Category Archives: Telco2

InfoVision Awards

Collecting the award for Best New Service….

And all the happy winners….

Looks like someone missed a memo re: dress code ๐Ÿ™‚

Press Pack for the Awards here.

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Dial2Do wishes a Very Happy Christmas to all our Beta Users

By now you might have noticed that there’s been a few things happening this week at Dial2Do. We have spruced up our website, added new content and a shiny new video to explain how it works, and switched on our paid service. We also quietly made some improvements to the way Dial2Do works for you when you phone it.

And finally, we gave a Christmas Gift to all our Beta users who have helped get us to this point – one year’s free subscription to the new Dial2Do Pro service! We are extremely grateful for all the comments, feedback and suggestions from our Beta users over the last twelve months – so we’re keen to keep you all with us! Please keep up the feedback and critical comments – it helps us make a better service for everyone.

Here’s a quick summary of what we’ve been doing:

  • New Site, content and naming: Now with added colour and cars! ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll be promoting the service as the Handsfree Assistant for drivers in 2010 and beyond.ย  There’s a new area to help you learn more about Dial2Do before you try it. Complete with shiny new video!
  • Payments: Dial2Do now has a free service and a Pro Service. When you sign up for the free service, you get one month of the Pro service to let you get a feel for what it can do for you. At the end of the month, if you’re not convinced, you can stay with the free service, which lets you manage your reminders (one of our most popular services). The Pro service costs either $3.99 a month, or $39.99 for the year, and lets you use everything Dial2Do has to offer. Full details on the Free and Pro services here.
  • Conversational commands. You can now speak a little more naturally if you like when talking to Dial2Do. For example, to send a text, you used to do this:

You: “Text”

Dial2Do: “Text. Ok. Text who?”

You: “Aunt Marge”

Dial2Do: “OK. Ready to text Aunt Marge….”

Now you can just do this:

You: “Text Aunt Marge”

Dial2Do” “OK, ready to text Aunt Marge….”

Full details of the new style and some of the options here.

Finally – we’ll be at CES show in January in Las Vegas, Baby! We’ll be exhibiting in the Distracted Driving Zone. So – if you want to meet or chat to the Dial2Do Team at the event, please drop a line.

Dial2Do Slides at ICIN 09

Broadband World Forum Panel

BWF

We were invited to be on a panel last week at the Broadband World Forum conference, which was held in Paris. I’ve never been at this conference before, and was pleasantly surprised. Very well attended, with plenty of “serious” players in attendance and some pretty interesting sessions, with lots of Q&A and also networking opportunities. Despite the “Broadband” title (which initially put me off) it was really choc-tastic with Telco players both mobile, fixed and converged. Lots of topics of interest and relevance to Dial2Do, including many sessions about Web 2.x and Mobile, and also various sessions on developers and developer communities.

Our panael was called “Stimulating Service Innovation through the Application Developer Community: Open Innovation“. Alan Quayle was chairing the session. Unlike some chairs or facilitators at things like these, Alan is “into” the topics he hosts, and so brings both knowledge, research and his own passion and opinions to bear on the topic. i think this makes for a richer and more engaging panel experience for audience and panel members, as Alan helps really drive the discussion and tease out the core issues. In our case, we ran for an hour and a half and could easily have gone on twice that length!!

At the core of the discussions were the following topics:

  • How should these new App Stores work?
  • What can the mobile industry learn from the TV industry wrt Web 2.x standards and widgets, and vice versa?
  • And of course, fragmentation of platforms, and the overshadowing presence of Apple and iPhone.

Alan has a good lowdown of the whole thing here.

A few thoughts, in no particular order, from the session:

