Tuesday, 16 December 2008

O2 Litmus launch

I went to the launch of O2 Litmus on Friday — in the form of a hack day at the O2. It was interesting to see an operator directly running a hack day. Usually they’re involved as the supporting acts in a semi-official way, like Vodafone Betavine supporting OverTheAir. The guys at O2 did a reasonable job — finding people via twitter and other events and providing solid wifi and lots of power supplies. They didn’t leave quite enough time for the hacking though, allowing too much time for O2 Litmus partners to advertise their wares in the morning.

O2 Litmus itself seems like a good proposition in business terms — the same 30/70 revenue split as the Apple App Store; a system to let developers test apps with early adopters before releasing them into the wild; and money coming through to developers just 5 weeks after purchases. O2 are also trying to support app development through their partners, providing testing and business development support.

There are a couple of pieces missing, however. One great advantage of the Apple App Store is the ease of download — one click and the app automatically downloads to your iPhone and appears in your home screen. This is much harder for general phones at large — not only do you have to make sure you’ve got the right build for your phone (a problem that Apple has avoided for now by just having one platform), but you then have to figure out your phone’s weird and wonderful download experience. Do I really want to install something that my phone tells me could be a security risk? Do I want to install it in Games or Applications? And now it’s downloaded, where did it go? (Nokia Series 60, I’m talking to you here…)

At the moment, O2 Litmus requires a separate application and description for each build, with no provision for combining builds with automatic detection, and no support for external hosting either. I suggested that they consider allowing URLs for downloads and they seemed interested — this also opens the door to web apps instead of downloadable apps. They might also consider partnering with one of the companies who make a point of providing effective provisioning systems — like Paxmodept, GetJar or even ourselves.

The other piece that is missing is direct access to the store from the phone. O2 say they will email their early adopters in a few weeks to get them involved in the web site, but even those who do will not have the ability to see what their friends are doing and download the same thing. Spreading applications virally requires immediate access to the app as and when you see someone else using it. Miss the moment and the viral effect dies. The iPhone provides the App Store on the device itself to help with this — it’s not the easiest solution but at least it’s possible. Since J2ME apps make sharing apps intentionally hard (security to stop people sharing paid-for games…), O2 need to provide some access to Litmus from their phones.

As I mentioned above, the hacking competition itself was a little rushed — we only had about 3 hours to get something ready. As a result most of the entries were screenshot prototypes and sometimes not even that. I started putting together a simple J2ME version of our iPhone MyRail Lite app but NetBeans wasn’t behaving itself. Instead I made a paper prototype integrating MyRail Lite with twitter so that you can meet friends on the train and as they arrive:

Share your train journeys on twitter with myRail Lite on iPhone. Click the Tweet button on your departure, select your destination and carriage and it will send a tweet for you. Also see which train your friends are on and track them as they go.

The idea caught the attention of the judges (I imagine it was the idea rather than my sketched interface!) and I won second prize — 30 hours on DeviceAnywhere.

Here’s my full notes from the day if you want a bit more detail:

Why Litmus?

  • Came to the conclusion about a year ago that O2 is quite difficult to do business with…
    • Just like the other network operators! Except O2 hasn’t had a developer program recently.
  • Enabling O2 customer base to test apps and feedback
  • Developers can test apps and get feedback
    • Can control how many customers can download it and test it out
  • Developers can also put apps on sale directly
    • O2 take 30% cut of sales — exactly the same as the Apple App Store
  • Plans to incentive customers to get involved
    • Any customer that has tested your app will get the app for free when you go commercial
    • So controlling numbers of testers is crucial
  • O2 Marketing will monitor forums & feedback and launch popular apps into main customer base
  • Money comes through to developers after five weeks

Litmus Tools

  • O2 APIs
    • Connection Status API
    • Location API
  • Supporting services:
    • DeviceAnywhere — remote device testing
    • Rackspace — hosting
    • Segala — expert testing

Mobile Social Networks — Ewan Spence

Poking from your mobile

  • Involved in running Wubud — still in stealth mode
    • 100% focus on mobile, but with web client too, linking to other social networks
  • itsmy.com makes money from users buying widgets
  • facebook 0.3% CPM…

Mobile Developers Dilemma — Paul Golding

Slides available online

  • Still has his Source O2 badge from O2’s previous developer outreach programme
  • Expert member of MIDP3 group
  • Chief app architect for Motorola in 90s
  • What should you build?
    • Open APIs
    • Involve a community to build weight & momentum
    • Provide service & support
  • Mobile UX: should exploit context
  • Use microformats — if there isn’t a suitable one then invent one!
  • Jitterbug — successful phone for old people in US
  • Social Business Model: share ideas with frenemies
    • Share the risk
    • Exploit mashups
    • Create or be part of an ecosystem, so that even if people click out of your app, they haven’t left the ecosystem and are therefore more likely to come back
  • Paul’s 9 year-old son is an iPhone developer :-)
  • Growth areas:
    • Enterprise social software
    • Services to support SOHO users

Inspiring New Ways of Design and Development — Anthony Ribot

Slides available online

As usual, Anthony gave a good presentation on mobile design. The Ribot guys were on a lucky streak on Friday, winning both a Sony Ericsson C905 in the raffle and coming first in the hacking competition with a proposed mashup of dopplr and your phone address book — find out who’s in town and then call them straight away. Well done guys!

  • The user-centred developer is a new type of role that should exist
    • Should develop with the user in mind
    • Not a role for every developer
  • Clients from web medium come with a long list of 15 features
    • We tell them we’ll only implement the top 3 items, or even just the top 1
  • Data-snacking is the most common experience on mobile
    • 30-60 seconds experience — small snippets of info
  • Important to re-use the learnt behaviours of the device
    • Makes the first experience of the app that much better
  • Mobile not about making things smaller!
    • Must take in context of use and figure out what the user actually wants to do
    • Cameron Moll: Mobile Web Design book
  • It’s all about the subtleties
    • e.g. working around the 3G icon on Nokia devices — Opera Mini indents the page title
  • Try and make the experience support reward-based design
    • e.g. Opera Mini (again) — right arrow does clever things based on context
  • Dealing with diversity
    • Use statistics (e.g. admob) to work out top 5 handsets for your target audience
  • Use rapid prototyping
    • The sooner you can get something tangible in your users’ hands, the better
    • Paper prototyping is good, but having something real is so much better
    • Finding that there’s less application stuff and more motion
      • Harder to describe in paper prototypes and screenshots
    • Tools available:
      • Flash (lite v3)
      • XHTML + CSS
      • Nokia Web Runtime
      • Silverlight (coming to Windows Mobile early next year, Symbian & Apple targeted too)
      • Dashcode

Partner adverts

We then had presentations from Rackspace, NAVTEQ, DeviceAnywhere, Mob4Hire and Segala.com. These were interesting in parts, but generally not much more than we could have got from flyers — a bit of a waste of time when the audience was mainly developers. We know what hosting is, thank you.

Rackspace — Matt ???

