Wireless

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July 20th, 2009

Pizza Hut iPhone Application

I’m fascinated by this application on the iPhone. It is rich and entertaining. It makes ordering pizza fun. Includes a game. Includes coupons to motivate purchase – but they aren’t pushed out via SMS to trigger the idea of pizza for lunch/dinner.

Is it more marketing or commerce?

The connected nature of the application allows for updates – to the menu (for the basic categories) and promotions. Look forward to seeing this evolve to the point where local restaurant managers can do their own local promotions even based on registered zip codes. I see location-based mobile advertising playing out along these lines nearer term than the auto-tagging of a user’s location with an ad to quickly follow.

Would prefer not to have to sign up online. Mobile-only use cases with individuals are limited today, but I think they will grow in number. Cross-channel (Internet to mobile and vice versa) is an interesting idea, but it isn’t clear that it is needed or wanted – especially on platforms as capable as the higher end devices like an iPhone or Blackberry, Symbian, Palm etc. devices.  -

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November 19th, 2008

Mobile Data Revolution Brought to you by Apple

Admob just published their October metrics report. First, I should say – congratulations to Admob. They are at nearly SIX BILLION (5.8 billion to be exact) ad requests per month. That’s a huge number compared to where they were a year ago. And, they don’t represent the entire market.

There’s a lot more mobile web browsing going on than they see.

And what is crazy – or not so crazy – is that the majority of it is still on your basic feature phone. An astonishing four percent IS on iPhones. You have to go down to #10 on the list to get to another mid-sized device with a larger than average screen. The RAZR ranks #2. This creates an interesting development dilemma for content providers, but more on that later.

Page three of the report is dedicated to the impact of the iPhone on the market. It’s definitely worth a read. I won’t steal their thunder by listing all the highlights here. Topline – they had nearly 150 million requests from iPhones in the US alone. The requests about doubled between end of September and end of October. (Can’t wait to see Apple/AT&T’s Q4 earnings … how many of these devices are you guys selling?)

How about 17 percent of ad requests coming out of Mexico coming from the iPhone? Can’t remember which carrier Apple launched with there. T-Mobile won’t tell me how much they are pricing iPhone data plans at in the US. (Kidding)

Admob and this industry are just getting started. Apple announced 200 million downloads a couple of weeks back. They haven’t said what percentage are paid and what percentage are free. Let’s assume the majority are free (I’ll use myself and go with a sample size of n=1). There is a tremendous audience there that will likely be served ads in the future to support the free download model. Admob has some cool ad formats they’ve developed for the iPhone that we’re just starting to see. Their report sites 400 iPhone apps and sites currently being served. I expect to see the traffic from iPhones continue to increase as more applications use their product.

The Safari browser on the iPhone is great, etc., but I only use it as a last resort if there isn’t a widget or app that will get me what I need.

This is getting to be pretty exciting.

Stay tuned.

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November 13th, 2008

Facebook Phone Launches

3 launched their Facebook phone in the UK today. See Guardian.

I got the chance to see some early demos of the phone, but not the final version. Really liked the concept that I saw. Will be interesting to watch and see how this type of interface works on a phone. I think it’s more intuitive for the consumer than the PC analogies that have been carried over. Will be interesting to watch. I’m really excited about where phones will be in a few years when more of these social networking/graphing features are incorporated into the UI as 3 has done.

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November 11th, 2008

Facebook – 15M ACTIVE Mobile Users

Wow. The number doesn’t surprise me, but it’s still a big milestone. I use Facebook on my iPhone and my Blackberry. I think this number will only continue to grow and everyone in the ecosystem will benefit. Reasons:

* More and more cell phones have larger screens/full key boards. The Facebook mobile site is good, but the applications are great. They didn’t say how many of their active users are on a converged or more advanced handset like an iPhone or Blackberry, but I’d be surprised if the traffic from these devices isn’t high. I tried to get Sam Altman to tell me yesterday – how Loopt was doing on the iPhone vs. a basic feature phone, but he wouldn’t tell me. All he would tell me is “way higher.”
* High level of overlap in the demographics of active data users on cell phones and those who use social networking sites online multiple times each day. They are one and the same.
* The more your friends post, the more reasons you have to check in more often and comment / respond. It’s circular … and gaining momentum.

I’ve published some research on how important I think social networking is to the mobile industry. See summary here.

See Facebook post.

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November 6th, 2008

AT&T Makes Wi-Fi Play with Wayport Purchase

AT&T announced the purchase of Wayport today for $275 million in cash. See release.

First, Congratulations to the Wayport team! There were many in the industry who said that there was no money to be made in unlicensed spectrum or more specifically in public Wi-Fi. Wayport has built a large network and created an innovative business model.

What I like most about this deal is that it makes a lot of sense for consumers. Consumers simply want access to the Internet. They don’t care how so much. When it was just a few people with laptops traveling a few days a month, day use fees tied to a single device made sense. Now, however, expectations have changed. Consumers have more devices that they want to use in more places to access the Internet.

Fewer network owners will simplify this process for consumers. Already more than one quarter of online users use public Wi-Fi. As a home AT&T DSL customer, I’ve already had access to AT&T-owned hotspots for a while. I look forward to the larger footprint as I drink more coke than coffee.

The timing is good as well given the number of iPhones in the market. I look forward to the day that my iPhone doesn’t asked me six times each day if I want to connect to such and such Wi-Fi network as there are layers and layers of them here in San Francisco.

The recent announcement of free Wi-Fi on AT&T networks for iPhone customers made sense. It made more sense – at least for consumers – than simply having free access to iTunes at Starbucks. What will make more sense for consumers is using any application on any device as long as they are AT&T customers. Sure, exclusive content on a specific network and specific device is good for the business partners and benefits consumers, but those aren’t the most consumer-centric deals.

