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Archive for the ‘Emerging technology’ Category

Joined up mobile, the empty thrill of 4G and the fragile promise of 5G

October 10th, 2012

Image of South Korea map showing 5G plan

Business is suffering in the UK, and we are suffering because there is no visible joined up mobile strategy in this country … only the empty thrill of 4G and the fragile promise of 5G.

This is unacceptable.

It’s a given that connecting people and places has driven economic expansion in every country in the world, whether sustainable or not, so why do we not have a coherent and visible strategy for the deployment of fast mobile connectivity in the UK?

I was writing about fast broadband in 1989. I was one of the first people in the UK to test it in 1999-2000. It changed my life and the lives of my children. But why did it take so long?

I had a brick mobile handset and then a smaller version by 1995 but it took a decade or more before I was offered faster mobile connectivity.

Even now, seven years on, my mobile connection speed is a bad joke. I run regular speed tests (on and these show me that the average download connection speed is 0.02Mbs and the upload speed around 0.01Mbs.

This means that it is impossible for me to conduct business on mobile in the content-rich way that I need.

I think that the mobile network providers boast multiple-megabit connectivity on 3G but this has never been my experience. or that of my sons and friends. It amounts to one stop short of a Big Lie.

Now, we have the joy of 4G, coming to one of 16 cities in the UK sometime over the next six months (or there about). I’ve already written about this so will say no more for now.

Then, just when we thought mobile news could not get any better, 5G is on the horizon.  Surrey University has been awarded £35 million from mobile operators, infrastructure providers and the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund to fund research into superfast mobile broadband.

We will see the first flutter of 5G in eight years’ time – 2020. I’ve just realised that I might not be around by the time this technology is deployed everywhere in the UK (my bet is 2030-ish).

We deserve better than this from the mobile network providers and the Government. If you want to build a British Tiger Economy, you have to deploy the fastest mobile connectivity. Without it, we are choking on our competitors’ dust.

The map image at the top of this post tells me everything I need to know about how far we are behind. Click and weep (the story is from 2008…)

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Patience is an excellent quality especially with mobile 4G/LTE roll out in the UK

October 5th, 2012

4G/LTE UK fail

Hot news! Eons after mobile 4G/LTE was proven as a technology, the Government and network providers are going to allow us to connect at an ordinary speed.

Lovely, nice, smashing. What gets my goat is that we should have had this ordinary fast mobile broadband at least five years ago.

How much business has been lost in those 60 weeks by the arrogance of the network providers and the total inability of the Government to push for change in the way we organise our connected lives?

I promise you that none of them have our interests at heart. I’ve worked in and around this business for long enough to know this.

I can hardly contain my excitement about the announcement that 4G/LTE will be coming to a city near you, all being well, by next April, maybe before. That’s 16 cities by the way. Whooah! Go Gov! Go Network Providers! You rock! Not.

Can you remember how long it took to roll out broadband connectivity to the whole of our islands? Yeah, right. It’s still in process.

So please don’t hold your breath while we wait for 4G/LTE connectivity … you might expire. And then you’d be a lost customer for the worst network providers in the world.

You think I’m angry about this? Def yes! I’m a patient man but there’s only so much bull you can take before you have to push back. And just before you push back, you realise that the Government knows jack all about mobile – and the network providers suck on this.

But you have to laugh. And I did when I saw the connection speed that 4G/LTE would provide. Watch and chuckle: 4G/LTE Amazing!

Best bit for me was the 3G speed achieved during the tests, which advised 2Mbps at times. I use mobile every day, all the time. And I have never, not once, been provided with that speed.

So I did my tests, conducted over the past three days and the results are as follows:

3G download speed (on 02) central Brighton: download – 0.2Mbps, 0.1Mbps, 0 Mbps.

As I said, don’t hold your breath.

For how much longer do we have to be patient before we push for the everywhere fast mobile connectivity that we deserve, and which drives UK business?

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Wayne Rooney, quiet products, Poppy Elliott and Radio 4 You & Yours

October 4th, 2012

Poppy Elliot MD Quiet Mark interview BBC Radio 4 You & Yours October 4th 2012

Sitting in the BBC studio this morning with Poppy Elliott, prepping for her interview on Radio 4 You & Yours, I learned that Wayne Rooney can’t go to sleep without the hoover on.

Amazing what you learn every day.

Anyway, Poppy is MD of Quiet Mark ( which is the commercial arm of the Noise Abatement Society.

During the interview, she told Winifred Robinson about the work of Quiet Mark, set up at the start of this year to actively promote the development and production of quieter products.

It’s worth a couple of minutes of your time – and it’s definitely a good sound:


The whole programme is worth a catch-up:

Best bit for me was the text from a listener raging about the noise from leaf blowers. I’m fully with them on that one. Stressful, annoying, intrusive and pointless. As the texter said, what’s wrong with a rake?

