Archive for April, 2005

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April 25th, 2005

Ringback Tones – Results of Julie’s Focus Group

Feedback from my friends:
“Did you do that on purpose?”
“I thought I was caller #9 at the radio station.”
“That’s effing weird”
“Was that rap?”
“I called your phone and the weirdest thing happened.”
“That’s weird”
“I thought I was on hold.”
“I thought you were in a night club.”
“I wasn’t sure how long it was going to last.”
(i.e., easier to count five or six rings)

And, I have to admit, many of my friends simply hung up without leaving a message.

My phone log:

Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:21 pm
Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:21 pm
(no message left)
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:40 pm
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:40 pm
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:41 pm
(left a short, confused message)
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:21 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:22 pm
(no message)
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:30 pm
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:31 pm
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:32 pm
(message)
Sat Apr 23 Maricel 4:30 pm
Sat Apr 23 Maricel 4:31 pm
(no message)
Mon Apr 25 Alissa 10:42 am
Mon Apr 25 Alissa 10:43 am
(message)

You get the idea.

From those who observed/listened to the ringback once the concept had been explained …

“very cool. I want that”

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 22nd, 2005

My First Ringback

I’ve been looking forward to purchasing a ringback tone since Verizon first announced them in limited markets earlier this year.

I sat down with the very intuitive instructions provided in the press release. (Not sure how their other customers are getting the word.)

I TXTed “RBT” to address “728″

I immediately received the terms and conditions. (More later on what I think about paying a monthly subscription for an application let alone “renting” a song (ringback tone) for a year)

I received somewhat mixed instructions. The responding TXT instructed me to reply with a “Y” while the press release told me to respond with a “List” message. This worked and I was given a list of choices.

They are as follows:

007 Alicia Keys/Karma
008 Los Lonely Boys/Heaven
009 Sublime/Wrong Way
010 Pitbull/Culo

Needless to say, at my age, I don’t know Sublime and Pitbull. I do know Alicia Keys and Los Lonely Boys – have seen them at wireless conferences. I went back to check the press release which stated that there were 500 tones available including Soundtracks, 80’s, Classic Rock, Pop/Rock, etc. So, off to the Internet to find something reasonable.

Keep holding … haven’t found the “Search” function yet, and am sifting through Bow Wow Wow and New Kids on the Block.

Ok, now found the “search” button. On my eighth search, a “result” was returned. :)

I finally gave in and bought some ringback tones from the top 10 list … much better than the other options I found.

Now that I am online, I really like this experience. Much easier than on the phone. You can shop, search, listen to music samples. You can even match your callers to specific ringback tones. Great online experience. I’m going to wait and see what my friends think.

More later on “renting” a ringback tone.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 22nd, 2005

Mobile Video – Getting Closer to “Live”

I attended iHollywood’s Mobile Video conference in Las Vegas this past week. While Las Vegas itself doesn’t excite me so much, being back in EV-DO territory does. We’re still waiting here in San Francisco.

This time I have two phones on loan to me – one with Verizon’s Vcast service and one with SprintTV from Idetic.

Previously I had complained about the “dated” material on the Vcast service. This time I’d have to say that it was pretty current. Both services had up to date news such as the selection of the new Pope.

While I (along with the consumers we’ve surveyed) want “live” coverage, I wasn’t ready to watch commercials. At one point I was watching a “live” stream from one of the networks and realized that three out of the first five minutes had been commercials. Given that I haven’t truly watched “live” TV in more than a year since buying a Tivo, I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do. I started looking for a FF button on my phone. Then I realized that I was simply “stuck.” I didn’t know what to do.

My next video phone has to have that functionality.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 15th, 2005

The Fun of Cell Phone Ubiquity

It’s 4:17pm here on the west coast. My friends in NYC are already in their favorite sushi bar and have had a few drinks.

They just sent me the message “Ree Rove Roo.” It could be mistaken for a play on the Japanese’ inability to pronounce some letters, but not in this case.

