So it has been a while since while since I had to travel for work related things but noticed that airports are starting to become docking stations for people and their electronic gadgets. To support this theory, I have taken some photos in support.
The docking station metaphor stems from the need to seek a power outlet so that we can continue to feed those gadgets that come in different groups.
One is the food group, most notably Apple, Blackberry and Chocolate. This group is typically very colorful and shiny. The second group, I will call pacifiers, also known by their common names like PSP and Nintendo DS and iPods. These have fewer buttons that the Food group and keep those quiet and entertained for hours. The third group are the heavy bricks called notebooks, laptops, or lappies.
This last group often causes people to become temporary contortionists, when placing the weighty objects balanced on a person’s knee, lap or balanced on top of accompanying luggage or chair. Some people looking for an even flatter surface will simply just place it on the floor. As a result of these less than perfect office setups, it causes people to perform what sometimes appears to be advanced forms of yoga, stretching and twisting the joints, muscles into rather uncomfortable positions. Naturally as a result of this prolonged position, the body suffers from joint and muscle discomfort.
To the rescue are the new HotSpots. These do not necessarily guarantee Internet access, but the more universal power outlet. Once an object only reserved for those in uniform with a vacuum cleaner in tow, these highly sought after outlets are almost more important than the plastic water bottle or paper coffee cup that people also carry around.
Personally, I like this model that Southwest chose, which incorporates more of a desk and even stools for people to be a bit more comfortable and work. I’m sure airports will start to build on this trend, providing power outlets and flat surfaces to help its customers improve the experience of flying and keep people productive.
Just made a few enhancements to my blog. Thanks to Alex King for the plugins that I have added to the Mobileslate blog. I added the twitter plugin and now shows up on the sidebar.
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Rob Osborn from Gemini Mobile spoke at the SD Forum event to show off the eXplo 3D Community Platform and why creating 3D virtual worlds was more than just fun and games. In his presentation he showed how the simple use of an avatar contained in a rather simple virtual town could open up possibilities for social networking, information gathering, advertising, marketing and content discovery for music, photos and more. While not yet available in the US, the couple of demos were from Softbank Japan S!Town.
Now it may seem a bit odd that people are building 3D virtual places on the mobile phone when the popularity on the PC has been far from ubiquity, however after hearing what Rob said, it is important to understand that it is not merely for entertainment and gaming. Based on what is available today on a mobile phone, it is still rather cumbersome on most devices to do intuitive information gathering. Spinning click wheels or wearing out scrolling buttons to find sports scores, stock quotes or news snippets can be a somewhat laborious task.
The tedium can be broken through graphical representation such as a virtual 3D space. While you could argue that a 2D or icon based navigation can provide relief, it still lacks the immersion and stickiness from building an environment. Add to this the ability to create objects, place advertising, and interact with avatars and it really starts to get engaging quickly with just a simple interface.
The problem of mobile content discovery has continued to be an issue for subscribers. The potential for building from the eXplo platform could help alleviate some of these issues by helping subscribers to visualize what they are looking for through a less intimidating interface that provides a more engaging feel, similar to browsing through a small virtual store. The visual sorting should be more appealing that dealing with a wall of text that link to content. I am hopeful that adopting this type of platform can be in conjunction with a mixed strategy of 2D and text links. Since people want to access information in different styles (faucet vs. fire hydrant analog), the 3D approach should not be exclusive an abandon other methods of accessing information, content, and services. The waves of adoption will happen slowly and with more open systems rather than closed being a trend, there still needs to be multiple channels of getting at the same things.
While there is no install in North America for Gemini’s solution, the heads up was that second half of 2008, they hope to launch in the US.
Final message from the Sprint Ambassador Program:
We wanted to send a friendly reminder that the service on your Ambassador device will be terminated on January 31, 2008.
Again, if you would like to retain your existing Ambassador phone number, you have the following options:
- If you have an existing Sprint account in your name, you can simply go to Sprint retail store or call Sprint Customer Care at (888) 296-8806 between 7am-10pm CST to transfer the number over. You will need your phone number and account password to facilitate the transfer.