  • 2600 employees (40-50 in London)
  • growing about 50% year on year
  • have “positive churn” (1.5%)
  • 24/7 live “fanatical” support
  • 80 new devices launched with GPS in H1 2008
  • 74m GPS phone devices sold in EMEA next year
    • 55m smart phones, others feature phones
  • NAVTEQ Network for Developers
    • Online developer community
    • Includes sample map data
  • NAVTEQ Connections Web Portal
    • matchmaking, promotion
  • 6th year of NAVTEQ Global LBS Challenge
    • 2009 prizes include cash, tool & data licenses and handsets
  • O2 segments:
    • Ambitious Status Seekers
    • Frenetic Families
    • Fun Loving Socialisers

DeviceAnywhere — Leila Modarres

We use DeviceAnywhere for testing our JavaME apps (such as the National Express East Coast Timetable to Mobile) and find it very effective. I didn't take many notes on this session as I already know how it works. Go see their site if you want further details.

  • Screens only turn on when the device is in use
  • Will hand out 30 free hours today
    • I won them!

Mob4hire — Paul Poutanen

  • Mobile developers can leverage the value of existing handsets to test for other developers
    • Earn money on mob4hire…
  • Developers can use Litmus system to take advantage of 25,000 early adopter customer base on mob4hire
  • Roadmap:
    • Certified testers
    • Remote emulation — competing with deviceanywhere (using LogMeIn)
    • Coder4Hire
    • Market research — localisation etc.

Segala.com — Paul Walsh

  • Expert testing services

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Can I restore a trashed disk using a wireless Time Machine backup?

Mark Wheadon made an interesting comment on my Wireless Time Machine post the other day. He wanted to know if it would be possible to restore a trashed Mac from a wireless SMB Time Machine backup by pointing the OS X DVD Disk Utility at it.

I don't think this would be possible (please correct me if I'm wrong -- I'd really like to know), as using an SMB network share relies on setting the TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes system preference. This is turned off by default and I suspect impossible to change when you've booted from the OS X DVD.

Instead, the approach I take is to have two separate backups -- one a full disk backup that just clones the entire disk; and separately, a wireless Time Machine backup.

The cloned disk backup is great when your disk dies, especially if you use similar hardware to the actual disk in your machine: if you get a failure, simply swap the hardware and carry on. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to make my cloned backup -- it's free, it's certified and it has an option to start automatically as soon as you attach your backup drive. Combine this with a 2.5" SATA disk in a USB enclosure and you have a drive ready to take the place of your MacBook's internal drive within a couple of minutes.

However, making a clone requires you to attach a physical drive, something that is too easy to forget doing regularly enough. It's almost guaranteed that the one day you forget to clone your disk is the one day your disk crashes irretrievably... This is where the wireless Time Machine backup comes in. Once you've got it set up, all you have to do is leave your Mac turned on and attached to your WiFi and you will get regular backups of your recent files (up to once an hour if you want).

So the answer to Mark's question would be that if my hard disk crashed, I would swap it out with the clone and copy any recent files from my Time Machine backup. This would deal with the immediate term -- generally the most crucial time when you have a disk crash. I could then look at restoring any other files I need from Time Machine at my leisure, though I would take a clone of the clone as soon as physically possible. I might also turn off Time Machine temporarily so that the out of date clone doesn't use up unnecessary space on the backup image -- but this would have to be a choice based on how long before I'd switch to using the clone as my main drive.

I'm not sure whether it's possible to use Disk Utility's Restore function from a Mac that has the TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes preference set to true. Has anyone tried?

Monday, 8 December 2008

MomoLondon: Mobile Social Networking

Not the most thrilling of momolondon’s tonight. The panel format worked well and the chairs asked reasonably interesting questions, but I think it was the subject matter that just felt a bit samey to me. Even the twitter backchannel seemed a little subdued. Maybe it was just my cold…

The best bits for me were Steve Lawson talking about his experiences of trying to use his mobile for social media (where by media, he meant actual music and video production).

Priya Prakash of Flirtomatic also had some interesting things to say, but I felt that she didn’t really get into her stride. She said she was in the middle of a user experience analysis of her site and wanted to involve the audience in some research, but this never really happened. Perhaps an idea for a future Mobile Monday…?

Anyway, here’s my notes — as always, please add comments if there’s something that you want to know more about.

First Panel: Why are people going to be using mobile social media?


  • Chair: Josie Fraser
  • Steve Lawson - Musician/Consultant
  • Luke Brynley-Jones - Trutap
  • Paul May - Bluehoo
  • Brian Fuchs - Internet Centre, Imperial College
  • Graham Brown - MobileYouth


  • broadcast model of connecting to audience is dying
  • entry level of broadcasting has dropped
  • how am I using it: with a great deal of frustration…
  • currently using mobile to post data as things happen
  • not using other people’s mobiles
  • where is it going? for most people, it’s not the gadget that’s important
    • don’t want my audience to have to become mobile geeks in order to access
    • e.g. twitter
  • I take the bus rather than the tube as I can be online during the journey


  • had to focus on where users actually were
  • a lot of users in asia — india, indonesia
  • did 120 interviews with users and ex-users
  • had been focussing on facebook, but 0% of users in Mumbai have facebook accounts
  • further details:
    • typically 20-30 year olds
    • slight male bias, but not much
    • wanted to chat with their friends
    • wanted to flirt and meet others
    • location was important — e.g. there are transport problems in Mumbai
    • sitting there 2-3 hours a day chatting with their friends


  • wrote a book in 2001 called Mobile Commerce — did very well in China…
  • nowadays meetings never happen when they’re organised — instead people send you messages by every which way and you’re supposed to pick them all up and not be surprised
  • in a proper mobile world, everybody here in the room would be communicating with each other, rather than just panel broadcasting out with no feedback
    • that was kind of happening with the twitter backchannel, but it wasn’t reaching the panel very well
    • Josie said she would have liked the twitter stream on the projector


  • have to develop peer-to-peer architectures and decentralised payment solutions
  • otherwise 3 billion devices will overwhelm the services


  • “only two industries in the world that call their customers ‘users’… the mobile industry and crack dealers!”
  • mobile social media is not relevant for youth - just want to look good and get laid :-)
  • driven by:
    1. need to belong
    2. need to be significant
  • go and see what red bull is doing with red bull music academy


What about people over 35?

  • Steve: most of my audience are over 30
  • Graham: youth are future customers
    • mobile social media is not the sales channel
    • it’s about building the relationship in order to increase the sales opportunities
    • so youth are the future market (like banks)
  • Simon Rockman: only successful phone aimed at older people was Emporio(?) in Austria
  • Steve: “proposed twitter to my Mum — terminology was the barrier”
    • “as soon as I explained that it was like texting me and my brother at the same time, she wanted me to sign her up straight away”
    • “now if I tweet and text at the same time, she returns the tweet first”

What about privacy?

  • Paul: we seem to have all agreed to become performers
  • Josie involved with schools looking at use of mobile
    • looking at addressing behavioural issues such as happy slapping
    • rights and responsibilities

Terence Eden: is it a danger that there’ll be too much focus on iPhone when everybody use RAZRs?

  • Steve: ok to target 10% if they can distribute to others — make content “tearable”

2nd Panel: Industry Perspectives


  • Chair: Dan Appelquist — Vodafone/Mobile Monday
  • Andrew Scott — Founder of Rummble
  • Sean Kane — Head of Mobile for Bebo
  • Priya Prakash — Flirtomatic
  • Jennifer Grenz — Shozu
  • Christophe Hocquet — Moblr/BuddyMob
    • have seen average session times of 3 hours!

What impact is flat rate having?

  • Priya: one user came along to user testing with 6 different SIM cards and was swapping in and out as needed and for best rate…
    • as long as they can access the service, they will do what it takes
  • Jen: big change for Shozu is roaming to wifi
  • Sean: lot of bebo users are under 24, but are spending a lot
    • 30% of traffic on a lot of operators is going to mobile social networking

How many of your users are roaming? Is that impacting?

  • Andrew: mobile by definition is something you travel with
  • Sean: see a lot of users switching to roam-able services like text messaging

On deck/off deck

  • Sean: need to be both off and on deck
    • starting today, wouldn’t bother with on deck
    • “all the friction is on deck” — you have to work with lots of awkward operator people
  • Priya: if you could get rid of all those noisy banners operators should be able to make a fantastic personalised experience…
  • Jen: non-operator driven discoverability is on the rise, compared to operator-driven
  • Sean: haven’t figured out how to make mobile experiences viral — how do you share?
  • Dan: Obama iPhone app — download and it examines your address book and tells you to call people in swing states
  • Priya: need to have a contextual “share with a friend” — share a social object. It’s a challenge to find something suitable to send
  • Jen: “this service is more exciting to me if you join”
  • Andrew: released iPhone app, not Java, since 99% sure that it will be a good experience
  • Priya: how many people in audience have sent something to a friend via a mobile internet site? answer: about 30-40%
  • Sean: SMSs are not a long term strategy, but are good as a one off to bring people in to the network

How do you inform users of potential costs?

  • Dan: maybe there’s a place for a mobile social network as a support group for those suffering from bill shock :-)

Privacy settings for location-based services?

  • Andrew: you need to provide it, but you’ll probably find that no one uses that feature
    • What’s the minimum age? We copied what facebook do: 13
    • But it depends on the context of the network
  • Priya: have to provide a social fuzzy location — otherwise it seems too freaky
  • Jen: in terms of photos, people want to upload exact location but keep it private
  • facebook privacy settings are quite granular, but possibly too detailed for anyone to understand
    • Josie: facebook ran into problems with data protection as it wasn’t clear that young people could understand the various settings — still an ongoing case
  • if you support fireeagle, you have to support specific levels of granularity of location — cannot release data that is too detailed

Metrics — what’s the most important thing that you’re measuring that shows the health of your business

  • Andrew: engagement, rummbling a place, rating a POI
    • iPhone app is 3-4 times higher than online
  • Sean: how many more people using this week?
    • figuring out ways to use virality
  • Priya: number of flirtograms
    • all about getting people from first use through to first paid item
  • Jen: churn, defined by active use and returning users, month on month, year on year
  • Christophe: click through rate, love

Setting up a working group to share location amongst mobile social networks

  • Andrew: not sure what the name is yet, but have been talking to 5 or 6 other network — about 20 million users in total

Combining social networks with serious applications

  • Andrew: 37% on a social network in US; Korea has 87% — waiting for critical mass
  • Priya: working with BBC mobile
  • Sean: causes, e.g tsunami-related, etc.
    • not quite at the phase on mobile where you can start to open platform — still fighting over getting users
  • Met Office have just launched a Mobile TV channel, ad-funded

Summing up

  • Jen: choice
  • Priya: friends are overrated :-)

Next event

  • next event probably second Monday in January
  • also opportunities to sponsor the podcast…

Monday, 24 November 2008

Future of Mobile 08: Summing Up

So here's my summary of the Future of Mobile 2008, before I start putting up my notes from the Android and Yahoo Blueprint workshops on the following day...

Emerging markets in developing countries will most likely have a lot of capable phones

  • Simon Rockman (Head of Requirements, Sony Ericsson) disagrees -- there are still loads of "just voice call" phones being sold at very low prices
  • Doug Richard at Trutap is aiming his app at emerging middle class around the world -- this includes people living in a wooden shack in Mumbai :-)
  • Rich Miner of Google Android sees Android moving towards lower range handsets than G1 -- "it's capable of running on 200MHz chips"

Marketing, especially on mobile, needs to involve people, not spam them

  • Gapingvoid cartoon used at least three times:
    "If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they'd punch you in the face"

The conference felt like a poor relation compared to Future of Web Apps

  • There was no free wifi -- this should be an assumption nowadays
  • Without wifi you lose out on the back channel from twitter etc, which is vital to keep the audience involved. The people that were online were either using their iPhones or had 3G dongles. I ended up paying £10 a day...
  • There were no lunch facilities at all. Last year there was at least a café on the premises to keep people together.
  • Again, this means the conference misses out on enabling a lot of networking
  • FOWA had videos of presentations going up within the hour -- FOM still hasn't had anything put up by Carsonified. What's going on?

Apple continually ignore such conferences -- and get away with it for the moment...

Future of Mobile 08: Barriers & Gateways for Mobile Startups

A great panel session, led by Ewen MacLeod of Mobile Industry Review (don’t forget their Xmas Charity Prize Draw!). Lively, energetic and containing actual useful information. The first panel made Future of Mobile start with a whimper — this session made it end on a bang!


  • Dan Appelquist: Vodafone
  • Mark Curtis: Flirtomatic
  • Alfie Dennen: Moblog
  • Justin Davies: social media consulting + Budyping
  • Carl Uminski: Trutap
  • James Body: Direct of Research @ Truphone
  • Sam Machin: a UK Mobile Operator


  • Mark: First Flirtomatic ad on operator portal — got 3,500 new visitors in 3hrs
  • Is downloading apps still a dark art?
    • Justin: still problems even though a little more standardized
      • VC firm about a year ago just wanted them to have a mobile site
      • Getting better — people understanding benefits
  • How do emerging markets cope with apps?
    • Carl: network isn’t 3G: wait wait wait
      • Once they get it down, it’s really cheap to use (optimised protocols)
  • Has the iPhone store changed things for truphone?
    • James: yes, for everybody in this room
      • we were first VOIP app in app store, and only one for a long time
      • did really well out of that
      • expect to see something similar from Android, Symbian & Vodafone stores
      • Apple system not perfect, but fair chance that app will work if comes from store
  • Will app store model work?
    • Justin: Yes. It already does. It’s so easy. Payment system built-in.
    • James: we make more money off Apple iPhone than off Symbian
    • Dan: urbanspoon — shows you restaurants nearby
      • television ad showing you how to download and install an app
      • I challenge you to see any television ad showing you how to download & install a Java app!
    • Sam: you can make instant decisions on seeing other people’s stuff
  • What about O2 Litmus app store?
    • Dan: Betavine different — aimed at long tail rather than monetization
      • Gives developers a route to market in Germany & Spain — they appear on the portal
      • Betavine is an animal of Vodafone R&D — we have just as much trouble as anyone else getting onto the portal
    • Sam: operators have identity, location & billing location
      • location advantage being rapidly eroded (see Google, etc)
      • Visa take 1-2% of enabling an economy — operators could use billing mechanism to do something similar
  • Do you use external agencies?
    • Mark: used for useability — repaid many times over
    • Carl: some design in house but also use FuturePlatforms
  • Do you see movement to web-based apps?
    • James: going to be a mixture
  • How does a company approach Voda to get on portal or devices?
    • Dan: working towards a future where you don’t have to ask that question
      • If there’s a funnel and a person you have to talk to, that’s a broken system
      • The answer is the web — distribution, development & deployment medium
      • App stores are a part of that
      • Voda talking to Softbank Mobile & China Mobile about widget store
  • iPhone or Android?
    • Mark: iPhone — it’s already out there
    • Alfie: depends on your business. Aim for web unless you need more
    • Dan: aim for web, include Gears + PhoneGAP & you’ve got all you want
    • James: Symbian — quantity has a quality all of its own
      • iPhone — you’ll make more money
      • Blackberry
      • Android
      • We’re even getting on SIM cards
    • Sam: want to get all platforms if your business is based on usage
      • otherwise, if you want to sell the app, then iPhone
    • Carl: J2ME and getjar download store for non-western world
  • Are iPhone users normobs?
    • Justin: most are, though not this panel
      • I gave my mother-in-law my iPhone and she just knew how to use it
    • Alfie: it’s broken in so many ways, but it’s so much better than the rest
  • What user numbers are mobile ad servers looking for to place ads?
    • Mark:
      • CPM — need upwards of 20-30K per day
      • Cost per click — 1000 a day will probably do
      • operators lack understanding of how to sell advertising
      • “Have to evolve very different techniques to milk a pig, a cow and a chicken”
    • James: anybody who uses a fixed price for an ad will have to sharpen their act
  • Network location-based services. Are they dead?
    • Justin: people want to use location, but if operators charge too much then their services will wither
    • Alfie: INQ1 unified messaging with location starting to be useful
    • Sam: two strands to location — tracking vs checking in
      • passive tracking still requires operator
      • enterprise tracking services will still use operator services, but client-side
    • Mark: 40% of mobile users had voluntarily filled in postcode in their profiles
      • then launched location as a search option
      • added 20% to revenues that night
  • What’s the best way to get new users?
    • Justin: get them on the mobile web — pre-qualifies data services, phone ability
      • admob: can ask for specific phone characteristics
  • Most exciting mobile apps from Silicon Valley or Europe?
    • Europe (apart from Dan: India)
  • Future of Mobile is:
    • Justin: complexity — but that’s good
    • Carl: please cheap data
    • James: freedom
    • Sam: one web
  • iPhone or Android?
    • Dan: PC will be Android to iPhone Mac
    • Justin: Android ‘cos more in emerging markets
    • Carl: iPhone or Symbian. We’ll see Android without even knowing it’s Android
    • James: today
    • Sam: Android on an iPhone :-)
  • Favourite mobile app?
    • Sam: twitter
    • James: mobile facebook
    • Carl: google maps
    • Justin: gmail
    • Dan: koi pond — it keeps my kids quiet for the longest time

Future of Mobile 08: Advertising, Advocacy, Attitude & Aptitude (What!?)

Jonathan MacDonald — Ogilvy One

Jonathan gave an impassioned speech arguing that all advertising should be personalised; that companies should work with their customers to offer them opportunities to buy more things they like; and involve them in encouraging their friends to buy the same things too.

It kind of sounds like a friendly way to do things, but it’s still all about persuading people to buy more stuff. Using social media for advertising can work well up to a point, but to make the things that Tomi and Jonathan talk about work, you need access to a fluidity of data that isn’t there for most of the world — yet. And I’ve a nasty feeling that aggressive, Blade Runner-style advertising will keep on winning enough new customers to keep the corporates interested.

  • Would you accept advertising on your mobile?
    • Of course not — it’s too personal!
  • New advertising model: brand as facilitator
    • see David Armano for graphics
    • Creating armies of fanatics
    • What happens after brand awareness?
    • e.g. pizza company will pay you £100 if you complain — it’s cheaper than losing £500 due to lost sales
  • We are not consumers
    • We tolerate segmentization and useless marketing
    • We filter out stuff that doesn’t mean anything to us — sometimes even before we find out if it’s actually useful
    • JMac would like to abolish toleration of non-personalised marketing
    • It still works for my 5 year-old son — though I wish it wouldn’t… :-)
    • “If it fails once, it’s an outright fail”
    • How not to do it: Jose Avila was sued for making loads of FedEx furniture & blogging about it
      • Fedex said that he “violated their terms of use” — a great way to put off lots of customers!
      • Wikipedia: “The dispute attracted widespread press attention, and Avila was frequently interviewed to tell his side of the story”
  • More buzzwords: Vendor Relationship Management & Vaporframes
    • "Apple would make more money if they know I wanted them to contact me by MMS & phone, rather than email"
  • Advertising with people not to them

Full presentation available online

Jonathan is on twitter and has a blog.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Future of Mobile 08: Global Data Trends, Mobile as 7th Mass Media

Tomi Ahonen

Tomi gave a rousing presentation that was almost too fast to follow. His blogs are full of information and, as Tom put it, slightly scary stats.

  • Joke:
    • If you get upset by other people bringing phones to table — you’re in your 50s
    • If you can leave it somewhere else on silent — in your 40s
    • If you keep phone with you but go to bathroom to txt — in your 30s
    • If you can send txt messages under the table — in your 20s
    • If you are txting on two phones at once — in your teens!
  • Introduction:
    • Known as the guy who knows where the money is
    • Now lives in Hong Kong
  • Exactly 10 years ago since mobile content industry was born
    • First downloadable ringtone launched in Autumn of 1998
    • Now grown to $30Bn industry in 10 years
  • This presentation is not about voice calls, enterprise, mobile commerce, telematics
  • As new media arises, content migrates to new medium
    • But content designed for new medium does not migrate back
  • Customer stats:
    • 91% of people keep phone within arms reach 24hrs a day
    • Mobile phone usage is addictive…
    • More dangerous than being drunk or stoned when driving
    • 63% will not share content with spouse
    • One in three partners will snoop on your phone
    • 25% UK couples sleep apart due to one of them spending their time on mobile tech :-)
  • What are each of the previous media doing with mobile?
    • Print: mobile books are $82 million industry in Japan
      • In 2007, 5 out of 10 best selling printed books in Japan were originally mobile books
    • Recordings, Cinema, Radio, Television…
    • Internet:
    • Habbo Hotel — can make money from stuff that’s already available for free
    • Another example: Mice Love Rice — wrote a song and made available for free as MP3
      • Already had 100 million downloads (i.e. everybody who wanted it already had it)
      • An operator made it available as a ringback tone and made $22 million!
      • (The only way to install a ringback tone is via your operator)
  • Mobile mass media — can do everything that others do plus extras:
    • personal
    • permanently connected
    • always carried
    • built-in payment channel
    • present at creative impulse
    • most accurate audience
      • can capture 90% audience
    • captures social context of media consumption
      • by seeing who communicates while event is happening
  • Some more examples of mobile-specific media:
    • Carbon Diem
      • tracks how your mobile moves
      • uses movement profile of bus, walking, car, etc
      • then uses info to track your carbon usage
    • Tohato World’s Worst War
      • Invited people buying snacks to fight on online war
      • Pick your side based on the snack you ate, then pick a location for your battle
      • If you recruited people to join, you got promoted
      • Had 100,000 downloads each day
      • People went to facebook to plan where they would battle
    • Hoshi-Ichi Maniac
      • Joining big brother voting with quiz shows
      • Create an avatar & join live television quiz show
      • Camera zooms looking at all avatars — you can see your name on TV
      • 200,000 live users on first run
    • MediaSeek developed Kamera Jiten — Cameraphone OCR Translator
      • Displays answer on your phone screen
  • New report coming out
    • Some samples:
      Unique Mobile Users
      SMS Users by Age
      Regional Split of Mobile Media Income
    • Watch blog 7thMassMedia for lots of similar writings
    • To get more reports, send Tomi an email at end of November tomi@tomiahonen.com
  • Feel free to use Tomi’s slides (but I could only find the slightly out of date ones shown below)
  • Join forumoxford.com!
    • need enrollment key: forumoxford

