The picture above just about sums up the past week from last Thursday until today.
My aircard stopped working. My Apple iPhone stopped working. I was traveling from San Francisco to New York for my conference session at Interop/Mobile Business Expo as well as a few meetings and no email, no blog access. WTF?!?!?! But why was I able to access other email and websites such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn? I think AT&T has it out for me. Though I’ve been a pretty loyal customer for quite some time (if you include me as a Cingular subscriber), for some reason they chose to block access from the AT&T network to mobileslate.com.
So last Thursday after noticing that it wasn’t just my iPhone and that my aircard was not able to access it either, I first called up my webhost and asked if there was a problem. The response: No, everything is functioning normally. So from my hotel in near Central Park and Columbus Circle in New York City, I walk down to the closest Starbucks and plug into the T-Mobile Hotspot access. No problems. Works great. I can get to my email and my blog’s admin page to post and respond to comments. I head over to Javitz Convention Center using the free Interop WiFi access and no issues. But as in New York, when you are a bit more mobile, you tend to be more dependent on mobile technology. But where ever I went, AT&T would not let me access my email or website. Safari didn’t allow me. Last Friday, after my speaking session, I went to visit a friend at his office, asked to plug into their network to do some work and everything worked great.
Meanwhile on the AT&T network, no dice. I finally call Technical Support and explain my situation to them. They bounced me around several times from iPhone support to Laptop Connect support, and finally I had enough and just told a Tech to file to support issue.
I enjoyed the rest of the weekend and Sunday when I got back home, I plugged into my DSL connection at home and was able to access everything related to my domain. Perhaps there was some issue in New York and being in San Francisco, it might be an isolated regional issue. So I tried to connect using my iPhone and my Laptop Connect card, but still no luck. Ummm, am I that popular that AT&T has decided to block me? Is my content offensive to AT&T? So I call again to file another complaint. This time, I try and perform a few more tests from my laptop. Traceroute fails. It doesn’t even see past the first router that I connect to. Ping fails. But all other websites and email accounts — no issues. Hmmm, they’re out to get me.
Wednesday with still no access from my iPhone or Laptop Connect card, I call again. This time I am on the phone with the Tech rep for over 2 hours trying to convince him that I have tried everything to isolate the problem. He doesn’t believe me. He tells me to reboot my laptop with all drivers off. He tells me to contact my webhost (I web chat with my webhost — no issues). I run traceroute (it fails) to prove to him there is an issue. I then tell him to try and connect. He cannot either. We go round and round. He keeps telling me, it’s your fault. Or your web host. They are block us (AT&T network) from access your site. I ask for a Supervisor or Manager. He tells me that it won’t help. I ask him if it’s possible that there is something wrong with the router/firewall that is blocking my site. He says *NO*. Obviously this guys is just reading the script. I ask again for a Manager. Finally, after 90 minutes with this guy, he transfers me. 15 minutes more of being on hold and I speak to a Supervisor. I explain the issue again and she tells me, “yup, it’s an issue on our side. I will contact the network group and see what’s up.”
Today around 13:00, my iPhone starts beeping and I see that mobileslate email is working. I try my Laptop Connect card. It’s working.
So after a week of service outage for just my website and email server, looks like things are back to normal. I never did get a call back or email as to an explanation. But now that the problem *is* resolved, I believe it to be an AT&T router issue that blocked access to this site.
I am attempting to try something different. I found out that I can create my own browser toolbar as a way to keep in touch with my readers. But it’s not just a way for you to access my content easier, it also provides some other features to help you too.
The toolbar has the following features (click image to enlarge) and supports Internet Explorer and Firefox:
PCD (www.personalcommunicationsdevices.com) provides wireless communications devices including handsets, PocketPCs, smartphones, messaging devices and wireless broadband modems to carriers throughout North and South America. PCD offers branded wireless devices from leading manufacturers as well as those that are sold under private carrier labels. The company also provides technical and customer support.
Another update from Apple. This time, it seems there is a big push to get people to upgrade. I got an email, a text message and iTunes worked together to get the word out (click on image).
But unfortunately, you need to wait longer and longer as you still need to download an entire Operating System image file.
WordPress 2.6.2 has been installed. Also, I have been looking into some new plugins and saw that quite a few people use YARPP (Yet Another Related Post Plugin). I thought I’d give it a try and it seems to be working out ok when you view individual posts on my blog.
You can find the YARPP plugin for WordPress here.
A big thank you to Sandra Gulam, Manuela Farrell and all the others from TechWeb for allowing me to speak on a panel about Mobile Web 2.0 – Access and Applications at the Interop/Mobile Business Expo in New York. We certainly had a lively discussion, good debate about the issues and great questions from the audience.
I have posted my slides here to let people know about the topics that we covered.
A big thank you to RIM Blackberry for some free marketing. As I was walking around InterOp/Mobile Business Expo/Web 2.0 at Javitz Convention Center in New York, I stopped by the RIM booth to see if I could play with the new Bold and Flip Pearl. Looking at one of the demo pods, I notices that they had created a special flyer: Blackberry Education Sessions at Interop 2008. I flipped it over and the session that I was giving tomorrow appears! I had to pick one up and figure out how to scan it. Taking a picture and uploading to my blog looked kind of strange. Luckily I met up with my friend, DB, who works nearby and borrowed his scanner.
Click on the two pictures below to enlarge the scan.
They make something like a few thousand flyers to hand out at the show. Again, thanks for the free publicity!
Instead of trying to “Think Different” Peek is a small company trying to “Think Simple”. Today they are launch at Target retail stores, the ability to purchase a $99 email device with a monthly service plan of $20. The device has no frills, just email. No attachments available for viewing, just pictures. The device does nothing else but access your email. Using the GSM network, it has nationwide coverage and the small device has no alarm clock, no calendar, no games, not even make phone calls on the device – just access your email. For more technical specs, it currently supports POP3 email. The only navigation for the device is the thumbwheel on the side that was made popular from the RIM Blackberry. To select all you need to do is push the wheel in. Otherwise sliding the wheel up or down will get to all the menu items for the device.
I’m not quite sure that this device will garner as much attention or hype as the iPhone, and I’m pretty sure there will not be lines of people camping outside of Target craving this device, but for some, this might be the Christmas stocking stuffer gadget device that people are looking for. And following the principle: “Do One Thing and Do It Well” I hope that this is one of the devices that can deliver and allow more people to experience mobile email. I’m sure that RIM, Apple and others will be monitoring closely to see how they can make the user experience even better.
Thanks to Caroline Lewko would put on a great event at CTIA. The sessions were highly relevant, on topic and the speakers were on point. The audience was highly engaged, which is always appreciated and the interaction was insightful. I was very happy to see that the mobile operators were part of the discussion and interacting with the audience. They were taking notes and stimulating the conversation rather than attacked by the barrage of angst and resentment.
Caroline in true form.
One of the panels that I participated in particular was the Mobile Banking and Payments sessions where were at times, quite heated about solving problems, gaining tracking and adoption, and how to combat the multi-geography issue of a scalable worldwide deployment. There was also a lot of good talk about what roles the mobile operator, banks, intermediaries, and others would play in the value chain of truly delivering banking and payments on mobile.
I rather like this format and hope that we can continue to have events like this. No bull, just get straight to matter and try and figure out some answers to lots of problems.
At CTIA 2008 SF, I met John Orlando, Vice President of Marketing at LiveWire Mobile who was representing both his company and the MEF (Mobile Entertainment Forum), where he is the MEF Americas Vice-Chair. A brief about the two companies: LiveWire Mobile offers mobile personalization by providing ringback, full-track music, ringtone and video services. MEF actively promots the mobile entertainment industry as an identifiable and significant sector, with specific commercial structures and interests.
A few statistics that John wanted to share:
I got a chance to spend some time with Tom Garland CMO of SnapTell. A short description about SnapTell:
SnapTell provides a highly customizable and integrated mobile marketing solution. With this Snap.Send.Get™ solution, marketers can deploy mobile marketing campaigns quickly and effectively. The SnapTell solution enables consumers to easily access marketing content and information on the go, driving brand awareness, conversion, loyalty and revenues. It is an end-to-end solution that gives marketers the ability to reach consumers and create a brand relationship with them – not just impressions.