You just have to love that these devices (Blackberry in this case)is small enough to fit into a purse. They give you 24×7 access to your email. You can email your friends from the bar. You can email or call your friends any time of the day or night – whether you should be or not. Your friends can always know what you are up to.

No pictures on the Blackberry, but still a form of mobile blogging.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 15th, 2005

Mobile Video – “Live” on our site

Our first mobile video report posted on our site this afternoon.

We asked consumers about:
- their interest in watching video on a cell phone
- their willingness to pay
- what content interests them
- what length of video interests
- and more ….

I’ll be presenting the results of this research next Tuesday in Las Vegas as iHollywood’s Mobile Video event at NAB. I’ll also be in Las Vegas the following week at IQPC’s Mobile Video Revenue Strategies on April 26th and 27th.

I recently got a demo phone from Idetic so that I could try MobiTV. Sprint network. Samsung multimedia phone. The technology is absolutely impressive, and the experience is pretty good. Buffering doesn’t take long. The clips are fairly current though I couldn’t find – the Sheffield incident during the Red Sox game yesterday – at least in the clips section. Found it on the CNN “live” portion, but just his press conference – not the incident. Likely wouldn’t have shown well on a small screen anyway.

“Live” news is a bit choppy, but audio is good – and surprisingly, it didn’t matter that much to me.

Talking heads (i.e., reporters giving us the news) do well. Fewer highlights than I expected. Audio is good. I did watch a segment on Discovery about a dog “Spot” who could add and subtract numbers up to five. That was cool. Not so many frames per second, however, do work better if only a mouth is moving versus a dog running around.

I’m currently watching Mighty Mouse – a show I haven’t seen since I was in single digits. Cartoons work well – both the animation and length of segment.

The entities producing the content seem to have done well in terms of choosing content that works on a small screen.

Stay tuned. I’m going to see what’s new on Vcast when I get to Las Vegas next week. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t launched in SF.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 13th, 2005

Home Wi-Fi – It’s Not Just About Sharing an Internet Connection

Our first home/consumer Wi-Fi consumer survey went “live” on our site today. One of our key findings is that one quarter of home Wi-Fi installations are being used for entertainment purposes (e.g., streaming audio or video). Majority still sharing an Internet connection, but we are starting to see a shift towards more sophisticated networks.

See the report on our site at

Wi-Fi Consumer Survey Report

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April 13th, 2005

Currency of iTunes and Apple

I haven’t yet blogged about Apple or iTunes so here it goes …

Have you recently counted the number of times per week or per day that someone is offering you iTunes? or the chance to win an iPod device?

Today alone, a friend sent me two codes from Mountain Dew bottle caps. Even my friends who don’t have an iPod recognize the value and are sending them my way.

By giving Avaya my name and email address (which they obviously already had), I earned 10 iTunes even though I told them I won’t be buying any corporate telecom equipment. If I were willing to spend an hour with their sales team, they would give me a Shuffle out right. By filling out a feedback form for a magazine that I once subscribed to, I was offered the chance to win one of five iPods – same offer for filling out a feedback form for a conference that I attended last month. These were just the offers presented to me TODAY.

I think that iTunes has emerged as the premier non-cash give-away. I feel as though I can estimate the value of my feedback by the number of iTunes they give me.

In contrast, my wireless carrier offered me 15 free talk minutes for filling out a customer survey regarding how happy I am with the service, who was my last provider, etc. So, by my estimates, my feedback was only worth 15 cents to them. Why can’t my carrier give away a free ring tone or game – something that might be of use to me.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 13th, 2005

Another Muni Wireless/Wi-Fi Network Announced

Minneapolis is one of the latest large U.S. cities to announce its intentions to support a citywide wireless and fiber network. When I read these articles – and they appear almost daily – , I have more questions than answers. I wonder if this is true of the municipalities themselves.

In the case of Minneapolis, the network will be privately owned and managed. According to our research, this is a solid idea. My question is – if it’s privately owned, run, and managed – and it will be profitable, why isn’t someone doing this already? or is it the promise of being the city’s ISP that tips the balance here?

re selling broadband to residents at $18 to $24 … this likely adds a second or third competitor to a market where only 10 to 15 percent of the residents don’t have access. We’re still in the stages of collecting data regarding residents’ attitudes towards wireless broadband and what it would take for them to switch. With the information released to date, it’s hard to sort out the business model. Stay tuned – our report is due out end of May.

re single hotspot provider … we know from our research that very, very few consumers are willing to pay for public access. Mobile professionals are, however, a group willing to pay. What I can’t understand is how you reconcile with all of the others in the city who have build infrastructure – if there is a few, how do you share it among Wayport, T-Mobile, STSN – and all of the other players in a market that remains very fragmented today.

re putting the police force on a broadband network – I like the idea. To some extent it’s a “nice-to-have” in that photos, videos and maps can be uploaded/downloaded more quickly. The question is – do you want your police force dependent upon a network operating in unlicensed spectrum that can be brought down by someone using their cordless telephone? Perhaps they have a closed system or proprietary network technology in mind. I hope so. One of the reasons that cellular is more expensive is because it IS truly ubiquitous and it works more often than not.

I’m sure all of this makes sense to the folks in Minneapolis who devised the plan. One of the things I can’t figure out is how there are never any details in the press – I’m not sure if the municipalities are not answering the questions posed by the press or if the press is not asking the questions.

What I do like about their announcement is that it looks to be multi-use, depends on multiple technologies, involves no taxpayer money – yet (not sure who will subsidize rates to those who can’t afford it today), and will not be owned, built or managed by the city.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 12th, 2005

Wi-Fi Alliance Continues to Push Standardization

The Wi-Fi Alliance announced their Extended EAP program for WPA- and WPA2-Enterprise with certification available as of 4/15/05.

I think it’s an important move to continue the certification of Wi-Fi equipment. Overall, 37 percent of respondents to an executive survey stated that Wi-Fi certified hardware was important in the selection of network gear. That was in March 2004 – the number jumped to 46 percent four months later.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 12th, 2005

Google Launches New Local Services to Mobile Apps Product Suite

I received a press release from Google this am regarding local search being available on XHTML-enabled mobile phones. Cool, I thought. I checked the box that my phone came into to see if it was labeled “XHTML-compatible.” Couldn’t find this label on the box. Then I checked the web site that I refer to on a nearly weekly basis for instructions regarding how to use my phone. I did a search on XHTML there – “no results found.”

I decided to forge ahead anyway. I launched the browser, typed in the URL and saved it as a “favorite.” Don’t ask how many key strokes. Then I attempted to connect to the URL. I received an error message that the application would not work because my phone/browswer combination did not support the application.

So, here I am again. Lots of buzz and press around a newly launched application, but I can’t use it. I really thought things were going to get better when I upgraded from my ca year 2000 Star-tac.

I did try the application out on my PC. Not bad – my favorite Thai restaurant was the 6th listing among Thai restaurants in my zip code. Provided a phone number, map, etc.

I was less satisfied with the SMS format of the application. The first time I tried it – I forgot my zip code. The message disappeared into Never-Never Land or whatever the wireless version is. Well, I thought it had evaporated, but about 30 minutes later, I received a “sorry” message. The second time – it worked, but the two SMS messages I received only offered listings four or five deep – meaning my favorite Thai restaurant fell off the list.

What excites me about the Google model is that I don’t have to pay a monthly application fee – or a daily fee as in the case of Verizon SuperPages. Each of the applications I’ve trialed – Vindigo, Verizon SuperPages, and Google – requires the browser and air time. The experience that I eventually saw on the Web was fairly straightforward – what/where, but didn’t offer the flexibility of the Vindigo application. Vindigo helped me find my Thai restaurant most easily. Verizon helped me navigate around the restaurant.

411/Navigation applications are at the top of the list of information and services that consumers anticipate that they will both want and pay for according to our consumer surveys. Hopefully the applications and associated business models will evolve ahead of consumer demand.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless