Archive for November, 2009

Radio 1 Free MMS day: Great idea, 3 years too late

November 30, 2009

I saw a tweet from the Mobile Data Association this evening linking to a video of Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills explaining the BBC Radio 1 Picture Messaging Day.

The concept, as this MDA blog explains, is…

…to drive a high profile project which will educate and reinforce MMS messaging to a mass market in an entertaining and interactive way. In the same way the MDA helped to propel the growth of SMS text messaging, we now believe the emergence of increasingly sophisticated and affordable devices with intuitive MMS functionality should bring a surge in the use of richer media mobile messaging.

All the UK mobile networks are joining in — so it will be free to send an MMS, to Radio 1, on Friday 11th December. (WIN Plc are the aggregator behind the project).

Ostensibly the project will enable Radio 1 to compile a wickedly cool massive picture featuring your face — that, by the way, is what you’ve to MMS to the Radio Station on the day.

Just to be clear: You’ll be billed for sending MMS messages to anyone else. It’s only free to Radio 1 on that day.

Which, frankly, is a fat lot of good for the wider consumer.

The mobile industry — the mobile operators — (and to a lesser extent, the Mobile Data Association) — have handled the introduction and implementation of MMS with neolithic incompetence.

This is far, far too late.

Far too late.

THIS! From an industry that thought it would be a good idea to FUCK the consumer to the tune of FIFTY PENCE — read it and weep — FIFTY FLIPPIN’ PENCE — per shite small bollocks photo… the mobile operators deserve the absolute flop they got.

Oh MMS is reasonably popular, nowadays.

Now that generations of handsets have been sent out into the market with the correct settings, more or less. Now that mobile operators have actually got off their arses and interconnected.

But a public education project? Goodness me this is ridiculous, ridiculously late.

It is, of course, completely irrelevant to anyone with an iPhone or Android handset. MMS? What MMS? You can just email the photo. 😉

Unfortunately the medium has a normob reputation of being absolutely useless — this isn’t quite the fault of the mobile operator per se — but when I take a 5 megapixel image and transmit it to your bollocks shitty small-screened Nokia 3600, yeah… the experience isn’t going to be very good at all.

Of course, now and again, there are moments where sending a photo to your friend with the shite mobile handset is necessary. So that’s when you need to use MMS.

My reading of the consumer marketplace is that they needed this effort from the MDA and the mobile operators about 3 years ago. Not now.

Still. Any assistance is useful, right?

And speaking of assistance, have you checked out getsettings.com? It’s the site run by the MDA that helps UK consumers get the right access settings for their network.

This is important, because the BOLLOCKS mobile industry couldn’t get its act together. Most reasonably modern handsets automatically acquire and select the relevant MMS/data gateways. But I meet too many normobs who ‘haven’t got MMS setup’ or who tell me that ‘it’s never worked for me’.

Only today I had a text from a reader who got his N900 today — but can’t connect to Vodafone’s data gateway for some reason.

This is simply ridiculous.

Again, I suppose it’s laudable that the MDA is doing something about it.

Pricing has always been a problem. Talk to most normobs and they’ll either tell you that MMS is ‘expensive’ or they’ll assume it’s not included in their price plan. Thankfully many monthly price plans nowadays lump SMS and MMS into one inclusive or flat rate fee. T-Mobile, though (as an example) still charges PAYG users 20p per MMS and 5p per text.

Which automatically tells the consumer that sending a photo is four times more expensive and should thus be used on ‘special occasions’.

Gahhh.

Here’s Scott Mills introducing the project:

And here’s the ‘MMS day’ site.

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2009/11/radio_1_free_mms_day_great_idea_3_years_too_late.html)

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Screencast demo: Vodafone 360 photo sharing limitations

November 30, 2009

A lot of people have been asking me to demonstrate exactly what the problem is with Vodafone 360’s photo sharing facilities. Or, to be frank, LACK of photo sharing facilities.

I created a screencast for you to demonstrate. You can watch it here.

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/vxfv8)

Help: Mobile app developers needed for project

November 30, 2009

I got this marketplace enquiry in today from a regular reader who’s hunting for assistance in the mobile applications space. Can you help? If so drop me an email and I’ll introduce you:

Ewan,

I have a client looking to build out mobile applications that would work on iPhone, Blackberry, Android, WinMo, and poss Symbian when possible.

Do you have a developer/development company you like that can work well within a budget? I am to get a proposal to someone today with prices and the company I was working with here in the US can’t seem to get it together…

If you know someone — or if this is you, I’m on ewan@mobileindustryreview.com. Drop me a quick overview and I’ll forward your mail directly to the chap.

