In an effort to have a bit of fun at CTIA while doing the conferences, meetings, networking events and more, I thought it might be fun to do some marketing for my blog. So working with Bena at GoMo News and Paul at mPulse and a cast of others, we decided to rent an RV. This ambitious idea is a fun way to engage with people in a mobile meeting room setting, away from the show floor and a much shorter walk between the Las Vegas Convention Center/Hilton skywalk.
I guess it just happened to be that all of the logos are orange and blue.
Here’s another shot as I see it for the first time, picking me up outside my hotel.
Mobile Jam Session was a pretty good event, lots of conversation. I’m actually pretty happy to find out that there are others who are grappling with similar topics related to personalization, direct-to-consumer issues, as well as providing the unique and compelling mobile offerings. While we might not have solved “the world’s problems” with respect to mobile, it was certainly good that people engaged.
People networking during the lunch break. There was quite a bit of mingling and interaction with all the people who where there.
Peter Vestabacka from Some Bazaar during the Mobile 2.0 afternoon session.
Caroline Lewko from WIP Connector amongst many of her things.
At the end of the day, the Organizers of the Mobile Jam Session. Thank you!
In an frenzy, this morning I decided to upgrade to WordPress 2.5 as well as update a slew of plugins that my Dashboard was asking me to update. Well, of course, while waiting for a plane to take off from SFO, right before CTIA to Las Vegas, I decided to take on the ambitious path, hoping that all will work on the first try. Luckily all seems to be working about about 30 minutes of downloading, uploading, installing and configuring! I guess, sometimes, these upgrades *are* a piece of cake!
It will be a moving office, lounge, and interview studio for people who want to use it as an outlet to get the shouts out about their company, product and services. If you see us driving around on the Las Vegas Strip, wave to us! If you see us parked at the Las Vegas Convention Center or otherwise, stop by and say hi!
And make sure you check out the CTIA Party List compiled here.
It was a great time attending the Mobile Rules 2008 Awards Dinner. Here are the Awards in pictures. The rotunda inside the new San Jose City Hall was quite a nice setting. The high ceiling and glass was very modern and comfortable.
Jabra, Aliph and other makers of bluetooth headsets, must be widening their smiles in 2008. Based on the new laws enacted this year, one of biggest states in the US, California (by population), has restricted drivers to using a headset while driving and talking on the phone.
But not to fear, at the upcoming CTIA conference in Las Vegas, Jabra will help ease your burden by giving away free Bluetooth headsets! While supplies last, I just got this coupon, which you can download here.
So Nokia had a similar idea, but since they have a larger marketing budget than Universities have to spend, and can attract a lot of sponsors like top name Venture Capitalists, Media sponsors and other leading edge organizations.
The awards ceremony is tonight at San Jose City Hall and should be a great time. Hope I can take some photos to highlight the event. Here are the list of finalists.
Thanks to my friend Mikko who invited me to the event!
Earlier this week, I was approached by Textopoly to work with them on getting the word out about the Parties during the upcoming 2008 CTIA Las Vegas conference. They are calling it the CTIA Party Alerts.
Textopoly is a boutique full service interactive agency with a focus on mobile. They have the ability to create highly customized interactive mobile campaigns and execute them
using their existing infrastructure. You can click on the link to find out more info about them.
So how does it work? Here’s a short demo using the Apple iPhone.
Start a new text message
Type “CTIA” in the text body and send to “99134″
Wait for the two replies to confirm that you have been added to the list
Marketeers are always trying to find ways to grab your attention for new things. A few years ago, Billboard tried to reinvigorate their relevance in mobile by creating a buzz with their Billboard Mobile Music Chart.
Never was it more true that if you put a few buzzwords behind what you’ve got and you can raise some eyebrows. Well, the announcement by Playboy to try and stay relevant by offering a Miss Playboy Mobile Contest certainly walks that fine line between adult and entertainment for mobile. What I will say is that while some marketeers are clever in playing buzzword bingo, sometimes the implementation could use a bit more effort. The URL for the site is: http://www.mspbm.com. At least, I would have picked playboy.mobi or playboy.com/mobilecontest ? At least they are using shortcodes asking the public to vote for their favorite contestant!
