Archives for February 2004
February 28, 2004
Six months ago, an application that allows cell phones to morph into walkie-talkies was heralded as the next big thing in wireless telephony. Suddenly the blue-collar feature was hip and everyone had to have it--never mind that Nextel Communications phones had been equipped with the technology for more than a decade. Read on for Forbes special report outlining the history, the reason for PTT's success and the players.
One company mentioned in the article caught my eye: "Calif.-based Kodiak Networks. A startup, with contracts with European operator Orange and U.S. Alltel, offers interesting additions to the traditional push-to-talk services, including the availability of call waiting during an instant call, the scheduled delivery of voice mail, and the capacity to transform an instant call into a regular call at the push of a button.
Their technology is compatible with both U.S. standards CDMA and GSM and the startup makes the technology available free to handset makers, so a wider array of products should soon be available".
Some interesting facts and figures from Nokia chief executive Jorma Ollila at 3GSM in Cannes, the industry's annual summit, reported by The FT:
- There were 1.4bn users of mobile phones at the year-end, 72 per cent of them using the GSM system and 13 per cent on CDMA, whose powerbase is in the US.
- China is the largest market and India and China are expected to account for 25 per cent of the world's subscribers by 2008.
- Nokia's 6600 camera phone had become the world's best selling "smartphone" with 2m units sold since its debut in October.
- Almost four out of every 10 phones sold worldwide bears the Nokia brand but the market leader is facing challenges from many other manufacturers and from software giant Microsoft in the fast-growing smartphone category.
Nextel Communications Inc. and Motorola Inc., faced with a government investigation into the push-to-talk wireless phone service they dominate, hired antitrust lawyers, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"The investigation could result in breaking up their market dominance," said Martin Zohn, an attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP in Los Angeles. "Any company in America that received this request would hire strong counsel."
"We will not take part in the funeral for freedom."
A cell-phone text message circulated in Iran to protest against a clampdown on reformists in last weeks of parliamentary elections. Posted in Newsweek via everyone's favorite blogger, Joi Ito.
February 27, 2004
A couple of days ago, E-Media Tidbits posted an enteresting story on a report in the St. Petersburg Times, claiming that news delivered via SMS in Russia could make the wireless channel "rival" the Internet.
"Soon it will be possible to receive entire electronic newspapers by mobile phone and those interested in politics will be able to follow St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly sessions and criticize the work of deputies by SMS".
Sonim and Sony Ericsson are to collaborate to integrate Push-to-Talk capability in SonyEricsson phones, based on the Push to talk over Cellular (PoC) standard, ensuring the interoperability required to create substantial subscriber adoption. according to Cellular News.
Empower Interactive have published a study they have conducted with 60 operators and 250 users and claim that a "Growing tide of mobile SPAM threatens to engulf mobile community if left unchecked", according to Mike Grenville for 160characters.org.
"The Empower study found that 65% of mobile owners already receive up to five SPAM messages per week, But is the problem really as big as it is being made out to be?
However another study by Silicon.com in June 2003 found that while 69 per cent of respondents have received spam on their mobile phone, the volumes are not high.
A 160 Characters straw poll (still in progress) indicates that the amount of spam is well below these figures, 46% of respondents either not having ever received any SMS spam or none within the last month".
UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix had his mobile phone tapped whenever he was in Iraq, with the US and UK sharing any information, reports Teletext.com.
"A source at the Australian intelligence agency was quoted in a broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
It is claimed that Mr Blix's phone conversations were recorded in the run-up to the war and transcripts given to Australia's allies."
Michigan schools are looking into policies on student cell phones and other electronic devices because of parents' concerns and because the state is lifting a long-standing ban, reports the Lansing State Journal.
"The state is removing its restrictions against cell phones and pagers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, essentially clearing the way for districts to set their own rules.
While there are benefits to students having cell phones such as in cases of emergencies, there are also drawbacks that range from the annoying to the serious.
Camera phones could violate the privacy of other students. Text messagers could be used to cheat on tests. And ringing cell phones cause distractions not only in class, but even when they are tucked away in lockers".