- If you do not have a Sprint account and would like to open a new one, we invite you to visit a Sprint retail store for assistance and select from the many service plans that we offer.
- If you would like to transfer your Ambassador phone number to another individualâ€™s account, BOTH PARTIES will need to need to visit a Sprint retail store to ensure a smooth transition.
For the Sprint Store nearest you please visit www.sprint.com.
You must act by 11:59 PM on January 30, 2008, to preserve your current Ambassador phone number.
We truly appreciate your participation in the Ambassador program. If you have any questions, please send an email to AmbassadorProgram@sprint.com or you can reach Sprintâ€™s Ambassador CARE team at (888) 296-8806.
Anyone keeping their device or trying to sell it on eBay/craigslist?
BART announced today that it would begin testing NFC payments for tickets attached to your mobile phone. If you are one of the 230 test subjects and you have a Sprint phone, you can take part is contactless payment for your BART tickets.
In addition to transportation, a few select merchants will also be testing it in conjunction to pay for food. One of the best examples that I have known about is the Octopus Card launched in Hong Kong in 1997. BART launched a few months ago, the EZ Rider Card pilot program as another way to test another form of NFC in a different form. Octopus has been a great success but not without controversy. As it too has expanded beyond the MTR station to purchase merchandise at 7-Eleven’s and Watson’s (drug store chain), the banks and credit card companies have complained that it is taking away from their potential transaction revenue. In other areas of the world, there have been other attempts in the past, Mondex and Simpay with unfortunate failure with electronic payments.
In my opinion I am hoping that this trial will go well, and bureaucracy will be limited to make this a real standard. With several different transit authorities across the different counties in the Bay Area even making a single payment method would be monumental. I recall at CES (2007) last year, I walked by the VISA booth and Nokia was there demonstrating their NFC joint project for mobile payments. So far, it has been a lot of prototype work, but not a whole lot on the public trial offering in the US.
Video Report: KGO-TV
More pictures when traveling. This time in Macau. As soon as I got off the ferry from Hong Kong, it’s simple and easy to pick up a prepaid SIM for my mobile. No customer representative trying to push you to buy, but a more subdued, shiny and bright vending machine to lure you into a purchase. This was in the ferry terminal a few steps from the arrival meeting point.
I can chose from 3 Macau called the X-series (shown left). The “XL” marketing campaign featuring the oversized hand, I assume, is trying to show the power of a mobile phone in your hand. Maybe the oversized hand will help when I hit the casinos? Or perhaps when I win big and break the casino, I can use it to call my friends and family. While I was tempted to purchase one, just for the novelty, I had already purchased a prepaid PCCW Hong Kong SIM, so there wasn’t a need to get another one for such a short stay. And since HK and Macau in such proximity, roaming is quite easy. The other nice thing is that when roaming from HK to Macau, no need to punch in the different country code (HK +852, Macau +853, respectively) just dial the number.
In any event, if I didn’t like the rates offered by 3, another bright and shiny vending machine, about 20 meters away was that of Smartone Macau (part of Vodafone). This one looks more like buying packets of cigarettes but the neatly color coded packets of store value (shown below).
The model has proven in several other countries that prepaid is certainly a growth sector, particular in those markets where mobile penetration exceeds 50% of the population. Making it more and more convenient to locate and acquire SIMs is certainly a good idea.
One last comment, is that in a population of 500,000 inhabitants and 27M visitors (approximate 2007 stats) there are 3 mobile operators to chose from!
“Image is everything” but at what cost? On a recent trip to Asia, I got to venture over to Macau. While glorious monuments to gambling (AKA casinos) are springing up every where (31 casinos as of this post), some things are not so attractive looking. Take for example the cell phone towers on top of this apartment building, across from the hotel I stayed at.
Yes, there is certainly controversy about cancer causing radiation emitting from these towers, but understand that we have grown accustom to our mobile device appendage and can’t live with out it. In the US where people have been pretty vocal about it, so engineers have come up with ways to mask the rather “ugly” looking towers and have sprouted a new species of cell tower trees.
Color and aesthetics are important to Americans particularly when it comes to the mobile phones, but why not the French? Personally, I am a bit more pragmatic about this. I like full bars of signal strength on my mobile phone. I like being able to have calls that sustain while I am traveling throughout my day. I like the fact that people are working on innovative mobile services that I can access. I like being able to zip-zip-zip through WAP pages and access directions, maps and phone numbers of restaurants, stores and other things I need to search. And I’m sure that the cell tower trees costs significantly more than the standard tower. People complain about wind farms, solar collectors and other modern technologies that could be deemed an eye sore. But compromises must be made to live in a modern society. And modern society has a tendency to be more impatient and less forgiving about when technology does work — like dropped mobile phone calls. If I had my choice, I’d even put a cell phone tower on top of my house and lease it back to the carriers so I can make money off of it. If the neighbors complained, perhaps I can respond with handfuls of cash from revenue generated from the tower to but them as ease.
People are even commenting about the lack of mobile phone coverage when taking subways, trains and other rapid transit, meanwhile the airline companies are launching in-flight cellular services. Let’s just be happy that mom and our loved ones can reach us, even at all!
At MacWorld, Steve Jobs announced the MacBook Air. Is this Apple’s cut at a UMPC? While the original UMPC concept was for a lightweight Windows-based machine, the acronym could be morphed into a form-factor. With companies like OQO, Sony’s Mylo, even Nokia’s N800 and N810 tablet PCs, it is clear that one of the next evolutions is creating powerful computing devices that are compact and light. Road warriors will appreciate that zooming through airports, taxis, and airplanes can be cumbersome with a weighty laptop, particular for security checkpoints and narrow paths inside an airplane. While mobile phones such as the PDA form factor have certainly taken off, many people find it still rather lacking.
In addition of “thin to win” the MacBook Air innovates by utilizing a multi-touch pad (shown below) and certainly is a glimpse of what’s to come from controls on a device. I do think that this is an exciting form factor that will have other manufacturers scratching their head into making thinner and light notebooks. A few things that irk me are the lack of an aircard or cellular modem expansion or for that matter a PCMCIA slot. I’m sure there were design considerations made, particular when it came to power consumption, as an aircard or any PCMCIA card is a power hog and generates lots of radial heat. I think having an aircard modem chipset inside would have been a nice feature. Somehow I think all those iPhone users need a larger sidekick like a MacBook Air to tether to their iPhone. But as some of my friends keep telling me, this is a 1.0 product and will improve in the next 12 months. True!
OK, so you’re thinking that, “yes, I can buy that, but also things in Thailand are cheaper too” but what I am trying to say is that, having this available and lower cost inventory would be a great model for technology upstarts to go after. It is still extremely difficult and costly for small technology companies to get notices in North America, even with the myriad of marketing channels. But even with all these channels, placement is more limited and cost is at a high premium (think of an outdoor billboard near any highway). Perhaps this is because having too much advertising on public and outdoor spaces it not-aesthetically pleasing? Or maybe it’s because you don’t want to “sell out” and make all that potential ad space available. Perhaps a more subtle reason is the ability for a person to focus and filter on all the ads shouting at them as they are going about their day. I am also sure the lack of metrics from positioning of the ad space has not been thoroughly analyzed for its effectiveness.
Nevertheless, as easy as it is to plaster advertising on a web page or even a mobile phone, fighting for space to get attention has never been more frenetic and bold, everywhere.
Since I started my blog, I always tried to make sure people who read it, could understand what I was talking about. At times, some of the terminology used or acronyms are tough to understand. Typically, I would link the concept or acronym to a Wikipedia link for those who needed a definition. While that is helpful, I ran across a tool that Answers.com put out there for blogs and nicely integrates with WordPress.
The AnswerTips feature allows anyone who visits this blog to simply double-click on any word and a definition or more reference information will pop up. I have found this a good aid in reading other websites where the topic was somewhat foreign to me and increased my understanding.
