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Archive for the ‘Smartphones’ Category

Fast mobile connectivity is, finally, shaping up nicely in the UK

November 16th, 2012

Astonishing news today about fast mobile connectivity – 3 UK, says it will deliver dual-carrier HSPA to half of the UK population by year-end and 80 per cent by next April.

What part of brilliant is this not?! If 3 can do this, then we can be sure that we will, finally, after watching paint dry for ten years, have the network speed we need to do business and pleasure.

According to Mobile Business Briefing 3 has advised that its Ultrafast network is already live in 50 of the UK’s biggest cities and towns, covering 39 per cent of the population.

3 says it will launch LTE next year using two chunks (2×15 MHz) of 1800 MHz spectrum it is buying  from EE, which will double capacity on its network.  Ofcom has approved the transaction but the completion of deal is a few months away.

3 says it is the country’s fastest-growing operator, adding 1.04 million customers over the past year to 8.8 million and acquiring 301,000 customers in the last quarter alone.

3 UK CEO Dave Dyson was quoted as saying: “These network improvements are designed to maintain our position as the fastest growing UK mobile operator,” said “Our Ultrafast network is giving more people in more places access to an even faster mobile internet experience.”

The operator says its growth plans are being backed up by an 800-strong recruitment drive that will add nearly 400 sales and service roles at its Glasgow office and 400 across its high street retail stores and Maidenhead office.

At the same time, the operator has shared some really useful info about its customer behaviours with Go Mo News.

Pie chart of 3-UK users mobile activity

Good news to end the working week.

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WiFi connection crisis update

September 7th, 2012

Image of world with no-connection logo illustrating WiFi connection crisis in UK

The stories around our WiFi connection crisis continue to build.

Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP), managing editor of The Next Web tweeted this at 10:19 this morning: “Connectivity problems in the IBC Connected World hall. So much competition for bandwidth that even a Bluetooth keyboard doesn’t work.”

For those not in the know about Connected World, the IBC website will enlighten you:

“The lightspeed penetration of internet connected devices and the services that run on them have huge implications for traditional media. Smart phones, games consoles, netbooks, connected TVs and tablets are making content available on demand anywhere and with an unprecedented degree of personalisation.

“Anyone looking to make sense of these changes should head for the IBC Connected World, a special area of IBC which encapsulates the very latest developments in mobile TV, 3G and 4G services with the pioneering applications and technologies that are driving content over-the-top into the home and into our future.”

Martyn might have been unlucky but it seems more likely that the event connectivity planning did not really “encapsulate” the latest “anywhere” connectivity in mobile.

This news comes hot on the heels of Rory Cellan-Jones telling BBC Radio 4 PM listeners two days ago that the Nokia Lumia launch in New York City was marked by the failure of the network. Read more.

I have been to very few events/conferences in the past three years where there was adequate wireless provision. Even worse, the organisers did not seem that bothered.

But this lack of botherment about WiFi connectivity extends beyond the conference halls and we should be finally losing patience with this.

The Government has announced today that it is relaxing planning restrictions so that telecoms companies can site broadband street cabinets and other infrastructure without the need for prior approval from the local council.

Well, whoop-de-do. That does not help WiFi. We need super-fast wireless connectivity, anytime anywhere – NOW.

Without that, the progressive words of new Culture Secretary Maria Miller are just more hot air.

If she is truly committed to providing a UK-wide network that allows us to compete on a level playing field, Ms Miller must move incredibly quickly on super-fast wireless broadband provision.

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Nokia Lumia smartphone launch highlights our WiFi connection crisis

September 5th, 2012

Image of snail on gravel illlustrating slow wifi

The launch of Nokia’s very impressive Lumia smartphone in New York city underlined for me the WiFi connection crisis we struggle with.

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147) was at the launch and told Radio 4 PM listeners that there were a few technical problems, including the failure of the WiFi network.

He was very kind about this, saying that this was to be expected when you assemble 400 journalists in one room.

But, surely, we deserve better than this. Nokia deserves better than this – especially when it is launching a smartphone that connects through wireless.

Event connectivity is not rocket-science. For sure, it is complex and needs expertise, knowledge, careful planning and management.

But this lack of care and attention to detail extends way beyond events and conferences -we have all struggled with inadequate network provision at these events -and into the cities, the railways, the roads, the countryside and beyond.

What we have here is a perfect connectivity disaster, presided over by the government and the telecoms companies. We have had the technology to provide anytime, anywhere fast wireless broadband for more than ten years. WiMax has grown whiskers in the UK while the powers-that-be fiddle at the sidelines.

The Mobile WiMAX standard was deployed in South Korea six years ago and the first-release Long term evolution (LTE) standard has been embedded in Scandinavia since 2009.

