Archive for February, 2007

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February 28th, 2007

Cross-Carrier Promotions Fall Short on American Idol

Ok, it’s, what, Season 7 of American Idol? Voting is still limited to Cingular customers. I don’t have a phone with Cingular service.

I do have a cell phone though, and I have been watching some American Idol. Each time there is a chance to participate with my cell phone I do.

Yesterday, I sent “Play” to 5005. Nothing happened.

Last week, I sent “B” to 51555.

I figured, well okay, maybe it is just for Cingular customers.

This evening … 24 hours later … I receive the following “free” text message from my wireless carrier:

(I have no idea at this point what my carrier has to do with any of this)

“U may have rec’d multiple conf. msgs 4 American Idol Challenge. You will only be charged $0.99 for each valid entry. Thxs 4 ur entry.”

Okay, first, I have to read it three times before I understand what it says. I practically have to read it out loud to get that “ur” is “your.”

Now I know my carrier is involved because it is their billing system.

The thing is … I haven’t received ANY confirmation codes. My messages have disappeared into a black hole for all I know.

What is up with this? It is the year 2007. Carriers and vendors alike are out there promoting the concept of cross-carrier mobile marketing. American Idol did more to raise awareness of voting with a cell phone than any other entity.

WHAT IS GOING ON THIS SEASON?!?!?

On one hand, there are best practices such as Ryan Seacrest using airtime to say “standard text messaging rates apply.” On the other, text messages are being dropped in the sweepstakes (AND APPARENTLY PAID) portion … I think I may call my carrier to get the charge removed (their worst nightmare) … stay tuned.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 28th, 2007

MobiTV’s Milestone

Hooray for MobiTV!!!

They announced today that they passed the two million subscriber mark. These subscribers are not necessarily just in the US, but it’s impressive none the less. Most impressive is the time difference between how long it took to get to the first million and how little time it took to get the second million.

There are lots of mobile video offerings out there, but according to our research, “live” tops the list and they were first to market.

I’m not sure which is more impressive – the technology (which is pretty amazing) or that they have two million subs. paying about $10 per month – pretty close to the total carriers get on average from data services and we all know most of that is communication-oriented.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 26th, 2007

Buying Big Macs with Mobile Phones

McDonald’s and DoCoMo formed a joint venture to enable payments at McDonald’s with cell phones.

I think this is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, the need to form a joint venture demonstrates the need for up front investment and cooperation among players in this payment value chain. Otherwise, it suffers from the chicken and egg problem. POS equipment is needed to interoperate with technology in the cell phones. Carriers and handset manufacturers need incentives to add cost into the cell phones. There has to be a network for it to be interesting to anyone.

Second – but not mentioned in the article – it gives both McDonald’s and DoCoMo the opportunity to track consumers and their eating habits. Cash is more likely to be used in small transactions. Electronic payments will allow user behavior to be tracked and used for marketing purposes.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 26th, 2007

Another Defeat for Mobile Spammers

Verizon won a judgement today against a wireless spammer. (See story)

This is good news for the industry broadly – advertisers, carriers, and vendors in the mobile marketing space. Only a handful of cell phone owners have received a mobile marketing message either wanted or unwanted. That said, a much higher percentage of cell phone owners are concerned about paying for unwanted messages or being bothered on their cell phone. Decisions such as these should ease consumers concerns.

See our research for more data on consumer attitudes towards mobile marketing.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 23rd, 2007

Open Access on Cellular Networks?

Saw this article posted by CNET.

Skype is petitioning the FCC to demand that U.S. mobile operators loosen their controls on their networks to allow access to any service or site. I don’t think anyone argues that the operators will move in this direction on their own at a controlled pace once they have the infrastructure in place to support their own business goals.

As they look to grow their subscriber base with kids six and seven years of age, they need to be able to ensure that children don’t have access to inappropriate sites. Moreover, given the millions of dollars they’ve paid for spectrum and to build infrastructure, why should they be forced to open their networks at this point, at least, to competitive services that will cannibalize their own business? especially when they can’t control the end user experience and will be fielding the customer service calls when consumers are dissatisfied?

