Archive for October, 2006

October 31st, 2006

Nokia Commercial from Africa, cont.

Ok, Timothy isn’t actually officially auditioning to be Nokia’s chief spokesperson in Africa.

He just really likes his phone. It does everything for him – music, photos, video, email, etc. He uses it for business and for entertainment. Yes, it cost the equivalent of what he paid for his engagement party. Yes, the price is some absurdly high proportion of annual income. Yes, his business currently covers the cost of the service – though data services seem to be free since they aren’t technically available there in many handsets.

All of that said, he is really using the handset in a way that the handset manufacturers envision that consumers could. He is using his cell phone in ways that most Americans don’t – and wouldn’t bother because we have PC’s, radios, ipods, etc.

There is always a lot of talk about hitting the $50 price point for developing market countries. It was the same with cars. Manufacturers were looking to make cheap cars for developing markets such as China, India, Africa, etc. As it turned out though, early adopters wanted the same MB’s and BMW’s being sold in Europe and the US. What if it’s the same with cell phones? What if it’s not a question of budget for a cell phone? but budget for cell phone + computer + portable music player + camera … maybe it won’t be the low end phones.

[Nokia - you have to put Timothy in a commercial. He uses your phone in ways today that you imagine we all will in the future.]

His latest email:

Dear Juli,

The whole of yesterday at my office here in nairobi, I
connected the Nokia N91 phone to external speakers and
had people listen to all the local radio stations even
in Vernacular so clearly

and loudly, I mean it is more
than a phone, so may people are really inquiring about
the phone which goes for $ 650 in Kenya though very
scarce, you dont find

it stocked in shops here in
kenya because it is still very new.
I also have taken pictures of most of my telephone
contacts such that when someone calls the picture
comes and the name is said by the phone.

I have downloaded lots of country music on my phone
from my PC and also 10 songs from Debb and dave.

Nokia is wow and I must tell you that 70% of the
youths here use nokia and 85% of adults use Nokia
because of its user friendliness, because I did not
have any trouble understanding it and again its
reception of network is very clear.

The battery is very strong and supports all my
activities : internets, video, radio, music e.t.c
without fail.

Best regards,


October 27th, 2006

My Email, My Camera, My Everything in Africa

Another post for the weekend.

A follow-up to my post last month on the use of cell phones in the Masai Mara …

I sent Timothy an N-series phone. I believe that it is the first of it’s kind in the Masai Mara – or at least Timothy thinks so. He says that the phone is very “posch.” You hear a lot of people talk about how the cell phone may be the only computing platform that folks in developing countries have to connect to the Internet.

With all of the talk of sub-$100 computers, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical.

Timothy has a computer with dial-up speed access via satellite.

Within a few days of getting his new phone (ok, he does have a CS degree), he was using it to send and receive emails. It’s completely changing his life.

He’s really converting me over to believing that this really may be “it” in countries like Kenya. The phone has so many advantages over the PC – can carry it with him (there aren’t many safe places to leave valuables), doesn’t need to be plugged in – can go for days without a charge, etc. It’s the first time in his life that he has been able to generate his own digital media. It’s very cool. Now we just need the sub-$100 multimedia, N-series phone. ;)

From Timothy”

“Thanks so much for the gifts you send me and the phone which is the first of its kind around. Thanks Tim”

“I must say thank you for the gift of the phone, I access email and send email quite faster and easily with phone even in the Masai Mara and in my house at no charge. I am really proud of it, Celtel the mobile provider has enable this. I wrote an email to you last night with the phone and will send it tonight. The phone is so nice and precious that my class has gone up even. It is so clear with network and has lots of memory. I even watch video on the big tv screen, I have learned how to use it so fast. You do not see such [phones] in the Masai Mara.”

“Through my phone I was able to access your blog yesterday and so the updates, oh how thrilling it is to me to be able to access email so easily, so many people admire my phone and ask where they can buy, they are not so much in the market here in Kenya but I have a feeling nokia is going to bring such because the young population here is so interested in technology advancement. I am alright and now want to take a video of my local village at home with my parents and send you a cd of the same so you can see my family.”

[An email sent from his phone – doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard]

“Dear julie,am in the hse n writing u an email frm my house with the phone to say thank you uery much 4 being my friend n 4 being kind n mindful 2 me,hav a gud eve n cal wen u get a chance, Best regards,tim”

October 24th, 2006

MCommerce – Comparison Shopping on Cell Phones

I’ve seen a few demos of comparison shopping on cell phones. The idea is that you are out and about shopping, you find something you want to buy, and then you use your cell phone to ensure that you are getting the best price. AOL has a service like this (WAP) as do a few others. In the past, I found the scenario hard to imagine. Not any more.

I was in the post office yesterday. It’s the one at Geary/Parker in San Francisco. Anyone who has been there knows that it is a nightmare at many levels – not all of which are the fault of the USPS. I show up with my big box – one large enough that I can’t use the self-service machine. There are 15 people in front of me. In the five minutes that I wait, they serve one person.

I turn to my cell phone … and think … there must be another way. I think, “Where is the nearest UPS store?” In less than one minute, I have typed UPS into Google SMS and received an answer. I call. The nearest shop is 50 feet away, and there is no line. I’m back in my car headed home in less than 10 minutes. There are still 13 people in line at USPS.

Now that I’ve used the service and have context, I can imagine many more scenarios where I would want to look for an alternative or see if I am getting the best price. The cell phone really is morphing into a Swiss Army Knife. My other alternatives would have been to kill time by calling friends, watching TV, listening to music, or playing a game. Best one though was to find a competing – and better service.

October 23rd, 2006

Mobile Marketing – New Service Launch

JupiterResearch just launched a new service this morning – Mobile Marketing and Media. It is targeted towards media companies and advertisers/agencies though not exclusively.

We decided to launch the service because so many of our clients have approached us in the past 12 months asking these questions:

  • Should I have a mobile presence?
  • What should my mobile strategy be?
  • How should I be

incorporating mobile into my broader marketing, advertising, and media strategies?

We’ll be addressing these questions and more in the new service. A summary of the first report is available here. Check it out.

October 11th, 2006

Mobile Video: Chicken or the Egg?

Sprint announced that it is trialing MediaFLO’s technology for a broadcast TV service that it is calling Vue. Verizon plans to launch the service in Q1 2007. Many have questioned the need for a broadcast video/audio network when consumer adoption is as low as it is today. It’s sounds cliché, but they can’t succeed if they don’t try. Today’s networks only have the capacity to stream video simultaneously to a handful of subscribers at any one time. Certainly, not everyone will want to watch at the same time (ok, unless there is breaking news), but they can’t ramp up adoption without the capacity to deliver a great experience. Broadcast provides this capability.

I think one of the big open questions is what video content will subscribers want on their handset? Our surveys show that live, streaming TV is at the top of the list (which broadcast would provide), but there are a lot of close seconds. As more consumers watch time-shifted TV, will their concept of what they consider to be live TV really be a video-on-demand model? Will consumers take a TV- or Internet video mindset with them to the phone? Yes, it will probably be both CNN and YouTube, but which will be the bigger hit? Will user-generated video flow to consumers over the regular cellular network? or will it get access to broadcast networks? Programming for a mobile broadcast network could be tricky until some paradigms for consuming video on a portable device like a cell phone develop.

October 6th, 2006

A Cell Phone, Beads, a Knife and a Spear

Despite all of the news today in the industry, I’m writing a blog for the weekend. This is my summer vacation turned market research thanks to Timothy Kontire Maloi at the Ilkeliani Tented Camp and his friend Ole Tome. If you are ever in East Africa, you should look them up. They live near the main gate of the Masai Mara in western Kenya. Timothy manages the camp, and Ole is building his own nearby. They are amazing hosts.

I took an unlocked GSM phone with me on vacation. I planned to use it in Europe on my way home from Africa. In Africa, I planned to use the integrated MP3 player during long road trips across the country on our quest to find lions and leopards. When there is limited access to electricity, one truly appreciates having a single, integrated device with one charger. There was only one electrical outlet
available to guests at the Ilkeliani Camp. We all had to share.

Things in Africa have changed since my last visit. When I was there 10 years ago, the Masai were not speaking English or interacting with tourists. They were herding/minding goats and cows, drinking the blood from cows, and hunting male lions – no one messes with the females – to prove themselves as warriors. There were – and still are – living in stick (or dung) huts with no electricity or running water. They wore (and still do) red cloths (blankets to us) along with sandals and beautiful beaded jewelry.