At CTIA 2008 SF, here are my notes from my meeting with Michael Wehrs, VP Evangelism and Industry Affairs at Nuance Communications. Nuance Communications, Inc. offers speech-based solutions for businesses and consumers worldwide. Nuance Communications mobile solutions have applications in various products offered by mobile device and automotive manufacturers. Nuance’s mobile group has experienced the largest growth and recently reported over $200M in revenue. Last year, their embedded device technology was installed in over 200M devices.
A short paragraph about the SDA: The SD Association is a global ecosystem of technology companies charged with setting industry standards and encouraging the development of consumer electronics, wireless communication, and digital imaging and networking products that utilize the market-leading benefits of SD technology.
A short meeting with Rex Sabio, Product Marketing Manager at Sandisk, and also Co-Chair of the Marketing Committee of the SD Card Association sat down with me for few moments to talk about the announcement made at CTIA.
The announcement plays nicely into expanding the storage size of devices that will come to market.
“The SD Card Association plans to significantly reduce market fragmentation by delivering superior compatibility to the world of embedded storage, just as we have done in the storage card industry,” said James Taylor, president and chairman of the SD Card Association. “The association will continue to drive significant host market expansion while maintaining backwards compatibility with future interface development. The continuous collaboration and cooperation within the association’s ecosystem serves as a strong engine for innovation, consistency and growth.”
Source: SD Card Association
What do I think? Great! More storage for all of the gadget and devices that I carry. Now I just need compelling applications beyond my MP3s and pictures that I tote around on my iPhone, digital, camera, etc.
Here is a short description about the company: Cellfire provides consumers with convenient discounts directly on their mobile phones. Cellfire is the first nationwide mobile coupon and discount offer service that allows consumers to easily access deals from brand-name merchants nationwide through their cell phone.
Since Cellfire and a few other companies in this space have sprung up, I have been a bit skeptical about coupons on the mobile phone. Some key issues are search and discovery, coupon presentment, and back-end remediation.
CellTrust is the leading provider of a fully scalable and highly adaptable Secure Mobile Information Management (SMIM) Platform, global Secure SMS Gateway, and suite of mobile applications engineered to manage and deliver information and mobile content in a timely, intelligent and secure manner. At first I was a bit puzzled by this. Secure SMS. While I think it’s interesting, me as a user, sending and receiving encrypted SMS? Continue Reading →
Continue Reading →
I met with Gary Vidra, Managing Director of 2ergo Americas. The one sentence about 2ergo: The 2ergo group provides global messaging and payment services, content management, mobile internet, and convergent mobile applications.
Guy shared with me that some customer are not necessarily looking for a messaging aggregator for their mobile marketing or alert services. Instead of providing services, 2ergo is offering products and connectivity. So if you want mroe control and features over simply integrating with a message aggregator, 2ergo might be for you. Guy doesn’t see a competitive situation with his company against Sybase 365 or mblox, but rather complimentary. There are three main products to get company going:
Some of their large customers include Fox News, Yahoo and other parts of News Corp. In asking Guy about interesting trends in mobile, he said that there is lots of market activity and requests are coming in from a host of different industry verticals which include pharmaceutical and even real estate. For pharma, he cited that they are using 2ergo products for both business and process functions within the enterprise, not just outbound marketing projects.
This morning I met with Dr. KF Lai, CEO and Co-Founder of Buzzcity. Here is a brief description of what Dr. Lai’s company does:
BuzzCity is a developer of global wireless communities and consumer services. Established in 1999 in Singapore, BuzzCity today operates the world’s largest wireless community – mygamma.com – for two distinct audiences: the newly connected emerging middle class in developing markets and the blue collar sector in developed regions. These “unwired” consumers are accessing the mobile Internet on their phones due to widespread and affordable wireless access.
