Archives for December 2003
December 31, 2003
Mike Masnick comments on an article from the Christian Science Monitor on cyber-bullying, both on the Internet and by text messaging, saying parents, school teachers and administrators are finally realizing what's happening, but are not sure how to deal with it.
Mike brings up an an interesting point, that today's "electronic bullies" are a different breed than the big kids who used to intimidate smaller children physically on the playground. Now "so-called "good kids are bullies or have an outlet to bully back". And in an always-on world, the bullying goes on non-stop".
For related articles on bullying by SMS, see this category in Textually.org, where texting messaging tormentors have at times caused trajedies, how a new service for mobile phone operators could give children the power to stop unwanted text message from bullies, how the Northern Ireland police offer advice and how the UK Department for Education and Skills issued guidelines in August 2002, counselling schools on how to deal with this problem, recommending bullies be expelled.
A glut of telecom offerings is expected to inundate stock markets next year, as European and Asian governments try to exploit the industry's rebound to raise some badly needed cash, according to the WSJ.
"Investors will be swamped next year with new telecommunications stocks, as European and Asian governments seek to exploit the rebound in the industry's fortunes to raise badly needed cash.
In Western Europe alone, analysts expect governments to offload about €20 billion ($24.97 billion) of shares -- about six times the figure in 2003 -- by selling stakes in national telephone companies. Many of the potential sellers need the money to make up for a shortfall in tax revenue following several years of lackluster economic growth".
December 30, 2003
Dr. Ali Okatan of Bahcesehir University, Turkey, hopes to save lives with his new invention called the 'smart bracelet'. People who are unable to leave their homes, especially the sick and the aged, can communicate with their relatives using the bracelet, according to Zaman.
"This device, which I call the smart bracelet, follows elderly people who live alone or ill people's health conditions by merging GSM technology with electronics. It looks like a normal watch but it communicates body temperature, blood pressure and pulse rate to a central location periodically. If an ill or elderly person is in difficulty, he/she can call a pre-assigned nurse or relative by pushing a button on the bracelet. The message is delivered both as SMS and voice message to cell phones and land-lines. Also, the user's doctor can constantly follow the patient's condition, if necessary," said Okatan".
Interesting, in New Delhi, the paging industry is blaming telecoms and the government for having reduced licensing fees of cellular operators and thus contributed to the dying of their industry.
A petition, filed by the Indian Paging Service Association in TDSAT, is expected to come up for hearing in the first week of January, reports Deepikaglobal.
Education director-general Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat of Kuala Lumpur blamed text messaging and the Internet for the decline in English language passes in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah examination this year, according to Malaysia's New Straits Times.
"Abdul Rafie said students were "economising words and phrases" in their answer scripts as they were used to doing so via the SMS and in their messages over the Internet.
"The scripts clearly show they have overlooked the basic rules of English. Students used short form when writing," he said when asked to comment on the 1.8 per cent decline in passes for English".
A 49-year-old British man was ordered Monday to undergo community rehabilitation after he admitted using cellphone text messages to seduce a 14-year-old schoolgirl into having sex with her, according to The Australian.
"David Jarvis swapped sexual jokes with the teen with SMS text messages, then arranged -- also by text -- to meet her and have sex with her consent, his trial at Exeter Crown Court in southwest England was told.
This happened twice before the girl was confronted by her suspicious mother and revealed what was going on.
Jarvis pleaded guilty in November to charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16 and indecent assault".
Telecom companies around the world are boosting capacity in preparation for millions of extra text messages on New Year's Eve reports ZDNet.
"And the mobile telecommunications industry will be closely watching the number of MMS and other higher-value messages sent on New Years Eve, as it will be an indicator of how successfully the technology has been accepted".
A related article in Kyodo via Unwired.cc, reports that NTT DoCoMo and other major cell phone service providers are considering limiting their services for about two hours from the start of New Year's Day if the need arises. to prevent the huge amount of expected traffic in New Year's messages from disrupting their service networks".
December 29, 2003
In Singapore, nearly nine out of every 10 cases of extramarital affairs are exposed through cellular telephone habits, private investigators and lawyers told the newspaper Streats on Monday and reported by the Khaleej Times.
"While SMS messages are admissible as evidence in a divorce suit, lawyers said they only prove a liaison exists, but do not prove adultery".
Unfaithful Italians are betrayed by text messaging too, according to a survey conducted by Italy's largest private investigation company. In 87% of the cases involving infidelity, text messaging gives the game away, and mostly during family vacations.
"Councillor Drew Edward said the service was a pilot one, but if successful it may develop next year to include other services such as roads or council offices".
Residents may sign up online at the Winter Center.
The military will use text messaging to help curb extortion by communist insurgents of candidates in the May national elections, according to the Sun Star.
"Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero says the campaign would be similar to one used against the Abu Sayyaf Muslim kidnapping gang, which was active in the southern Philippines.
With the help of text messaging or SMS, candidates and the public at large will be able to report cases of extortion by the New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Lucero said".
According to recent reports, Japan's National Police Agency is planning to carry out a major revision of Japan's Road Traffic Law next year that will toughen restrictions on mobile phone use while driving.
As the law now stands, drivers in Japan are already prohibited from using mobile phones when behind the wheel, but police are only allowed to penalize those who are a threat to others.
According to Kyodo news, the NPA wants to fine drivers up to 50,000 yen ($465/ 375 euro) if they use their phones to talk or send e-mail while driving… even if they pose no danger to other vehicles or people. [From Wireless Watch Japan]
December 24, 2003
I'll be offline for a few days, until Monday December 29.
Best wishes to all of you and your families.
In the meantime, here's a round-up in 10 chapters of mobile news for 2003 and a look at what's ahead in 2004:
December 23, 2003
Mobile phones now outnumber fixed lines in Africa at a higher ratio than on any other continent, says a US think tank, reports the BBC.
"Uganda was the first African country to have more mobile than fixed-line customers. There are now more than 30 African countries in that position."
Rounding up Textually's Year in Review, this last and 10th entry focuses on six technologies or trends that emerged this year, and that should take hold in 2004.
What to look out for in 2004
Printers for picture phones are starting to appear and should proliferate in 2004, coming in many shapes and forms, developped by companies such as HewlettePackard, Eastmann Kodak, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Bandai and Fuji. Portable printers such PrintBrush from Print Dreams, weighing only 350 grams will fit in a shirt pocket, or small devices such as Fuji's Camera Phone Mobile Printer connecting via Infra-Red or Bandai's small printer, will allow users to print out photos within a few seconds. And due-it-yourself printing kiosks will continue to appear in public places and retail chains in Korea, Japan, Australia and America.
And here too we will see business applications developped for these camera phone printers, such as the Hyundai Marine and Fire Insurance company which deployed a service for its insurance agents, enabling them to print insurance contract applications on the spot.
I think we will see more of a consumer backlash at European mobile operators for their unfairly high level tarifs. With operators having held SMS rates up to maximize revenues and with so many people using it, political pressure on regulators to intervene should be coming soon.
Handset manufacturers are rushing to produce cell phones with push-to-talk technology and the phones will continue to roll out next year. PTT technology enables a mobile phone to function as a walkie-talkie, opening up a new dimension in communication. The use can just press down a key and say something, and within seconds the other user or users in the session hears the message.
Mentioned previously in a post on How people are using camera phones, professional use of photoblogs is sure to go mainstram, documenting events and conferences. We can expect on a wider scale, that the online press routinely set up photoblogs to document the news contributed either by professional journalists or citizens turned into camera phone reporters.
Businesses too will be looking for tools to set up their own photoblogs in-house to be used in ways we have yet to even imagine (for instance a retailer's displays in different department stores could be photographed by the reps and forwarded onto a webpage for viewing by the sales manager - ensuring a record in chronological order).
Ring back tones, the extremely popular service launched in to South Korea in April 2002 will be rolling out in North America and Europe in 2004.
A ring back tone allows the mobile user to personalize the ringing sound that your caller hears when dialling your cell phone number. Sure to appeal to the youth market, ring tones should interest business as well, for corporate branding, promotional and sale activities. Politicians could be taking a closer look too, for playing out a campaign slogan, or for fund raisers, to make an appeal before someone even picks up the phone and pays for the call.
This year I reported on both a retailer and a non profit organization which came up with clever campaigns involving SMS and camera phone pictures and what was most remarkable about these campaigns, was that they paid for themselves, as the customer downloading the pictures from a website, or opting in for an SMS, was actually the one footing the bill. So I would expect to see more of such clever ideas in 2004. As a reminder, here are the two campaigns I'm referring too.
The Toni&Guy chain of upmarket hair salons offered their customers the option to download pictures of hairstyles from a large gallery of photos online, onto their mobile phone. In order to discuss their potential new look with family and friends before visiting a hairsalon. At a charge of 50p per message (at the customer's expense), 10p was be donated to the King's Variety Club Children's Hospital (a nice touch).
In the Netherlands, Amnesty International used SMS as an action tool - Participants in their campaigns, opt-in by signing up online and giving their mobile number. They then receive an "action" SMS every two weeks, which is then invoiced directly to their phone bill at a premium rate of $ 0,28 (25 eurocents). The campaign not only pays for itself but is also a clever and personalized way of keeping its members informed of their efforts and allows them to be active participants in a cause they believe in.
Explaining why it's successful, The Daily Telegraph Australia - 411,000 copies sold daily - describes one it's interactive features which uses text messaging.
"The weekend's sporting action gives sport fans a voice, ebabling readers to SMS or e-mail their expert team of reporters - who will then reply to those messages in The Daily Telegraph".
Another good example of how print media can build a relationship with it's readers thanks to text messaging. For other examples, cf SMS Services offered by the Press.
Joi Ito describes a game played in Japan which originated with business cards, but then moved on to cell phones; a sort of business person's russian-roulette:
"There are three people: two players and a judge. The two players pick someone from their address books and reveal them to each other simultaneously. The judge decides which one is more famous or important. The loser has to shred the business card or in the case of mobile phones, delete that entry from the address book. It's quite funny because you try to play important people to beat the other person, but if you lose, you lose a valuable phone number. The judge's perspective of what sort of person is important also comes into play in an interesting way.
It's no fun when you have backups of your phone numbers, but in Japan, where most people don't backup their mobile phone numbers, it's often for keeps."
British troops serving in Iraq will be able to listen to Queen Elizabeth II's annual Christmas broadcast on their mobile phones, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday, according to Sify.com.
"The royal phone line will also be available to the public by dialling 0044 871 271 3100."
"The first message reads: The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, brought the world the precious gift of Love, so to fill the man's heart and mind with true joy.”
See also related article in the BBC.
DoCoMo Systems Inc, a joint venture between Secom Co Ltd and NTT DoCoMo Inc, will launch this month a home security service that enables users to remotely check the settings and status of their home security systems by using Internet-capable cellular phones, according to NEAsia Online via Mobile Japan.
December 22, 2003
The UK breaks another SMS monthly record with the highest daily average of text messages sent ever, in November.
The Mobile Data Association has announced that the total number of chargeable person-to-person text messages sent per day across the four UK GSM networks during November reached an all time high at 59 million.
This figure represents the highest daily average the MDA have reported since they began collating data on behalf of the UK network operators in 1998 [The Mobile Data Association via 160characters.org]
Though 99% of the population of Hong Kong have cellphones, the latest craze sweeping the city isn't video calling. It's two-way walkie-talkie radios that people are carrying in addition to their phones and using for making plans or just eavesdropping on others. [Gizmodo via Techdirt]
That's wild. Does anyone know if there are launch plans for Japanese phones with Push-to-talk technology?
Sony Ericsson has announced the company will deploy a Trial Mobile Online Multiplayer game solution for their consumers around the globe, to offer owners of various Sony Ericsson handsets the ability to play interactive mobile games online, according to infoSync World.
In this report from GSMBOX describing the many functions of Nokia's fashionable 7200 - available in the first half of 2004, the writer here describes in some detail, the new model's “presence function” which we heard about last month from Aloysius Choong for C/Net Asia. cf Presenting... "Presence".
"With this service - it's official name is IMPS for "Instant Messaging Presence Services" - "the user can quickly and easily communicate their availability and appointments to colleagues, relatives, friends and other contacts.
For example, a young manager can set his telephone profile on “Meeting” and tell his friends and colleagues to contact him by SMS or MMS . With chat with the “presence function”, the user can enjoy the freedom to send notes online, and will not be tied to his desk any more, but can continue chatting on the move.
Users of the Nokia 7200 can create private chat rooms to invite other participants to, or join public chats of their interest".
Ericsson Mobile Platforms has signed a license agreement with RealNetworks, where by Ericsson will integrate the media engine of the RealOne Player, the Helix DNA Client, and the RealAudio and RealVideo codecs into its platforms offerings. [Cellular News]
Mobile phones group Vodafone and its US partner Verizon Wireless today unveiled the first transatlantic texting system, reports This is London.
"As well as the UK, the transatlantic service will be rolled out in Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
Vodafone said it would charge 25 euro cents for each text message across the Atlantic, roughly double the amount it charges for a domestic text message".
Vodafone has backed away from adopting Microsoft's operating system for mobile phones, declaring it "not quite ready for prime time", according to Silicon.com
December 21, 2003
Amy Harmon's NY Times article, "Lost? Hiding? Your Cellphone Is Keeping Tabs", paints a chilling portrait of cell-enabled surveillance. "Some users [of cellular location-tracking services] say the technology threatens an everyday autonomy that is largely taken for granted. The devices, they say, promote the scrutiny of small decisions where to have lunch, when to take a break, how fast to drive rather than general accountability". Via MobileWhack.
This is the ninth post for Textually 2003 - The Year in Review, a series of entries rounding up the most interesting mobile news (best and worst) reported this year.
This is Textually's selection of 15 top wireless technology companies or content providers that have come up with innovative ideas and concepts this year.
See My SMS, a Paris based company run by Alexandra de Waresquiel, is single handedly raising the level of quality for content on mobile phones. This year they have offered various French mobile operators new SMS services enabling users to chose from passionate litterary text messages written by the best contemporary French writers, download images and texts messages from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's «The Little Prince», original artwork by famous contemporary artists, and recently, in a fund raising event to benefit an AIDS association, See My SMS launched a collection of images by celebrity fashion designers to be downloaded onto cell phones at a premium rate.
Shazam offers a music recognition service enabling users to have music being played in a club or on the radio, identified by simply calling a given number and approaching the cell phone to the speaker. The track name and artist are then texted back. This year, Shazam launched SongMail is a service which allows users to send a 30-second song clip to a friend's mobile, and Tag a Track, a service which enables users to buy the ringtones of the track they have 'tagged'.
Oki Electric Industry has developed a new PCM (Pulse Code Modulation)-based sound generator. The new chip, ML2864, doubles the number of polyphonies in a cell phone, from 32 to 64.
Sharp Corp and Canadian software developer BitFlash developed a type of electronic display system for viewing business documents on mobile phones. The software allows users to adjust the width and length of characters on the display of mobile phones without distorting their shape.
Surelabs Alertwizard offers a security service that sends text messages, photo and video alerts from a monitored area, if someone should break in or just ring the doorbell.
M Ken Co has developed a Cue Cat type technology that allows users of cell phones with a camera function to photograph an advertisement containing an electronic watermark and then immediately connect to a related website.
Empics' New Media Stills Production initiative can provide photos to websites or mobile phones in only 20 seconds from the moment the picture is taken to when it appears. The sports photo agency is currently working with some of the biggest names in sport on how to appeal to sports fans with mobile phones, who want a picture, rather than a text alert when receiving the latest sports news on their mobile phone. Empics is this year's winner of The Growing Business Awards for 'Technology in Business'.
NeoMedia technology introduced an application of its patented PaperClick technology which links book shoppers to price and availability information at amazon.com through wireless phones or personal computers. "The shopper works by using your cameraphone to take a picture of a book's ISBN number (by using the bar code). Then using a proprietary application, the picture is sent to NeoMedia, who will use the bar code to determine the ISBN number and send you Amazon's price for that book."
Apeera, Inc., a French company which has developed a solution for mobile network operators, enables mobile phone users to share applications such as mobile games, pictures, cartoons or personal files with their friends and colleagues via their mobile phones.
X-Cube Corp., a company which sells and administers public lockers, has developed a new type of locker that uses mobile phones to lock the door, thus avoiding the anonymity of conventional coin lockers. By recording the phone number of every user, the new locker could help prevent illegal behaviour.
Hypertag technology enables mobile users to point and click their cell phones at a movie poster and access digital content, thanks to smart tags that can beam website links to mobile phones. For example, embedded on a historic monument, it could send information about the monument, or placed on billboard advertising a product, give information on that product.
Long Range Systems developped a paging device for restaurants that calls a customer's cellphone and plays a recorded message telling them their table is ready, "allowing them go browse at Barnes & Noble across the street without worrying about losing their place".
North America's premier mobile community has taken its messaging features to the next level by launching support for MMS. As a result of the offering, members of Upoc's "Crazy Stuff I Saw" or "NYC Celeb Sightings" groups are able to send photos taken with camera-enabled phones to the rest of the group.
Rediff, an Indian online provider of news, entertainment and shopping services, launched «Rediff Mobile Search», the first cross-carrier keyword-based search for ringtones on the SMS-based mobile platform.
Xingtone developed software which converts MP3 files to ringtones and enables users to make thier cell phone ring with any piece of real music or any voice or recorded sound. For instance, a favorite tune can play as a ringtone or someone's voice message can play for instance, "answer the phone!".
The mountainous Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is getting to grips with its first mobile phone network, according to the BBC.
"Until now Bhutanese people wanting a taste of mobility have had to rely on bulky and inelegant cordless phones connected to their landlines. For business people the mobile is a revelation.
Bhutan is a country where technology plays second fiddle to nature. Change happens at a glacial rate, but now at least it can proudly claim a small stake in the communications revolution."
According to this entertaining article in UK's Sunday Mail, the problem of texting under the influence is so common it has been given a name; ''intexicated''.
According to research by Virgin Mobile, out of the 60 million texts sent daily in December, 15 million of them are sent by people who have had one too many.
"Virgin said that two thirds of women who text while drunk send messages to former lovers and some text the wrong person.
A public relations officer in London sent a sexually explicit message to dad instead of boyfriend Dan after hitting the wrong button".
On a related note in the US, according to aprevious entry, 39 percent of those questionned in a survey, admitted to having sent an SMS to the wrong name.