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/L7qkn)

Boingo unable to deliver because of rubbish Italian infrastructure

November 27, 2009

It all looks really good on the press release, it really does.

Then you find yourself in Rome Airport — which, you imagine should have some pretty decent first-world facilities — and then you quickly realise that both Rome Airport and their bollocks provider (something called Alice) can’t quite deliver an envelope, let alone a working wifi connection.

I sat down in the tired 1990s bollocks coffee/restaurant area in the departure gate earlier this afternoon and fully expected to be able to connect to the WiFi with my international Boingo Wireless account.

After a few minutes of grunting at the screen, I recognised that what I was witnessing was a brilliant example of how the press release doesn’t quite match reality.

I’m looking at you, ‘Global Broadband Alliance‘. Apparently since this rubbish ‘Alice‘ zone is affiiliated with the Global Bollocks Alliance, that means that I should also be able to use my Boingo Account. Right?

Yes.

I clicked on the ‘international roaming’ option and Boingo was right there at the top of the list. Good news. I’ve used Boingo all across the planet — particularly in North America.

I clicked and waited — no grunting this time — only smugness. There is a terrific amount of smugness to be had from owning a Boingo account. When you fire up your laptop in an unusual location — hotel, airport, pub, restaurant — you’ll know there’s a Boingo Hotspot quicker than you can say the words ‘reliable infrastructure’, because the software sits in the background. It sits waiting for you to get within 100 paces of a Boingo hotspot — and when that happens, it pops up a little window telling you it’s logging you in. Bish, bash, bosh… fantastic.

You can’t do much with your Boingo Hotspot account when you’re faced with Italy’s finest tired infrastructure. Goodness knows what they’re thinking at Fiumicino Airport.

Here’s what happened.

I clicked on the Boingo Hotspot icon on the ‘Alice Hotspot’ login page.

I waited.

And I waited.

The concept is that you visit that page — authenticate yourself — then the local hotspot should connect you.

Not in Rome. Not in Fiumicino Airport, anyway.

Here’s what you get:

Wait for about 4-5 minutes and the connection times out.

It’s not the Boingo service screwing up. I know this because I’m connected to the internet (still sat in the dire 1990s bright-but-faded ‘cafe’ place) and I’m browsing the Boingo site.

I’m connected using my MiFi unit featuring a UK Vodafone SIM.

I shouldn’t really have to carry the MiFi unit for the purposes of connecting to the internet at an airport, should I?

Fair enough if you’re at a weird hotel somewhere in Europe — yeah — take the MiFi. But at the Airport in Rome, you’d imagine the internet connection would be correctly configured?

I wonder how long it’s been screwed. You’d think that there should be some kind of basic monitoring in place to check the system is working and that folk like me can feed their desire for internet 24 hours a day as necessary.

I daresay that if I opted to buy a 5 EURO one hour access card from ‘Alice’, that would have worked.

But the partner links? Deary me. Bad show, Rome. Bad show, Alice.

C+

I’m amazed that this kind of technology still doesn’t seem to work to a service level.

Meanwhile, if you’re a frequent flyer, I strongly recommend getting hold of a MiFi unit (like the Novatel one I’m using) and/or a Boingo Wireless hotspot account.

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/Kq42g)

Hello from BlackBerry’s Rome event

November 26, 2009

Hello from the BlackBerry EMEA Alliance Summit in Rome!

Yesterday morning, I got out of bed at 5am and headed for Heathrow’s dull Terminal 4. I was surprised to find the terminal looking rather modern, new and shiny just like Terminal 5. I couldn’t get a BA flight so I opted for an efficient Alitalia flight to Rome.

I bumped into the team from Shazam when I arrived in Rome. They’ve just launched Shazam Red and they’ve got some more news that I’ll hopefully capture on camera when we meet tomorrow.

Some helpful staff from BlackBerry Italy met us at the airport and transported us through the historic city of Rome to the hotel for the event.

BlackBerry are fast developing a reputation as one of the most responsive and committed device manufacturer when it comes to developers. The company has always had a successful partnership programme (known as the “BlackBerry Alliance” programme) but historically, the partners have often tended to be large companies or companies specialising in a particular niche (e.g. medical records management). At the various BlackBerry partner events I’ve attended over the years, it was rare to meet any consumer-related mobile developers, especially since the devices were almost exclusively business-centric.

Fast forward to 2009 and — well, what a change! With BlackBerry’s ever increasing consumer-focus along with the fast evolving mobile applications segment of the industry, the BlackBerry Alliance programme is going from strength to strength. It’s fascinating contrasting BlackBerry with other mobile device manufacturers who are having substantial challenges opening up their internal operations to external developers. Walk the floor at a BlackBerry event such as this Alliance one or the recent Developer Connection event and you’ll find BlackBerry team members all over the place, keen to introduce themselves, keen to find out how they can best support you.

It’s not just at the events level either. If you’re looking for assistance or perspective, you’ll get it — and quickly — from the person best placed to assist. I was surprised by Mike Kirkup, BlackBerry’s Director of Developer Relations — in the interview I did with him, he gave his email address on screen, commenting that although he’ll do his best to point anyone in the right direction.

That level of openness, obsession and understanding of developer challenges is going to be really, really difficult for other device manufacturers to replicate. That outlook, that genuine excitement, that willingness to help and advise at every stage of the development process, is getting a fantastic response from developers.

I’ll give you an example from one of the developers I spoke to last night. The chap was telling me that they’d created a product and sent it out to market with one of their biggest customers. All was good until BlackBerry produced a planned revision of some software — which unexpectedly caused a conflict with this developer’s implementation — threatening to halt business for months. A quick call by the developer to his BlackBerry Alliance contact — and, woosh — the issue was identified, addressed, resolved and then upgraded within days. Result? One very, very happy Alliance Partner, a delighted end-customer and — of course — yet more guaranteed BES revenue for BlackBerry.

Walking the halls and interviewing the Alliance members, it’s clear to me that BlackBerry — perhaps more than any other device manufacturer — really, really gets the fact that developers are critical to the company’s success. I do mean critical. It’s too easy to forget that — like Apple — BlackBerry controls not just the device hardware, the operating system, the application layer, the whole shebang. But of course, BlackBerry has also installed its systems into the mobile operator’s data centres. That additional level of connectivity is already manifesting new levels of benefit to mobile developers in the form of (for example) operator billing via App World.

It’s also clear that as one of the fastest growing companies in the space (according to Forbes) BlackBerry is super-serious about dominating the marketplace. They recognise that a stunning developer ecosystem is a necessity — something it’s going to take a lot of other companies in the space a long time to realise.

If you’re a mobile developer, take a very close look indeed at BlackBerry.

Standby — I’ll hopefully begin publishing the first videos from the event today.

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/5Ve4o)

‘We’ll text you before we charge you again’

November 25, 2009

I’ve just landed in Rome and I’m delighted to have received this notification by text:

Welcome to ITALY. Vodafone Passport calls cost 75p per call + your home rate (including bundled mins) to make and receive. SMS’s are 11p. Daily cost for data is up to £4.99inc vat per 25MB allowance. We’ll text you before we charge you again. Call 4636 for free pricing info & 112 for emergency services.

I like the idea of being sent a text before I’m charged again. Good strategy Vodafone.

Posted via email from MIR Live

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/QWRei)

Nokia’s Maemo: 43% of mobile developers in favour

November 24, 2009

maemo

So it’s time for today’s survey item and I’m taking a break from Vodafone 360 — this time we’re looking at Maemo.  If you recall, we’ve been running a mobile developer sentiment survey as part of the report we’re writing for an investment bank.   The survey is aimed at measuring sentiment, nothing more. (And the sample size is 500 — I forgot to mention that in yesterday’s Vodafone post).

To the question, then.

I asked the developers to complete my sentence, thus:

Nokia’s Maemo is…

The choices I gave:

– very exciting
– irrelevant to me as a developer
– the last gasp from Finland

Remember, we wanted to measure sentiment — back of the pub commentary, if you like — which explains the series of choices I’ve provided.

A reasonable 44% reckoned that Maemo is ‘very exciting‘.  I agree with that. Provided they can get a good amount of developer attention, I think the device (and the platform) — with a fair wind — could eek out a nice percentage of the marketplace.

27% of respondents had next to no opinion of the platform, labelling it ‘irrelevant to me as a developer‘.  I can understand that if you’re exclusively an iPhone Developer, with no plans to branch out to Maemo any time soon, you’d probably select this.

Finally, just under 30% declared Maemo the, ‘last gasp from Finland‘.  I put this option in just to measure mobile developer bile — and the percentage opting for this surprised me.   I thought the majority — the iPhone fans, for example — would select the ‘irrelevant’ one.   But I had a suspicion that many developers actually had a derisory viewpoint of Maemo (and Nokia) — the ‘why bother, go home, you’ve had your shot’ opinion.  I wonder if this percentage segment is explained by that.

So there you have it.  Right now 56% of mobile developers questioned have a directly negative or irrelevant perspective on Maemo.  That’s not as bad as I thought it could be.

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2009/11/nokias_maemo_43_of_mobile_developers_in_favour.html)

This week’s newsletter: More about Vodafone 360

November 24, 2009

I think we’ll give over quite a bit of this week’s newsletter to Vodafone 360. If you got the newsletter last week, you’ll have seen my diatribe about the company and it’s new service.