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The invisible bicycle helmet and the perfect marketing film

August 15th, 2012

Image of Hovding invisible bicycle helmet inventors with link to video

I love this perfect marketing film about the invisible bicycle helmet – and I love the idea even more.

To say the film veers to the laid-back is an understatement but it works for me on every level, not least the fact that’s it’s in Swedish and we’re having a big cultural hug-fest with the Nordic countries right now. Yep. I have watched it a few times, to get the sub-titles after watching the flow and it gets better with every view.

The filmmakers actually break a few online film laws themselves – it’s 3 minutes, 35 seconds for goodness’ sake. Surely we know that you have 30 seconds, 1 minute max for online marketing videos? But it works … really well.

Whoever developed the storyboard and wrote the script deserves an award. During the 215 seconds runtime we’re introduced to the invisible bicycle helmet inventors Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin and get to spend some joyful quality time with them – real quality. By the end, we know they are special and have a world-changing product.

They also throw in a nice MacGuffin that has you distracted, which I won’t spoil by telling you about it.

But it’s only at the very end of the film that we have the “reveal”. By the time you get there, you know this product is exceptional. The fact that it’s to be marketed for women doesn’t discombobulate you for a single second.

The film is a must-watch. See The Invisible Bicycle Helmet here and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. You can also find out more about the Invisible bicycle helmet, or Hövding (which means “Chief” or “Prince”, I think) here.

As the film says: “If people say it’s impossible we have to prove them wrong.”

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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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Live TV piracy has risen by 61 per cent in the UK over the last year

July 6th, 2012

If you took a guess at which media segment was the fastest growing in terms of piracy in the UK, the most likely response would be music. However, according to a report commissioned by Google and Performing Right Society for Music (PRS), unauthorised live TV streams are actually the biggest form of web piracy in the UK, and the fastest growing.

The report, conducted by BAE Systems Detica, confirms that in the last year alone, illegitimate live TV streaming has risen by 61 per cent with just over half of the sites examined as part of the research offering links to live TV streams.

BAE Systems Detica identified six distinct business models behind online copyright infringement, with each one having clear commercial purposes. The other segments include; the P2P Community; Subscription Community; Music Transaction; Rewarded Freemium and Embedded Streaming.

Of the 51 sites reviewed, each providing or linking to illegal streams of television content, both free-to-air and paid, 33% are based in the United States and two-thirds are ad-supported.

Most visitors come to these sites directly or through referrals from social networks, and unsurprisingly Premier League football streams seem to be driving this growth, prompting the Football Association to get involved in the research by providing a list of sites it suspects of infringement.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), PRS for Music, Publishers Association and UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) also provided suspects for the examination.

Google’s Theo Bertram, a former Downing Street adviser, commented: “Our research shows there are many different business models for online infringement which can be tackled if we work together.

“The evidence suggests that one of the most effective ways to do this is to follow the money, targeting the advertisers who choose to make money from these sites and working with payment providers to ensure they know where their services are being used.”

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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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Opportunities and risks in crowd funding

June 19th, 2012

Crowd funding is to my mind the best single social innovation enabled by the internet. But while I am a fervent supporter of the communal aspects of this next step on the web, I have some concerns, largely based around the rules of finance, which we know are elastic and variable.

Crowd funding, as I understand it, is a practical concept that connects people who have money with people who need it. Like so many brilliant ideas, fluid and so is without boundaries.

It simply provides the space where people can find the investment or loan they need and where people with money to invest can find the best return.

The banks used to do this but they stopped doing it a long while ago, preferring to take a punt on the stock casinos around the world. And we’ve always known that banks are basically high-falutin’ money shops that have gone way beyond their station in life. Crowd funding takes things back to basics, which benefit all parties.

First lesson of the market is that if you leave a space, someone will come in and fill it, usually at your expense. That’s what has happened to the banks.

So, while the majestic financial professionals continue to embrace Bigtime Betting, and continue to ignore the real world (millions of people who need them), crowd funding fills the very big gap that these masters of the universe (MOTU) have left.

We have Zopa, Funding Circle and Ratesetter, for example, providing the connection between people who want a better than zero return on their money offered by the MOTU and those that need a loan minimum of fuss. Sweet.

And we have Kickstarter blazing a trail in crowd funding for business ideas, connecting investors, reducing risk, and helping to build new companies.

My concerns are first that the crowd funding loan market is largely unregulated and so can be fatally damaged by one or more bad news stories, where someone loses life savings, or an investment opportunity is simply a scam.

My second concern is that the incredibly obese MOTUs will close in and so crowd funding will be swallowed whole. These fears were raised by news that SoMoLend had raised $1.17 million in a seed investment round. That’s traditional, old-school and weird. The company’s LinkedIn profile is also scary but so is the idea that the traditional funders have bought into the new game.

I can see a better future with crowd funding but also, in my bones, understand that the global banking brands drag their enormous bulks into meetings where they will buy up the crowd funding universe.

