Archives for April 2003
April 30, 2003
Scandinavian Airlines claims to be the first airline to allow the use of some mobile phone functions during flight. In the so-called flight-safe mode, the mobile phone is switched on without sending or receiving signals and won?t therefore affect flight security, per an article in Cellular News.
Mobile phones such as the Sony Ericsson P800 and the Nokia Communicators have this flight-safe mode. Other manufacturers are expected to make it available later this year. With this, the traveler on board a SAS flight can use a mobile phone to update his or her diary, write e-mail and take notes, edit documents, play games, listen to music and even take photos with a built-in camera ? everything except make a phone call.
Interestingly, with regard to how safe or unsafe cell phones are on airplanes, Gizmodo has a couple of entries with some answers. Read Is using a cellphone on an airplane really that dangerous? and On cellphones in airplanes.
According to Cellular News, mobile phone subscribers in the USA now spend, on average, more minutes talking on their cellphones than they do on traditional landline phones, according to the Yankee Group's latest quarterly Wireless/Mobile North American Carrier Tracker.
Howard Rheingold on Smart Mobs reports on an incident in Australia where a traffic controller was fired... by SMS: "Its official, you no longer work for JNI Traffic Control & u have forfided any arrangements made." Mr Eid, 37, is taking his former employer to court - not for offences against the language, but over the procedural fairness and validity of his dismissal.
"While the method of dismissal is not crucial to the case, the sacking of the traffic controller by SMS is believed to be the first case of its kind in Australia and raises "important issues about the use, or possible misuse, of technology in the workplace." Per an article in smh.
The first report of an employee being sacked by SMS I ever read about occured in England, in February 2001, when an office adminstrator, Zoe Halls, received an SMS from her boss, stating: "We don't need you in at work tomorrow, I'll phone you AM to explain - John". Other than calling him a coward, Zoe Halls had little recourse in fighting her case as she was still in a probation period. (cf archived article in The Register).
Hybrid-Advertising, in partnership with IMG and the event's sponsors, launched a series of SMS services in conjunction with the Barcelona Open - held April 19 through April 27 -, offering : betting, news and information on favorite players, real time score alerts and a novel feature, the broadcasting of encouragements sent by SMS to the tennis players, on giant light screens around the courts.
Authorities have arrested 13 people in southern China for spreading rumours about the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic by text messages, per a posting in Smart Mobs reflecting on an article published in The Australian.
On April 26 alone, some 2.13 million such messages were sent, claiming that SARS cases in China reached 10,000 (each recipient was told to resend the messages to another 10 people).
There is another SARS related posting today in sister blog "picturephoning", entitled Why not camera/video phones for hospitals with "no visitor" rule.
For previous SARS and SMS stories, check out textually's new category SMS and SARS.
April 29, 2003
There are 53 million cell phones in Italian for 58 million inhabitants, a penetration rate of 93 percent, which makes it the third-highest in the world, and compares with 49 percent in the United States and 62 percent in Japan, according to the International Telecommunication Union. In recent years, Italy has even surpassed such wireless meccas as Finland and Sweden in the number of cell phones per capita, per an article in the IHT. [photo TTI.tamu.edu]
Radical-Tek has launched a wireless nightlife/gambling travel directory service. Subscribers can access listings for bars, strip clubs, casinos, racecourses, dog tracks, motor speedways, and other entertainment and services. International reference dictionaries for street slang terms, gambling slangs; and a portal to wireless race handicapping and sportsbetting are also included.
According to an article in Cellular News, Landmat, who launched the first version of the DateTrak application 2001, actively monitored service usage across two European and one Asian operator for a period of 12 months. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the company discovered that despite the majority of users being under 25, more than 50% of revenue comes from users over 25 years of age, with those over 30 representing the most profitable user group.
In an article on door-to-door salesmen in The Independant, Matthew Beard explains the difficulties faced by the struggling "direct-selling industry" due to competition from the Internet, two-income households where nobody is at home during the day and the increasing reluctance of people to open their door to strangers.
Interesting and of relevance to this column, according to Matthew Beard, is the fact that in recent years Avon, which once mobilised an army of "Avon ladies", has turned to department store concessions, emails and texting to sell its wares -- although the company says doorstep sales are still taking place.
April 28, 2003
All Israelis live in constant worry that a terrorist bomb or shooting may have occurred and are all are hooked on the hourly radio news broacasts. According to a very interesting article by Bruce Krulwich in IDG News Service, this same worry is blazing a trail for a new range of services that send breaking news by SMS. Some offered by local newspapers, others, by new companies offering different levels of subscription (for just headlines or more detailed information). Future services could arise such as one that would send an automated "I'm OK" confirmation for people near terror events, easing the 15 minutes of panic Israelis feel after each bomb, as they attempt to reach all their relatives and friends by cellphone.
Bruce Krulwich explores the trade off subscribers are willing to make between quick response and news accuracy. News culled from police and ambulance radios, for example, can be disseminated much faster by SMS than newspapers or on-line services can respond, but runs the risk of being unconfirmed. A must read article.
According to Anthony Ian Cruz, a spokesman for TXTPower (a consumer advocacy group), the Philippines, which has a population of almost 80 million, has 14 million to 16 million mobile phone users generating 150 million to 200 million text messages a day - one of the largest volumes in the world. Per an article in the IHT.
Yahoo UK will be launching in May, a pay-for-text alert service in support of it's free e-mail service, to inform users when important messages arrive. Users will be able to create keywords or specify which senders are important in incoming mail, which in turn will trigger an SMS alert. According to vnunet, Yahoo recently launched a service that allows users to send SMS from their email account and receive replies in email form.
The police have identified the person who started a chain of false SMS messages about Jurong Point Shopping Centre, claiming a SARS outbreak at the shopping mall. Causing public alarm or fear by perpetuating hoaxes is no laughing matter in Singapore, as Under the Telecommunications Act, anyone found guilty of transmitting false messages can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to 3 years, or both, according to Channel News Asia.
This follows other reports of SMS hoaxes related to SARS which are intended to hurt business: "According to the Association of Banks, there were SMS and email messages alleging there were SARS-infected staff not only at DBS and POSB, but also at Bank of America, HSBC, and UOB" (cf March 28 posting in textually.org).
RafflesHealth, a subsidiary of the Raffles Medical Group in Singapore, develops and markets quality healthcare products to promote personal health including a first aid kit of sorts for SARS containing masks, a thermometer, some vitamin C and alcohol swabs. People living in Singapore can also register for SARS text alerts on their website, according to SARS Info Center.
SMS News, Text Alerts and Hoaxes related to SARS have all been regrouped in a new SMS and SARS category on textually.org.
The growing popularity of mobile phones presents a big environmental challenge, as people regularly buy new handsets. Americans typically use their phones for about 18 months before replacing them, generating about 65,000 tons of old mobile phones annually. Environmentalists estimate the US could be left with a stockpile of 500 million used handsets by 2005, according to an article in the BBC.
But what may seem like a useless old phone could find a new life, thank to companies like Recellular, a US world leader in trading and refurbishing wireless equipment, including cell phones.
"The phone is not useful to the people who have them, but they are useful to a charity or somebody else in the world. We just need to put the two together." according to Gary Straus, Chief Financial Officer with Recellular, interviewed by the BBC.
Verizon Airfone, a unit of the New York-based Baby Bell, has equipped Continental Airline's with its JetConnect service, allowing for instant messaging and texting on board, per Instant Messaging Planet.
New research by Ingenuity Research in Australia, found that 25 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 13 own a cell phone, per an article in The Sun Herald.
More than 320 million messages are sent each month in Australia, according to a recent lifestyle survey by Siemens Mobile Phones Australia. SMS is a key means of communication among young Australians, reports The Sunday Mail Australia.
April 27, 2003
In early 2002, wireless technology company, Link77, specializing in the development and operation of innovative mobile services, launched an SMS Chatterbot* called NataChata, a sophisticated text chat application for adults, based on Artificial Intelligence, enabling users to engage in provocative and sex texting... with a bot.
NataChata is still online for adults looking for a hot chat, but other SMS chatterbots have been developed by Link77 aimed at children -- to educate and inform them about mobile usage, teenagers -- allowing them to enjoy in flirtatious and gossipy chats, a jock bot for straight 16 year-olds and a bot for leather wearing gays aged 16+.
Initially available across the 4 UK Network operators, Natachata's interactive SMS text service for the adult teen and kids sectors has been rolled out in Benelux, Spain, Ireland and Portugal in local version langues, as a tool to generate revenue for their operators.
* Chatterbot is the name given to a program that attempts to simulate a typed conversation and converse with a human. Eliza developped by Joseph Weizenbaum and A.L.I.C.E. developped by Dr. Richard S. Wallace are probably the most famous, but there are many on the Internet. Some are simply conversationalists, others are knowledge bots, programmed to respond to queries online about a company or product. For more on Chatterbots, see The Simon Laven Page or the 80+ entries in the Chatterbox Challenge going on right now.
April 25, 2003
A prankster broke into the SARS Operation Center (Phillipines) texting system and sent thousands of messages from a computer which subsequently blocked incoming messages. The center, which is open 24 hours, has been set up to answer queries on the mysterious atypical pneumonia. The tired doctors were not amused, per abs-cbnnews.com.
April 24, 2003
In a move which seems somewhat after the fact, Associated Newspapers has teamed with UK mobile Marketing genius Flytxt, to launch a wireless Iraqi news service by SMS, according to an article in netimperative
The service is aimed at readers of their newspapers (Metro, Evening Standard, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday), providing them with updated premium content. Readers can subscribe to the service, to receive text messages from journalists based in Iraq.
For more on Iraqi news alert services by SMS (Al Jazeera, Sky News BBC World Service...), check out Text Alerts category on textually.org
See My SMS has recently added to their litterary content catalogue for mobile phones, images and texts messages from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's «The Little Prince». French cell phone subscribers to portal Wanadoo can chose to send off picture illustrations from the book or SMS quotes from this exclusive collection:
-- To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.
-- Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
-- It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.
-- What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
Recently, SeeMySMS come out with a collection of designer logos. For more on this innovative French company which is bringing mobile content to a new level, cf previous article posted on textually.org
Italians are now to be able to receive video clips of financial news over their mobile phones offered by TV channel CFN/CNBC. The new service offers video clips currently published on the Milano Finanza internet site, according to Europemedia.
According to an article in French daily newspaper Libération, SMS rumors on SARS are flying in China, to the dismay of the governement who is at loss to control their outbreak.
«Tomorrow, do not go out onto the streets: SARS infected patients will be moving from one hospital to another and you risk being infected" -- An SMS which spread like wildfire on Tuesday.
Hong Kong has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world. About 5.9 million people (at the end of 2002 which is more than 80% penetration) own a mobile phone, according to Cellular News.
April 23, 2003
SMS campaigns for the launch of DVDs and video games are the next big thing.
Phonevalley is another favorite wireless technology company, based in France and run by 29 year old CEO Alexandre Mars. This leading company has provided the technology and SMS solutions for TV broadcasters such as M6 web and Canal+, radio station NRJ, retailers Auchan and Carrefour, as well as Vizzavi, Selftrade, Nike...
In a press release received this morning, Phonevalley has announced their partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment for a series of SMS tie-ins to be launched with the release of the new Playstation 2 video game, « Primal ».
Sony's "Very Important Players" will be receiving text messages giving them a special code to access a reserved part of Sony website where they will be able to download for free, ringtones and graphics from the video. As well as a coupon offer, offering a rebate on the retail price. A series of games and contests will also be offered by SMS.
Just recently, Phonevalley partnered with Gaumont Columbia Tristar Home Video in a direct marketing campaign for the launch of the new DVD « XxX », an action filmed signed by Rob Cohen.
April 22, 2003
At a time when few media outlets have figured out how to get readers to pay for online news, more than 1 million subscribers are paying about $1 per month to access Asahi's wireless Web site via cell phone. How do they do it? They're giving people what they want -- a feed heavy on sports and entertainment news. An insightful article published in Japan Media Review
In the future, customs agents, police and other workers could carry cell phones that double as radiation detectors and serve as part of a vast, nationwide detection network.
A newly opened research center at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA is developing a cell phone that can also detect "dirty bombs" by containing detectors that then upload their information to a central database, according to an article in Cellular News
April 21, 2003
According to a post by Vin Crosbie on E-Media Tidbits, 2,5 millions SMS were sent to FOX TV's "American Idol", where spectators were able to vote, respond to polls, enter sweepstakes, and answer trivia quizzes. Are American broadcasters finally catching on to SMS as a solid revenue? A common practice in Europe.