It’s elicited strong responses from you.

So strong, that many of you have been moved to write to me with your perspectives. They make absolutely stonking reading — the main thrust of the comments being agreement (and enhancement) with last week’s newsletter and total disappointment at the mess that Vodafone have made of 360.

Yesterday’s post (where I reported that 80% of mobile developers Vodafone 360 is sub-standard and in need of work) also served as a prompt to many to send in their thoughts.

Thank you to the well-placed industry source (that’s how he wished to be referred to — and I tell you, he *is* well placed) who claims that 360 is a “T-R-A-I-N-W-R-E-C-K” (his hyphens).

My source further claims that there was a grand total of 50 pre-orders for the Samsung (H1, I imagine — he didn’t specify) and that returns are ‘massive’. Again, he didn’t specify numbers.

I should point out that I’ve no way to verify this beyond clinging to the good reputation, position and industry standing of my source.

My source finished by claiming that the atmosphere in Vodafone is simply shocking — and that finger-pointing and ducking is the policy in force right now.

So if you’re in the middle of that right now, not good.

We’ll be exploring your reactions to 360 in a lot more depth in this week’s newsletter (sign-up here if you’re not on the list) through the eyes of some MIR readers. Some are former (or current) mobile operator executives. Others are former employees with direct insight on 360.

If you’d also like to contribute an opinion or viewpoint on 360 and Vodafone’s challenges with it, I’d very much welcome it — ewan@mobileindustryreview.com.

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2009/11/this_weeks_newsletter_more_about_vodafone_360.html)

80% of mobile developers think Vodafone 360 is sub-standard

November 23, 2009

We’ve been doing some analysis work for a ‘leading financial player’ (the contract prohibits specifically identifying them) and part of the task was to enquire after the thoughts and perspectives of mobile developers. I obviously can’t publish the entire report but I’m pleased to be able to begin presenting the results of the survey here on the site.

It’s been absolutely fascinating to watch the results come in. I’m particularly pleased to see that my viewpoints are bang-on the money!

Today I’m publishing the answers to the Vodafone question I posed. Standby for viewpoints on Maemo, Android, Symbian and — rather interestingly — Apple.

Here’s the question I asked:

Vodafone’s 360 developments are …

I then asked the participant to complete the sentence with these two options:

– Laudable — very smart indeed
– Sub-standard and in need of much work

The results are thus:

Just over 20% think Big Red’s 360 JIL platform is ‘laudable’ and ‘very smart indeed’, whilst the rest — just under 80% reckon that the platform is sub-standard and in need of much work.

Well then.

This is good news — as the only way is up.

The survey is, after all, just a measurement of how developers feel. But feeling — sentiment — will have a direct effect on the success of 360. One of the other questions I asked in the survey was regarding what other platforms developers intend working on. I’ll reveal the specifics in this week’s newsletter — suffice to say 360 isn’t anywhere on most developer radars. Plenty of time for that to change though. I do think Vodafone’s 360 team need to be a lot more aggressive in their outreach. For instance, I’ve asked twice for some stats that would garner attention from potentially interested developers — you know, downloads, anything that indicates that the raft of Samsung H1 and M1 devices already in the hands of consumers are being readily used, indicating that developers should invest their time and energy getting stuck in.

One Voda chap — speaking on condition of anonymity — explained to me that it’s simply ridiculous for me to assume that Vodafone would move this fast in terms of publishing any kind of indicative results. I suppose the platform’s only been ‘public’ for a few weeks. What concerns me is that many developers I talk to are already allocating funds and resources for their chosen platforms for next year — and Voda doesn’t figure on many radars at the moment.

Growing pains. It won’t take them long to get up to speed I’m sure.

Anyway right now I reckon the MIR audience’s mobile developers have delivered a result that is pretty indicative of overall developer sentiment.

What do you think? Are you in the 20% or the 80% block?

Standby for tomorrow’s question and result.

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.mobileindustryreview.com/2009/11/80_of_mobile_developers_think_vodafone_360_is_sub-standard.html)

Mobile Developers: Take this survey please!

November 22, 2009

We’ve almost hit the 500 target — I’d really appreciate it if you can forward this link to any mobile developers that you know.

I’ve created a 120-second survey to track mobile developer sentiment with questions like:

– Vodafone’s 360 developments are… [laudable | sub-standard]
– Nokia’s Maemo is … [very exciting | irrelevant | last gasp from Finland]

The questions are really easy and it will seriously take < 120 seconds.

I'm aiming to be able to publish the results of the survey very shortly.

Start the survey with this link.

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/LGWJw)