Archives for March 2004

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March 31, 2004

Call to silver texters

A university has appealed for grandparents to take party in a study about mobile phone texting, reports ic Southlondon.

"Researchers from Goldsmiths College, New Cross, want to find out if mobile phones and the internet have had any effects on family relationships.

They are particularly interested in grandparents, who they think are not taking advantage of quick and easy text and email to keep in touch with grandchildren, but instead stick to traditional methods".

emily | 8:32 PM | permalink

IT sets the pace at London marathon

This year's Flora London Marathon will be the most IT-enabled race in the history of the event, reports vnunet.com.

"More than 33,000 runners competing in the marathon on 18 April will have their positions tracked and recorded by electronic tags attached their shoes.

Friends and family of competitors will also be able to follow their progress by signing up to an SMS text message service that will send athletes' positions as they make their way around the 26 mile, 385 yard course.

Special mats will be positioned every 5km along the marathon course. When an athlete runs over the mat, their time and position is sent to an Oracle database.

At locations throughout the course when people run across some of the mats it will trigger an SMS message."

emily | 8:30 PM | permalink

Bluesnarfing At CeBIT 2004

Interesting, from Slashdot

"La^2 writes "The Austrian research company Salzburg Research did a field trial at the CeBIT 2004 that confirms the seriousness of the recently discovered bluetooth security loophole in the firmware of popular mobile phones. In this trial, 1269 unique bluetooth-enabled devices were discovered, and their vulnerability to the so-called SNARF attack checked. The The report on this bluesnarfing at large scalee has interesting statistics, which may not please some of the vendors." (And the CeBIT version of Knoppix was apparently being used to slurp up and display Bluetooth phone information, too.)"

emily | 8:27 PM | permalink

Spain's Telefonica unveils mobile phone for visually impaired

In what it said was a first for Europe, Spanish telecommunications operator Telefonica has unveiled a voice-activated mobile telephone for blind people, reports AFP.

"The phone is the fruit of cooperation between Spanish computer terminals producer Owasys and Spanish organisation for the blind ONCE, which has 65,000 members, the companies said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The phone has no screen and whereas it comprises a conventional keyboard for actual dialling, other functions such as messaging will be voice activated".

emily | 8:18 PM | permalink

Advice to thieves: don't steal cellphones with GPS in them

This story is being picked up like wildfire - about a stolen GPS Siemens phone at CeBIT with new navigation technology - which enabled staffers to locate the phone and the thief [Engadget via InfoSync World]

Anil de Mello had the story last week. It does sound alot like a PR stunt. Here's what happened, from the horses mouth.

emily | 4:18 PM | permalink

SMS Related Domain Names

Following Ringtonia's weekly listing of ringtone related domain names, here's a listing of SMS related domain names that have come up for sale and are available to the public again.

- beijing-sms.com
- dax-sms.com
- dialersms.com
- dropsms.com
- eezysms.com
- majorsms.com
- mega-sms.com
- sms4friends.com
- smscameraphone.com
- smsvietnam.com
- smswaralerts.com
- smswave.com
- beijing-sms.net
- sms-france.net
- sms-erotik.org
- smserotik.org
- soccersms.org

The above names are available for registration now if anyone is interested. Source of information: Netcollateral.com.

emily | 3:58 PM | permalink

Nationwide anti-crime campaign set to start

A weeklong anti-crime campaign will kick-off on April 3 in Abu Dhabi, requesting of the population to "extend their co-operation and support to the security agencies of the country in order to help the government combat crime for the national and public security", reports The Khaleej Times.

In this instance, or more to the point in this article, it does not mention whether information should be sent by SMS, but the awareness campaign will be using SMS to get their message across, as well as every other known media:

"The campaign will feature TV programmes and fillers on several channels, live shows addressing crime-related topics, and round-the-clock radio educational programmes. It will also include distribution of brochures, posters, advertisements, and features in local papers. A booklet will be distributed to school children.

The drive will also be staged via the Internet and multimedia systems. A CD containing educational and recreational material will be distributed. A special website for the campaign will be launched. SMS messages and e-mails will be sent to the largest possible number of subscribers".

emily | 1:07 PM | permalink

Virgin Mobile launches the world's first left-handed phone

This is the other article that made me wonder if it was an April Fool's joke or the real thing. I'll let you decide, but please note it's dated March 31st.

PRNewswire writes that "Virgin Mobile has unveiled a new mobile phone specifically designed for left-handed people. Available, exclusively from Virgin Mobile, the new Sony Ericsson LH-Z200 has a unique keypad layout with the number keys positioned from right to left, instead of the standard left to right".