So the next time you might be a little stumped on what I might be talking about on this blog, either send me a comment (which I gladly welcome) or double-click on the word.
Well, I knew that this phase of the program would come to an end, but wasn’t quite sure while the entire program was canceled. While Michael’s TechCrunch post was rather candid about the Program, I felt it was a great opportunity to try out all the new services that Sprint was launching and heavily promoting through their marketing partnership like the NFL and others. Unlimited data and subscriptions to try out all kinds of services – streaming audio, video, content – it was all great.
The try before you buy on some of these services is rather jolting when it comes to forking out money, since first you need to get an unlimited data plan (so you don’t start counting in bytes transferred), next subscribing to all the services you want to try out can cost as much as $10 a month! In no time at all you bill can easily be upwards of $100 or more. And I didn’t really use the phone much for voice calls, other than when my battery died on my main mobile.
Thank you for your participation in the Sprint Ambassador program. We appreciate the candid feedback you have provided and are regularly using this information to offer our customers the best products and services available on the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network.
After careful consideration, Sprint has decided to discontinue our Sprint Ambassador program so that we may focus on other key initiatives for gathering customer feedback. As a thank you for your participation, the devices you have received through the program are yours to keep. However, the service on those handsets will be terminated on January 31, 2008.
If you would like to keep the existing phone number on your handset, you have the following options:
â€¢ If you have an existing Sprint account in your name, you can simply go to Sprint retail store or call Sprint Customer Care at (888) 296-8806 to transfer the number over. You will need your phone number and account password to facilitate the transfer.
â€¢ If you do not have a Sprint account and would like to open a new one, we invite you to visit a Sprint retail store for assistance and select from the many service plans that we offer.
â€¢ If you would like to transfer your Ambassador phone number to another individualâ€™s account, BOTH PARTIES will need to need to visit a Sprint retail store to ensure a smooth transition.
â€¢ If you would like to move your Sprint Ambassador phone number over to another carrier, you will need to have the carrier you select call our Corporate Account team at (866) 657-6843. Typically, a consumer that wishes to port their number would just need their account number and password. Ambassadors are considered corporate customers and, as such, cannot make changes to their account without going through the Corporate Account team.
For the Sprint Store nearest you please visit www.sprint.com.
Again, to keep your current Ambassador phone number, you must act by 11:59 PM on January 30, 2008.
Once again, we truly appreciate your participation in the Ambassador program. If you have any additional questions, please send an email to AmbassadorProgram@sprint.com or you can reach Sprintâ€™s Ambassador CARE team at (888) 296-8806.
Final Comment: Hey Vodafone, even though you are invested in Verizon, are you interested in starting a Vodafone-branded GSM-based mobile operator in North America? Maybe you could use a setup similar to Sprint’s Ambassador Program to launch your service!
Could this be the first glimpses of a mobile watch phone? LG thinks so! At the 2008 CES, the YouTube video says it all. If so, it’s only took 60 years for the comic strip fantasy to become a reality. One of the considerations in watching the video is the fact that the “face” of the watch is much larger to support navigation and dialing. Also, it needs to accommodate the size of a GSM chip. Didn’t see it in a lot of detail, but since the size of a MicroSD flash card in well, micro, it would have no trouble fitting in the watch’s dimensions. And sporting a bluetooth headset to use this watch would be so passé holding my wrist of my mouth and speaking into it while wearing a trench coat and fedora would be so much more appealing!
While a lot of news has been around new Mobile and Web upstarts, network infrastructure seems to quietly be going at it’s own pace. Sure consumer-facing applications get a lot of attention and hype, but at the end of the day, we still need a solid core infrastructure to keep all those bits moving around.
Thanks to the team at On Point Conferences, I have been asked to moderate a panel on Web 2.0 companies and how they can utilize the OSS layer within a mobile operator to build and scale Value Added Services.
So what is the state of things today? Come to the conference and find out. It should be an intimate gathering where lots of discussion, debate and hopefully solutions can come from meeting and talking about it.
