Archive for July, 2007

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July 24th, 2007

DVB-H – Pulling the Plug on Modeo

Crown Castle sold its DVB-H (mobile TV) spectrum to a private group this week, and in doing so, “pulled the plug” on its mobile video service offering. (See Moco article)

See my earlier post: “Nail in the coffin for DVB-H in the US” from 02/07. (post)

The announcement comes at an interesting time as Hiwire (Modeo’s DVB-H competition in the US) just announced the launch of their trials in Las Vegas. There clearly isn’t enough demand for broadcast video services on mobile devices in the US in the year 2007 to support two nationwide networks. Hiwire doesn’t plan to build out their infrastructure until they have a commitment from a service provider.

My understanding was that Crown Castle didn’t have the spectrum they needed for a national service depending on how you define national – most do in terms of top markets covered. If they hadn’t sold their spectrum and this market were further along, I think we would have been looking at an XM/Sirius situation – and we still may be longer term.

The spectrum isn’t only suited for mobile video. I think there are some analogies here that can be taken from other new wireless networks. Public Wi-Fi, for example, can’t fund itself solely from public access from consumers. It needs many revenue streams as there isn’t a single dominant use case – there isn’t one large enough customer base that can support the infrastructure costs. Owners of this spectrum will either need to have a lot of patience (and money) to wait for demand for mobile video to develop or they will need to launch other services (and audio is already announced) to fund the cost.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 23rd, 2007

Amp’d to Sell Assets

The story has been all over the news. It looks like they will try to sell off assets between now and the end of July. Amp’d Live and Amp’d International are up for sale. Lil Bush is part of Amp’d Live – the entertainment portal. I still think it would make a good brand for a larger carrier as they begin to recognize the need that one size doesn’t fit all with UI’s these days.

The market they faced was tough – as I posted about a year ago. Very, very few mobile subscribers make service provider decisions based on entertainment choices alone. The team at Amp’d was visionary and had some great ideas – if the assets aren’t absorbed back into the larger carriers, hopefully the team will have interest in doing so. The larger carriers could use some of the creative thinking Amp’d had. They would also have the means to implement.

Here are some other posts that I’ve had on MVNO’s.

Amp’d Mobile: From Media to Minutes (see post)

Chapter 11 (see post)

MVNO’s – Not Much New to Say (see post)

MVNO Math (see post)

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 21st, 2007

Starbucks – Playing Photo Trivia (Mobile Marketing)

I blogged about the Starbucks mobile marketing campaign yesterday. I was texting in answers. Today, I tried taking photos of the answers. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I started and wanted to test its limits. I used the LG 9000 camera phone (Verizon) for all of these submissions.

The first question asked for the name of a city. I took a photo of a photo of a major tourist attraction in this city and sent it in. My second try was going to be writing the word (i.e., name of the city) on a piece of paper. I was also sure that it would take much longer to validate than the simple text message. It didn’t. I had a response in less than one minute and they gave me credit for the answer. Maybe they really did some ID of the photo? maybe they just gave me credit for sending in any photo? Still, another $5 gift card sent my way.

The second question came. I decided to test my hypothesis of “any picture will work” first. I sent in a photo of my cat. It was rejected. Impressive. I next took a photo of a “beverage” on their web site that I knew to be the correct answer (because I’ve been through this before with text). It worked. I was awarded another pat on the back.

The next clue comes. I start hunting around in my cupboards for something in a jar that shares the same name. I took a photo of the food label and sent it in. That worked. Fully intrigued now. It may have taken a couple of minutes though. Still not sure if these are being manually scanned.

My last clue of the week comes. The answer is the name of a place. In trying to test the limits, I sent in a photo of a satellite image of the place from Google online. Whoa! They gave me credit. Maybe two or three minutes – seemed like a wait, but not long.

Another clue arrives. It is a food. This time I go to Google Images for a picture of this ingredient in a drink. It seems to be taking a few minutes now as well. This works, too. Pretty cool. Another ice coffee awarded.

Last clue arrives. This time I take a photo of a well known brand that makes/sells this product. Is this a brand known well enough for it’s product to be one in the same like Xerox or Kleenex? Wait more than a minute … maybe two and I receive confirmation that my answer is correct. Another suggestion to donate a book to a library arrives.

Need to find out who is behind the campaign. The photos cost more, but it’s fun – fun to hunt around for something that symbolizes the products. The Internet is an easy shortcut, but still entertaining.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 19th, 2007

Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop in an SMS Campaign

I had the following exchange with the Barack campaign yesterday:

I received a text message on Wednesday:

“Obama gave a major speech today on renewing our urban centers. For more about his plan, reply URBAN to this message.”

I replied “URBAN,” and I received this message:

“Obama will create an anti-poverty effort to save a generation of kids in places where they were never supposed to have a chance. Reply PLAN for more.”

I replied “PLAN,” and I received this message:(ok, and at this point, I am only replying because I’m curious just how far this will go. Not going to judge the initial message as completely unworthy of being a text message, but it’s borderline)

“He has a plan to provide families the support they need to raise their children. Reply READ for more.”

I replied “READ,” and I received the following message:

“Obama’s plan also contains job training to help people find work and make that work pay. Text NEXT for more”

I replied “NEXT,” and I received the following message:

“Barack wants to help inner-city businesses access the capital and resources they need to create a stronger business climate. Text MORE for more”

I replied “MORE,” and I received the following message:

“Americans have access to safe, affordable housing. Text QUOTE for a part of the speech”

I replied “QUOTE,” and I received the following message:

“‘What we can do is make our neighborhoods whole again. What we can do is retire the phrase ‘working poor’ in our time.’” For more: www.barackobama.com/speeches”

Phew.

Anybody remember those commercials for Tootsie Roll Tootsie pops when you were young. Was it an owl up in the tree? Tootsie roll has it posted on their site for those interested.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 19th, 2007

Yet to be name wireless wholesaler losing customers

Forbes had a posting today on Verizon Wireless’s initial results.

Here’s an excerpt:

The company reported net customer additions of 1.6 million on the retail side. During the quarter there were 300,000 net reductions in the company’s wholesale base, primarily due to one reseller, Verizon (nyse: VZ – news – people ) Wireless said.

Who is the reseller? Is it an MVNO relationship?

The AP (as well as Forbes, I believe) also posted an article on Verizon’s ongoing dispute with Amp’d. Verizon seems to be looking to terminate it’s relationship with Amp’d Mobile.

It raises some questions around what will happen to Amp’d customers if they do close shop – at least as a wireless operator in the States. Could make an interesting premium or entertainment-oriented brand for someone. One of my colleagues pointed me to the news about SunRocket this morning.

I just added Lil Bush to my Season Pass on my Tivo so I hope they stick around.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 17th, 2007

Sprint’s Friend Finder

Sprint announced the launch of their new friend finder service from loopt. (see Fierce posting)

I think this one will be interesting to watch. Our research shows that services like these (i.e., adding presence including location/proximity to my contact list) are popular among young adults. I’ve got a piece that should be posted any day now on this topic.

Hopefully they’ve got some product placement lined up. One can easily imagine a Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne pulling up this kind of service on their phones. It doesn’t just tap into the inner desires of young adults (and older ones for that matter) to be action heroes. “Where are you” is a pretty common question asked.

I’m certain that I will not be able to talk my friends into signing up for the service (because they barely use text messaging and won’t pay the $2.99/month), but I’d like to give it a try with them. I wish they would and they may when there is an application on top of this service that appeals to them. In the mean time, I think it will really appeal to young adults and teens as well as parents who may want to track their children, but haven’t signed up for as dedicated service to do do.

I’d like to mash my entire Linked-in network or Personal contact list into this application and get alerts when people are near by. How often have you been on a trip and arrived home only to learn that someone you haven’t seen in two years was in the same city or even at the same conference. How fun would that be? Ok, yes, there are privacy issues and you’ll certainly want to “hide” from a portion of your list.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 16th, 2007

Barack Leverages Mobile Marketing in 2008 Race

See this RCR Wireless article that I wrote.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 11th, 2007

New 7 Wonders & The Importance of Text Voting

The new seven wonders of the world were announced this past Saturday on 7/7/07. I’m sure the majority of the voting was done online, but text votes played a role – certainly more so outside of the US and Europe. Large population countries such as China, India and Brazil fared well. The US entrant did not win.

I was at Petra last month where they had computers set up for voting at the site. A friend was at Machu Picchu and said the same. There were also posters all over Jordan promoting votes via text messaging with a different code/process for each of the different carriers there. Makes sense as more people probably have cell phones than computers and it’s something you can do immediately when you see the poster as opposed to waiting until you’re home.

If you were going to have the global population vote on anything, why wouldn’t you incorporate text messaging?

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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 11th, 2007

Free 411 (in CA) – this time from AT&T

AT&T just announced the roll out of ad-sponsored directory assistance in California for business listings. The article didn’t say whose technology they are using – could be home grown.

I think they have a number of things in their favor with this launch:

  • Trusted brand
  • Could eventually add a button to the phone (directory assistance is a pretty common activity on phones)
  • No new infrastructure required to sell local ads – they just take a cut (probably, I don’t know the business terms)
  • People have the option of either a paid or free service so AT&T wins either way (though one may be more profitable than the other)

Challenges:

  • Consumer awareness and education (my mom IM’ed me just two weeks ago and asked me how to access directory assistance on a cell phone – and, yes, she’s the one I blogged about two years ago that keeps a phone book in her car)
  • Doing ads well such that callers don’t regret simply paying for directory assistance
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CATEGORIES: Wireless
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July 11th, 2007

Free (Local) Mobile Video

A handful of ABC stations are offering free mobile video. (see story).

Ironically, I think this is some of the most valuable and in-demand content for cell phones, and they are giving it away for free. I think it’s a good decision to the extent folks have the right data plans and their plans will support the downloads without unexpectedly high bills. Will be interesting to watch.

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CATEGORIES: Wireless