In February 2003, London initiated a new plan to ease traffic congestion by taxing motorists who drive into the city every day. (cf London traffic tax).
Payments are made through call centers, online, at retail outlets, as well as by SMS.
One year later, Capita - the company behind London's congestion charging scheme- revealed that there had been a 30% reduction in the number of vehicles coming in to Britain's capital city in the first year and that 170,000 people have now signed up to paying by SMSwith only 12% using call centres, according to The Guardian.
South Korea's third-largest credit card issuer, KEB Credit Service Co, sacked a quarter of its workforce (161 employees) via text messages on Friday, after negotiations with striking unionised workers broke down, according to an article in Forbes.
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".
- Last year, 2'500 insurance staffers of UK insurance company The Accident Group were sacked by SMS. (cf Thousands are sacked - by text )
- Also last year, an Australian traffic controller was fired. The former employee took his former employer to court - not for offences against the language, but over the procedural fairness and validity of his dismissal. (cf Sacked by SMS)
Mobile phones have long been a fashion item, but if the catwalk at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes is anything to go by, you'll soon be able to wear the phones - with little else besides. Or be able to customise your clothing by simply sending a text message, according to The Guardian via Smart Mobs.
"[...] Among the fashionable items on the catwalk was a jacket that can change according to your mood. Feeling psychedelic? Just send a text to transmit a psychedelic image to the display panel on the jacket."
February 26, 2004
Cell phones could soon become an unlikely teachers' ally thanks to an Edinburgh art tutor's brainwave, reports the scotsman.com.
A new system using the same technology that allows people to download ringtones or get the latest football scores on their mobile, will allows pupils to do their homework using their Nokias and Ericssons.
Students will be able to receive information on particular subjects on their phones - helping them to get their studies done while they sit on the bus or walk down Princes Street on a Saturday afternoon.
"Pupils visiting, for example, the Duke of Wellington monument in Princes Street, or Greyfriar's Bobby, as part of their homework, will be able to text a number and download information on the subject. All the facts will be stored on a database at the school".
With little or not spam-sensibility, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning on launching its campaign by sending its promotional material by e-mail and text messaging.
India has no rules to regulate spam. Taking advantage of the laxity in laws, the BJP will carry on the campaign over two months, according to MidDay.
Some interesting facts and figures from infoSyncworld on i mode-users outside of Japan:
- i-mode users outside Japan exceeded two million at the end of January 2004 and continue to grow rapidly.
- Services are currently available through seven i-mode operators in Belgium, Germany, Taiwan, Holland, Spain and Italy.
- Greece is scheduled to get i-mode prior to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Including Japan, more than 42 million users are now using i-mode services globally.
- Currently more than 1000 content providers outside Japan delivers localized content portfolios in eight languages, including content providers such as Disney and CNN.
- To date, i-mode operators outside Japan deliver services using ten handsets from four handset vendors: NEC, Mitsubishi, Vitelcom, and Toshiba. Other handset vendors, such as Samsung, Siemens, Sagem and Panasonic are scheduled to release new i-mode handsets in Europe and Asia during 2004.
Now that 3G mobile phones and mobile multimedia businesses are maturing in the mainstream here in Japan, eyes turn to the next stage of development: "wallet phones", according to eurotechnology.com.
From 2004 DoCoMo will introduce wallet phones combining JAVA applets with secure multi-application smartcards.
Electronic cash, access keys, IDs, tickets, reservations, club memberships, credit cards etc are loaded as secure applications into smartcards which are integrated into DoCoMo's mobile phones.
Click here for details and analysis.
February 25, 2004
Branded and customized handsets are becoming more and more popular, it seems, or so the marketing companies think. Customised handset manufacturer AlphaCell has joined forces with its parent company Emblaze to provide what it claims is a true end-to-end "content to handset" solution for mobile operators.
While AlphaCell is providing three "concept phones" based around the themes of games, sport and music, Emblaze is supplying the content creation and management tools to enable users to view videos and other media services.