The company has over 2000 publishers to link content to their site and drive traffic, consumption and social networking. Dr. Lai told me that they are serving over Two Billion ads per month through their mobile portal. That’s not a typo. While a lot of social networking sites are focused on smartphones, myGamma targets unwired consumer who have mass market mobile phones. Their large ad network for their own portal is amassed a large user based globally, spanning mostly in South East Asia, Western Europe and the United States, but has seen pockets of growth in the Middle East such as Africa.
Well, just goes to show that mobile social networking companies don’t necessarily have to be headquartered in the US or Western Europe to gain a global presence and perhaps be the 2nd largest ad network for mobile!
Well, it was kind of interesting to meet with a mobile operator like LEAP Wireless when I just there to learn more information, instead of trying to sell them software, in my previous life. But it looks at if the smaller mobile operators in the US are starting to get keen on mobile data. Two weeks ago, Cricket Wireless announced Unlimited Downloads for Mobile Video.
I met with Alykhan Govani, CEO Americas from MXTelecom to ask him about the latest regarding messaging and mobile marketing. The company has shifted some of their focus away from straight sales to a more consultative approach to helping customers wade through the complexities of mobile marketing. MMS is starting to become a viable medium and people are looking at it instead of SMS exclusively. He also commented that WAP billing is still very popular for payment, as long as it’s for direct billing instead of accepting 3rd party payment such as credit cards.
Finally, he gave me one of these cards to show the complexity that still exists in the US with mobile messaging. It’s crazy! He and I agreed that this should be fixed as soon as possible so there is parity across all carrier in the US.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Carl Guido Kirchoff, Managing Director of the Americas at United Mobile. For those who are unfamiliar with what they do, here is a brief description. United Mobile is a licensed MVNO providing worldwide mobile communication services with its own network infrastructure and international SIM card. Users can save up to 80% on voice and data roaming when on travel. The service provides free incoming calls on the cell phone in over 80 countries and outgoing calls from $ 0.45/min worldwide. The prepaid SIM card requires no contract nor a minimum fee. It is available for mobile internet with rates as from only $ 1.59/MB.
I would like to thank them for sponsoring the CTIA Party Page list on Mobileslate, they have gotten a lot of impressions from their sponsorship!
So you might be thinking, “Eric! Why are you talking to an MVNO? Isn’t that over and done?” Well, over the years, and frequently traveling internationally for both business and leisure, I like staying in touch with family and friends, but also being budget conscience, given the depressed US dollar. After speaking with Carl, United Mobile is more than just trying to accelerate to one million subscribers as fast as possible, it’s also trying to enable global travelers to save money. Continue Reading →
Continue Reading →
This afternoon, I went over the the San Francisco Hilton to attend the Handango Future Forum. This was one of the more interesting events at CTIA 2008 SF. One of the sessions that I sat in on was the Panel: “Fast Forward: The Future of Mobile Content Retailing”. The panel was quite refreshing in both their questions and thoughts regarding content, services and even devices. The panel certainly represented the entire ecosystem involved in content, with the exception of a mobile operator on the panel. Continue Reading →
Continue Reading →
I met with Simon Bransfield Garth, CMO of Carrier IQ and we chatting about a topic of mobile device management. Carrier IQ is embedding diagnostic software in the phone for the use by mobile operators to gain mobile service intelligence about devices that are in the field. The software logs everything from button presses all the way up to the software and applications on the phone and how the subscriber is using it.
What is this useful for? Well, lots of people have been discussing ways to enhance the Customer Care aspect of running a business that involves mobile devices. The variety of devices makes it a challenge for any Mobile Operator’s Customer Care organization to resolve problems quickly. Customers get frustrated because any and all problems they dread having to call Customer Care. But what if you diagnose problems in real-time and by the time people started calling about it, you could have fixes put up on the web or your first-line customer support agent.
Launched at the CTIA show today, IQ Insight Device Analyzer gives mobile device manufacturers unprecedented visibility into mobile device performance in normal use. Specifically focused on the critical period leading up to and immediately following the launch of a new model, the product builds on Carrier IQ’s successful Mobile Service Intelligence solutions for carriers that are currently deployed on over 35M devices worldwide.