Well, at some point you just need to bow into the hype and use some buzz words to gain some attention. At the 2008 CES in Las Vegas, Nokia announced the US debut device pictured on the left, the Nokia Evolve 3110. While this device was actually announced at last year’s Nokia World 2007 in December, nevertheless, corporations are starting to own up to some responsibility when it comes to electronic recycling.
Towards greater environmental sustainability
Nokia also outlined its long heritage in addressing environmental issues and commitment to driving new initiatives in the mobile industry in areas such as energy efficiency, materials used in products, take back, recycling, and packaging. This was against the background of the launch of the Nokia 3110 Evolve, a mobile device with bio-covers made from more than 50% renewable material. The device is presented in a small package made of 60% recycled content and it comes with Nokia’s most energy efficient charger yet, using 94% less energy than the Energy Star requirements*.
The Nokia 3110 Evolve is the latest in a series of environmental initiatives from the company. For example, Nokia was the first manufacturer to put alerts into its devices to encourage people to unplug their chargers. The power that could be saved globally by all Nokia phone users unplugging their chargers when no longer needed is equivalent to enough energy to power 100,000 average-size European homes. In February 2006, Nokia also introduced new compact packaging that reduced materials used by 54%, a move which by the end of this year will have resulted in 5,000 fewer trucks needed to distribute products, reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions, and savings of EUR 100 million.
* Energy Star requirements: strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
At last count, Nokia was touting that it had 38% market share in the mobile phone business and that it ships over 1M mobile phone units a day, investment can be made in continually improving already solid products. I wonder however, if others will follow suit? If you have a Vertu device or any bling-bling phone, recycling maybe more difficult. In Asia for example, where people go through about one or two mobile phones a year, recycling and using recycled material would hopefully be another dent to curbing the pollution and waste that is accelerating over there from developing nations. I also wrote about mobile recycling more than two years ago in my “Call to Protect” post.
I just hope that when I purchase my next phone, it doesn’t come with a “Recycling Fee” similar to when I buy a beverage like the Snapple bottle here.
Hope to see you there!
Happy New Year! In the spirit of â€œout with the oldâ€ and â€œin with the newâ€, Iâ€™d like to suggest that the mobile messaging ecosystem adopt a New Years resolution: â€œNo more â€œfree trialsâ€.
I keep finding really clever new services that are posted on the web with a â€œfree trialâ€, and it frustrates me. I just believe that mobile services, such as mobile messaging and other mobile Internet/web 2.0 services have value that even consumers would be willing to pay for. And I think that a â€œfree trialâ€ actually diminishes the perceived value of the service and doesnâ€™t provide any demonstration of willingness to pay.
I think the mindset of “mobile Internet” is wrong. Rather than trying to expand Internet with mobility, innovators need to think of ways to enrich the mobile experience with selected elements from Web content and technologies. Mobile communications is extremely powerful and compelling. It has a simple, easy-to-use, affordable interface that provides personal, relevant, and timely communication to nearly anywhere in the world. Those are the key components of its value proposition. Services that enhance that core value will be successful.
My rather unscientific gut reaction of some of the mobile Web 2.0 services is that its creators either don’t fully appreciate the compelling nature of mobility or don’t have enough confidence in their own products to put it to the test in the market with a viable pricing strategy.
I am also a strong believer in the social value of mobile services. I would love to hear from others in the industry of innovative services with viable business models. For example, I’m looking for the service that would let me know where my son was without intruding on his privacy. Just a gentle alert to tell me that he had arrived at school safely, left school on time, went to the movies or friends house. Something that would reassure me that he wasn’t in trouble or in a car accident or all those other millions of things that moms fear. He probably wouldn’t even object, because then he could avoid fielding those constant phone calls from mom asking where he was. Now that’s service I would pay for.
I met Terry Young almost 6 months ago when she was working at Clickatell. Some of her prior work at Cingular (now AT&T Wireless) and working on the standards for 3G among others, caught my eye and after some chatting, she decided to join Mobileslate as a Contributing Writer. Her first post is coming soon, and hope to add some perspective and content in the new year.