In the U.S. Sprint Nextel has deployed Mobile WiMAX networks since 2008, and MetroPCS was the first operator to offer LTE service in 2010. USB wireless modems have been available since the start, while WiMAX smartphones have been available since 2010, and LTE smartphones since 2011.

Currently, we are choking on our competitor nations’ dust.

Meanwhile, at a pace that would be beaten by a snail on gravel, tiny parts of our urban shared spaces are being graced with wireless “hotspots”. Bristol tried to mesh disparate wireless services to become the first UK wired city but that project failed.

Now the government has allowed Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) to take the lead in deployment of 4G mobile fast broadband.

Everything Everywhere promises speeds of up to six times the current 3G norm – but anyone who has used 3G knows that the experience is akin to a dial-up 28K modem connection circa 1996 so don’t hold onto your hats.

I do not not pretend to know why exactly we are still in the Internet Stone Age when it comes to wireless connectivity but I’d say that the combination of warring commercial interests and a disinterested government might have something to do with it.

We deserve better than this shambolic procedure. We should demand ultra-fast, anytime anywhere wireless broadband as a right. To paraphrase Robert E. Grant in Withnail and I: “We want the finest wireless broadband available to humanity. We want it here. We want it now.”

I don’t think that is too much to ask. Do you?

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Defining the real value of check-in apps

July 27th, 2012

Douglas Karr over at The Marketing Technology Blog has just posted an excellent link blog, which I am shamelessly re-using, it being Friday night an’all – and this is my short post for the week.

I think we’re behind the adoption curve on mobile geographic services in the UK so Doug’s view of his US experience is illuminating. I’ll admit to having approximately zero geo-marketing apps on my iPhone – maybe I should get out more but the need for proximity (and full trust) does not presently match my interests.

Doug’s right, though about the defining the real value of check-in apps. It’s a discussion we all need – businesses both big and less big. I hope it does not get ambushed by regressive marketers who see the opportunity to reinforce one-way, old-school campaigns, a fear that Shel Israel raised recently.

I’d be a founding member of the Shout-Marketing Noise Abatement Society if that were to happen ;)

Check out Doug’s post and the excellent infographic from Intuit.

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Apps continue download success but high retention rates still limited to chosen few

June 29th, 2012

Apps are now fully ingrained in the psyche of the average marketer, so much so that it’s guaranteed apps will feature in a variety of campaign suggestions made by agencies and brands across the globe today.

Since the introduction of the app as we know it today, alongside the launch of the iPhone in 2007, there have been many good examples of useful and valuable apps, and many more poor examples.

As of June 2012, 30 billion apps have been downloaded from the (Apple) App Store and currently more than 650,000 apps are available. Furthermore, in May of this year, Google Play, which sells Android apps, achieved 15 billion downloads from its selection of 500,000 apps.

Therefore, it’s safe to say the app is still a huge success and a vital tool for relevant communications campaigns, but what is the reality of app retention?

To find out, Localytics a mobile analytics firm based in a Cambridge, Massachusetts, has just completed research on the behaviour of consumers on 60 million mobile devices in the U.S., including phones and tablets, across roughly 10,000 apps, as covered in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

The research considered all major mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and HTML5 and didn’t distinguish between paid and free apps. It chose the metric of opening an app 11 times or more as the high-end metric because that it is the rate at which app publishers consider a user to be loyal or retained, according to Raj Aggarwal, chief executive of Localytics who headed up the research. Although this number seems a little low to me.

The company analysed users who downloaded an app in July 2011 and then counted how many times they opened up the app over a nine-month period ending in March 2012. They discovered around 31% of mobile users opened up their apps at least 11 times or more over a nine-month period, up from 26% a year ago.

However, 69% of users open an app 10 times or less, and over a quarter use the app just once after downloading it, which shows that high usage is the preserve of only the chosen few.

For example, recently Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe iPad book-app sold 20,000 copies in its first three days at £4.99 each, which covered its costs straight away. However retention is yet to be measured.

In terms of platforms, around 35% of Apple device users opened their apps 11 times or more, compared to just 23% of Android users.

Unsurprisingly, news apps like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal enjoy the highest retention rate, with 44% of users. Next in line are Gaming (e.g., Angry Birds), Entertainment (e.g., Netflix) and Sports, all of which had retention rates between 33% and 36%. Lifestyle apps, which include both e-commerce and life event planning tools, had the worst user retention with just 15% opening an app 11 times or more and 30% opening an app just once.

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Wi-Fi is the key to combined in-store and online retail experiences

June 22nd, 2012

A report out this week from Tradedoubler offers further evidence of the evolution in retail habits towards ‘try in-store – buy online’.

The study of 2000 smartphone users in UK, France, Germany and Sweden found that 42% of smartphone owners use their device to compare prices in-store , while 13% claim to have switched stores after finding a better offer elsewhere.

However, 50% of UK respondents said they become frustrated with the mobile shopping experience, which shows mobile site development and usability has some way to go before fully capturing the opportunity.

Further evidence from On Device Research (ODR) shows that 60% of mobile users have utilised the mobile internet while in store, 78% would use free Wi-Fi in stores if offered it and 74% of respondents would be happy for the retailer to send a text or email with promotions.

Retailers are waking up to the opportunity and we are seeing more introduce free Wi-Fi connections, including Debenhams, Tesco and John Lewis, each trying to capturing more in-store traffic and push relevant offers via a branded Wi-Fi signal, while hoping to discourage shoppers from using unbranded 3G connections.

According to the Tradedoubler survey, offering location-based services and relevant vouchers helps to secure the interest of a fifth of potential buyers.

The retailers will not have it all their own way though, as they find it harder to control the shopping experience of their customers who have access to many mobile apps and websites that enable the comparison of product prices, including Amazon’s successful app.

However, vouchers and offers can be a strong motivator, and with the full force of the retailer’s marketing machines behind the push, the opportunity to regain the upper hand in online and mobile experiences still exists. Even if retailers are a little late to the game, and are yet to fully roll out mobile sites to enable communication and real engagement on the move.

NFC (Near Field Communication) could be the ace that the retailers have yet to play, and by linking cashless payments to branded mobile shopping sites, those that want to take advantage of this type of payment are likely to be inserted into the retailer’s online assets.

Another blocker remains security, as around half of respondents of the Tradedoubler survey were concerned about the security of mobile as a payment platform, but 42% said they were interested in using their device as a mobile wallet.

Unfortunately, as with all web-based developments, the real barrier remains access to strong, secure and consistent broadband connectivity, and without this the opportunity for retailers falls flat.

This is why we can expect to see more investment in retailer Wi-Fi networks, alongside relevant mobile sites and offers, and it is the quality of these networks that could be the difference between success and failure.

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The serious game of brand reputation

May 31st, 2012

My younger son introduced me to an intensely addictive mobile game this week, one that reminded me of the extraordinary power of brand and reinforced the way I think about brand reputation.

It’s not a game that is red-hot from the coder oven ( I think this version was April launch) but the fact that a 19-year-old likes it enough to tell his Dad ( aka Old Man Slow to Understand) about it is an indication of the mental space that brands occupy in his head, and mine.

If you’ve been there and done that, my apologies but “LogoQuiz” is the game and I have watched much less TV because of it. The game environment is 2D and simply displays elements of brand logos that you have to name by entering that in a text field.

The game mechanic is so simple that it hurts (display, guess, gain, move on up – buy). You make up the game narrative in your head as you go along. The revenues come from ads and upsells. I haven’t been sold yet but pretty sure that I will be. Game genius!

Here’s the thing – you can cheat soooo easily, just by looking up the potential brand names on Google images.  But that destroys the point, the fun and means that it’s game over. Game genius!

You could play it as a team but my son was not up for that at all. It’s about the singular effort, getting there solo.

The fact that it is a simple, brilliant game (so retro, so new) also means that it has tapped an energy that is much greater than the game concept and mechanic themselves. I think this energy derives from the power of The Brand in popular culture.

And that’s where I came in. LogoQuiz reminded me that the power of branding, expressed in its strongest form through the logo, runs through our emotional pathways, informs our thoughts and choices, and at best creates beautiful, desirable objects.

What I found most interesting about playing the game were my emotional, atavistic responses to the brand logos. Those brands that I felt good about, or had bad feelings about were easier to get right than those I had no emotional connection with.

The game reinforced my feelings about the brands I instinctively did not like because it prompted thoughts about why the brand was “bad”. Conversely, the brands I liked took a dose of “more feelgood”. The game details are here.

We know that the brand can be assaulted on all sides and that there is an absolute need to manage its reputation. This is so much more difficult now, what with the web and everything (;). The propulsive force of a brand, driven by one-way messages embodied in the brand logo has been checked by audiences who, passive by historic constraint, have found that they have assumed power.

Their power is relative and highly creative and works through a new and unique dialogue. The Branded become something much more useful and relevant to the brand; they inform and reform the brand – they make it better because more closely aligned to evolving needs and desires.

This exchange is still quite rare. Far too many business siloes, believe or not, are built from Unobtanium, a lethal metal that allows ideas to permeate out but deflects every idea coming in. In this way, they reinforce the Myth of Brand Control. The few who have dismantled the containers and opened themselves to the dialogue are making the greatest gains.

Finally, LogoQuiz reminded me of the almost supernatural power of the image. A fragment of a logo can tell the whole story and I read fragments very well. Much in the same way that, if you take a line of text and cover up the bottom half, most people will still be able to read and understand it. If you cover up the top half of the text, most people struggle to understand.

Visual is as visual does. Long live the logo, long live the dialogue!

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The Fifth Wave: mobile revolution and mobile futures

March 9th, 2012

The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment and Return caught my attention last week and I blogged briefly on it.

The book, by Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway, deserved a more detailed read – there were enough hooks to warrant it and I’ve spent some time this week working out the weight of the ideas they put forward.

The Fifth Wave is written for anyone who wants to know where we are going online: mobile network operators, mobile companies, entrepreneurs, governments, media companies, content owners and distributors, mobile evangelists, mobile experts… the list goes on.

But the book, to my mind, is much more than a rapid excursion around the mobile terrain. We’ve seen more than enough tomes that promise more than they deliver, rehashing old ideas in new clothes.

Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway (who, with Bill Gates, co-authored Business @ the Speed of Thought) have written a volume that I think is rare – because it picks up on a defining moment that is obscured for most people, explains this in detail and then draws lessons from which it then lays out a path and process for the future.

The authors call this defining moment and what will follow the Fifth Wave. They use an ancient Greek concept, kiaros, to explain the idea. I urge you to read the book if only for this, because their explanation of a convergence of rapidly evolving but disparate forces – technical, cultural and economic – to form a revolutionary time is exceptional.

The Fifth Wave is, of course, mobile in every sense. Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway run fluidly through the first half of the book, setting the scene and explaining the revolutionary conditions that we live with right now.

The second half of the book is if anything better than the first because for the first time it offers a clear exposition of what is needed and an astute strategy for everyone touched by mobile internet, from the biggest mobile operator to mobile manufacturers from Apple to Microsoft and from Samsung to HTC, to the mobile apps makers and the movers and shakers in the global market and to every mobile handset user (around 2 billion now – 6 billion soon).

I am old enough to have read Nicholas Negroponte’s Being Digital, published in 1995. That book changed the weltanshauung of an entire generation with its definitional, cultural view of technological developments led by the Web/Internet.

The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment and Return is a book from the same cast and should be required reading in schools, colleges and universities. While the book should stand on its own merits, Robert Marcus was the architect of Microsoft’s early mobile internet strategy and solutions and was a director on the M&A team and now leads QuantumWave Capital, which means he’s qualified.

If you want to know where we’re at and where we’re going, then read The Fifth Wave. You could even do as I did, download it and read it on your iPhone (.. or Kindle, Android, laptop, notebook…). If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would be reading books on my mobile, I would have laughed out loud. How times change.

You can follow Robert Marcus on Twitter @RobertMarcus5W

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The Fifth Wave strategic vision for mobile

February 27th, 2012

Robert Marcus and Collins Hemingway appear to know their shtick. They have just published an account of where we are going online and what this means.

The Fifth Wave: A Strategic Vision for Mobile Internet Innovation, Investment and Return was released today at Mobile World Congress 2012.

It blows part of the mind, i.e, it’s really quite interesting, while it makes an informative case for us as we move through 2012-13, with the old economic order dissolving and the new struggling to take first breath.

I’d argue with Marcus and Hemingway on the creation of new value, which they position as deriving from opportunity. This is a superficial view to my mind and they need to look much deeper into value creation to make their case work.

Opportunity is just a secondary reflection of the market condition. The value is created in the primary area.

This is a strong account of where we are going in mobile and through our network. It needs a second read and report back.

Robert Marcus led a keynote and panel during the opening session today (February 27th) of the Mobile World Congress conference session on Mobile Cloud. You can get more info on MWC here.

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Mobile World Congress promises surprises

February 20th, 2012

With a week to go before the Mobile World Congress starts in Barcelona, the number of pre-show announcements is growing rapidly.

It’s interesting to see that Firefox developer Mozilla plans to announce partners for its Boot to Gecko (B2G) project, a browser-based operating system for mobile devices. Mobile network operators are pretty certain to show strong support for this, offering as it does, the potential for new revenue streams.

Google, which stands to lose ground in mobile if B2G gains traction in the market space, is building a strong presence for Android at MWC so we can expect some good hooks.

Samsung has pulled back on the promotion of its new Galaxy handset, which was a surprise to many – but not the company apparently. However, I hope the innovative vendor will be a strong presence at MWC and that some of the rumours around its Android tablets bear fruit.

As we all pretty much know now – Apple does not do trade shows and so will not be gracing the Barcelona show. No need for them to find out more here, then.

Isn’t it also really great that we can finally ditch the annual phrase “This is the Year of Mobile”?

The show runs from Monday February 27th to Thursday March 1st.

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