The usefullness of such a phone is even backed up by some facts and trivia:

"In Britain today twelve per cent of the population is left-handed which equates to a massive seven million people who are frustrated by the right-handed bias in the product design of phones. Famous left-handers include Oscar winning actress Nicole Kidman, Prince William, glamour model Melinda Messenger and former Sex Pistols front man and 'I'm a Celebrity' contestant John `Rotten' Lydon.

Virgin Mobile and Sony Ericsson plan to produce a range of left-handed phones and their soon to launch 3G phones will also have left-hand friendly keypads".

I'm going to see what my son thinks, he's left handed. Does anyone have a left-handed computer keyboard? I've never heard of one...

emily | 12:58 PM | permalink

University spinoff wants vodka to power your cell phone

This is the second article today where I have double checked the date to make sure it doesn't read April 1st - it doesn't, it's dated March 30, so I guess it's on the level. Here goes from Silicon.com:

"A St. Louis company developing technology that can power up a cell phone's battery with vodka and having the charge last for a week.

Potential uses for Akermin's technology include powering a cell phone or laptop computer using vodka, beer or any other ethanol-based substance." - Oh, and "Cooking oil, sugar and many other organic substances will work, too, but ethanol is more efficient".

emily | 12:50 PM | permalink

Used Phones Come Calling on China Mobile Market

Interesting insight on the Chinese cell phone market from Reuters.

According research firm Gartner, "a hefty 40 percent of the 62 million new mobile accounts in China last year came from people using second-hand cellphones", or putting it differently, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of all cellphones sold in China are now second-hand, other analysts said.

BNP Paribas Peregrine analyst Marvin Lo estimated that second-hand phone sales will creep up slowly in the coming years, eventually topping out at as much as 30 percent of unit sales.

To combat second-hand sales aimed at the low end of the market, manufacturers are also building up their selection of cheap phones that can sell for as little as 800 yuan each".

In other countries

"In more developed markets like Eastern Europe and the Middle East, second-hand cellphones also account for a sizeable 10 to 25 percent of new accounts.

About two percent of new U.S. accounts use second-hand phones, although many phones that are traded-in for new phones are subsequently exported to developing markets. The rest are scrapped."

emily | 12:29 PM | permalink

Spain in perspective

A Spanish citizen wrote this extraordinary letter to Tom Tomorrow about the Madrid train bombing of March 11. Read on in Smart Mobs.

emily | 12:23 PM | permalink

March 30, 2004

Cinemas usher in text ticketing

admit1.jpg Mobile phone operator Orange has unveiled a UK cinema industry mobile ticketing service, reports vnunet.com.

"Orange customers can take up the offer by texting "Film" to 241, speed dialling 241, or by visiting the Orange World Wap portal, to obtain a unique ticket reference number.

The mobile ticket can then be redeemed in about 97 per cent of the UK's cinemas, said an Orange spokesman.

"Instead of searching listings in local papers, customers can access full film reviews on the Orange World portal and find their nearest cinema using location-based technology," said Jeremy Dale, vice president of brand marketing at Orange.

Orange customers will also be able to access exclusive mobile content for 12 film releases during 2004, as well as film-based downloads, ring tones, games, trailers, news, reviews and film gossip".

Related articles

-- UK operator offers cinemagoers free tickets

-- Singapore Theatre Trials SMS tickets

-- Booking a movie ticket by SMS in Mumbai

emily | 4:22 PM | permalink

Buongiorno Vitaminic supports South Africa's HIV prevention initiative

Buongiorno Vitaminic, a European media company, will donate mobile products and revenue as well as provide interactive mobile technology and sponsorship for ‘Lovelife', a program launched in 1999 to educate young people about preventing HIV infection in South Africa, according to a company press release.

"They will also provide SMS technology enabling the audience to participate in competitions and send feedback, plus wallpaper and ringtones relating to the programmes and challenges. In addition, Lovelife will receive a share of the revenues generated as a result".

emily | 4:20 PM | permalink

Overture launches paid search on mobiles

Ouverture has launched a new mobile travel directory in the UK in partnership with Vodafone and Orange that will see sponsored search links displayed on their WAP portals Vodafone live! and Orange World., reports Netimperative.

emily | 3:59 PM | permalink

Sri Lanka Poll Campaign Goes High-Tech

This is very interesting, Sri Lanka's political parties have turned to e-mail and text messaging for the first time because of a ban on publicity posters, the most prevalent publicity device in earlier elections. Police officials have even been conducting raids on printing presses to ensure these were not being produced, reports OneWorld South Asia. There a huge BUT though on how effective these campaigns will be - "as the majority of Sri Lankan voters ave access to neither the Internet nor mobile phones".