Here's a slightly older version of the same presentation from slideshare (but you don't get the feel of being there!):

the 7th media
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: mobile)

Future of Mobile 08: Signposting on the New Paths of Discovery

Andrew Scott — Rummble

  • Only 4.5% of your time is spent in a good GPS signal…
  • CellID in city centres is good enough to allow you to track your movement along Oxford St
  • 25% of flickr photos are now geotagged
  • Under the Radar last week — a good proportion of companies had something to do with location, but they were spread throughout categories
  • What went wrong with playtxt (Europe’s first location-based social network)?
    • Cost (on mobile)
    • Mobile usability
    • Location set was manual
    • Lack of public understanding
  • What did Andrew learn from playtxt?
    • Privacy was not a barrier — less than 5% used privacy settings
    • No boundaries — went worldwide
    • 15x messages via SMS than by web
  • “Who’s nearby?” is not a business — see loopt
    • US only launch
    • Restricted networks
    • Not useful enough — just text your friends!
    • Lots of competitors Rummble competitors in 2006
  • What is the business model?
    • Need to know not just who’s nearby, but what they’re doing — context of presence
  • Current services
    • brightkite — iPhone app, location focus
    • limbo — focussed more around what you’re doing
    • whrrl — recommendations like Amazon
    • zkout — profile matching
  • Differentiators for Rummmble
    • Instant; Personalised
    • Existing sites not enough: Other recommendation sources
    • Use trust networks rather than friend networks
    • Use similar ratings to expand relationships
    • Computationally expensive
    • Add in who you trust for what — using semantics & language taxonomies
    • Also computationally expensive
    • See linkeddata.org for sources of semantically linked data
    • Can use twine
      • though twine doesn’t look like it’s quite there yet, as with most semantic web tools…
    • Can import social graph rather than spamming all your friends
    • Has to be quick — within 45s
  • Location detection is a commodity
    • Operators could scramble Cell IDs to make cell ID databases useless, but they would risk all their customers getting upset
    • An individual’s current location is also becoming a commodity

Future of Mobile 08: Android and Gears for Mobile

Rich Miner — Google

Rich used to work for Orange before he co-founded Android.

Tom Hume also has good notes for Rich's talk.

  • We have hit a tipping point with openness being a major catalyst
  • Mobile phone operators tend to behave somewhat like lemmings…
    • (re: unlimited data plans)
    • Have probably been pushed a little faster & harder than they would have liked it (iPhone)
  • Rich spoke about history of working at Orange, trying to launch SPV
    • Difficulties sorting out bugs — HTC didn’t have access to code, Microsoft said it would take months to fix…
    • App discovery was non-existent
  • Fragmentation:
    • Compared number of mobile phones to number of cars, PCs, landline telephones…
    • Unsurprisingly, there are more mobile phones by several orders of magnitude
    • Even for Google, it was crazy to get apps signed on lots of operator networks
    • Google Maps for Mobile should be able to launch directly from your address book, but this is not possible in J2ME
    • It’s possible to access your address book, but only on a subset of phones that support the relevant API, and even then you have to implement your own search
  • Showed slides from Android (the company) when being bought by Google:
    • Hardware costs going down but software costs staying the same
    • Existing Smartphone OSs aimed at enterprise & high-end, Android aimed slightly lower
  • Android architecture — all available as open source: source.android.com
    • Linux kernel for hardware drivers
    • Libraries on top — SQLite, WebKit, OpenGL…
    • Android Runtime on top and to the side
    • allows access to all the data and services on the phone
    • App framework on top of both
    • Then actual provided apps on top of that
  • Android marketplace is totally under control of developers
    • No human intervention between developer publishing and appearing on the marketplace

Mauricio Reyes recorded the Q&A if you want to see the video.

Q: What about the UI?

  • Need to focus on consumer focussed user interface
  • He didn’t quite answer the question, other than say it’s an important issue…

Q: What are plans to generate as much hype as iPhone?

  • Not looking to replace iPhone — iPhone is already a good Google experience
  • This is a 1.0 device from HTC and T-Mobile
  • There are lots of others in the pipelines — there will be lots more arriving soon

Q: Once there are lots of different handsets, how will apps run on all handsets?

  • cf. JavaME from Sun — there was no reference implementation, so each JVM behaves differently
  • Instead Android has a single reference implementation so each device will have the same underlying software stack and apps will make the same calls
  • Are working on a conformance test — for OEMs to run and carriers to use before accepting a test
  • Google are also going to pick reference apps that challenge the platform (in a good way) and will highlight those as app tests

Q: WebKit and Gears

  • At the moment, Gears is tied to browser app, not WebKit core
  • This was a mistake and will be changed
  • Will therefore be able to have a WebKit component in your app and still access Gears stuff

Q: Widgets for home screen not in current SDK

  • Home screen is just an app
  • Just ran out of time in development — have had lots of requests to add them
  • Haven’t made a roadmap yet
  • Since it’s just an app — can replace with something else — and some OEMs may do so

Future of Mobile 08: 6x6 UK Bloggers Perspectives

6 UK mobile-related bloggers stood up to give their perspective on the industry at the moment. The general consensus seemed to be “it’s sh*t”! This session is when the conference really started to come alive.

Andrew Grill (london calling)

  • Permission, Privacy, Preference This cartoon got repeated at least three times during the conference!
  • Gigafone: permission and preference-based ads when incoming calls received
  • I’m not convinced how many people will fill in preference profile unless they’re offered long-term monetary rewards like Blyk…

Vero Pepperrell (thatcanadiangirl)

Why Community Matters
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: futureofmobile fom)
  • Make community into your evangelists
  • Respect
    • Let your staff be a part of your brand
    • Take your time
    • Let your users talk
  • Responsibility
    • Be willing to educate, not dictate your users’ choices
    • Honesty & transparency
  • Reputation
    • Virtuous circle
  • Your users will be talking about you somewhere — listen to them
  • Ensure your support email doesn’t fall on deaf ears
  • Feedback is sometimes great but sometimes hurts — you have to be able to listen

Helen Keegan (technokitten)

  • Why there is no future to mobile…
  • Must change the way that we’re going
    • Stop talking about technology
      • It doesn’t matter — needs to reliable, fast, affordable, relevant
      • Rowntree foundation: Mobile phone is essential to modern living
    • Stop silly data tariffs
      • Where is the 1p a minute tariff (up to max of £12.99 a month)
      • Having no contract is a big deal
    • Stop making apps for geeks & promobs
      • My sister has just about changed her ringtone on Nokia 3310
      • My brother has a RAZR — it’s a huge embarrassment to me
      • My dad has sent me an SMS once and it was empty
      • My nieces love their mobiles but they don’t have a contract
    • Stop the culture gap
      • web / mobile
      • operators / mobile developers
      • Mobile internet is here today — not worth less ‘cos it’s not full fat
    • Stop being obsessed with Western world
      • Most users will not be in US, UK or even in Europe
    • Don’t forget that the phone is primarily a communication device
      • Personal, precious
      • Our access to the outside world, friends, families, colleagues
      • Don’t abuse it
      • Make it simple

James Whatley (whatleydude)

  • Hired by mippin as Product Manager / Customer Champion for a year
  • Learnt that there wasn’t enough customer testing
  • Must consider hiring people straight out of university
    • They know how to do stuff on their mobiles without even thinking
  • 29 on Friday and he’s the youngest person at SpinVox
  • “Give something back and they will give a hell of lot back to you”

Jemima Kiss (Guardian)

  • Impatient for mobile
  • Sort out bill shock — it’s really boring

Ewen MacLeod (mobile industry review)

  • Changed SMS Text News to Mobile Industry Review
  • Got a new Nokia N95 8Gb from T-Mobile as an upgrade
    • Does not connect to data!! What’s the point!
  • Wanted to show off Google Maps on Blackberry when arriving at Gare du Nord
    • Fail! Did not connect
    • (Don’t mind about paying roaming charges)

Future of Mobile 08: Tradeoffs, Strengths & Weaknesses in Platforms

Tom Hume — Future Platforms

Full slides now available from slideshare. My notes follow...

  • Fragmentation got worse in 2008
    • Not that we’re short on standards — we’ve got loads and loads of them!
    • good summary graph of effort, coverage & capability: Effort Involved for different platforms
  • Distribution is linked to platform
    • Vital for getting apps
    • Just as complicated and tricky as making the build
    • e.g. advertising of SMS shortcodes in national press — get lots of responses, but very unqualified — not so many actual downloads
    • billing also adds complexity
      • PayForIt — fairly grotty user experience
      • Credit Cards on mobile — scary issues on security but makes billing easier the second time round
  • Why is choice a problem?
    • Got used to making lots of versions for different devices
      • Doesn’t mean that you should do it…
    • Trutap v1 has 30 versions (SKUs)
      • High load on QA
      • Changes are difficult
    • Trutap v2 has just one version (apart from icon assets)
      • FP’s new framework makes use of UI scaling: UI Scaling from single build
      • When app is installed it works out how much screen it has
      • Had to think differently when designing it
      • Explicitly designed to scale up — fluid layouts, percentage widths, etc.
  • Work out where the seams are and make them more fluid
    • Switching between app & browser
    • Google Search for Symbian
      • immediate launch app that then launches browser
      • keep the user’s attention while they type in their search term
    • Using web for what it’s good at, native apps for what they’re good at
    • Can stitch together different platforms
    • On desktop, widgets are closest to this idea
  • Take design seriously
    • Think about how interface will scale
    • More than pixels

Future of Mobile 08: Open Screen Project

Matthew Millar — Director of Mobile and Devices EMEA, Adobe

  • generations of Adobe platforms: PostScript, PDF, Flash, AIR
  • Now see two development areas: Client + Cloud, Device + ??
  • Trying to balance between client & cloud — AIR
    • Rich application on client, but taking advantage of the cloud
  • Massive growth in Flash-enabled devices — expecting to surpass 1 billion next year
    • But 1 billion nowhere near enough in mobile
    • Only 20% of devices, compared to Nokia S40,S60 J2ME 40% Device Platform Fragmentation
  • Open Screen Project:
    • use Flash & AIR as technology foundation Adobe Media Player screenshot what a ridiculous screenshot! How high is the resolution on the phone on the right!
    • Removed license restrictions & fees on use of SWF & FLV/F4V specs
      • Other people could create their own Flash player
    • Working to make Flash Player & AIR updateable over the air
      • No use having old players out in the market
    • Flash Lite player now open too
      • available to developers as OTA download
      • supports S60 and Windows Mobile
      • Now beta, live in 2009
      • See adobe.com/godistribute
    • ARM & Adobe optimizing Flash Player 10 for ARM v6 & v7
      • Full platform, not just Lite
    • Q: What about connecting to hardware APIs, like SonyEricsson Capuchin?
      • Adobe very supportive of Capuchin
      • Will see other manufacturers doing same, e.g. Qualcomm exposing BREW to Flash
    • FlashCast Channels
      • Project with Telenor in Sweden
      • Expecting to launch commercially in Q1 next year, first in Sweden then in other Nordic territories

Future of Mobile 08: Reaching the whole world

Doug Richard — Trutap

Doug gave a very good talk on how we should change our thinking about the upcoming mobile markets in developing countries. “It’s not just farmers sharing crop prices.”

Tom Hume has written a good summary of Doug’s talk, with extra perspectives coming from his company’s involvement in the development of Trutap.

My notes are a little shorter as I was helping Simon Maddox with some regular expressions…

  • 500m - 1 billion people in aspiring middle classes around the world
  • Comparing LA to Mumbai:
    • Mumbai user wants to do all the social networking stuff that LA user does on his PC
      • Wants to have friends, know friends & meet girls :-)
    • If he visits an Internet cafe, he has to pay 10-100 times as much for data as on his phone, and he will have someone looking over his shoulder
    • Mumbai user’s primary device is the phone
    • Phone is not extension of your web life, it is your only internet access device
  • Social networks on a PC are a temporary phenomenon
    • They should have started on the phone
  • Launching new Trutap today
    • support all of the world’s IM transports (about 16)
    • live feed
    • support full profiles
      • In Japan, dating sites never split from social networking
      • Trutap v2 adds detailed profiles and profile search to put the dating back in

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Future of Mobile 08: What's so Smart about Smartphone OSs

Panel discussion chaired by Simon Rockman — Sony Ericsson

This was a rather boring panel discussion: despite Simon’s best attempts to make the panellists squirm, they stayed very tame and non-committal. The best bits was the thinly veiled spatting between Microsoft and Google — but again, this was nothing new…


  • David Wood: Research @ Symbian
  • Olivier Bartholot: Purple Labs
  • Andy Bush: LiMo
  • Rich Miner: Google Mobile
  • James McCarthy: Mobile Comms Business @ Microsoft

Why is your OS the best?

  • Symbian:
    • Paul Otellini’s demo was based on a big server behind the couch + user experience was a bit rubbish
    • More to be done in terms of cooperation & collaboration
    • Defragmenting: removing all UIs but Series60 (UIQ officially dead)
  • Purple Labs:
    • Created in 2001
    • Used to make phones and software, now just software
    • Specialist of Linux on low-tier device — Purple Magic handset
    • Acquired embedded software of OpenWave — including browser, messaging & widget platform
    • Platform is LiMo compliant
    • Acquiring engineers from Sagem + s/w for 2G & 3G phones from TI
    • Hoping to fight fragmentation
  • LiMo:
    • gave a good description of how LiMo works as an organisation, but not how it would be better as an OS
  • Android:
    • Hardware available, but software not available to make it easy to use for customer
    • Software being designed by hardware engineers
    • So Apple was able to embarrass the industry by coming from a software perspective
    • Google has struggled with building MIDP apps that work on lots of devices
    • Decided to build their own OS — led Android as chief design architects
      • Not as a committee
  • Windows Mobile:
    • Started in B2B, syncing PDAs to PCs, then added radio
    • “4 out of 5 top global OEMs signed to run Windows Mobile”
      • though they don’t necessarily run them on their major devices…
    • Of the people on this panel, we’re the only ones with a single entity controlling the architecture
      • spreading FUD as usual… Symbian now totally controlled by Nokia

How does your business model work?

  • Android:
    • Google has no direct business model with platform
    • Also have 4 out of 5 top OEMs working on Android handsets :-)
    • Believe that it’s fundamentally important to industry that no one company owns the platform
    • Don’t mind playing on a level playing field, but don’t like someone else owning the platform and having an advantage
      • Want to have powerful devices connected over broadband
    • Focussed on delight & delivering value to consumer
      • Then give useful ads based on understanding of context
      • Not rushing to integrate ads right now
    • Other platforms manage to bloat themselves…
      • Android designed to go downmarket quite easily
      • Runs fine on 200MHz (used this speed chips in design process)
    • Within in next 18mths most devices will be able to support Android
      • Simon Rockman disagrees — still going to be b&w, low end devices in sub $50 market
      • Rich Miner thinks that in developing economies with phone as first screen, there will be big advantages and incentives to have higher feature phones pushed into market
      • I tend to agree with Rich — it’s worth the while of the operators to subsidise handsets in developing countries, so that they get the revenue of usage. Vodafone seems to be going this way already.
  • Purple:
    • Latin America buying handsets at $25 but voice only
    • Is a space for low $100 handset
  • LiMo:
    • Companies pay for membership fees
    • Can share patents within IP Safe Harbour

Are you disappointed that people just rebadging HTC devices? (to Microsoft)

  • Now seeing a lot of success with Samsung too
  • Sony Ericsson X1 also made by HTC
  • Also lots of ruggedized PDAs
  • James not unsettled that HTC adopting Android
    • I think he should be!

Why can Google bring in developers better than Microsoft?

  • Always an advantage to start with a clean slate…
  • Android also based on a lot of existing pieces

Motorola stopping Symbian and going to Android…

  • David Wood: manufacturers currently hedging their bets

What about runtime environments?

  • Google: 3rd party dev based on managed code
    • Also browser in the core — can make AJAXy apps using this
    • No reason why there can’t be other runtime environments
    • Believe that native code is best way to write apps
  • Microsoft: Also believe that native is best
    • If we need other runtime environments to support customers then will provide them
  • Symbian:
    • Development often needs to get to native, so need to solve this problem anyway

What makes a smartphone smart?

  • Symbian: Smartphone is programmable
    • Featurephone has features, smartphone open to new features
  • Microsoft: Want to provide
    • “Featurephones only support voice calls and text” — what!
  • Google (Rich Miner): smartphones haven’t been very smart
    • first smartphones at Orange, could barely make phone calls on them
    • hey, guess what — they ran Windows Mobile :-)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Future of Mobile 08: Threats & Opportunities of Increasing Openness

Rudy de Waele — M Trends (currently works at dotopen.eu)

Full slides now available from slideshare. My notes follow...

Future Of Mobile
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: countries developing)
  • Moving towards the “internet of things”
  • Heading towards open networks (700MHz auction)
  • Steve Demeter — Trism — earnt $250K in two months
    • Paid designer $500
  • US is now catching up with Europe
    • Went from RAZR-style phones straight to iPhone
    • Hasn’t been a large take up of other smart phones before iPhone
    • though there was plenty of take up of Blackberry…
  • 700MHz auction won by Verizon & AT&T
    • Google didn’t win it, but ensured that winner must be open:
      • Open apps -- should be able to download any apps, content or services
      • Open devices — should be able to use any compatible device
      • Open services — anyone can become an MNO via reselling
      • Open networks — anyone should be able to interconnect
  • Sweet spot in the middle of Presence, Community & Location
  • User experience is key:
    Rudy de Waele's view of User Experience
  • Examples:
    • Future of mobile search - Mac Funamizu
      • Transparent screen — provides further information on whatever you see through it
      • Thought it was was in the future but, Paul Otellini of Intel showed example of translation device working with camera at Web 2.0 in November
      • Take photo of Chinese signs & see translation
      • Also shows further info on restaurant menus
    • Citysense — real time night life
    • Brio network: http://brio.hosting.mrfriday.com/network/
      • Tangible interaction with networks
    • Agilewaves — home utility measuring
    • Smule — Lighter + Ocarina
  • Lots of growth in developing countries
    • mobileactive.org

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Wireless Time Machine Backup instructions updated

I've updated my wireless Time Machine without Time Capsule instructions. Now there's just one place to look to find out how to get Time Machine working on non-Apple hardware -- and what the issues are and have been.

Monday, 13 October 2008

MomoLondon: NFC

This was a great Mobile Monday — interesting presentations followed by a captivating panel discussion, and even better mingling over drinks! I arrived late, caught the end of the first presentation and only started blogging by the second one. Nevertheless, NFC really gets people’s juices going! Shame we’ve been stuck in the trial phase for four years…

Claire Maslen — Head of NFC, O2 Telefonica

Claire gave a good overview of the O2 NFC Trial, as reported in the Evening Standard by the headline “9 out of 10 people would like an Oyster phone!”

  • 500 O2 customers with a Nokia 6131 NFC for 6 months
    • Oyster
    • Barclaycard Visa
    • Access control at the O2
    • One use case of smart posters
  • O2 owned the customer data
  • “Agency said at the end that this was the most compelling evidence they had seen for rolling out a new technology”

Oyster integration

  • Worked with Transys and TfL for the Oyster card implementation
  • 87% said that Oyster in their phone would drive their decision to buy a mobile phone — interesting to mobile operators

Barclaycard Paywave

  • less people than Oyster said they were interested, but then Paywave is not common usage yet
  • more efficient for retailers than cash but only 47% said they’d be interested in going further

Other results

  • Were people happy to leave their homes with just their phone?
  • Customers initially complained that 6131 was too low-end, but realised that applications were what was useful (perhaps they felt that Series 40 is a better interface than Series 60?)
    • However, it’s not one size fits all
  • People were happy with using stored value without a PIN

How can we add more value?

  • put a loyalty card in it
  • do more smart posters — didn’t have enough to really try it out
    • only use case was touching a Tutankhamun poster
    • got a mobile internet page about the exhibition with a link to the TfL mobile site

Panel discussion, led by Dan Appelquist

  • John Hill, MD, IBridge — involved with Oyster since original design
  • James Anderson, Mastercard Worldwide — product development in mobile centre of excellence
  • Steve Griffiths, MD, iconmobile — built Visa wallet
  • Victoria Richardson, Head of Marketing, Proxama
  • Claire Maslen, Head of NFC, O2 Telefonica

Where are the contactless readers?

  • CM: Visa will be rolling out 25,000 in London before Christmas
  • JA: Mastercard recently announced 37m devices (mainly cards), 100K+ locations
    • Currently ahead of the pace of chip&pin
    • The pace of innovation always takes longer than people expect…

What about security? Esp. MiFare vulnerability

  • JH: nothing is 100% safe, but it will be a relatively safe environment
  • JA: group at Mastercard called “payment systems integrity” — this is not one of the issues that’s keeping them awake at night
    • There’s lots of systems behind the scenes that keep the system effective
    • There’s a trust element with smart posters — who are you trusting?

What about the long tail of third parties?

  • VR: some excellent examples of NFC in enterprise for building security — using the phone as the reader and wristbands/tags as ID
  • SG: area we’re focussing on is the experience beyond the touch — I’ve just made a payment, what can do with that opportunity
    • discovery — suddenly made much more straightforward
    • attach a fitness service to a health product — e.g. touch a product in a supermarket
    • opportunity in combining transaction data with mobile — but do we trust the operator to look after that properly
  • JA: what’s immediately around us is disproportionately interesting than stuff on the other side of the street — there’s a big opportunity in the intersection of mobile internet content and specific locations
    • e.g in NYC at South Street Sea Port there’s a great big poster with the history, but it talks about something going to happen in 2005… There were loads of restaurants etc around but a great big poster couldn’t tell me about them

What’s the rollout going to look like and what are the blockers?

  • CM: O2 Wallet — consumer; NFC — tech
    • very active in NFC area in the enterprise
    • still no idea when they’re going to launch a commercial service

What about the developing world?

  • Vodafone Paysa? system in Afghanistan & Kenya
  • JA: Paypass has a 20 country roll-out strategy in developed nations
    • Paypass on mobile will follow that…
    • May be opportunities when you make a mobile into a micro-POS, but not primary focus

Deutsche Bahn are rolling out active phone for travel…

  • JA: NFC is flexible — can plug in either as active mobile terminal and passive tag, or active reader and passive card. Consumer experience is good in both cases.

Simon Cavell Mi-Pay: Transport or Retail only markets big enough — how would you sell to Tesco?

  • JA: time saved, seconds per transaction, etc.
  • VR: transportation systems across the UK have very clear mandates to release across the UK
  • CM: 11m contactless cards outside of London in UK
  • JH: not quite a mandate to release
    • almost all of contactless cards are being used as flash passes as there aren’t readers on the buses…
    • transport operators driven by cost reduction

Simon Rockman: my parents’ fireworks shop currently pays 1.75% on credit card transactions. What would retailers be charged for O2 Wallet?

  • CM: we’re not after the transaction revenue
    • O2 would get extra money on initial purchase of device (device would be more expensive)
    • when NFC goes onto the SIM, the manufacturer cost goes down — device just needs an aerial
    • O2 would have to buy bigger SIMs — that’s just what they do as an operator
  • SM: major block is receipt — it takes too long to produce
  • JA: consumers do want to spend large amounts on their phones
    • right now under our rules, it’s for low value transactions
    • but it’s in the roadmap to go for larger values

When will the handsets appear?

  • CM: will not launch without a choice of handsets (three or four)
    • we are talking to all tier one manufacturers
    • analysts are talking up 2012…
    • Olympic year will put pressure on people to innovate

What about switching handsets or operators? How do you handle switching transport operator credit, credit card contracts, etc.?

  • CM: hugely complex
    • O2 Wallet is all about giving everyone their brand presence
    • Applications on the SIM — can kill remotely
    • O2 has asked all operators (UK MNO Taskforce) to get around table to discuss portability
  • JH: for Barclaycard OnePulse, spent 5% of time talking about technology, 95% talking about moving to and from Oyster
    • there’s a customer management issue that no one has dealt with — what happens when someone loses their phone with six applications on it?
  • CM: first person that people phone is their operator

Who will pay?

  • CM: know that B2C will erode over time, therefore are focussing on building B2B business model
    • Banks, etc like the fact that they can deliver more information to the consumer
  • JA: try to think “what’s the next move that my organisation can take?”
  • SG: there will be a huge amount of rich data available from the intersection of transport, wallet & other transactions
    • the question will be how to monetise it?

Is there an equivalent for the iPhone App Store for NFC Apps? Is there space for the lone developer?

  • VR: Definitely space around smart posters
  • JA: don’t quite see the analogy — service discovery will take place in physical world, not electronic

Why do we need this perfect information? The information currently available is ignored by agencies etc…

  • SG: operators have now decided that they’re sitting on goldmines of customer data
    • what we really need is filters, so that data is relevant at the time
    • if I tap on a poster, I get take to different data than you do
    • with all that data, can actually deliver advertising that doesn’t feel like it — actually a useful service
  • Neil Garner, Proxama: Add a twist — rate what you get
    • then start to build up user generated content

What advantage is there over an Oyster card stuck to your phone?

  • VR: scalability — can have multiple cards in your the phone
    • have someone to manage your wallet
    • get marketing ability — receive WAP Push events
  • JH: a simple common app is top up — over the air
    • especially if you live in South London where there are less terminals
    • also benefits TfL — they need less infrastructure

Next event on October 29th — opening registrations tomorrow

November will be a little bit different — even more fun and a little more zany than usual

December: Mobile Social Networking

January: no topic decided yet…

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Google Developer Day 2008: A Deeper Look at App Engine -- Mano Marks

  • goal of best practices: use less quota so pay less money and google have less load :-)
  • free preview will always be free:
    • 500Mb storage
    • 2Gb bandwidth
  • currently don’t allow you to pay for App Engine, but committed to charging for additional capacity by end of year
    • CPU: 10-12 cents/hr
    • Storage: 15-18 cents/hr
    • etc.
    • if double free preview, can expect about $40 / month
  • currently support Python, but others will be coming
    • they know but they’re not telling
  • looking to provide large upload/download support, but not sure how yet
    • current limit is 1Mb for file and response size
  • currently no SLA
  • Google don’t put adverts on app engine apps
    • they will make more money on search :-)
    • They also don’t look at your data

storing data

  • keys are limited to 500 bytes
  • can’t change the ID or key_name
  • transactional read & write with get() and put()


  • Bigtable doesn’t know size of tables — that would be O(N)
  • Model.count() is a big transaction
  • could create an entity that maintains the count
    • frequent updates can cause high contention
    • fundamental limitation of distributed systems
  • instead, create sharded counters
    • randomly break counters into shards using a counter config to hold references to all shards
    • when want to count, ask counter config to add them all together
    • use get_or_insert() to fetch or create atomically


  • when you add things to memcache, you define the staleness that you’re happy with
  • use memcache to reduce storage and processing requirements

Q & A

  • can use urlfetch to request data from your own servers

    • all app engine requests must complete in 10secs
    • and urlfetch must complete faster (4secs?)
    • you get an HTTP error that you can handle if the request times out
  • Is there a profiling tool for app engine or Bigtable?

    • not aware of anything
    • difficult to see return on implementing memcache
  • What logging is there?

    • there is a log; it logs requests and you can write to it
  • SLA…?

    • the quota will be calculated using a moving average, not a total for the month
    • however, the aim is that if you get slashdotted you’ll stay up
  • Parallel processes?

    • don’t allow threading
    • don’t allow direct file write access
    • have limited file read access
    • can’t access direct network sockets
    • however, there is a mapreduce implementation for app engine written by a Googler — http://code.google.com/p/httpmr/?
  • email restrictions?

    • can send from any developer of app or from a logged in user
    • restricted to sending one per second
  • when will Django 1.0 will be included?

    • some people have uploaded django 1.0 themselves
    • django 1.0 includes a C library, so this must be worked around at the moment
  • three big languages internally in Google: Python, Java & C++