Now, they have added Nokia cell phones to the mix. After their herds, the cell phone may be the most expensive thing that they own. They all had Nokia candybar-style, black-and-white text screen phones.

Everyone had the same model. They were using voice and SMS services.

In a place where a pair of shoes and a $10 Timex are a luxury, people are spending money for cell phones.

Masai Warriors at Ikelani Using Cell Phones

AMB Three Masai on Cell.jpg

“Kennedy” on his Cell Phone

AMB Single Masai on Cell Phone.jpg

Phone Carried on Belt with Knife

AMB Cell on Belt.jpg

Timothy told me that the Masai spend, on average, 4 Kenyan Shillings per day. Timothy uses the phone to run the camp and has a bill closer to US $100 each month. He said the cost per minute is about 30 shillings, but they tally by the second – not the minute.

A SIM card costs about one US dollar. I hadn’t considered buying a SIM card or using my cell phone while in Africa. It just never occurred to me – and, in fact, I was looking forward to being “offline” for a few weeks. I was listening to music on my Sony Walkman 810 when I bumped into Timothy who wanted to check it out. He sent one of his “warriors” to this shop to get me a couple of SIM cards – one from Celtel and the other from Safari (Vodafone) along with some scratch cards.

Shop Where We Purchased the SIM Card and Scratch Card
(That’s our guide/driver on his cell phone)

AMB Scratch Big.jpg

Advertisement for the Scratch Card

AMB Up Close Scratch Card AD.jpg

I saw only one cell tower in the town. With no buildings and so fewer users, it made sense. Reception was very clear. Timothy recommended Celtel for the park, but Safari for the airport (grass strip 20 km away).

As we drove around the country, we saw quite a few advertisements for the service. Interesting, the ads actually are practical in that they are paint for buildings. Reminds me of barns in Iowa with ads for tobacco.

CelTel Ad

AMB Celltel Shop.jpg

Closed Scratch Card Shop

AMB Closed Scratch Card Shop.jpg

Safari Ad (painted building)

AMB Safari dot com building rocks.jpg

They don’t yet have ring tones, games, video, etc. on their cell phones. Timothy does have Internet access for his computer though at dial-up speeds. A lot of people talk about the fact that access to the Internet may be through a cell phone for much of the world’s population. It’s easy to imagine here where people own cell phones, but live in mud huts with no electricity. Charging is an issue. I’ve heard stories of car batteries being used. Other than the price of a single, here is a market where one can imagine music being purchased over-the-air. They have no retail outlets for music – just basic supplies (groceries and beads), butchers, and mechanics. There is a lot of Coca Cola and Fanta being sold as well.

As it turned out, it was a lot of fun and helpful to have a cell phone. Timothy called us to check in to see how we were doing. On our last game drive, he called to let us know we could spend an extra two hours looking for a cheetah because our flight was delayed. In Tanzania, we called home. Somehow, we spent 20 minutes calling our friends and family from the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro on a $5 scratch card. And, I could call my friends in Europe to let them know we were going to miss our connecting flight because an aborted takeoff by Air India was blocking the runway. There are lots of good reasons to have a cell phone when you are traveling.

An unrelated note, this is what is cool in Africa besides cell phones.

AMB Leopard.jpg

October 2nd, 2006

Xero Mobile … Worth of a Wireless Carrier without Customers?

RCR reported on the sale of Xero Mobile today. Apparently, they are selling mobile marketing technology ideas/patents. The article didn’t have much (not their fault – seems as though the company reported little) – just mentioned that they can see if a subscriber views an ad and can automatically bill advertisers.

It raises an interesting question of the value of technology without customers. The advertising would likely show up when the phone is powered on, when numbers are dialed, calls received, mobile content browsed, etc. However, there is no network or inventory without customers which typically are acquired at a high price. (I don’t even want to go down the road of what ESPN must have paid per sub). If a base is built, is it a base willing to spend money on other products – just not cell phone service? If you’re an advertiser, why wouldn’t you purchase on a carrier’s network where you can slice/dice an audience of 50 million subscribers – unless it’s too expensive or not enough inventory (same problem). Will a carrier sell air minutes to a competitor who will increase the amount of available inventory?

Our consumer surveys show some interest in ad-sponsored models, but only those executed with extreme care. Will be interesting to watch.