"Deprived of the right to plaster public places with promotional posters, Sri Lanka's politicians have turned tech-savvy in their campaign for the April 2 parliamentary polls, inundating citizens with text messages and e-mails.

"This is the first time political parties are making optimum use of mobile phones and the Internet for publicity.

"There's a huge leap from the last election campaign in the use of technology. Almost all the urban population that has access is receiving SMSes and emails, and in most cases, both from parties and individual candidates."

Of note, "For the majority of Sri Lankan voters, who have access to neither the Internet nor mobile phones, political parties are running television and radio advertisements, meetings, mass rallies and door-to-door campaigns".

emily | 8:39 AM | permalink

Is the virus threat to your cell real?

Throwing Indian cellular phone users into a tizzy is an unidentified SMS claiming that a cellphone virus — ACE — is riding the airwaves and threatening to reduce destroy both cell phones and SIM cards, reports The Times of India.

"Reportedly, dealers too have been receiving panic calls from harried customers".

"It is a hoax, as just like e-mails, a virus can only be transmitted when a software is being downloaded onto a computer or phone and not through SMSs or calls,” says Hutch (Gujarat) CEO Sanjoy Mukherji.

Nokia sources maintain that so far none of their handsets have been affected by any virus. “There is a lot of security on the air interface, making it difficult for anyone to hack or send a virus on air,” they said.

Seemingly a recent entrant to India, the ACE hoax is not new. Rearing its head in the late 1990s in the West, it traumatised cellphone users in the US, Europe, and the Middle-East".

emily | 8:30 AM | permalink

Belgium network hit by SMS hoax

Belgium's Proximus has been hit by an SMS Spam hoax, reports Cellular News.

An SMS "chain letter" has been "inviting customers" of the operator to forward an SMS received to acquaintances. In return, the customers would then receive free SMS messages".

A similar hoax has been circulating in Switzerland, to Swisscom customers. I got one from my sister-in-law, saying that if I forwarded this message to 3 people, I would get 50 SMS free next month, in celebration of Swisscom's 50th birthday.

emily | 8:23 AM | permalink

March 29, 2004

Firm's anti-crime system may enlist cell phone users

Yet another article about SMS used by the Police, but from a business and technical approach.

Chicago-based CenterPost Comunications has developed a way to get crime alerts to thousands of people on the street, according to The Chicago Tribune.

"Cell phone users are on the verge of becoming the world's largest crime-fighting force.

A Chicago software firm is installing a system in Germany so cell phone users there can receive crime alerts--like Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers--from the local police looking for help in locating lost children or stolen cars.

The system from CenterPost takes advantage of the booming popularity of short text messaging in Europe. Eventually, the software could expand to include images of suspects, like an electronic wanted poster, or short video clips.

The city of Chicago has contracted a similar service - but to landline phones, enabling the city to make automated calls to wireline phones in selected locations with short messages.

The CenterPost system adopted by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Interior takes a different approach. Instead of relying on a customer being in a fixed location, the software can alert users via text messaging, voice messaging or by fax, said Eric Messerschmidt, CenterPost's marketing vice president.

CenterPost, which specializes in sending automated messages from banks, airlines and other businesses to their customers, believes that law enforcement could be a huge new market".

emily | 5:36 PM | permalink

Reporting crimes by SMS

People in Norfolk will soon be able to text and e-mail minor crimes to police, reports EDP 24.

As of next Monday, officers will be introducing a text message number and e-mail address where incidents can be reported and questions asked.

"We see text messaging as very important among young people who wouldn't normally want to telephone the police us and speak to someone voice to voice but would quite happily text us," said Chief Insp Wrigley, call handling project manager at the constabulary".

For more on how police forces around the world are were using text messaging to get citizens to report crimes, cf the SMS used by the Police category in textually.org

emily | 5:24 PM | permalink

Text message the BBC TV crew at the horse races

_39860376_geraghty_203.jpg The world's most famous steeplechase, The Grand National, will be held next Sunday.

The famous race is preceeded by 3 days of other horse races and the BBC reports that it will be covering the event in a big way.

"A total of 14 races will be shown live over three days, with digital viewers enjoying full interactive coverage. 52 cameras will be dotted around the course, as well as cameras mounted on four fences and three jockeys will be fitted with cameras in their riding helmets".