The winner will be announced on April 2nd during CTIA08 in Las Vegas.
As I meet more and more people around the world, I thought about how to appeal to a wider, global audience. I looked into a few language plugins for WordPress, but that would mean that I would have to write my blog posts into multiple languages. Instead, what I have chosen to do is add the Altavista Babelfish script to my site. On the right most sidebar, all you have to do is click on one of the flags and Babelfish will do the rest. While I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the translation, for those who read my blog and English is tough for them to read, it might make it easier for me to have you participate in the discussion.
Well, it’s the third month of 2008 in the US and based on the trends happening with oil prices and fuel prices in the US, and I have started to see $4 a gallon. The country is strongly tied to gas prices and always finding a deal on cheaper gas is never ending quest. While gas in Europe and Asia has long exceeded $4 a gallon and is fast approaching the equivalent of $8 a gallon, where can I find the cheapest gas? Turns out that from my mobile phone, I can look up where to find the cheapest gas around. A company called OPIS (Oil Prices Information Service) can predict with good accuracy the price of Regular, Plus, Premium, Diesel and even E85 and other alternative fuels.
Based on tracking credit card receipts and fleet cards, there isn’t the need to phone up each and every gas station or drive by and snap photos of the price signs. They currently track over 110,000 gas station prices in the US with over 60,000 providing Real-Time prices. OPIS also claims that their data includes time stamps, thoroughly scrubbed station list including latitude, longitude, address, station name, brand, amenities and more.
One interesting find from their research: In one zip code, high and low price can differ as much as 7.2 cent/gallon for similar type of fuels. So I tried to use the service on a mobile phone to see what I would get. Using Mapquest, a licensee of OPIS data, here are some screenshots.
Now, I just bookmark this WAP site and when I want to look for a gas station, it can tell me where I need to drive to for cheaper gas.
I had the pleasure of being a moderator for the last panel (slides here)of the event at Navigation Day 2008 at CeBit in Hannover, Germany. Many thanks for Abbie Badcock for the opportunity. As I review my notes to distill some of the key themes regarding the event, three seem to boil to the surface: Money, Resources and Brand.
Navigation and location started over a decade ago, where it was important to locate where you are. People starting referring to points as â€œlat-longâ€ coordinates from the GPS receiver readout. The importance has shift from knowing where you are to knowing whatâ€™s around you. You want to know where good food is, something entertaining, and where your friends are. Once selections are made, the next step is to solve a real-time, optimal, economical route to get there. A connected navigation device is essential to execute the tasks and provide assistance. But all of this infrastructure, solutions and services create a delicate balancing act between the key themes that resonated: Money, Resources and Brand.
Money was one of the large topics at the event, both from the vendor and the consumer. From the vendor, they are challenged on how to sustain a healthy margin on products and services offered, while heavy price erosion and competition mount significant pressure on hardware vendors like TomTom, Magellan and Garmin. Other vendors are also seeing a rising cost in data acquisition, licensing fees as well as the decreasing cycle times in response to the consumerâ€™s wants and needs.
From the consumerâ€™s perspective, eroding prices, combined with several services, both free and subscription have resulted in a huge spike in device sales. While there are pros and cons to having a Personal Navigation Device (PND) versus a mobile phone with GPS, the fact remains that there has been a worldwide increase of 130% from 2006 to 2007 in on-board and off-board units sold (Canalys, Mobile Navigation Analysis, Feb, 2008). The largest uptake has been in Western Europe followed by the United States.
|Rest of World||3.4%|
Source: Canalys, Mobile Navigation Analysis, Feb, 2008
As a solution to both create incremental value and provide more to the consumer, vendors have taken a hard look at how real-time and connected services can be deployed. This begins to change existing sales of PND units to more lucrative business models: service subscriptions, ad-supported, revenue share and others that can increase revenue and more importantly, margins. This ultimately leads to long-term predictable growth and maintain relevancy to the consumer. I will discuss how this affects brand later in this article. Certainly, lots of players from the Internet space, just as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Mapquest, and others have been casting their attention on mobile as another channel to repurpose their services. Mobile operators too, have been investigating navigation and location to add to their mobile content and services so as the continue to augment the declining voice APRU (Average Revenue Per User). We have already seen ripples in the ecosystem when a free alternative like Google Maps for mobile is offered. This causes others who charge what is seemingly a high premium to begin to cut their margins to compete and increase marketing budgets to prove differentiation to the consumer. The conclusion is that free is a horrible model for a sustainable business and those who chose that route will get poor results â€“ both vendor and consumer. For those who opt for a minimal payment larger than zero, those models will be successful. And more and more surveys and user studies prove that either a pay per use or inexpensive subscription model can work, when marketed properly.
While similar to the money issue discussed previously, this also presents a significant challenge to the space. There are bottlenecks in the ecosystem that are diverting an immense amount of resources in sustaining navigation industry. Some of them include the constant updating of POIs (Points of Interest), the accuracy and increased detail of mapping roads and related layers such as topography and natural boundaries, and the speed and accuracy of updating real-time services integrated into mobile navigation devices. And it doesnâ€™t stop there. To build out new product and service offerings faster and more complete, companies are both partnering and investing. This is only a partial list of the expansive nature of the ecosystem: 3D mapping and texture mapping, high resolution satellite view, street, and pedestrian views, integrating gas station prices, public transportation schedules, weather, alert messaging, social networking, local advertising, search and discovery capabilities and much more.
One example is TeleAtlas partners with a mobile operator to collect data from its mobile subscribers. By tracking the movement of its mobile subscribers, anonymously, then taking the relevant data of subscribers travelling over roads
An additional exercise to make all of this work in concert with the device include the following: A great user experience, an uncompromised form factor, an excellent out-of-the-box experience (including activation), a hook the get the user addicted (trial period), relevant, compelling content, channel training and market education, fixed-rate data plans; international data roaming and potentially operator subsidies to bring down the price.
The constraints are getting tighter as expectation move higher on what these devices are capable of. Some companies have decided that it makes sense to have the cost be shared across the ecosystem and going as far as asking consumer input to help in the data collection and feedback loops certainly defray some development costs, but ensuring data integrity starts to creep up.
One of the hidden aspects in all of the discussion during Navigation was Brand. Trusted sources and brand recognition are important in helping a customer guide their decisions, both in device selection, but also information sources subscribed to. As consumers grow in their sophistication, they are attracted to certain brands based on their reputation. Beyond TeleAtlas and Navteq for mapping, there are perhaps hundreds if not thousands of data sources that can integrate with a location and navigation infrastructure. But how and what do you integrate? And for each add-on, there are definitely differences in quality and accuracy. Restaurant reviews, real-time gas prices, 3D and satellite imagery, and alternative route guidance are just some the data feeds. But not all are the same â€“ partnering with established brands; such as Zagatâ€™s, Google Maps, and Accuweather can instantly bring trust and differentiation to devices on the market. Building brand is also difficult when many data vendors and software companies are struggling just to mature their products and services into the market, with extremely limited possibilities to brand. This struggle is due to the ecosystem involving mobile operators, handset manufacturers and others in the value chain. Everyone wants to have their brand stand out and try and go through a customer lifecycle. All the other things such as loyalty, awareness, all start to factor in as an engagement model can be established. But with so much choice and fragmentation though a small screen, the battle has never been more fierce.
Now is an exciting time to have a navigation device. Lower prices, more device choice, more services, improving connectivity and limitless storage via the SD, it seems a natural next gadget after the mobile phone. The User Experience is getting better with more intuitive interfaces and audio enhancements to keep the user engaged and informed. Just like a tense game of scrabble, consumers will all be waiting to see how each vendor spells out their offerings, all vying for triple word score.