Archive for February, 2008

February 26th, 2008

How much messaging can a Pres. Candidate do in an SMS?

My inbox is full of messages from Barack and Hillary. Barack sends 3-4 times as many as Hillary. I’d like to say it’s too many, but the combination of things he’s doing seems to be working. They typically both send text messages before events like the debate in Cleveland, OH this evening. I think I received the messages late morning for the debate this evening … a little late for programming my Tivo since it’s not connected to the Internet.

Here’s what they each sent today. I think it’s interesting that you can get a flavor of their strategy even in a very short message.


“Cheer on Hillary in the debate tonight at 9PM EST. Watch on MSNBC or stream live from – Thanks!”

Barack’s (which arrived just seconds before Hillary’s did)

“Watch Barack debate tonight at 9pm EST on MSNBC or streamed at Remember to tell friends in OH, RI, TX & VT to vote Obama on March 4th. Please fwd.”

Hillary wants moral support. Barack wants to get the word out. Barack wants viral.


February 26th, 2008

Short Codes, Peanuts and Bar Napkins

I was traveled on US Airways last week from San Francisco to Charlotte, NC. When they set my “Coke Light” (do they sell this in the US?) on my tray table, they also handed me a snack pack and a napkin (see photo below).


They were offering to let passengers text in their name, email and zip code, and in exchange they would send back their Dividend Miles number. It’s not clear if the miles would be automatically registered or if the passenger should present the number to an agent. What I also couldn’t figure out was … was I supposed to save the napkin rather than use it? Was I supposed to turn on my phone, but in “airplane mode”? The code was “TextUs” or “839887″ – not so easy to associate with US Airways.

What I did like about the napkin, was that they had a figure illustrating a person creating a text message. Could have used the information on my ticket stub – something easy to save and a piece of paper I wasn’t tempted to use to wipe off salt off my hands.

February 11th, 2008

Some Free Wi-Fi at Starbucks?

AT&T announced this morning together with Starbucks (but not T-Mobile) that they will offer a combination of free and paid Wi-Fi. It comes just a few days after Earthlink announced that they want to sell their Municipal Wi-Fi business.

First, the AT&T/Starbucks announcement is exciting for a lot of reasons. One of the inhibitors to growing subscriptions (besides demand for access outside of the office – but this is growing) has been footprint. Free trials help convert users into paying subscribers. It provides reach/coverage at a time when the market is still maturing – makes economic sense for both parties.

The Starbucks/Wayport/AT&T strategy is very different from the municipal one with which Earthlink has struggled and is now looking to sell. One one hand they look to provide a similar services – but whereas Earthlink was looking to build a cloud, AT&T/T-Mobile/Wayport built “spots” (okay, hotspots) that would be easy to find in well-known retail locations. Also, from the beginning (and give some credit to the guys at McDonald’s who originally thought some of these ideas through) they had a number of revenue streams lined up to pay for the service. Earthlink was looking to do the same, but seemed to be running into more challenges with the cities and their commitment to use (and help pay for the network).

Not in the release is the news that AT&T looks to be displacing T-Mobile. (A journalist told me this, but I haven’t seen it in the release).

This is also interesting, but a lot for one blog. The news comes just a few months after Apple announced free Wi-Fi service (at least for iTunes) for the iPhone. They included Starbucks in the announcement, but not T-Mobile. You have to wonder if open access for AT&T customers on their cell phones or portable media players with telephony capability (e.g., iPhone, Nokia 810) isn’t soon going to be part of this. Too many details missing so far to know all of the implications – in any case, you don’t have to own the network to use it or sell services on it.

February 8th, 2008

Marketing High Speed Data Networks – or Not

I was on a U.S. carrier’s web site today looking up some information on 3G phones. All of a sudden a “chat” box opened up. I thought what fun. I’m searching for this information and now someone is here to help me. The problem was … they seemed to have NO IDEA what I was talking about.

Our conversation (with the wireless service provider name deleted for privacy)

Thank you for your patience! [Carrier] sales representative will be with you shortly.

You are now chatting with Mary M, [carrier] sales representative.

julie: hi mary

julie: i have a quick question for you

julie: what do you call your 3G network

Mary M: Welcome to [Carrier] online Sales support. I am reading your question and will be right with you.

julie: how do I know if I have a phone or plan connected to your fast network

julie: Mary … are you there?

Mary M: Do you currently have a wireless phone?

julie: i do

julie: but that’s a separate topic

julie: i’m wondering how you market to consumers

Mary M: What are you looking for?

julie: how can I tell if a phone is on your 3G network or not

julie: what “key words” do I search on

Mary M: Are you asking about how to find out if a phone we don’t sell will work on our network?

julie: no – what I’m wondering is

julie: if I wanted to get a phone that was 3G-capable, how would I search for that feature among phones on your site?

julie: and how can I look up how much a data plan (for web access) would be for that phone?

Mary M: You can view our phones by going to shop/ phones and devices. From there you can filter the phones by features you would like.

julie: ok – I’m on that section of the site, but I don’t see where I can sort on phones, for example, with access to the “high speed wireless broadband” or “3G” or something like that

Mary M: Unfortunately, we don’t have a way to single out only those phones in your search. The best way would be to select the features you can filter with such ad PDA, manufacturer, etc and see what 3G phones are available.

julie: ok, thanks

Mary M: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Mary M: I haven’t heard from you so I’m going to close the chat session now. Thank you xxx. Have a nice day.

The chat session has been closed by [carrier] sales representative.

February 4th, 2008

Another MVNO Says “Good-bye”

Voce slipped away rather quietly today. A journalist pointed me towards this story in the LA Times.

It’s not surprising that they’ve closed down. It’s more surprising that they lasted as long as they did. I’m not in any way criticizing their efforts – it’s a tough business acquiring customers and then collecting money from them each month. I was in their shop once in the LA area – great boutique store. Beautiful phones.

February 4th, 2008

Last Message before Super Tuesday

At precisely 3:13 pm pst I received a text message from Barack Obama’s campaign. Within 10 seceonds, I received a second one from Hillary’s campaign. How does this happen? Hillary’s campaign doesn’t text met that often so I was more curious about this message.

[Before I continue, I have to comment though ... when is the short code going to show up as a name instead of a number. When I six-digit number shows up as the "Sender," it's like a blinking warning light: "Spam, Spam, Spam."]

Hillary’s last words:

Tonight at 9 EST I’m holding a nationwide townhall meeting and I want your input. Reply ‘Voice” plus your question and tune in at – Hillary

Barack’s last words:

(and granted I receive about one message per day from his campaign – it seems. On Saturday they reminded me to watch him on MTV)

Vote for Barack tomorrow! Polls are open from 7:00am to 8:00pm. For location info: or call 866-675-2008 (press 4)Please fwd this msg.

Pressing “4″ on my cell phone did nothing so I guess they mean press “4″ once you call the 866 number.

Kudos to Barack’s campaign for some location-based targeting.

Yeah, ok, it’s just at the “state” level, but not bad.

February 4th, 2008

SMS Ads … What warrants an alert? and when?

Last summer I did a couple of blog pieces on the Presidential candidates using text messaging to reach supporters.

There was the Tootsie Roll analogy in this one. And a reference to an RCR Wireless piece in this one.

I now receive messages from his campaign whenever he is going to appear on TV … which is frequently these days. While the timing tends to be same day as the event which is good, I’m often at the office and can’t get home in time to watch or program my Tivo to do so. (My Tivo from DirectTV is pre-Ethernet connection days). I know of the events, but I can’t do anything about them.

I also haven’t received the bumper sticker/materials that I opted in for via SMS. Having backend systems to support SMS efforts is an entirely different issue.

MyCokeRewards has been sending me gentle “nudges” every so often. When I first registered (see blog), I gave them a bunch of information regarding my cell phone and then heard nothing from them for a long time. Now they send me messages every once in a while encouraging me to visit their site to get some loyalty points or to watch Superbowl commercials, but it’s never really enough to motivate me to do anything.

For me these campaigns illustrate where we seem to be right now with mobile marketing messages. Some early momentum a year or so ago. We saw some initial creativity with Starbucks and some others. Brands were collecting subscriber information, but not doing anything with it. There was a lot of caution used in sending out messages. Now, a few messages are trickling out.

Back-end systems weren’t in place to integrate acquisition data or do analytics. Short codes / voting are all over TV and doing well (any one watch the Superbowl yesterday?) – it’s become expected at least for national football/basketball games. I haven’t seen much lately though that indicates we’re going to see accelerated growth. It’s certainly not stalled, but could use a boost right now.