But of interest to this column, the BBC is using SMS in yet another innovative way, suggesting race afficionados get in touch with their TV team by SMS - texting to short code 81111.

emily | 4:52 PM | permalink

Big mother is watching so get off that phone

The parents of mobile-mad teenagers may soon be able to use the internet to curb their children's excessive texting and chatting - and the phone bills that go with it, reports smh.com.

"The new technology, which lets parents block calls to and from their child's phone, has been launched in the US and is sparking interest from Australian mobile phone service providers.

Known as Mobile Guardian, the software allows parents to control phone settings over the internet. They would be able to block unwanted callers or switch off the phone during designated hours, such as school time. The technology includes a feature that allows the phone to be used only for emergency numbers.

It comes as Australian children rack up huge debts on mobile phones, with research last year showing nearly 95 per cent of children aged from six to nine use their parents' mobile phone.

By the time they reach the 10-13 age group, more than a third are mobile phone owners and have already developed phone habits that could end in serious debt, the NSW Office of Fair Trading study found."

Related article, Mobile Guardian manages cell phone usage

emily | 4:40 PM | permalink

M ' sian rock band Search to sell album exclusively via SMS

A new distribution stragegy for an album and a real first! A rock band says their new release - and all future releases - will only be available for purchase by text message - because CD prices are too high.

"Rock legend Search will release its new album in a “couple of months,” and fans needn't bother rushing to the record stores to get it: The Empire Album will be sold exclusively via SMS, reports TechCentral.

"The new service will be offered by music and video distribution company Global Movie & Music Catalogue on its MCat website, which was established last December. 

"Fans can only buy (our new album) via SMS," said the band's charismatic frontman Amy, who described SMS as an alternative music distribution channel. 

"This way, we can lower the cost and offer the album at a cheaper price, for only RM20. 

The group is confident that Search's new album will sell 100,000 copies.

"Amy said that since the album won't be available at record stores, there will be a lot of advertising to ensure that Search fans know the album is out and how to buy it.  All future Search albums will be sold in this manner, he added".

UPDATE I've just received an interesting comment in my in-box, from Steve Procter, of itagg. He writes: "If that is going to happen in the UK and the CD is not listened to on the phone then what they plan is illegal - against FSA regulations.

For more information, Steve suggests reading the front page of this weeks New Media Age.

emily | 4:34 PM | permalink

SMS shake-up: more couples having text

Todays' Romeos and Juliets are hiding behind mobile phone screens and talking with their thumbs, according to News.com.

"And relationship experts said people were using SMS when they needed to apologise, ask hard questions, or dump their partner.

But it seems old-fashioned face-to-face communication is still the key to a healthy relationship.

A Newspoll survey found 73 per cent of Australians believed technology had changed the way they conducted their relationships.

And about 91 per cent believe relationships fail because of a lack of proper communication.

Relationships Australia counsellor Rosalie Pattenden said SMS could be a barrier to communication.

"If people use it as a substitute for communication, or to get difficult or ambiguous messages across, or use it to finish a relationship, that is terrible," she said.

A previous ninemsn survey found one in 10 Australians was dumped by SMS".

emily | 9:28 AM | permalink

Bombings put mobile phone in terror spotlight

In the world of terrorism and counter-surveillance, the mobile phone has become an increasingly deadly weapon on both sides of the conflict, reports the Daily Times.

"For extremists, the mobile is a perfect detonator of death. For security forces, it is a key tool for tracking them down.

The need for common rules on keeping phone records was an important topic at a meeting last week of European interior ministers seeking to improve cooperation in the wake of this month's Madrid train bombs.

“Intercepting mobile communications can be vital for intelligence gathering,” said Peter Yapp, an IT security analyst with London-based consultancy Control Risks Group. Spanish authorities are working on the theory that the Madrid bombers used mobile phones to remotely detonate the explosives that killed 202 people.

To the chagrin of phone operators, security-conscious city officials and police could now scupper plans to install mobile phone relay points along subway lines in major cities, analysts said.

And city police forces are expected to look into military style phone-jamming technologies to avoid a repeat of Madrid, the analysts said".

Related articles

-- IRA involved in cell phone bombs

-- Terror's Latest Trigger: Cellphones

-- Cell phone detonated bombs in Madrid

-- Marriott bomb 'set off by mobile phone'

-- Cell phones trigger bombs

-- Bomb oustide Jakarta Hotel was detonated by a mobile phone

-- Cell Phones Triggered Bombs in Saudi Arabia

-- IRA involved in cell phone bombs

-- Attack is inevitable, say the (London) police. So how can we stop it?

emily | 9:23 AM | permalink

Philippines Considers Tax on Text

Every government is trying to find new sources of income in these tough times, but the Philippines may be the first place to turn to text messaging, according to
TheFeature.com.

