Archive for July, 2005

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July 21st, 2005

Philly Muni Looks to Industry Leaders

Philadelphia narrowed its choices for development and management of its city-wide wireless project to three finalists – AT&T, HP, and Earthlink this week. It’s good to see them exporting the management of this project to seasoned vendors and service providers. I think it greatly increases their liklihood of success on all accounts if these heavy-hitters can meet their budget expectations.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 21st, 2005

Mobile Spam + Misplaced Charges = $250 Phone Bill

A consumer group in San Diego has filed a complaint against Sprint and Cingular in San Diego accusing each of these wireless carriers of charging consumers for services they are not using. I have yet to be charged for applications that I haven’t purchased, but then again, I am on Verizon’s network which they haven’t opened up yet to third party providers to the extent that Cingular has.

I can sympathize with the pain of paying for SMS messages, however, that I didn’t want. Back in March of 2005, I did a series of blogs on SMS.ac. I signed up to be a member of their network. Almost immediately I started receiving requests for dates – which in my mind is spam when they come from 21-year-olds living in San Diego. Worse, I had to pay 25 cents for each of the messages that I was receiving. The only way to stop the messages was to log into my SMS.ac account and block everyone from contacting me.

Our latest data shows that 10 percent of online consumers have already received and been annoyed by SMS spam – a fairly high number given the measures that carriers have in place to approve campaigns and manage the content on their networks. Our report has a lot more detail on consumer attitudes towards marketing on their cell phones.

It’ll be too bad if it takes legislation to protect consumers from unwanted text messages especially in this case where the carriers don’t want it either – the costs of bill disputes are already high and are likely only going to be higher as they open their networks to third party content providers. It is a tough place to be when content providers and consumers are pressuring carriers to open their networks, but at the same time want the carriers to manage the billing and quality of the content perfectly. Situations like this will certainly help the carriers from sliding down towards the looming “dumb pipe” scenario that they fear.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 20th, 2005

A wireless data plan I like – well, as long as I’m not paying

Vodafone announced a pre-paid data access plan earlier this week – one of the first of it’s kind I believe that does not force the subscriber to commit to monthly payments or annual subscriptions. I like this idea. Adoption of EV-DO, 1xRTT, etc. cards has been in the low single digits as a percentage of wireless subscribers. Our data show that a small percentage of mobile professionals are “frequent travelers” defined as at least weekly business trips. One would typically need to be a frequent traveler to justify $60 to $80 per month in data access fees. Per usage (on a byte meter) charges gives the carrier a more direct means of competing with hotspot services, opens up the market to a larger audience, and provides a better means for employees to bill their employers for travel expenses.

The service does seem to be on the expensive side – I, at least, would not use the service to download a lot of music, photos or video at more than 3 British pounds per Mbyte (and more than 9 British pounds when roaming internationally). It does offer an alternative though.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 19th, 2005

Contextual Mobile Marketing & Sales

These hypothetical situations have been articulated by start-up’s for years, and it looks like they are inching closer to reality here in 2005. Fox has signed a deal with WideRay to allow them to distribute mobile content associated with the movie via bluetooth kiosks in a handful of theaters worldwide. See story.

This marketing initiative is a good first step by Fox to promote the mobile content that has been developed in association with the movie. If consumers have free ring tone and wallpaper trials, they are more likely to purchase games and ring tones.

The effort falls short, however, in terms of driving traffic into the theater. Movie posters, TV adds, magazine ads, web sites, etc. should have short codes that enable mobile phone users to download trailers and content teasers before they hit the theaters. Yes, it won’t be free – they’ll have to pay for the data download, but it offers an excellent marketing opportunity.

Moreover, I think they are smart in limiting the initiative to a handful of cities at the start. Most handsets do not have bluetooth capability, and many consumers with bluetooth capable devices do not understand how to use the technology.

Consumer education and a simplified user experience will be a key to success in this market.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 15th, 2005

Spotted … Location-Based Mobile Marketing

Folks have been talking about location-based services on cell phones since the late nineties. Despite the fact that it never really seems to emerge as the killer application – and we have no data from consumers to suggest that they are interested, it seems to be one of the hottest topics year after year in the mobile space.

I received my first location-based targeted SMS (that I DID NOT opt in for) on my vacation that took me through Vienna, Austria. When I landed at the airport and turned on my cell phone with a prepaid SwissCom card, I immediately received an SMS welcoming me to Austria and providing me with phone numbers for tourist information.

My report on mobile marketing and what I think will work was just posted on our site yesterday. Has a lot of information re consumer attitudes especially towards SMS messaging. The report also takes a look at other formats.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless