Archive for March, 2006

March 30th, 2006

Pay-As-You-Go EVDO

Yesterday, Verizon announced that it was offering daily EVDO rates for those with EVDO embedded in some laptops. I love this idea. We’ve done extensive survey work on prosumers, those who travel for business, those who travel frequently for business, etc. Not many travel frequently enough to justify an EVDO subscription as measured by number of days on the road multiplied by $10 – the common fee for Wi-Fi which is often the alternative. Also, great idea for driving trials. Folks will LOVE this technology once they use it.

Our latest research is published here.

March 28th, 2006

American Idol: “I want my ring tones!”

I blogged last week on American Idol ring tones. One of my colleagues has service from Cingular and gave it a try. It didn’t work out so well (see our IM dialogue below).

A request to Cingular, American Idol and whatever vendors are on the backend of delivery: “PLEASE LET THIS WORK!” You have an amazing opportunity to help grow this market and be a true leader in integrated, interactive marketing and entertainment. Please execute.

Our IM dialogue:

JupEmployee: FYI—tried getting the american idol ringtones onto my cingular [read your blog late ]..text message arrived, i clicked on link and received WAP server errors 6 straight times…and rude ‘boing’ tone to indicate error [well, thats my phone setting i suppose]

Me: you have cingular?

JupEmployee: yep

Me: nice

JupEmployee: I tried dowloading ringtones on it last week..cant believe its such a pain…after i choose ringtone, i twiddle thumb waiting for SMS with it 40 hours later..six copies of it.

March 28th, 2006

Cheated on Coke Credits on my Cell Phone

Ah, mobile marketing … I’m really trying to like it and give it a boost. Campaigns like the one being run by Coca Cola are making it hard right now. It seems as though folks are still operating under the “customer expectations are low so we don’t have to execute that well right now in the mobile medium.”

What I like about the Coke campaign:

- Integrated with online experience to collect consumer information, preferences, etc.
- Frequent touch points – each soda offers an opportunity to interact with the brand
- Low hurdles for point redemption for prizes

What isn’t working well from the standpoint of mobile marketing:

- Only 3/5 bottle cap codes that I attempt to redeem through text messaging are actually accepted. Others are labeled as “duplicates” or “invalid.” ??? I’m reading them the best I can from the cap – not so easy. Not sure why they are being so hard on me for three points here and there.

- I set up an extensive profile online. They know my age, gender, where I live, and that my interests include sports, travel, diet coke and entertainment. About a week after setting up the account (or longer), I received a “generic welcome to coke rewards” email. Not impressive given how much they know about me.

- Within my profile, there is not consistent information about my mobile phone number and carrier – one portion of my profile says they have no idea what my phone number/carrier is and another portion of the website (my profile) has the information. I’ve registered my cell phone twice now by sending a code to a short code. In the mean time, I’ve signed up for mobile alerts/coupons/offers, but have received nothing. Are they waiting until I’ve completely forgotten that I’ve signed up?

A lot of energy in the right directions and good ideas – just waiting to see what they eventually do with it.

March 22nd, 2006

American Idol Ringtones via the Direct Channel

Wow, this is both a lot of integrated marketing and mobile content sales for mainstream America.

Lots of integrated marketing – text to vote, text to buy ring tones, commercials pushing CV, etc. Didn’t see the ring tones marketed on TV on the web site though. Then … using the opportunity to teach viewers how to use their handset.

And then … Ryan Seacrest teaching 40 million American viewers how to download a ringtone without utilizing the carrier’s “deck.”

(He has help from seven year old “Sammy” who is more likely to have a Migo than a SLVR, but that’s beside the point. She’ll have to watch Ace on TV.)

“If you are with Cingular Wireless, you can actually download ring tones of your favorite IDOLs.” (Now, does Johnny Cash, Chris, or American Idol have rights to that content?)

“In a text message, send the letter ‘A’ to “8008.” (ok, not so intuitive)

“You’ll get a response.” (uh, would that be a text message?)

“Click on the link.”

“Select the tone you’d like and download your favorite IDOLs right there.”

“It’ll play right out of your phone.”

(But, Ryan … what charges apply? what does it cost?)

Wish I had a Cingular handset so I could try it out. The ability to vote and buy ring tones associated with American Idol probably won’t be a reason to switch carriers, but Cingular certainly has a captive audience each week.

Impressive also that Ryan could give those instructions “live.”

March 21st, 2006

Ad-Supported Wireless Services

Not the first I’ve heard of this idea, but the most recent was yesterday. See this Red Herring article.

I think this will be interesting to watch. I’m not an expert on ISP’s, but it seems to me as though the largest ones are paid services if that is any indication of a consumer’s appetite for ad-sponsored services. Our data show that consumers choose wireless service providers based on quality of coverage and cost. As this service will run on existing infrastructure, it’s likely to be comparable provided the handsets are. Cost – well, let’s hope it’s free or costs less since it is ad-sponsored. My hesitation in being excited about this concept lies in consumer data we’ve collected about consumer interest in ad-sponsored services. A very small percentage (i.e., single digits) of consumers we surveyed were interested in either free airtime/talk minutes or handsets in exchange for being targeted with advertising. The numbers didn’t change even when we looked at just those subscribers aged 18 to 24 years.

March 16th, 2006

A Second Grader’s Cellphone – the Migo

“Why WOULDN’T I buy my daughter [she is seven years old] a cell phone? It COSTS me NOTHING AND it makes her HAPPY. I would be an idiot not to. It’s five dollars a month. It’s nothing. Besides, it means my child cries five days less a year when my wife is late to pick her up from school. Why WOULDN’T I get her a cell phone?”

I had the wonderful and rare opportunity to talk with a seven year old who has a cell phone earlier this week. I know her father from business school.

Somehow it came up in our conversation last week that he had purchased one for her for Christmas a few months ago. He said that it was her favorite present by far.

My first question to him last week (before I met up with his daughter this week), was, of course, “Why does she need a cell phone? You drop her off. You pick her up. She goes to school three blocks away from where you live. She doesn’t go anywhere on her own otherwise.”

The answer [see above] was “Why wouldn’t I?”

So, I had the chance to speak with his wife and daughter yesterday AND I got to see the Migo.

One of my first impressions was, “why does my phone have to be silver? I want a shiny green phone like the Migo.”

Both his wife and daughter LOVE having the cell phone. Some background information and then the rest of the interview follows.

Their daughter is an extremely precocious and responsible second-grader. She is very well read, and she prefers reading to video games and TV.

Julie: “Do you like your cell phone?”
(Daughter) “Yes, I really like having a cell phone.”
“How many kids are in your class at school?”
“How many have cell phones?”
“Why do you like your cell phone?”
“Because I can call my mom after school.”
[Her mom says it gives her daughter a lot of comfort to know that she can reach her parents anytime.]
“Where do you take the phone?”
“Just to school.”
“How often do you use your phone?”
“Every day to call my mom.”
[Doesn't call Dad at work so really not using the phone for random calls even to her parents. Just using the phone to see when her Mom is picking her up even if she is there at the school already. Just something she does every day now. Also, her parents say she doesn't run up the bill. She'll talk all day on the home phone, but cell phone calls are very brief.]
“Do you take it with you when you go to swim practice?”
“No, just to school. I am only allowed to turn it on after school when I am waiting outside for my mom.”
“Where do you carry it?”
“There is a special pocket in my backpack.”
[I will admit - it looked like it was in great shape.]
“Do you friends ever ask if they can use it?”
“That would be silly. They can only call my mom’s cell phone, my dad at work, my dad’s cell phone or our home phone.”
“Are you afraid that someone might steal it?”
“That would be silly, too. They can only call my parents. One time a boy at school wanted to press the ‘EMERGENCY’ button, but I wouldn’t let him. That would be irresponsible. I am not allowed to do that.”
“How do you charge it?”
“My mom charges it for me.”
[Her mom says she charges it about once a week since she only has it on for brief periods after school.]
“How do you work the phone?”
“I press ‘1′ to call my Mom’s cell phone, ‘2′ to call my Dad’s cell phone, ‘3′ to call my Dad at work, and ‘4′ to call home. I don’t know what these buttons on the side are for.” [They were volume buttons]
“Did you memorize those numbers (i.e., ‘1′ is ‘Mom’)? Or can you read the screen?”
“I can read what it says. See, it says ‘Dad’s cell phone.’”
[Feedback from Dad ... royal hassle to program even four numbers into a handset that has no keypad.]
“Do you let your [younger] brother use your cell phone?”
[Note from Mom - her brother wouldn't be interested in any electronic device without a lot of buttons and a camera.]

Then I showed her some of the features on my phone – games, video, etc.
“Can you figure out where the games are on my phone?”

She spends about a minute before landing on the games page. She selects “Bubble Ducky” and promptly destroys my high score on her first try. She then tries “Frogger.” That lasts about 30 seconds before she decides it is too complex and wants to return to “Bubble Ducky.” She was very interested in the game [I didn't literally have to pry it from her hands on the way out the door ...], but she was very aware that that was something she should not and could not have on her own cell phone because she is not allowed to play games at school. Her favorite feature was the high scores and seeing her progress – even at the age of seven.

Then, I showed her video. I was surprised once I looked how little content was appropriate for her. I asked her about Sesame Street – “no, boring.” I asked about some Nick – that got an “ok.” She was bored after two minutes and wanted to return to Bubble Ducky.

Overall, everyone was more than satisfied with the experience. Programming numbers was hard – by design, I guess, and her Mom wanted an alert when it needed to be recharged.

Otherwise, Verizon seemed to be doing everything right with the marketing. Our own data confirms that the scenario described above is pretty typical. Parents become interested in buying cell phones for their children and adding them to their plan in case of an emergency. The decision becomes very easy with the low price points (value proposition.)

I have a piece of research due out soon with data (attitudes, demographics, behaviors) from both the teens and their parents.

March 7th, 2006

Donald’s Apprentices Fall Short on Mobile Marketing

If mobile marketing is on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” is it mainstream? They generated a little over 1,100 text messages in a day.

A lot of loose ends in this campaign. A few things done well, but many missed opportunties.

A list …

- Times Square? I don’t live in New York, but the few times I’ve been through Times Square I’ve seen more middle-aged tourists than young adults. There certainly is a lot of traffic there, but I’m not sure it’s their target audience. Young adults are most likely to be intrigued by mobile marketing campaigns. Local universities, schools, etc. might have made for better real estate.

- Very open-ended. All of these episodes have some kind of product placement. Why not go the rest of the way? Let the TV audience participate. What was the answer? Were there coupons?

- Not enough buzz. Guys in bathrobes at Times Square? “Closer”? “Blade5″? They at least generated enough intrigue for 1,100 individuals to text in, but weak.

- Commercials in-between the TV segments. They didn’t point to the SMS campaign or the Internet. Excedrin came the closest with directing viewers to their web site to name the “Biggest Pain of the Week.” That would be a fun text campaign.

The presence of mobile marketing on a high profile TV program is a sign that it is moving towards mainstream. The execution by these “Apprentices” though and the company leave the imp
ression that mobile marketing still has a long ways to go before we see it reach it’s potential.

March 7th, 2006

Just Because You Build It, Doesn’t Mean They’ll Come

AT&T and Bellsouth’s announcement over the weekend of their renewed merger has generated a lot of talk around the future of fixed/mobile convergence and what services we may see going forward. A lot has already been written, so just a few thoughts:

- We won’t see cost savings in the very near term. Price cuts through bundled services are likely to come early, but even achieving business side offerings will be a challenge. Cingular is still working on their integration of AT&T Wireless from 2004. The renewed merger adds another layer of complexity and work to the integration.

- Near term offerings are not nearly as exciting as the long term vision. The next 18 to 24 months will likely bring single phone numbers and voicemail boxes to the consumer. Longer term, we’ll see more multi-media applications and content delivery.

- A lot of these services are a possibility today if you’re a tech-savvy consumer and you can put all of the pieces together. A single owner of the network (cellular, DSL/Cable, Wi-Fi, etc.) will make the integration and offering of services to the average consumer easier.

- Just because they build the products, doesn’t mean consumers will buy. Lack of access to the technology typically isn’t the primary inhibitor to adoption. Someone is going to have to convince consumers that it is useful to program your TV from your cell phone.

- There has been a lot of focus on offloading voice traffic from the cellular network to the Wi-Fi network. Likely to happen at home before in public, but not guaranteed. I can see 16 wireless networks from my flat in San Francisco – and this is before n is rolled out – a lot of interference for a voice signal to wade through. Overall, there is a lot list of issues to be worked through. Sure, unlicensed spectrum is cheap. My voice service on my cell phone is a lot more reliable than my wireless network at home.

March 3rd, 2006

Mobile Video – Midwest Reality Check

I love coming back to my hometown for a reality check every now and then around the adoption of wireless services. (At the holidays, I blogged about my parents keeping a phone book in their car in case they need to look up a phone number.) This might be better.

I land at Cleveland Hopkins at about 1pm EST on Friday afternoon. Jump in a cab. I hear the distinctive sounds of a soap opera coming from the front seat of the taxi. I peer around the passenger seat to look for the origin of the voices. There is a 13″ color TV sitting in the passenger seat. The screen faces the driver. Antenna is taped to the windshield. It’s really perfect.

The cab driver told me that he uses it to keep up on news. I haven’t watched many soap opera TV programs in my life, but what I heard sounded a lot more like General Hospital.