I believe that they will continue to move in the direction of more open access (and, yes, there are times when I wish it would move more quickly so I could use all of the bandwidth-intensive applications and services I’d like to use at my fixed rate all-you-can-eat data plan), but they have a right to use their investments to return value to their shareholders. Market forces rather than the government will move them in this direction.

And, I have used Skype on Verizon’s network – they let me do so on a more expensive data plan. The experience was mixed – sometimes quite good and at other times, really, really poor such that I just told my friend I’d call her later from a phone.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 16th, 2007

Media for the iPhone (yes, Apple’s)

When Apple first launched the iPhone, I blogged about a lot of open questions I had. See post.

We are beginning to see some of the answers. See the EA/Apple announcement.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 16th, 2007

Mobile Video Usage Picks Up

Adoption of mobile video is on the rise as is usage. A few interesting stats have been published this week.

Versaly launched a free (will begin selling/publishing ads this spring) channel (see channel 61) called Fast Lane on Sprint in January. Folks are downloading clips at a rate of more than 50,000 per week. There hasn’t been a lot of free, ad-supported video content to date so I’m anxious to see how this goes.

MTV also announced that they are streaming more than one million clips per month.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 16th, 2007

Next Generation Personalization on Cell Phones

Early this week Time Warner’s Cartoon Network announced that they will use the voices and personalities of their cartoon characters to alert mobile phone users to events – phone ringing, new message, etc.

It’s not for everyone as my colleague David Card is quoted as saying in the article, but it’s certainly something I can see using. It’s amusing.

I’ve used voices before as ring tones, but only briefly. They scare me more often than not. I’m home alone and all of a sudden I’m hearing voices … or my purse will start “talking to me.” My phone as a can of beer opening as it’s text alert.

I’ll be writing a piece of research later this spring on next generation personalization. If you have a company with a new idea, I’d like to hear from you.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 16th, 2007

Mediocre Mobile Marketing from My Carrier

I received the following messaging from my wireless carrier. (My contract ends this month.)

“FREE msg from [carrier]. Get up to $100 off any phone after $50 mail-in-rebate & new 2-yr agreement. Call 1-8xx-xxx-xxxx for details. 2 stop txt msgs frm [carrier], reply w/ X”

Yes, seriously. I’m a $100 per month customer who buys ring back tones and games along with using more than 100 text messages per month. This means that my monthly bill is 60 percent more than their average customer (once taxes are deducted).

They have made no other attempts to resign me as far as I know.

They do know that I text because they can see my bill so the text message is relevant.

I guess I’m old-fashioned and “uncool,” but I’m still expect to be targeted in the English language, at least.

I’m also surprised that they are not making more of an effort. Arrogance?

Hard to shop for a new phone over the phone so the phone call as a “call to action” is questionable. Why not an MMS? Why not a link to a video clip with an enticing ad?

My two cents … too big of a deal to close with a text message. It likely works or they wouldn’t be using it, but it’s simply not possible that it works in my segment.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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February 12th, 2007

Nail in the coffin for DVB-H in the US?

AT&T announced today that they will be moving forward with MediaFLO’s solution for broadcast video and audio services. With Verizon set to launch with the same service early this year, that puts about half of the US mobile subscriber population in the hands of MediaFLO. With Sprint and T-Mobile trialing the service (and they may also be trialing DVB-H), things don’t look good for the DVB-H standard in the US – at least on cell phones.

With Cingular being a GSM operator like the rest of Europe (and most of the world), it is especially devastating to backers of the DVB-H standard here in the US that they chose an alternative technology.

There are relatively few subscribers to mobile video services in the US today, but there has been rapid growth from a small base in the past 12 months as catalogs expand and handsets come down in price.

Broadcast video will alter the economics favorably for those who can achieve scale – something that MediaFLO seems to be achieving with their recent wins.

That said, consumers are interested in watching video on devices other than cell phones. In fact, when surveyed, consumers perfer watching live TV on the bigger screens offered by laptops, handheld gaming devices and portable media players to cell phones. Introducing the cost of customer acquisition, however, raises the stakes for anyone launching a new service not tied to existing consumer services (e.g., cell phone contract)

It may not be the “nail,” but there must be a lot of folks celebrating within the MediaFLO community.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless