourite bits:

It doesn’t matter how good your new handset is; the CBoss dancing girls in Hall1 are still the most photographed feature of MWC.

And

A dry ham baguette is not lunch.

Ouch! More to follow….

#mwc09 part 1

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Just back home in Dublin from Mobile World Congress Barcelona, and have the usual mix of post-tradeshow excitement-cum-fatigue. It was a really excellent show. Attendance was down, which made the aisles easier to walk, the queues (lines) shorter or non-existent, hotels easier to book, and the whole conference just slightly less manic than in prior years. The reduced attendance meant anyone there was there to do business. As a result it seemed to me, and to most people I asked, that “quality” (meaning potential to move business deals forward) was up. That is indeed a good thing.

I’ll do a few short posts to cover our week at MWC. As usual – it’s sometimes hard to get around to see things, as we were either on our stand or in meetings. This tends to cramp your style, even if (as we did) you have a team of three present all week. However, you do tend to pick up “the buzz” from the meetings, the traffic, the show conversations, and so on. Plus of course we were at several events during the week, at which the great and the good were present, so you get to hear their take on things.

So just for fun, here’s a starter insight to MWC : the price of Internet Access if you use the Fira-supplied offers in the building.

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Yes, that’s right. 75 Euro for 24 hours access!!! Unbelievable. I know, I know. Most people at the show use some other method, either supplied by their stand (wired or wireless access), or have made their own arrangements. I just can’t help find it ironic that these prices are approaching the highest I’ve ever seen. Surely, surely, surely, with an agenda to promote “wireless access” – especially to data – the GSMA could sort out something innovative, showcase and world-class for future years?

Now for other matters. Well first things first. Dial2Do was nominated by the MobileMonday Dublin chapter for the MobileMonday Peer Awards at MWC. As I mentioned before, it was an honour to be nominated, and we went filled with gusto, vim and vigour to put our best foot forward to win the prize. Our ceo, Ivan MacDonald did the pitch, which included a first public presentation about our new partnership with SouthWing for their new SouthWingAssistant service.

Well, we didn’t win. 😦 However, the event was great, the quality across the board was very strong, and we had some fantastic feedback, before, during and after the event.

The winner was very-deserved babajob – a job-finder service with a strong mobile component based in India. They swept the boards with both community awards and jury awards. Congratulations and kudos to everyone at babajob.

We then attended the MoMo Peer Awards party, and great gathering organised at Citrus. Seemed that everyone was there – top marks to the m-trends team for making it happen.

Back at the stand, we had a great reaction to the SouthWing announcement. There’s nothing like having the real hardware available on the stand to show people to help them get the idea. And the new SouthWing stuff looks very, very slick.

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We did a lot of demos at the show to give people a real feel for how the SouthWing Assistant will work in practise (push the button, get connected!). As SouthWing happen to be a Barcelona-based company, many of the SouthWing staff were able to stop by over the course of the conference. It was great to put faces to some of the names we’ve spent time with on conference calls over the last few months! 🙂

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Our Stand-Of-The-Show award goes to SpinVox, who, as last year, had the most original design and most astonishing marketing at the show. Man – dem boys have some serious marketing moolah. Incredible!

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On Monday Dial2Do was also were included in a new report by Infonetics on IMS and RCS. We’ve written here before about RCS, and were privileged to be included in Diane Myers’ new report, released on the first day of the conference. As Diane wrote:

One measure of success for RCS will be the ability to layer-on enhanced services and capabilities beyond the core components. There are a number of compelling voice and data applications that offer converged mobile/fixed-line capabilities that operate perfectly well in stand-alone IP networks. To date there has been little compelling value to move to IMS from an application perspective. RCS changes all that as the example of Dial2Do illustrates.

Diane covers an rich communication example we’re working on in Dial2Do, whereby we can add value to a “call” service – offering rich status information regarding the called party (latest IM status, twitter status, and so on) within the call flow, and offer the caller some options as to how best to connect. The report is available from Infonetics.

Ok, this post is getting too long. Back later with more on Android, Social Phone and tidbits from the show.

eComm : still time to register

Emerging Communications 2009

Yes – I know many of us are just back from MWC and the last thing you want to think about is another conference. However, you must.

I did a post a while back about the top ten reasons to attend eComm. Well – check out the agenda now – it’s bigger, better and bouncier than before! You have even more reasons to make this one of the key stops on your event calendar for 2009.

  • Check out the schedule here. Yes – I know it looks impossibly packed, but you haven’t seen Lee manage the time and guillotine speakers when they run over. It. Will. Be. On. Time! 🙂
  • Recent blog posts and podcasts here.
  • Presentations from last year (still worth a look) are here.

Dial2Do and SouthWing announce revolutionary hands-free devices for drivers

Dial2Do and Global Bluetooth headset manufacturer SouthWing will announce the new SouthWing Voice Assistant service at the ShowStoppers Event at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona on Sunday evening.

Together with SouthWing’s patented Push4™ button, the SouthWing Assistant ushers in a new era of convenience, safety and productivity for drivers. Drivers just push a button on their headset or carkit and speak to send text messages, send and listen to emails, record reminders and more. Powered by Dial2Do’s Voice Platform, the service is a boost for anyone who wants to make best use of their time in the car, but stay safe and legal behind the wheel.


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“This is a world first” says Bart Huisken, SouthWing Founder, “We’ve focused on making it totally simple for drivers to get things done and drive safely. With the SouthWing Assistant, you press a button and just talk to send emails, reminders and more. The combination of our patented Push4 button with Dial2Do’s voice platform makes it a “joined up” experience for the user, an industry first. The combination of a single button to press and a single price to pay for everything gives users simplicity and convenience in both service and pricing.”


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Dial2Do will be demonstrating the service at the Mobile Monday Peer Awards Barcelona, where they have been shortlisted in the Early Stage Startup category. The MobileMonday Mobile Peer Awards Barcelona are among the most influential events in the mobile industry and, with over 1000 attendants, the point of reference in startup innovation during the Mobile World Congress. Dial2Do was nominated by peers in the Dublin Chapter of Mobile Monday.

Dial2Do will be in action all week at Mobile World Congress, and are exhibiting on the Enterprise Ireland Pavilion in Hall 1, Stand 1F17. Dial2Do will also be taking part in the Mobile Jam for Wireless Developers, now called WipJam on Thursday at MWC, and are helping chair the session on Making Money.

Official Press Release is attached below. 

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Alan Quayle and Developer API Fatigue

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[Used with permission under creative commons by http://www.art-sciencefactory.com/about-factory.html%5D

I think Alan Quayle has put his finger on something with his latest blog post, titled “When everybody wants to be your friend: what’s an Application Developer to do?”. Well worth a read, the exec summary is this: the whole mobile and telecom industry is actually increasing the fragmentation for developers, not decreasing it. And it seems that the rate of fragmentation is increasing, not decreasing. And if they keep that up, they’re hosed.

Ok that’s not exactly what he said, but that’s how I read it. And I think it’s a point worth serious consideration. How does the mobile/wireless world look from a developer’s perspective?

  • Vodafone would like you to develop to their APIs
  • Orange would like you to develop to their APIs
  • BT/Android would like you to develop to their APIs
  • Apple would….

And so on. You get the idea. I suspect that if mobile developers could wave a wand and make a wish, they would wish for:

  • A single set of device APIs
  • A single set of network APIs

The device APIs would either be enabled or net depending on the capabilities of a given device; and the network APIs would be present or not depending on the capabilities of a given network. Both sets would have a mandatory core (lowest common denominator).

Yes, I know this is incredibly simplistic, and frightfully difficult to achieve given the complexity of the mobile and wireless value chain (handset manufacturers, mobile OS suppliers, operators, retailers, etc.). But I did say it was just a wish 🙂 Isn’t this just unreasonable?

No.

When I code against an internet API, broadly speaking, it’s the same, everywhere. As Alan says, the danger is that while time passes with all these initiatives underway, the internet players in particular will just eat Telco lunch. To get a feel for this “in the small”, look at RCS (rich communication suite), an excellent initiative within the broader IMS arena. RCS is rapidly iterating to define common and consistent user experience and feature sets for the social phonebook coming to IMS-enabled phones in late 2009. Two things about it though are worrying:

  • No internet players (none!) are involved in RCS (so the players who effectively defined presence and IM and taught the world to use it are not helping define the experience)
  • By the time RCS emerges in volume products, tens of millions of people, maybe hundreds of millions, will have already had their expectations set around how rich presence, value-add calling and so on should behave, by Skype, Facebook, Truphone, Google/GTalk, Calliflower, iChat, SkyDeck, and a host of other names, none of whom you’ll notice, are traditional telecom operators. This is a problem.

Anyway – didn’t mean to rant. But Alan’s rant set me off 🙂

Finally: a word in defense of WipJam (formerly MobileJam) – at Wipjam, they participants try to sort out a way through all this mess, so it’s one of the sessions well worth attending. But then, I would say that 🙂