But they will leave another small space for creative people to engineer new ways to exchange money.

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When social customers reach out, brands need to respond

May 18th, 2012

Two interesting pieces of research came out this week, each focused on the change in customer behaviour online, and the ever-growing importance of social CRM and social customer experience.

The first piece from Fishburn Hedges, which we picked up via econsultancy, highlighted that more than a third of UK consumers (36%) have engaged with brands through social media, which has doubled from 19% since August 2011 and equates to 18million people.

The survey suggests that the increased interaction is driven by the widespread belief among respondents (40%) that social media improves customer service, compared to only 7% who feared it would harm service.

Furthermore, 68% of those who have engaged with brands through social media believe that it “allowed them to find their voice.”

More than two-thirds (65%) also believe that social media is a better way to communicate with companies than call centres, and interestingly, more than a quarter of the 55+ age group had dealt with a brand on social media, rising to 49% of 18-24 year olds. (A break down of age groupings can be seen in the image below.)

The second survey is from customer intelligence agency Indicia, which highlights the growing trend of what it calls BIOR or ‘brand in their own right’, which is apparently how 20% of consumers see themselves.

BIORS understand the value of using social media to communicate their preferences and data in the hope of attracting targeted offers from brands.

More men (23%) consider themselves a BIOR compared to just 16% of women, with almost a third of BIORs aged between 18 and 34. BIORS also have looser purse strings and out-perform non-BIORS in six of 11 spend brackets (e.g. £751-£1,000) particularly in the higher spend categories of over £1,000 per month.

These research pieces reflect the evolving nature of the consumer, which we have referred to on this blog previously as the social customer. (you can find out further information in our guide to social CRM here)

In brief, the social customer is dynamic, hyper-connected and can shape business and brand reputation by defining an organisation’s value, relevance and reputation. As a result, social customers have compelled organisations of all types to be more customer-centric and have transformed the way in which organisations need to communicate with and, most importantly, listen to their customers.

Put simply, the social customer now owns the relationship, and every organisation needs need to earn his/her trust.

The social customer is also a driving force in the development of the online economy, which is rapidly growing and currently contributes 8.3 per cent to the UK economy. This is more than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.

UK consumers also buy far more from online retail sources than any other major economy and this is expected to continue expanding by 11% per year for the next four years, reaching a total value of £221bn by 2016. Compare this to growth rates of 5.4% in the U.S. and 6.9% in China.

Taking these points into consideration, the question becomes: are brands ready and able to listen and engage with social customers? Those that have evolved their approach to offer an open and relevant response will gain advocates and prosper, those that have not will miss out on a growing opportunity at best, and risk damaging the brand’s reputation at worst.

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MIT and Harvard offer a glimpse of future opportunities for higher education with edX

May 3rd, 2012

Earlier this week, Harvard and MIT joined forces to launch the edX platform, which will offer educational courses and content for free online.

The platform, which was originally developed by MIT, will include video lessons quizzes, immediate feedback, student-ranked questions and answers, online laboratories and student-paced learning.

EdX has also made the decision to release its learning platform as open-source software. As a result, MIT and Harvard expect that over time other universities will join them in offering courses on the edX platform and because the learning technology will be available as open-source software, other universities and individuals will also be able to help edX improve and add features to the technology.

This is a smart move as it encourages the knowledge base that is normally spread across numerous universities to come together in this single learning platform. This is not just a move to take learning online, but also a strategy to enhance the global reputation of these already respected learning centres.

It is no secret that further education has been through a number of changes in recent years and has also faced criticism that methods and courses have not moved quickly enough in line with current techniques and opportunities. Although it would be hard to level that criticism against these two giants of the education sector, it is a strong sign that they wish to lead from the front and take learning to a more open and accessible level.

MIT and Harvard will also use the jointly operated edX platform to research how students learn and how technologies can facilitate effective teaching both on-campus and online. The edX platform will enable the study of which teaching methods and tools are most successful. The findings of this research will be used to inform how faculty use technology in their teaching, which will enhance the experience for students on campus and for the millions expected to take advantage of these new online offerings.

The platform will be overseen by a not-for-profit organisation, which will be owned and governed equally by the two universities. MIT and Harvard have already committed to a combined $60 million ($30 million each) in institutional support, grants and philanthropy to launch the collaboration.

Anant Agarwal, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, who has led the development of the MITx platform under the leadership of MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, will serve as the first president of edX.

At Harvard, Provost Alan Garber will direct the Harvardx effort and Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith will play a leading role in working with faculty to develop and deliver courses.

It is anticipated that initial course offerings from a range of Harvard and MIT schools will be included on the edX platform, and the first courses will be announced in the summer, and are due to begin in the autumn of 2012.

Here’s the edX video:

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"I found a higher degree of contacts and enthusiasm and then something far more interesting. They listened, challenged and questioned with a focus and knowledge that I've never experienced before."