  • It’s hard to underestimate how fundamentally Apple affected the mobile and wireless industry when they launched the iPhone. In every one of these conferences I attend, it typically takes 20 seconds before someone is asking telecom panellists or luminaries to explain how they’re going to “deal” with the Apple App Store, or the iPhone, or the iPhone OS. It has the whole industry spooked (in a good way, imho). It’s taken me a while to realise how profound a kick in the gut it was for Telecom Industry that a Computer/Internet player has really set the agenda and fundamentally shifted expectations for users, developers, and most of the ecosystem.
  • The operators are really struggling to balance competing pressures on them as they roll out their App Stores. Their bosses (the operator) wants revenue and hit apps. Developers want short time to market, loads of revenue share, and promotion in the store. Users want Apple-like simplicity, clear pricing and click-to-download. Guess what – it’s not possible! In Apple’s case, the store is not a revenue-earner, it’s an ecosystem driver that helps Apple sell iPods and iPhones. Operators don’t have an equivalent (maybe the nearest they have is the need to reduce churn and maintain subscriptions?). Anyway these stores look to me like they’re on a hiding to nothing. Everyone’s going to be just a “little bit” disappointed. And in to that disappointment gap will ride Apple, Google and to some extent Nokia if they make Ovi work.
  • Most of the operators have to battle significant internal issues in order to get any new innovation in this area (developer APIs, tools, App Stores) out the door. Among the key issues include how to support apps, and how to authorise them for the usage (quickly). Many would be wise to consider ย some form of “wild west” – create a separate brand that runs on the network, and allow a “promiscuous” development of apps to be available on that brand, with zero or only developer-support available there. Use this separate entity or brand to bypass your own internal antibodies that prevent innovation.
  • And lastly – on a separate note; I attended many Web 2.0 meets Telco style presentations at the event. It’s time to stop explaining what Web 2.0 is and get with the programme. Facebook has 65M monthly mobile users now and is a threat to many ingrained services that Telcos think of as being “theirs”. There is a huge potential for operators to embrace and benefit from Web 20 and mobile web 2.0 trends. Right now though there’s very little evidence of understanding how they might tap the potential here. The Social Phone is being developed largely by the internet players.

Anyway – a very interesting conference overall – I’d recommend it to anyone trying to take an industry “temperature” without wanting to slog around MWC for three days ๐Ÿ™‚

Alan Quayle on SmartPipes Conference

SmartPipes conference London

SmartPipes conference London

Alan Quayle has put his notes up about the SmartPipes conference in two separate posts on his blog:

Day One
Day Two

Enjoy!

SmartPipes Conference – London

SmartPipes conference London

I was at the SmartPipes conference in London this week. It had around 100 people attending at its peak, and was a very interesting couple of days.

Unfortunately I missed the morning of the first day, and that meant I didn’t hear Sean Kane (Bebo) speak. Everyone was commenting about his talk as being “a good one” – so I hope the slides my give me some idea of what he covered when they become available.

When I arrived, Nick Hunn of the Mobile Data Associate (and Ezurio now Laird) was being interviewed and was covering the many scenarios in which money could be made when the user isn’t “on the phone”. He presents a vision of how tiny sensors embedded in everyday equipment will send small quantities of data via your phone to various web services on the internet. So for example, weighing scales could auto-update a fitness or weight-watching service that you use, or a door being opened could tell and home-health service that an elderly person is awake and on the move. And so on.

I happen to be a big believer of this vision. With one of my other hats on (Rococo), I’m aware that low-energy Bluetooth will enable consumer devices to run for up to two years on a single button cell battery, beaming wireless updates intermittently (say once a minute) out via your phone to services on the web. And I think there is an incredible range of potential scenarios in which these things can be used for entrtainment, healthcare, and productivity. Perhaps more on this in a later post.back to the conference.

Steve Glagow, Vice President, Orange Partner, was up next. he valiantly outlined how Orange engages with developers and partners, and how they try to get “oxygen” forย  applications via their WAP portal, and online presence. I say “valiantly” as he was given a reasonably tough time by some of the developers in the audience. In particular, for example, when he covered how Orange picks the 500 “best” apps to push, he was tacked good naturedly about how they are in a position to pick “winners” in the application space, as opposed to letting users decide what they want from thousands of applications, and just rank them in popularity.

Graham Trickey, Head of the One API initiative was up next. If you’re not aware of the One API initiative, it may be worth a look – especially if you’re looking for signs that the Telecom Industry may improve how it can engage with developers and unleash innovation and application-creation at something closer to “internet” speeds. The aim is simple, the execution is complex: create cross-operator standardised APIs for stuff that developers want to use in their apps, such as messaging, billing, location and more.Well woerth a look – and you can get actual APIs to lay with at their site (courtesy of Aepona).

After lunch, there was a very entertaining developer’s panel, and boy, these lads were in the humour for a scrap ๐Ÿ™‚ Or to put in more fairly, they’ve been around the block with operators and carriers, twice! On the panel were Phil Mundy of Creative North,ย  Paul Golding of Wireless Wanders,ย  John Holloway of ZingMagic and Tom Montgomery of Mobiun. They had a constructive list (imho) of things they wanted from carriers. One of which was:

Stay out of my way

๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway – a very interesting discussion that covered payment (both revenue share, and time-to-receive-funds were high on the agenda), distribution (how can I get my app in front of relevant customers, and enough of them for it to be potentially worthwhile), simplicity of user exprience (especially in payment) and time-to-distribution (my phrase, meaning how long will it take to get my app approved and certified and whatever so that people might actually use it). The latter item is one of the things often cited by people that Apple got right with the store: end users know exactly what the price is (no confusion), apps may take several cycles to be approved, but each cycle is short, and the share of revenue is clear and unambiguous.

This is a session that would be worth expanding and repeating again sometime. Alan Quayle did a great job of nudging the conversation along, and keeping it constructive.

Last up were two talks from Erik de Kroon, Head of Marketing for Internet Discovery at Vodafone Group, UK, and Sune Jakobsson from the Open Services Group at Telenor.

The Vodafone pitch covered some details on an announcement from the 12th May about a global initiative to let developers create standard apps for any of their customers worldwide, and to simplify the process of payment and distribution across the board. They sound like they mean it, and indeed, there’s an early access dev centre where you can get some details on what’s what (from a tchnical perspective) right now. If they follow through on this, then indeed it could be a big deal. Fair play.

Lastly was Telenor. These guys are well known as being one of the main innovators when it comes to “openness” and engaging with third party application providers for their customers. The Q&A was both informative and also, in a way, cautious. I took from it that the barriers to following a “smartpipe” strategy for an operator are many and varied, often more political and financial then technical (no surprise there). Always interesting to hear candid background to the thinking around this from an operator-perspective.

End day one. Time for curry.

Day two opened with James Parton, who heads up the Litmus project at O2. Litmus is a fascinating initiative by O2 to become, well, more “porous” with respect to developers. It’s well though through. On the one hand, developers with an app can register and upload an application and associated descriptive details, and select from pro-forma legals for users to click through, in avery short amount of time (like half an hour).The o2 team will then review and approve the application (having checked it’s not malware) within a week. And you’re done! Your app can now be put in front of O2 users.

But which O2 users? Well, O2 are targeting a subset of their UK user base initially. What they call Aspirational Status Seekers (unfortunate acronym, I know! :-). They’re aiming to have many thousands of people signed up over the next few weeks, who will become willing participants in Litmus.

As someone who’s tried the first stages of this (registring an app, describing it, uploading a jar file, selecting some Ts and Cs, and so on) – I think it’s a great idea. It’s easy to use and get started with, and it offers the very attractive proposition of being able to expose your new app to a specific subset of the O2 user base, veru much under your own control. Kudos to O2.

Andrew Bud of the Mobile Entertainment Forum and MBlox, chaired the next panel session. He’s a master at this stuff – I’ve seen him speak before and he’s always very impressive. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s a great man to get in to a gnarly discussion with! ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway – the panel discussion covered payment models, the difficulty of working with developers who want things for free, as well as users who expect things for free, and so on. Very stimulating. Contained the nugget from Andrew that, according to their studies, it costs 1000 times more to send something (data) on mobile, than on fixed. A consequence is, some business models that work on fixed (with ultra low data distribution costs) just won’t work on mobile. There is a fantastic four-hour pub discussion just in that one sentence ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m going to email him to see if I can get access to some of that survey data to which he referred.

I then spoke. I had filled in at late notice from someone else, so my talk was written just in time for the event, and adapted from some other material. Anyway it was called “What we want from Smart Pipes”, and I put it up on slideshare here.

The next sessions that caught my attention were Claude Florin’s, who is Multimedia Marketing Manager with HP and Levi Shapiro, who presented some killer data from the US market.

Claude is a very thoughtful guy, with a broad perspective on the industry as you’d expect from someone with his role at HP. I can’t do justice to his presentation in brief, but suffice to say it covered quite a bit of vision across device innovation, and he related device innovation to potential synergies with truly “open” APIs on the network side of things.

Levi had data. Lots and lots of great Nielsen data. He ran through it with some style and panache. And it contained some fascinating couter-intuitive information. Such as? Such as: 25% of all iPhone users in the US are in just two cities (New York and LA). Or, 45% of Blackberry users have their device strictly for personal use. Or – men are significantly more likely to pay for App Store purchases!! Brilliant stuff – get a copy if you can ๐Ÿ™‚

On the home straight at this point, Gus Desbarat, Chairman, TheAlloy, moderated a panel disucssion about, well, everything. But the jumping-off point was about what lessons could be learned from the openess of devices. Panel includedย  Kai Leppanen of Opera Software,ย  Cees van Dok, Frog Design, Phil Northam, from Samsung, and me. One thing I took away was that innovative new Android devices (I mean really innovative, taking full advantage of how much of the OS can be customised and tuned to a specific purpose) are most definitely on the way, according to both Gus and Cees (they help companies design these new devices). So perhaps we will see a Gap Phone, or 50Cent phone, or other single-brand phones later this year? Hope so!

They packed a lot in to the two days. Well done to the team at Informa. Look forward to the next one.

eComm Roundups

A few eComm roundups are coming through from various places:

And if you want to just go to the source – the presentations are all over slideshare.