Carrier IQ’s IQ Insight Device Analyzer uses data from the device itself combined with powerful analytic applications to enable management and optimization of mobile phones based on actual detailed experience data, such as availability, throughput, latency and reliability, across the entire user population.
Source: Carrier IQ
I asked Simon about how CarrierIQ fits in between a Mobile Device Management product such as Innopath who provide FOTA as one of their features and a Network Monitoring tool such as Keynote Systems. Simon said that CarrierIQ’s product fits in the middle of both. For MDM services, it simply pushes out updates, but has no historical context. You need to first understand what to fix before rolling it out. With respect to the Network Monitoring, the CarrierIQ solution is taking real customer input and logging it at the handset level. It takes each and every device and turns it into an active network monitor. So while most probes are stationary, this is giving you real-time, in motion monitoring based on real usage, which is even better than drive-testing. Simon sites Sprint as a customer who has deployed this across several different phones and seen some interesting results.
Well, I’m all for making the user experience better on the phone. Dropped calls and slow data rates amongst other things is certainly a major inconvenience. If CarrierIQ and others can reduce problems, it makes all of us more productive and happy.
Yesterday, I had a briefing with Paul Singh, CEO of PixSense. For those who don’t know much about PixSense, here is a short description. PixSense’s PSP Platform delivers a rich, intuitive interface to allow users to easily and rapidly preserve, share and publish media captured on their mobile phones. By just snapping a picture or recording a video, PixSense enables “zero click” automated photo and video-uploading, smart categorization, automatic memory management, intelligent image quality enhancement, personal publishing and sharing services, storage, and full-featured galleries on both the Web and the phone.
“…consider social networking sites: At a very basic level, it’s a combination of an address book, e-mail and the users’ media. Every mobile phone has a very potent address book. That, coupled with the users’ mobile media and text messaging capabilities indicates that social networking should dominate the mobile environment…”
Source: Mobile POV Blog
One topic that is becoming a larger and larger part of the mobile equation is Mobile Device Management. Earlier this morning, I had a briefing with David Ginsburg, VP of Marketing at Innopath to talk about a recent study to show the impact of having a Mobile Device Management solution inside a mobile operator.
Stratecast, industry analysts and market experts, together with InnoPath, the leader in Mobile Device Management (MDM), have developed a comprehensive tool for assessing the financial impact of mobile device management on network operations. Based on expansive and in-depth research, experience and analysis Stratecast concludes that using MDM within mobile operators’ customer care organizations could have a major impact on global operational and support costs in the range of $3 billion in 2009 to over $23 billion by 2013.
What does this mean to you and me? It means that patches, fixes, and updates can be push from the mobile operator and improve the ability for me to have a better customer experience with mobile data services. From the mobile operators point of view, it’s really to contain costs of the Customer Care organization and minimize the amount of time required for problem resolution. And both sides like to hear that.
At present, the more practical use for this is updating the operating system, device drivers and settings on the mobile phone. But you could think of this whole process and system management as potentially being a mobile version of “Windows Update” for your mobile device. David mentioned that “Instead of downloading an entire image via a LAN connection to update your iPhone, you simply download incremental and differential bits needed to keep the phone up to date.”
Some future uses of Innopath’s technology would be to integrate with enterprise applications, such as rule-based applications, policy managers, IT security application to be able to remotely manage mobile device issued to workers, minimizing downtime, help desk tickets, and associated costs.
“The advanced services customers demand from their cell phones are creating an unprecedented burden on the mobile operator.” says Nancee Ruzicka of Stratecast’s OSS/BSS Global Competitive Strategies group. “Increasingly complex requirements for device configurations, software updates and convoluted trouble-shooting procedures are driving up support costs. These are costs which cannot be contained without streamlining traditional methods of customer support for mobile devices.”
We would all like to almost never call our mobile operator’s Customer Care because of the tedium and grueling experience of getting your mobile phone problems fixed. Innopath is providing tools and solutions to try and alleviate some of the potential problems.