Tag Archives: mobile2.0

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


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.


Dial2Do : multiple phone numbers, Corkboard, FireEagle, and more!

We quietly put out a new release of Dial2do last week, and so I’m overdue to fill you in on the new features. Some of the stuff we’ve done is “behind the scenes” work, paving the way for further partner activity (like our recent announcement about Southwing) and Dial2Do API work. More on that down the line.

Multiple Phone Numbers

Yesssss! ๐Ÿ™‚ A feature I’ve personally been very keen to see, as I use different phone numbers from different places at different times, especially when travelling. Dial2Do now supports multiple phone numbers – so you can register up to three numbers that Dial2Do will recognise as you. One needs to be your primary or main number (which Dial2Do will use to set your country). Remember: caller id needs to be on in order for Dial2Do to know who’s calling. Now (for example), you could call Dial2Do from a home (land) phone as well as your mobile. Or, as I do, call it from a US mobile and a European mobile. Excellent.

New commands: CorkBoard and FireEagle

We’re delighted to welcome FireEagle and Corkboard to the Dial2Do “world of services”!


Fire Eagle (part of Yahoo) is a location “broker”. It does two things: 1) you can enable multiple applications and services to update Fire Eagle with your location and 2) you empower Fire Eagle to share that location, under rules you define, with other people or services. Sounds complicated? It’s not! it’s a great service for controlling how much information you wish to share about your location, and with whom. Now you can update your location in Fire Eagle by calling Dial2Do and saying where you are! Sweet.


As their tagline says : Corkboard helps you remember things. It’s an internet corkboard that you stick things in to that you need to remember. Now you can call Dial2Do and speak those things and they’ll pop right in to Corkboard. More details here.

Confirm before you send, and additional security

A popular request has been to be able to “confirm before sending” whatever you said on to Dial2Do. People sometimes want to rehearse what they want to say and “get it right” before it heads to Dial2Do-Land. Well, now you can do that. There’s a new setting in your settings page (settings is accessed via a link on the top right hand side when you’re logged in). ย By default the new “confirm recordings” setting is disabled – just enable it to have Dial2Do check with you before sending anything.


In addition, we have a new security feature. You may now add an option to further protect your account using a PIN code. This works as follows: if enabled, when you call Dial2Do, you will be asked for your four digit PIN. You may speak it, or enter it using the phone keypad. On successful entry you can continue as normal.

Improved Email

We’re continually trying to improve the user experience of the services in Dial2Do. This release sees some changes to email, one of the most-used services in Dial2Do. We’ve tuned the “listen to email” experience, as follows: Dial2Do will now play a summary of each email for you, and offer the option to skip to the next email (say “next message”) or listen to it (“listen”). This gives a better “flow” if you’re trying to quickly get a feel for what’s in your in-box and only listen to the stuff you really care to hear in detail. very keen to hear your feedback on this one!

Richer Reminders

People just love reminders. Oh yes they do. And our users have had a lot of suggestions for how to enhance the reminder service to make it more useful. In this release you can now “tick off” your reminders as you listen to them – as in – mark them as “done” if they’re done. How? You just say “complete that” and Dial2Do will “tick” that reminder for you. Stay tuned for more goodies to come in reminders down the line.


Saying “help” in Dial2Do now lists your commands. You’re welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

Mobile 2.0 Barcelona

Our CEO, Ivan Mac Donald, is over attending the Mobile 2.0 Europe Conference in Barcelona. If you’re in the neighbourhood, find him and say hello! There’s a great set of companies attending, from the Mobile Ecosystem and VC arena. Bodes well for a great gig! Congrats to Rudy and the DotOpen team for pulling it all together

Update! We made the list for presenting companies!

DevJam at CTIA 2008

We were delighted to be invited to take part in the DevJam at CTIA last week. I could only attend the afternoon sessions, so I missed what was by all accounts a pretty lively morning session, during which the various Developer Programs get to present their stuff, while the actual developers in the room throw rotten vegetables at them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just kidding of course! In fact, the session was very constructive, and a good flow of ideas moved around the room between all parties, which laid good groundwork for the afternoon session.

The afternoon sessions break in to a number of topics, and it works like this: session leaders stay in one place, with a flip chart and some chairs around them. There are six sessions running in parallel. People sit down at one of the sessions for 40 minutes or so, and the leaders stimulate debate and discussion on the topic in hand. Then people are encouraged, nay, actually prodded with big sticks to ensure they move from topic to topic after 40 minutes. This generates great circulation of ideas and contacts in the room, and by the end of it, pretty much everyone has at least spoken to or heard everyone else once. Provides a good basis for the post-DevJam beers that follow ๐Ÿ™‚

The sessions were :

1. Mobile OS and Platforms
2. Mobile 2.0 ( I was one of the session leaders for this)
3. Testing & Certification
4. Getting to Market / Channels
5. Development โ€“ JSRs, MIDP3 and more
6. Open Source in Handsets

It’s hard to summarise an organic and dynamic process like this, but here’s a few observations, in no particular order:

  • No one wanted to do Session 5 (as in – no one really wanted to attend it – so it was killed). Here’s a vivid example of what’s happening in the market, played out “in the small”. Android eschewed JSRs and J2ME. So did Apple. Is the relevance of Mobile Java draining away?
  • They counted something like 15+ platforms in the Mobile OS and Platforms session. No one actually believes that the number is going down anytime soon, so the age-old problems of how to develop for multiple formats, multiple OSs will continue, providing those multi-platform tool vendors with opportunities for some time to come.
  • One of the most popular sessions was “Getting to Market / Channels”. All sang the praises of this group. Maybe they could stick some outs up on the DevJam blog, as it seemed to have everyone’s attention, and the discussions seemed (from a distance) very good (when you’re leading a session, you don’t get to move, hence I don’t really know what the others covered in detail).
  • As for our Mobile 2.0 session, we had the following: there’s no common definition of what it is. It ranged from mashing up Web 2.0 services with mobile features and functions, to full-on “it’s everything you do on the web, re-cast for our mobile”. It’s probably worth re-citing mtrends’ excellent presentation here as a contribution to working out the answer. My own two cents was around this: what is mobile operators thought of themselves as a social network?
  • They know (mostly) where you are
  • They know who your friends and business colleagues are (you call them the most, or they you, or you text them)
  • With these two things alone, they can figure out lots of useful value-add to offer you, and your friends, if you opt-in to sharing some limited information with them. If only.

Anyway – a great day and masterfully co-ordinated and organised by Caroline Lewko and team. Top Job!

Mobile 2.0 Perspective

There are quite a few roundups you can get on the web regarding “Mobile 2.0” or “Phone 2.0” or even “Telco 2.0”. Rudy De Waele of m-trends gives regular presentations on Mobile 2.0 at various conferences, as well as blogging on the topic at m-trends. I think his latest presentation is a great introduction to the whole area, and for the most part, it can stand alone, although I know the value is greatly enhanced if you can listen to the man himself run through these slides.