It’s been a long road for public Wi-Fi. The first launch in a McDonald’s – back before Wayport won the deal outright – was more than five years ago already. I can tell from how I look in this picture at the launch in this McD’s in downtown SF. And that’s not the latest Macbook.

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October 15th, 2008

Facebook on My Phone or a Facebook Phone?

There are a couple of interesting announcements this week on mobile social networking.

INQ (part of Hutchinson) announced a phone that offers a tight integration with Facebook. I had the chance to see an early demo and really liked what I saw. Will have more to say once I get the chance to play with one.

There were some rumors around Motorola building an “Android Social Networking” phone. See this link from Fierce.

Yahoo! announced some cool functionality at CTIA around integration of your contact list with social networking features/services. The iPhone application is really well done.

I think all of these announcements are showing us early glimpses of where the cell phone and communication experiences are headed. On one hand, they give me many different ways to interact with my network on Facebook. I have applications. There are aggregators.

More interesting though is whether or not we need a separate application if the features/functionality are inherent in how the cell phone is designed and used? If my cell phone has my contacts and knows my network, why can’t we build from there?

More later.

Wrote this report this summer to answer many of the questions raised.

I think social networking has the potential to drive a tremendous amount of data services on cell phones. Ping me if you have a company working in this space – I’m interested to hear what other cool stuff is out there.

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September 22nd, 2008

OneWebDay in San Francisco by Meraki

Monday will be OneWebDay in San Francisco. Efforts around Gavin Newsom’s vision to create an access cloud around San Francisco stalled a while back when plans that involved Earthlink ran into snags in the approval process. And, eventually Earthlink left the business of Muni Wi-Fi.

A new initiative with Meraki has been gaining momentum throughout the city. Rather than renting space from the city, they are mounting infrastructure on rooftops of private homes in part to minimize infrastructure costs. There’s a lot more to their story if you check their website.

On OneWebDay, Meraki will be installing infrastructure in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco on the 22nd. This neighborhood looks to be under-served. Most of San Francisco looks to be well covered by Wi-Fi (I blogged years ago about how I could see 20+ networks from my home and I’m sure the situation is even worse now with 802.11n) and is not in need of a Municipal network. Citizens without access are, however, in need of a low cost solution.

Meraki looks to be an innovation and right-sized solution for some of the problems cities are looking to solve.

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September 11th, 2008

My “Fun” Blackberry

RIM made a bunch of announcements today. MySpace, Tivo, Slacker … they already had Facebook. Years ago the only people you saw using a Blackberry were overly serious investment bankers from Wall Street. It’s fun now. It comes in colors. It has fun applications and a decent camera.

I was at a business dinner last night in San Francisco. There were a lot of suits around, but also some jeans – it’s the left coast after all. There was an executive named Greg sitting next to me. He couldn’t put his Blackberry down for more than a few minutes.

He kept picking it up, pressing a few buttons, and then setting it back down. I glanced over a few times … it wasn’t email he was checking – it was his Facebook account. He was posting and checking to see what his friends were doing.

My friends are getting Blackberries now … I think it’s a sign that a device is mainstream when middle-aged women with children are regular users of a device or a service. And, they come in fun colors loaded with fun stuff to do.

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September 10th, 2008

What’s Hot at CTIA? Social Networking for Starters

CTIA seemed a bit quiet yesterday, but granted that was a day before the show floor opened. I’m glad I was around yesterday because I got the chance to see some really cool stuff – in addition to the nano-chromatics announced by Apple. For those of you who didn’t see the new Nano’s, there were some cool new additions. One of my favorites was use of the accelerometer – you shake the iPod and it shuffles. Hopefully, this functionality will come over to the iPhone. I’d like to train my iPhone with some simple gestures to dial, hang up, look up where my friends are, etc. So much fun potential lies ahead.

Aside from Apple, Verizon, Intercasting and Yahoo! all had some announcements around social networking. I just published some research on social networking opportunities for operators and handset manufacturers (it’s posted on our site). There is also a summary in RCR.

Social Networking applications can be addictive, and they are not just for twenty-something’s. Our research shows that those who use social networks online frequently have much higher data usage and buy more mobile applications than others their age or other cell phone users. Right now, it’s mostly about “following” activities with some communication and “sharing.”

Aggregation of feeds is a good first step, but there is so much more potential if someone (a carrier? an infrastructure player? an online media company? a handset ODM?) can put together the pieces to leverage the PIM, network intelligence, handset capabilities, online media consumption, communication behaviors, etc. Putting the infrastructure in place such as Verizon is doing with Intercasting is a good move.

I also saw Yahoo’s OneConnect on the iPhone. They take aggregation a step further with integration of Yahoo! contacts and communication apps. It’s really well done.

Have had a sneak preview of some other applications and devices coming through the pipeline – I’m beginning to see some consumer experiences that are very compelling and likely to drive adoption.

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August 28th, 2008

Using Location to Give Context to Content

I saw my first really good example today of using location to add context to content. It was simple, but good … and to me I define good as useful/providing some utility.

I received an email from Orbitz alerting me to the fact that the Republican Nat’l Convention is in Minneapolis/St. Paul at the same time I will be there, and as a result, there could be a lot of traffic on specific highways.

There is a time component i.e., the dates I will be there. There is the location component. They know what highways are near the airport. They’ve predicted the impact of an event co-located in the city I’m visiting. It’s well done.

This isn’t mobile, but this is a great example of using context to deliver relevant content.

I write a lot about location-based services and how to use an individual’s current or future location to serve relevant content or ads. It’s the kind of content I want on my cell phone.

Not sure who did this for Orbitz, but I’d be interested in hearing more about your technology.

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