Vodafone is looking to drum up extra revenues by getting business users to text more, according to The Register.
"Texting is the next "big thing" for business people. To prove its point, it's laid its hands on some research which shows that seven in ten employees never send work-related texts.
Well, if you ask me, it is, even though the press stunt by UK 3G operator 3 may reek of just that, a stunt. But there's tons of truth in it...a 3 UK-sponsored report which said that British pay-as-you-go mobile phone customers are paying some £570 million extra in higher tariffs associated with other pay-as-you-go packages. These customer are "the victims of a range of factors, from confusing price structures to entrenched industry practices, which penalise customers while increasing operator revenues," 3 claimed.
According to 3:
Nine out of ten consumers are concerned about the security of their mobile device, according to a new study from security Network Associates, reports Webuser.
"The research, carried out in Japan, also found that 82 per cent of consumers would like the ability to block unwanted calls and two-thirds wanted to filter unwanted data from reaching their mobile phones".
Yeah, it is isn't that different from any other medium, really...In Delhi, India, a 29-year-old executive was arrested by the police after he came back from his wedding! The guy has been charged with sending "vulgar SMS" to a 26-year-old woman who lives alone in Delhi.
February 24, 2004
Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday that Openwave Systems Inc., a maker of software for cell phones, would begin offering a feature allowing mobile phone users to access Hotmail and MSN Messenger while on the go, according to Yahoo News.
The new software platform, called Openwave Phone Suite V7 Platform, will be offered beginning in March.
Mobile community dodgeball.com, has launched three location-based apps in NYC, Boston, LA, SF, and Philly:
dodgeball guide - uses a database of user-created reviews to look up addresses and cross-streets around town, to restaurants or bars, or find the closest pool table or Ms. Pac Man machine.
dodgeball circles - allow you to use SMS to broadcast your location to your friends.
dodgeball scout - empower users with the ability to push messages to people who are within 10 blocks of them.
Mobile operators in U.S. are trying innovative ways of promoting texting among subscribers: SMS, which has been slow to catch on among US users, is only now taking off...Verizon said more than 1 billion text messages traversed its network in the first half of last year. But by December, it was logging 550 million messages a month.
Verizon is sponsoring a text trivia challenge...users get chances to win a camera phone and other goodies, based on the number of trivia questions they answer through SMS.
T-Mobile is sponsoring a new series, "Todd TV," in which cell phone users vote on what a dithering West Coast waiter should do with his life. Customers can get alerts prompting them to vote on things such as what Todd should order for lunch.
A nice primer on how Russians are beginning to warm up to using SMS in their daily lives...
February 23, 2004
Indian mobile subscribers will get deluged with political messages during the upcoming political elections in the country, according to Times of India. "We're making software that enable up to one crore [10 million] SMSs to be sent every hour, using multiple parallel servers," said Sundeep Dhaliwal, who runs software company Ajmer Infotech.
However, the lead political party BJP is more cautious: "With junk SMSs now proliferating, unsolicited messages might turn off prospective voters," said party spokesman Amitabh Sinha.
For coverage and news related to 3GSM Conference happening in Cannes from Feb 22-26, 2004, go to my coverage here. Here you'll find all the announcements and new related to mobile content and related technologies...
In a huge boost to the use of open-web of mobile content, Nokia has unveiled its latest Communicator, model 9500, with in-built Wi-Fi connector. This way, user will be able to connect to free or paid wireless Internet hotspots through their mobile phones.
WSJ (sub. req.): Today, mobile-phone operators can largely control the content delivered over their networks. But media companies, using Wi-Fi networks, could sell video clips and music, for example, direct to mobile-phone users without any intervention by an operator.
February 20, 2004
We're two billion messages strong, according to Mobile Data Association. To elaborate, the number of chargeable person-to-person text messages sent last month in UK has topped the 2 billion mark, at 2.2 billion, with messages sent on New Year's Day topping 111 million.
The average daily total of messages sent in January is 71 million, that's compared to 53 million in January 2003.
Also check out some interesting landmarks on SMS, at Top Texting Days