"The Philippine Government was 200 billion pesos in debt last year, and they can't seem to agree on any more budget cuts. They are investigating a tax on text messages as one way to generate more revenue. A tax of one centavo per message could generate 500 million pesos per year.

"The sheer popularity of SMS makes it a tempting target, but taxing texters is not going to be an easy fix. The two major pre-paid carriers in the Philippines, Globe and Philippine Long Distance Telephone both oppose the tax, and they have good grounds for a fight."

Taxing text messages comes up periodically in the Philippines. See related articles:

-- Opposition to Tax On Text in the Philippines - "You can't kill the goose that lays the golden egg," Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chairman Manuel Pangilinan said, opposing the finance department's proposal in March of this year.

-- Tax On Text Stirs Controversy In The Philippines - Published in 2002, Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho's statement issued to the media on the government's proposal to impose a 10 percent tax on text messages - and the public's outcry.

emily | 9:05 AM | permalink

Donated cell phones to be distributed to domestic violence victims in the Bronx

More than 100 cellular phones will soon be distributed to domestic violence victims in the Bronx, allowing for women in danger to use the phones to call for help, thanks to Wireless Hopeline, Verizon's much written about community project.

"High school students from around the borough collected the phones as part of the School Safety Explorers Program", according to News12.com.

emily | 8:57 AM | permalink

China's Secret: Contractors

The rise of China, which passed the U.S. two years ago as the world's largest wireless market, has been driven mostly by outside contractors, reports the WSJ.

"Since 2000, 24 local manufacturers have emerged to grab nearly 40% of cellphone sales in China, eating into the growth of multinational firms there -- and raising fears they could do the same beyond China's borders.

But the Chinese firms' secret strength was their reliance on manufacturers in Korea and Taiwan to design and assemble products. About 90% of the phones sold in China last year by local manufacturers got their start at a contract firm elsewhere in Asia, according to an estimate by iSuppli Corp., a market-research firm in El Segundo, California."

For more on China fears :

-- China's Haier to bring phones to U.S.

-- China's 60 percent cell phones to be exported in 2004

emily | 8:51 AM | permalink

Hospital to permit cell phone usage

Fukuoka's Kyushu University Hospital says that it has started permitting patients to use their cellphones while in hospital, according to Cellular News.

"The decision is controversial as cell phones are believed to have the potential to interfere with medical equipment, although the hospital says that in six months of use, no problems have been reported.

"Taking into account the feelings of the inpatients and convenience to the outpatients, the positives (of allowing cell phone use) outweighed the negatives," said Masao Tanaka, assistant director at the hospital.

Cellphones are still banned in the intensive care unit and operating theatres however".

emily | 8:48 AM | permalink

College Txts Students

As of next Fall, Braintree College in North Essex, UK will use a customised group texting system to communbicate with its 1000 full-time students, according to Mike Grenville for 160characters.org.

"The college will use the service for various types of communication. These will include providing support around coursework, information on college social events, and good news/congratulations messages. Another obvious use for the service will be for short-notice notification of college closure, or changes in lecture rooms.

Replies to messages are returned to the 'txt inbox' on the computer of the staff member in much the same way that e-mail is handled".

Some related articles on how schools are around the world communicate with their students:

-- Teens secretly txt their problems to nurse at Cardigan Secondary School

-- Australian students get exam results by SMS

-- Higher School Certificate results by SMS

-- Schools text students, parents

-- UK Student Unions offer lecture alerts, exam updates by SMS

-- Carriers prepare for SMS surge from school exam results

-- Saudi Arabia: Getting exam results by SMS

-- Exam and Admission results by SMS

-- India: Exam results by SMS

emily | 8:45 AM | permalink

The Impact of Mobile Telephony on Newspapers

Gerrit Visser for Smart Mobs reports on how cell phones represent a new frontier for newspapers in news delivery, promotions and contests, location-specific advertising, and customer interaction and data gathering.

"Consumers interact passionately with their mobile devices, and newspapers that deliver mobile content and services have an opportunity to build a one-to-one relationship with readers, to establish a higher brand image (particularly among young adults), and to open up revenue streams never before associated with publishing a newspaper. These are among the top-line conclusions from a new report by INMA titled "The Impact Of Mobile Telephony On Newspaper".

I try and track SMS services offered by the press. For some concrete examples, you can check out this category in Textually.org

emily | 8:37 AM | permalink

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