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
  • Feel free to use Tomi’s slides (but I could only find the slightly out of date ones shown below)
  • Join!
    • 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 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:
    • 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
    • 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