Archive for April, 2007

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April 24th, 2007

Mobile Ad Inventory Fragmentation? or Multi-channel?

I want to start this blog with letting everyone know that I don’t try to “break” services. I really, really want mobile content and marketing to do well.

Philips is paying $5 million to the Condé Nast Media Group to sponsor recommendations in cities throughout the US and Europe. See story.

Sponsoring alerts is a form of ad inventory. It’s an interesting concept in many ways. There isn’t much of it. There is consumer interest in these types of services according to our data.

What I like about the idea:

  • Has utility
  • Good content
  • Links to Philips section on Amazon.com (ok, a bit hard to shop for electronics on a cell phone)
  • Sponsorships make more sense at this stage then buying targeted inventory (e.g., pizza in San Francisco) b/c there simply isn’t enough of it

What I find challenging:

  • I’m not sure what acronym ties into “82222″
  • At this stage, text messaging needs to be bullet-proof in terms of functionality. I did a search on San Francisco + Burmese restaurant and got the following message: “We’re sorry but your text message was not understood. Please check spelling and try again or reply HELP for more info.” I’m pretty sure I spelled San Francisco and restaurant correctly.

I tried again with San Francisco and Pizza – this time I got an error message telling me that the service is temporarily down.

I tried their suggestion of the HELP message. They sent me back a vocabulary of codes to use to express my search more accurately (e.g., DINE NYC rather than San Francisco Restaurant). Ok, it’s not supposed to be true local search – so my bad.

Some of the suggestions I got back:

“Good Finds” = FEEL (??? no idea)
“Destinations” = SEE

They told me to look online for city codes.

My point is – these services shouldn’t require an instruction manual.

Once I followed their instructions, I was given a handful of restaurants in SF along with their phone numbers. So, it worked pretty much as advertised. One can’t go into the process though with a normal search paradigm.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 23rd, 2007

Mobile Search Overview

I wrote up a piece that gives an overview of the mobile search environment in the US today.

See story.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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April 16th, 2007

Shopping with Text Messaging … Is it New?

The NY Times did a big piece on a company called ShopText today. It’s an interesting idea and one that I’d love to see take off. I question though, whether or not it is a “new form” of impulse as the title of the article reads.

Mobile content retailers have been pushing mobile content (e.g., ring tones, games) with short codes in magazines for years now – literally. Adoption has been fairly low to date and limited to a younger audience (e.g., readers of CosmoGirl).

As an extension of ecommerce, it isn’t so new. As a virtual mobile payment, it is more new – not much of that out there yet.

I am wondering if we’ll see it in catalogs. Is it more time-efficient than a 1-800 number to place an order. (Anyone order from those flight catalogs on airplanes?)

Will early adopters be online consumers … the ones who like to comparison shop, look for good deals, and read consumers reviews? The small screen has some limits (e.g., ability to read product description, enter a size, enter a gift address, etc.)

I like the idea of it as a core technology for MCommerce applications. I like the idea of not having to register my cell phone number and credit card with every possible online entity from which I may buy something.

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April 16th, 2007

Parental Controls on Cell Phones for Kids

Disney announced a number of new services targeted at parents today. Things seem to be going well for them given the roll out of the new services and planned expansion. Our research shows they are on target with their offerings for parents – esp. when it comes to child-tracking and helping parents to control costs. Will be interesting to see if the value provided by these services will outweigh parents other priorities (e.g., cheap voice minutes) in the long term. The services offered are more appealing to parents of younger children than older ones.

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April 13th, 2007

Can Better UI’s Sell Content?

Amp’d followed the launch of its portal in the Japanese market with one in Canada with Telus. (See http://www.mediacastermagazine.com/issues/ISArticle.asp?id=67656&issue=04122007). I think this is going to be a story to watch. To date, a lot of media companies have followed a strategy of one of two extremes – just content or a full-blown MVNO. Personalized or media-centric UI’s on phones create an exciting middle ground. Our data show that the target market is on the verge of being ready and may be if the opportunity presented itself. Amp’d will present a range of media and entertainment services, but one can easily imagine extending this scenario into branded phones on a traditional carriers’ network.

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April 13th, 2007

Kiddy Cell Phones Dropped by Carriers

Verizon and Cingular have both discontinued the sale of their feature-limited cell phones targeted at children. (See RCR Wireless story.)

This doesn’t mean that things aren’t going well with younger children. It’s just good business sense. The challenge with the phones is that they serve a niche market just like phones at the high end ($400+) which are also sold elsewhere (e.g., Nokia’s flagship store on 57th in NYC). It’s a niche market because the majority of parents we’ve surveyed with children under the age of nine years simple feel their child is too young for a cell phone of any kind. The tween market will be hot in 2007 according to our data, but once these kids hit late grade school years/junior high, they want the real deal as Verizon found out.

I have a report to be published early next month on selling cell phones to second graders that will explore this topic in depth.

Niche products have the challenge of inventory costs, fighting for limited shelf space, educating sales staff on a product they won’t be selling often, etc. The kid products have the added challenge that they don’t typically generate high ARPU contracts as they are prepaid or add-on’s to their parents’ contracts.

Kids and their parents are much more likely to be in grocery stores, Walmart, Target, etc.

I did a blog on the Migo a while back. It’s a bit sad it’s gone.

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April 9th, 2007

Disney ARPU Isn’t Kid Stuff

Disney Mobile released a few operating metrics. (See story from RCR Wireless) A couple of the big metrics missing were total subscribers and total ARPU. Impressive though were 44 percent of the subscribers are kids on their own plan at $25 per month and 30 percent using the tracking services. If that is 30 percent out of the 56 percent of adults, it’s an impressive number at $13/month for the service. Our data show that few services rank higher than tracking a kid and controlling expenses.

Kids on their own “limited” plan tend to be younger – younger than 14 years. The tween market will be one of the hottest and fastest growing age categories according to our data. Looks like Disney is doing well with this younger segment. In his category, $25/month is better than $0 per month – what the majority of kids this age are generating in ARPU.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless