Monday, February 28, 2005

Just Take Me There

Interesting post regarding search versus navigation.

From Seth Godin Blog .

I lost the keys to my Toyota Prius .

Anyway, I go to Google and type in "replacement key toyota prius." (here's the search: Google Search: replacement key toyota prius.).

A quick check along the ads on the side shows that the second one, ( has paid a lot to offer me a solution.

I click.

It takes me NOT to the parts for my car, but to the parts for all Toyotas (even though they bought the word Prius). I enter Prius and it takes me to another menu. No keys listed here.

I do a search for "keys".

This is what I get .

The whole point here is Seth knew where he wanted to go but the search engine didn't match up his request.How hard to pick out toyota prius and replacement key in that query.

If I'm Toyota this is why I get steamed at Google for generating revenues off my trademark. If the user too that much effort to type two specific names in the request, why couldn't the "alogorithms" decipher this better?

The results that come up for this search are anything BUT Toyota Prius.

When will you be able to type in "toyota prius" and go right to their page?

Cellphones Welcome To The Next Level

From Cellphones: Welcome to the next level.

The cellphone is no longer an island. Mobile technology is connecting the world with a billion invisible bonds and growing. We are now past the one billion mark of mobile users.

Welcome to the next level.

There are 1.3 billion cellphone handsets worldwide, a number expected to grow to three billion by 2008. The market for mobile data services, of which entertainment plays a significant part, is expected to grow to more than $100-billion by 2008. It's more than just talk - a cultural paradigm shift is upon us.

The cellphone has entered this elite club and the cultural impact of that is staggering. In time, like the proverbial Pacman, it may even eat the other two up, as cellphones provide ways to pay for goods and control devices over wireless networks.

We are entering the "all mobile" era.

The most innovative usage of mobile I see is using the phone as a tool to buy a concert ticket", said Ralph Simon, who founded the first North American ring tone company, Moviso in 1998 and was co-founder of Jive/Zomba Records. "You don't get a paper ticket, but get a barcode sent to your phone. You then simply take your phone to the concert event, and your phone gets read at the turnstile by a bar code reader, which in turn recognizes your ticket purchase and lets you in. This is real and is about to happen."

Sunday, February 27, 2005

From The Category Of "I Don't Believe It!"

Gee ya think?
I have said that pay-per-click advertising model is flawed.

From Seth Godin Secret army of ad clickers.

Here's the proof.

earn rupees clicking ads Google search.

Now I wonder, do the advertisers have to pay twice if their ad is clicked on through this search?

Is there a way to generate traffic to your site without being held hostage by a search engine..yes.

Will users be able to combine search and navigation?

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 25, 2005

VISA, Could It Be Everything You WANT It To Be?

I know VISA is behind the curve when it comes to the contactless payment technology, but now that they have stated they will implement, it creates a lot of questions.

I think this is how your M-Commerce starts but is also creates a conundrum of sorts for service providers.

From Visa launches contactless payments system in US .

Visa has completed development of its contactless payments system and is ready to begin deploying chip-based payment cards featuring the technology in the US.
The system, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, allows consumers to pay for purchases by waving their card in front of a point-of-sale (pos) terminal tequipped with a contactless reader. All other aspects of the contactless payments are handled in the same way as a traditional transaction.

Visa says the system will make the purchase process faster and easier, while offering all the same security protections as traditional payments.

MasterCard's contactless PayPass and American Express's ExpressPay are already in use.

I say this is the start of M-Commerce, but not like most expect it to be. It's mobile, but it doesn't go through a service provider.

MasterCard is already working with Nokia and Motorola to incorporate the contactless payment solution in some of their mobile phones.

Will VISA announce they are working with a handset manufacturer too?

When the contactless payment credit card gets incorporated into mobile phones, how will this affect the wireless service providers? There are many mobile marketing campaigns being introduced that allow you to send a text (SMS) to a certain merchant's code and the charge then goes on your cell phone account. This is mainly being used for small purchases and any type of locations where it is difficult to use a credit card (taxis).

I think most imagined M-Commerce to be, click on an item with your phone and purchase with your service provider account. This would allow service providers to generate revenue from data traffic.

Now that the credit card companies have lowered the minimum purchase requirements , will it be easier just to wave your cellphone to make that $5 purchase than to send a text?

In order for this to work, the contactless credit card reader will have to be ubiquitous. But it represents a huge opportunity for the credit card companies.

What it could do though is jeopardize a major revenue source that the service providers were forecasting. If these readers are installed in a majority of retail establishments, and you can just wave your "credit card phone", are you even using the service providers network?

Would credit card companies have to pay service providers if they run their data through the internet or through a closed network? When the credit card is scanned, the info travels through whos network?

Would I rather wave my phone to pay for every item than cash? I get miles and a detailed summary of every transaction of everything I bought for the month.

Is there a fee for every one of these transactions, albeit small (.05, .50). If "waving" replaces cash, the transaction company that gets these fees will see some enormous volume.

Will ATM machines have to be retrofitted to accomodate the ability for contactless credit cards?

What will this do to the company(s) that make the swipe only credit card machines.

For places/situations that don't have the ability to install one of these readers, the credit card company could create their own short code (VISA=8572). Instead of waving, you could send a text and have the purchase done this way, but that would involve using the service provider.

The key to this is when credit card readers become accepted in all retail locations.
That is why I think it makes a lot of sense for a credit card company to get hooked up with a service provider.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Say It Aint So

The same day the Government is investigating the Kreme in Krispee Kreme, we find out that the keyword pricing tree doesn't grow to the sky. I've been saying this was coming for a while. The biz of selling a commodity with no barriers to entry and cyclical would have to be valued accordingly.

It also is a fact Google's revenues have been slowing down percentage wise for a while now. I guess analysts didn't see that.

From Beyond Google and Yahoo!.

NEW YORK - Online search stocks have defied gravity, with many investors apparently thinking that the Internet ad market would boom ad infinitum and that there would never be ugly pricing pressures to curtail growth.

On Thursday, these investors got a wake up call.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday lowered their online ad sales figures for the third quarter of 2004 and indicated that fourth-quarter sales growth slowed more than expected.

That spooked investors as it raised fears that a slowdown may continue in the first half of 2005. RBC analyst Jordan Rohan downgraded search market leaders Google (GOOG) and Yahoo! (YHOO) on Thursday morning, citing unexpected weakness in paid-search pricing in the first quarter. Google and Yahoo! both sank about 5 percent on the news.

Advertising is cyclical.

"The world hasn't ended. There is seasonality in online advertising. That's not surprising," said John Tinker, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners.

That brings us to concerns about the first quarter and beyond. David Garrity, an analyst with Caris & Co., concedes that keyword pricing in the first quarter is probably going to soften a bit as some advertisers balk at what they deem high rates.

I think it's a combination of high rates and realization that this isn't the best way to get traffic to your site.

But he argues that this weakness won't last for long. In an age where more and more TV viewers are using TiVo (TIVO) and digital video recorders to zoom past commercials, the Internet has emerged as a more viable way to target consumers. So the online search companies have leverage.

But for how long? Search companies are becoming the target of trademark suits and the "clicks" are in question now.

"Traditional means of advertising aren't working and there's no other game in town. Where the consumer goes the advertiser must follow so this pushback is merely a temporary phenomenon," Garrity said.

No other game in town? I disagree, the most efficient, targeted advertising model is coming that will have search engines pressing their noses against the glass trying to get in.

Under $5 Hanging Fruit Worth $1.3 Trillion?

I found this article of interest. Not only because how big this market is, but how easy it can be penetrated.

From NWA For credit card cos, no purchase is too small for plastic.

For years, Marcia Levi refused to accept either credit or debit cards for purchases under $10 at her downtown gift shop, Chocolate Moose. Customers complained. She lowered the threshold to $5. Customers still complained, so two years ago she gave up on any minimum. "People come in and charge $2.25 for a card or $1.75 for jelly beans," said Levi, who co-owns Chocolate Moose with her sister Barbara. "It’s annoying. In the past two years, they’ve just whipped out the card without thinking about it, no matter how small the purchase."

The persistence of her customers was no accident. Visa International, MasterCard Inc. and other card companies are working hard to make sure that no purchase is too small for plastic.

Faced with a saturated market where just about everyone who wants a credit card has one, the companies have set their sights on what by one estimate is the $1.32 trillion in cash spent every year on purchases less than $5. Emboldened by consumers willing to download songs at 99 cents a pop or cell phone ring tones at $2 apiece, card companies are courting fast-food chains, taxi- cab companies and parking-meter manufacturers that have traditionally accepted only cash.

"Card companies tapped out the low-hanging fruit within the merchant community," said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, a payment card trade journal. "Now they’re going after merchants that have been reluctant to accept credit and debit cards."

Visa and MasterCard — joint ventures made of up of thousands of banks that issue credit and debit cards — prohibit merchants from setting minimum payments. American Express, which issues it own credit cards, discourages minimums but allows them if the merchants apply the same limits to other cards they accept.

Card company executives recognize that the fee structure is a deal-breaker for many of the cashbased merchants they’re pursuing.

When Visa stopped requiring signatures for purchases of $15 or less in 2003, it also relaxed the merchant fees it charged. As a result, Visa transactions at fast-food restaurants nearly doubled in dollar value between 2003 and 2004, Pascarella said.

Another pitch is faster transactions. Swiping cards without signing receipts is much faster than fumbling around for pocket change, they say. And now, all the major card companies are experimenting with getting rid of the swiping altogether so that transactions move even faster.

Combine no minimum dollar amount requirements and a contactless solution(no paper, or keypads ) and you have created an entry to a $1.32 trillion dollar market. This will be done with a contactless credit card, sending an SMS, or waving your cellphone over a reader.

It's easy, quick, hassle free, gets miles and you get a monthly statement itemizing EVERY purchase.

This creates a huge opportunity for credit card companies AND service providers in my opinion.

It's About Time

Considering I can't tell what they're saying let alone what the title is.

YellowPepper launches mobile music service.

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 23, 2005--YellowPepper, a leading mobile services provider that simplifies and accelerates the deployment of interactive, revenue generating mobile wireless services, today announced the addition of its Mobile Music Services Suite

At the core of YellowPepper's Mobile Music Services Suite offering is its music recognition capability, whereby an individual can dial a phone number and hold a mobile phone near a music source such as a radio or TV; artists and songs are then identified and communicated via text message.

YellowPepper is the first mobile services provider to take the core music recognition offering a step further, enabling consumers to download additional rich content to their mobile phones not available anywhere else.

Digital Wallet

From Smart phones work like train tickets.

This story is not really news considering Howard Rheingold talked about it years ago.

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Some 10 million Japanese commuters use smart cards embedded with a computer chip to pay for train tickets and slip by station gates with just a tap of their plastic on special reading devices.

With a service planned for launch in January next year, they'll be able to use their mobile phones in place of the cards to pay for their train fares, a Japanese train company, a top mobile operator and Sony Corp. said Tuesday.

The Suica electronic train-fare system uses Sony's IC chip technology called FeliCa, which is also used in other kinds of electronic cash cards.

The cards are embedded with a tiny computer chip that permits instantaneous payments without the hassle of coins.

Some DoCoMo phones already have an IC chip in them and can be used for purchases at stores that have electronic panels that can read the cards. More than 2 million FeliCa handsets have been sold in Japan.

But so far, the phones haven't been compatible with Suica, the widespread smart-card system for trains, a service run by East Japan Railway Co. that began about three years ago.

The companies will test out the new service in March through their joint venture FeliCa Networks Inc. and hope to attract a million people next year, they said.

Bringing together Suica and cell phones may boost already massive IC chip usage here because Japanese are among the most avid users of cell phones in the world, including various Net-linking features such as restaurant guides, news, e-mail and karaoke.

Users will also be able to use their Suica-compatible cell phones to pay at some restaurants, convenience stores and shops.

The service will later be expanded to include online shopping and reserved ticket purchases, the companies said.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Cell Phone Meets The Credit Card

I have been saying that it wouldn't surprise me if a service provider and a credit card company get hooked up in some way. It just makes sense considering the cell phone is playing a larger role in our every day life and we are going to a cash-less society.

From MobilePipeline Payments via cell phones to grow rapidly this year.

The number of opportunities to use your cell phone and other small objects to make payments will grow rapidly this year and will keep growing in future years, according to a study released Tuesday by ABI Research.

Often called "contactless payments," the technology involves swiping an enabled cell phone, key ring or other small item near a point-of-sale terminal. The capabilities, which use RFID-like near-field wireless technology, are starting to gain momentum in Japan and are undergoing tests in the U.S. and Europe. Credit card companies have endorsed the technology.

"As consumers continue to use card-based transactions for smaller, traditionally cash-based purchases, contactless payment capabilities make more sense, especially for card issuers looking to increase customer loyalty and convenience," Erik Michielsen, ABI's director of RFID and ubiquitous wireless research, said in a statement.

Combine spontaneity and a credit card, a retailer's dream.

While the technology has been around for a while and used in a small number of cases such as ExxonMobile's SpeedPass payment system, it will start to catch on big-time this year, Michielsen said. That's because those previous efforts didn't have the support of credit card vendors.

"What's lifting this to the next level is the expansion of contactless payment from these closed, branded systems, to open systems tied to bank accounts and major credit card issuers," Michielsen said. "These financial institutions now want a bigger share of what was in the past the cash-based economy."

Michielsen predicted that merchants that typically have low-cost transactions, such as fast-food restaurants, will be among the first to switch to the system. Specifically, he said he expects McDonald's restaurants to adopt the system in North America this year.

More and more it looks like the cell phone is replacing the wallet. It also is becoming the remote control for our every day life.

Could you have a cell phone sponsored by MasterCard or American Express?

Will there be a gold or platinum phones representing status?

I guess my black phone is the top of the line then according to American Express status.

Credit card companies will have to provide some incentives to get THEIR card on the cellphone. What will they be?

Mobile Commerce...Judgement Time Part 2

The more I think about this court case, the more I realize how big this could really be.

The court case and implications I refer to are here.

The case involves Virgin scanning barcodes in their MegaStores (retail music stores).

If I'm Virgin Entertainment and I'm thinking outside the box a little here, this could be a pivotal point for both my Music and my Mobile divisions.
Regardless of the outcome of the suit, I could see how a growing service provider like Virgin Mobile could use this application to create a marketing bonanza.

Imagine if the ability to scan a barcode on a CD inside a Virgin Mega Store could be broadened to include scanning a barcode ANYWHERE. Would you in a sense be turning every CD into a Virgin MegaStore showroom?

We all know the music retail industry is dying and is having to come up more creative ways to stimulate sales. One of the newest features is to wave a CD under a barcode scanner and lit the songs, and play snippets of each one. This is a great idea. However they are being sued for this ability.

Take it a couple steps further. Imagine if Virgin Mobile incoporates this barcode reading ability on a Nokia, Samsung phone and offers an unlimited fee to download any song just by reading a CD barcode?

Would the 18-35 yr old generation, the most coveted by advertisers, flock to this service provider?

Would Virgin Mobile show an increase in ARPU (avg revenue per user)?

Would other music retailers be nervous?

By incorporating this scanning ability on a cellphone, you could make your Virgin Megastore borderless.

Have MTV or VH1 joint market this and really launch it.

Take a negative situation and turn it into a monster marketing campaign.

The biggest topic right now for service providers to increase data revenues is downloading music to the phone.

If you offer the ability to read any barcode on a CD anywhere, you have just created a product that is in demand, and will increase SP's ARPU as well.

Now that theres the Local Number Portability in place (take your cellphone number with you), what kid wouldn't switch to Virgin Mobile just for this ability.

Richard Branson thinks outside the box, think he has thought of this?

Sony Goes HipHop With SMS

From HipHopSupaStar, Cingular and Sony Ericsson presents Flyaway Sweepstakes.

Its time to get out the vote and support the ten selected finalists. Every Vote is an entry to win the Fly-Away Sweepstakes to chill with Xzibit.

Put it down for your favorite artist. Vote Now. Who's Nicest? Drop your vote now!

Text SUPA to HSTAR to get a ballot sent to your phone!

Hip Hop SupaStar has found ten voices they feel represent the voice of the Hip-Hop movement, vote for the one that you feel is ready to change the game and bring it with the kind of freshness and originality that Hip-Hop represents.

Hip Hop SupaStar, presented by Cingular and Sony Ericsson, is about innovation. We want that sound that stays true to the core of Hip-Hop but still takes it to the next level

How The Greeting Card Biz Comes To Life

From SMS, a threat to greeting card biz.

It is estimated that about a billion short messaging service were exchanged during the week between last Christmas and New Year in India.

While this may be a good ring tone for cellular operators, it has definitely given the greeting cards businesses something to worry about.

Chand Das, chief executive, ITC Ltd- greeting, gifting and stationery business, told Business Standard that the greeting card industry's business was stagnant over the last three years, but this fiscal the industry has been witnessing a 10 per cent fall in business due to the SMS and multi-messaging services.

Das says that while e-cards did have its negative impact on the growth of greeting card sales, the major impact has been felt from the growing popularity of SMS and MMS.

There's a simple solution and could be a big revenue generator too. Turn on the greeting card. Every greeting card has a barcode. Hallmark can off the ability to include a greeting or a picture for every greeting card.

For an extra .25 would you like to turn on your card?

Take a picture with cameraphone or record a message and allow Hallmark to "attach" the message to that specific barcode. So when Grandma Sally records her message "Happy Birthday Susie!" and attaches it to the card, Susie opens up the card and either clicks on the barcode or types in the digits from the code to hear the greeting.

Or the card buyer can go to Hallmark's website and enter in a special greeting according to the specific barcode. When Susie clicks on the barcode, the greeting shows up on her cellphone.

Lots of possibilities, but when you turn on the barcode, you make the greeting card interactive.

The greeting card now has a personal touch to it. Hallmark earns an extra .25 and this will separate Hallmark from the wannabee gretting card cos.

Very easy to do, and the greeting card will have much more impact.

The only problem might be getting Grandma to work a cell phone.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Would You Like A Happy Ending?

From c21 Media Law&Order uses SMS for ending.

Australia's Network Ten is offering viewers the chance to choose between two different endings to an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, using mobile phone text-messaging.

The network is embarking on an ambitious television experiment, which in principle could mean audiences in Queensland end up watching an entirely different outcome to those in New South Wales.

Network Ten is working with promotional marketing agency Legion Interactive to launch the initiative this coming Sunday evening. During the final 10 minutes of the Law & Order: Criminal Intent special, the lines will open up allowing viewers to vote via SMS on their preferred ending to the show.

The most popular choice in each specific state will then air immediately after the programme at 22.30 in the form of an additional 10 minutes of programme footage.

While both Network Ten and Legion Interactive expressed excitement at the project, previous experiments in other countries offering alternative endings has failed to captures audiences' imaginations.

While interactivity has been successfully applied to genre such as reality and factual, drama has yet to witness a format that could truly lay the claim to having cracked it.

Now what does Law&Order do with the database of users that texted the show? Will they work with sponsors to offer free prizes?
Will they alert the user when the next season is about to air?

Think of the data they now have. They can determine what part of the country had the most impact. Reward these people for spending the time to text with what?

If advertisers are creative they integrate an ad with this SMS service. There are many ways you can keep the viewer from Tivo'ing thru your ad.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

From 750 Million To 14 Billion Devices

From The Lowdown On High Tech Trends.

Forrester Research CEO George Colony deflates outsourcing, predicts Net links for billions of products, and sees GM's CIO as a pioneer

In a sea of buzzwords such as RFID (radio-frequency identification tags), offshoring, and open-source initiatives, what's really driving information technology? And what's way overblown?

On Feb. 8, editors and writers of BusinessWeek sat down with George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research (FORR ), a technology research and consulting firm, to talk about IT trends today and what he likes to call the "Ralph Revolution" in recognition of GM (GM ) CIO Ralph Szygenda. Edited excerpts from the conversation follow.

Q: What do you see as the biggest growth area in technology right now?

A: A very big area is what we call the physical-to-digital connection. The difference between 1994 and 2004 is that in that 10-year period, a piece of wire was created from every company to every customer -- the World Wide Web. From 2004 to 2014, a piece of wire will be created from every company to every product they've ever made. I'm exaggerating here a little bit, but that's where we're going. Forrester predicts that we're going from 750 million devices connected to the Internet today to 14 billion by the end of this decade.

How do these 14 billion devices get "turned on"? Every product eventually will have an RFID tag and an Internet address. A domain name only became valuable when the browser was introduced for the PC.

There will be a "browser" for this physical world. An application that deciphers the hidden RFID tag and connects to the corresponding website.

750 million devices use a couple different types of browsers to surf the Internet. Microsoft Expolorer, Netscape Navigator and Mozilla's Firefoz are the big ones.

Those 14 billion devices will contain an RFID tag, a barcode, a DNA, a fingerprint and will need a browser that can decipher the identifier and take you to the appropriate website.

Shut The Cell Up

From N.Y. Post Shut the cell up.

Unsuspecting cellphone users may find themselves saying that more often now that cellphone jammers — illegal gizmos that interfere with signals and cut off reception — are selling like hotcakes on the streets of New York.

I use it on the bus all the time. I always zap the idiots who discuss what they want from the Chinese restaurant so that everyone can hear them. Why is that necessary?"

He added, "I can't throw the phones out the window, so this is the next best thing."

Online jammer seller Victor McCormack said he's made "hundreds of sales" to New Yorkers.

"The interest has gone insane in the last few years. I get all sorts of people buying them, from priests to police officers."
Jammers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from portable handhelds that look like cellphones to larger, fixed models as big as suitcases.

Their sole goal is to zip inconsiderate lips. The smaller gadgets emit radio frequencies that block signals anywhere from a 50- to 200-foot radius. They range in price from $250 to $2,000.

But don't expect to find jammers at the local Radio Shack — they're against Federal Communications Commission regulations because they interfere with emergency calls and the public airwaves. They are illegal to buy, sell, use, import or advertise.

Another reason why I think text messaging will become more popular in the States. It is considered rude and almost socially unaccepatable in Japan to talk on your cell phone in public. Texting has become a way of life there.

Texting can be a personal conversation in a crowd and nobody has to know.

Personally I think these Jammers are great if people use them for specific cases. Like somebody at the checkout line that feels their time is more important than yours.

Maybe all the auto manufacturers can get together and install in every car, so when the engine is running the cell phone cant be used.

I have to laugh at who seems to be the biggest offender of this self centered behavior, it's NEVER the people that have anything valuable to say JAM THEM.

I also wonder what kind of implications this will have on the next generation stuff, like RFID tag readers. Could these eventually be used at retail stores to throw on scanning RFID tags?

Could retail stores install these so people couldnt compare prices in the store?

There will be a happy medium to all of this. Maybe people will become more conscious of others now when using a mobile...or maybe not.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The One-On-One Interaction With Consumer

From The Hindu Business Line Involve consumers in creating brands.

COMPANIES must involve consumers in creating brands, as there has been a "mind-boggling" rise in consumer-to-consumer communication even as corporates' own understanding of value creation has blurred, said Prof Venkat Ramaswamy of the University of Michigan Business School.

Prof Ramaswamy said the Internet, along with other communication channels such as SMS and blogs, has meant that customer experiences are shared more rapidly and widely, what he termed a "word-of-mouth" overdrive. For instance, over a billion SMS messages are exchanged everyday. Because of such an explosion of information, consumers are much more in the know about the product, in a position to make comparisons easily and are ready to experiment.

On the other hand, with increased convergence, companies have difficulty in figuring out their competitors, which industry they are in and how to gain the competitive edge.

Such being the case, companies can engage consumers in a two-way interaction and deliver the experience that they want. Apple, he said, has created an environment for buying and sharing music with its iTunes portal, from which 250 million songs have been downloaded.

Responding to a question, he said that the traditional methods of advertising may well die. Advertisers need to learn how consumers interact with new media. Clients can create their own advertising along with the agency, bringing in the customer experience.

How does an advertiser create this interaction? How do they get people to their site? How do they get people to click on a barcode, text a number?

This is a new media, and advertisers will find a way to utilize it. It will be more personal and be harder to abuse. But if it is used properly, it will be the best for of advertising to date, and the cheapest.

Think about it if Nike or Procter Gamble could advertise to you anytime, anywhere on your mobile phone. If given permission, how much is this worth?

Mobile Music...Endless Possibilities And Higher Speed Demand

The more I think about the hot topic at 3SGM Conference, music downloading on the phone, the more I see a deja-vous all over again...And this could be the catalyst for higher wireless speeds.

Back in 99, Internet traffic was exploding at an enormous rate. Was it that so many people were getting on the net? Yes, but what was really driving the traffic was a little company called Napster.

P2P, music downloading was creating this massive increase in Internet traffic. The Junipers, Ciscos were showing massive revenue growth. Projections for this exponential growth were everywhere.

Then they shut Napster down. Instead of harnessing this powerful engine, they shut it off. This stalled the Internet traffic growth and created many underground P2P sites. None of these sites every became as big as Napster.

I'm not saying shutting down Napster caused the Internet bubble to burst, but by stopping creativity instead of harnessing it, it did put a big pause in the Internet boom.

So we have ANOTHER "computer" (mobile phone) that is getting Internet accessiblity and what is the application that is being hailed as the fuel for this downloads.

Will we learn from past mistakes or will we Yogi Berra it.

Nokia, Ericsson, Vodafone and Verizon Wireless have all bet heavily on the consumer wanting to download music to their phones. Selling this music, whether its downnloads or via streaming service could be a huge revenue tool for service providers.

But how does it work? Music labels Sony BMG, EMI and Warner started to make part of their catalogs available for downloading.

What are some other methods?

While a song is being played, phone a number and a service recognizes this song for you.

After a song is played on radio station, the DJ says "text xxxx" to download a copy of this song.

Click on a barcode of ANY CD ANYWHERE and the titles come up, click on the specific one you want to download. How does a music store prevent this? Or do they offer it as a service too?

American TOP 40 can provide a service, that by sending a text to AT25, the 25th song in the countdown gets downloaded.

Satellite radio providers on their display can show a specific code and mobile users can text to download.

What if Virgin Music offered an unlimited monthly download service if your signed up with their wireless service?

Could other service providers join forces with record labels? Could ITunes hook up with a service provider?

Cannes Summary...3G Still A Facade

From Intrenational Herald Tribune Is 3G ready? Not for me.

I could tell 3GSM World Conference was a disappointment based on the few eye-catching press releases . This biggest news that came out of it was the MSFT Nokia partnership. Outside of that, nada. Music on the phone was the biggest buzz .

CANNES A golden sun drenched the beaches, and red carpets dressed the sidewalks. It was a cheerful farewell to Cannes for the 3GSM World Congress, which has been held at the Palais des Festivals here since the inception of GSM networks more than a decade ago.

Longtime conferencegoers, who have had to book hotels up to a year in advance, are looking forward to next February, when the mobile phone industry gathers for the first time in Barcelona, where rooms and conference space are more abundant.

The Cannes send-off was agreeable and gracious, the golden aura contagious: "The sun is shining on the show and on the industry," said Simon Beresford-Wylie, head of Nokia Networks.

It was a welcome change after the downbeat conferences of the past four years. But at some point over the course of the week, I realized that the glow was just a patina.

The industry's great white hope - third-generation cellular networks that can turn mobile phones into portable minicomputers - is still not ready for a mass market. Only geeks need yet apply. I, for one, am waiting until at least 2006 before I invest my own or my company's money in 3G.

That truth came out in several quiet admissions over the week. The chief technology officer of Nokia, Pertti Korhonen, said parts of 3G are still glitchy and will likely remain so through this year. Sophisticated billing systems that charge high-speed voice and data by the second or by the byte need work, he said. The handover of a signal from one 3G provider to another - or from a 2G network to a 3G one - is still unpredictable. The basics of what we have come to expect from mobile communications have not yet been mastered.

Of course, the carriers are blaming the handset makers as much as the reverse. Marco De Benedetti, chief executive of Telecom Italia Mobile, said existing "low-tech" handsets still outperform the "advanced" - and more expensive - 3G handsets that are available.

Don't get me wrong: I love my 2.5G mobile phone and its access to the Internet and e-mail and Google and news headlines on the spur of the moment. And I do believe that 3G will change daily phone habits and our communications culture and will even give PCs, cameras and digital music players a run for their money. I also believe that data charges will be huge moneymakers for carriers and the handsets a profit center for manufacturers.

But not this year.

It's too bad, because the general public has been baited with promises since 2000, when phone companies bid up the cost of licenses to offer 3G into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The industry itself is especially important to Europe's telecommunications prowess, enriching the coffers and reputations of Ericsson, Alcatel, Nokia and Siemens, to name a few.

The GSM Association, the trade group that co-sponsors the world congress, said in a report this week that the mobile industry contributed €105.6 billion, or $137.3 billion, last year to the gross domestic product of the 15 pre-expansion European Union countries.

Nearly three million jobs in those countries depend on the mobile services industry: 423,000 of them directly, 738,000 jobs in support services, and 1.6 million indirectly. Based on that level of employment, the association calculated that the mobile services industry generates €83.9 billion a year in revenue in Europe.

I don't expect 3G to change those numbers significantly this year. At a news conference in Cannes this week, Didier Quillot, chief executive of Orange France, said that the early adopters of his company's 3G service were three-quarters men and two-thirds under the age of 35. That has "geek" written all over it.

The two main complaints 3G users had in the early going, he said, concerned the range of the network and the reliability of the handsets. If there were two more fundamental problems for mobile phone use, I'm not sure what they would be.

My personal forecast is that Barcelona in 2006 will be warmer and sunnier for the industry - and for mobile phone users - than Cannes this year.

Will there be a competing technology that upstages 3G by the time 3G gets here?

I think so. Will service providers realize what it is? I don't, till it's too late.

That's the problem with technology these days. Technology is moving so fast that your timing has to be even "more" perfect. The "too early to survive, too late and you fail" motto has never been more appropriate.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Getting On the Phone Through Wallpaper

From XTV World How to reach your audience's mobile phones.

The next big marketing must is Mobile Wallpaper that includes a companies logo, brand URL or premium number. It's a quick mobile fix for companies that want to reach the mobile.

(PRWEB) February 17, 2005 -- Perhaps the most relevant, efficient and inexpensive way to reach your audiences mobile is by offering free branded MMS and Wallpaper that can be downloaded directly to their phone.

How a company should leverage the web, was a hard enough nut to crack, but now that mobiles are on the rise, what to do- m-commerce, mobile community, location based services or an sms campaign? Sounds like rough, unexplored terrain, which is costly, time consuming and risky to explore.

Mobile images in the form of wallpaper or MMS on the other hand are already tried and proved. People love them and while they will be forking out billions over the next years to send mobile greetings to their friends and decorate their phones with hip backgrounds, free branded images offer a nice alternative for your audience. Now that phones can access the web it is possible to host an image that can be reached by typing a URL into a mobile phone.

Typing a URL can be nail biting process, but it beats paying the three or five dollars image distribution services charge.

No need to type in a lengthy URL.

Just click on a barcode of ANY product of the brand. What if Coke offered a Jessica Simpson video just by clicking on ANY BARCODE ON ANY COKE CAN.

Or send an SMS and get link back. It's not that hard to implement a good mobile campaign. Keeping one is another story.

The medium works especially well for companies that offer mobile services, since they can include their premium number or URL in the image. Since mobiles go wherever the owner goes and is seen by their peers, it acts as a mini billboard. If it is any indication that mobile wallpaper will be around for a while, the number one search on google in the tech category last year was "wallpaper".

What if Froogle incorporated a desireable image and offered the combo of wallpaper/price comparison engine?

Could this be a way Google gets their toolbar on the phone?
Froogle and an image company offer the ability to choose your own image for a toolbar. Download a New England Patriots Google bar. Or an ocean view Google toolbar.

The same concept of personalized credit cards, but with the Google toolbar. Give the wallpaper away JUST TO GET the toolbar on the phone.

Flower Power

From Mobile shopping gets flower power.

Online flowers service and have made their services available to mobile phone users.
Mobile users can now view both website’s entire range of products, including full colour images, and order flowers or gifts.

To use the service customers must first download a shopping application to their mobile via the sites.

Would this be considered a private label mobile browser?

Peter Zeist, CEO of 0800Flowers said “Buying flowers is often an impulse purchase and therefore perfect for mobile shopping.

Mobile shopping will be geared to the impulse buy. Therefore it must be easy.

"People are not always at their pc when they remember special occasions like birthdays or Mother’s Day, but they do always have their mobiles with them.”

It takes the high tech floral industry to realize that the mobile will be critical for commerce.

The technology is made possible using Reporo, a mobile shopping marketplace, was launched at the start of January 2005 and claims to have a customer base of several thousand.

The marketplace is designed to easily allow mobile uses to browse favourite websites and buy products using the marketplace interface.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Japanese Are Coming

From International Herald Tribune In Japan, mobile data giants look overseas.

Seems logical. After you have mastered an industry in one country, try expanding.

In February 1999, Index was rolling out a horoscope site for i-mode, NTT DoCoMo's new mobile phone Internet service.
Since i-mode opened the floodgates of mobile data, it has become a rich vein for Japan's young entrepreneurs. The thousands of Japanese companies in the mobile content industry are generating an estimated total of ¥300 billion in annual revenue. Fifteen of the companies are listed on Japanese stock exchanges, with a total market capitalization of ¥790 billion.
Some emphasize ring tones, like Dwango, while others focus on mobile games, like Sammy Net and G-Mode. Index offers everything from ring tones to fortune-telling and mobile-commerce sites. So does Cybird, which is known for a mobile site listing wave conditions at various beaches.
"If you have customers coming into the stores, they are going to say, 'Does it play that game I saw advertised?' or 'Does it play that music?"' said Chris Moore, the general manager for content at Vodafone KK in Tokyo. "They are narrowing down the choice of handsets as to what type of content that handset is going to deliver and which one is going to be the best experience for them."
But several analysts say the Japanese mobile data business has already seen its best days as far as growth is concerned. Revenue that was once doubling and tripling each year has slowed to single-digit percentage gains.
"Typically when you see big growth, that is when a new handset is invented or when the phone generation changes," said an executive at one Japanese mobile carrier who asked not to be identified.
Strong content growth has come in recent years - when camera-equipped phones were introduced, for instance, and when KDDI unveiled the first downloads of commercial music.
To counter slower growth at home, Index and other mobile data companies are tapping into overseas locations, where the mobile data market is just beginning to grow. Some also are trying to add cell-based services like electronic money or TV.
In August, Index acquired 66.6 percent of the shares of 123 Multimedia, a French company that makes content for cellphones, PCs and televisions, for ¥15 billion. A year ago, Index bought Haiku, a French mobile data provider, and Mobliss, a Seattle-based mobile technology company., a Japanese content provider listed on the Jasdaq market, recently acquired MobiVillage, a French mobile technology company.
In a crowded cellular content market, Index is the largest in terms of sales and profit.
"Index is ahead of the pack" in the mobile data space, said Motoharu Sone, an analyst at UFJ Tsubasa Securities in Tokyo. "It successfully captured growth in overseas markets, which are growing rapidly."
While others have failed at creating local operations from scratch - like Cybird, which recently folded its Korean subsidiary - Index succeeded by buying local companies, he said.
"After all, as a content provider, your relationship with the carrier is going to count heavily, and you have to keep local culture in mind" in creating content, Ogawa said. Referring to mergers and acquisitions, she added, "It would take too much time for us to learn the local games, so we figured it would better by doing an M&A."
The 123 Multimedia deal seems to have paid off, at least for now. In December, Index took the French company public on the EuroNext market, raising ¥6.6 billion. Thanks in part to acquisitions like 123 Multimedia, Index expects sales this year to rise to ¥78 billion this year from ¥39 billion last year and pretax profit to reach ¥7.2 billion.
Ogawa said she believed that the company's growth would come from retail operations that sold, among other things, perfume and fashion accessories as well as from mobile services linked to television broadcasting. She said Index had developed a system that would let TV viewers order goods by pressing buttons on their phones during a program or participate in interactive quiz shows, for example, using their phones.
But success is not guaranteed. "Their main line of business is not growing as fast as it once did," said one technology fund manager at a Japanese asset management firm. "And overseas businesses are not as easy as you might think."

TV And The Cell Phone Merge

Think of incorporating this feature into TV ads. Stop people from Tivo'ing your 30 second ad and provide interaction. I can think of endless campaigns.

From Business Wire New York City's "What's the 411?" chooses SmartSMS to add mobile text.

HOLLYWOOD--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 16, 2005--American IDC Corporation's (OTC:ACNI:PK) Gordon Lee, CEO, announced today that SmartSMS USA, an American IDC subsidiary, has secured an agreement to provide text messaging services to "What's the 411?" one of New York City's most popular urban entertainment TV programs. This will enable "411" to interact directly with its TV audience while simultaneously generating income.

This is an advertisers dream. Your marketing database gets created for you. And now, the advertiser can reach this person anytime, anywhere.

"What's The 411?" Offers the latest in urban news and entertainment programming featuring some of the "hottest" personalities from America and the world over!

'What's The 411?" is a half-hour weekly entertainment television news magazine program with urban sensibilities. It takes a fascinating look at the bright and distinctive developments and accomplishments of celebrities and news makers impacting the music, film, fashion, sports and cultural arenas!

Ruth Morrison, Producer of 'What's The 411?" say's "Our target audiences of urban young adults are among the highest users of mobile text messaging and we see the technology as a natural way to stay engaged with our audience. SmartSMS will help us achieve our goal by developing a suite of mobile services designed to create and maintain one to one connections with our viewers."

'What's The 411?' intends to enhance its programming by using SmartSMS to provide interactive components that allow viewers to text message votes, contest entries or answer questions using their mobile phones.

Clarence McDowell, President of SmartSMS USA states "Each time a viewer responds to a call to action they will receive a sponsor coupon, special or other incentive as a reply back message on their mobile phone. We see this as a win-win for everyone (ITS REALLY CALLED GETTING PERMISSION). Show producers gain a new revenue generating marketing tool, advertisers gain ability to deliver direct to their targets and viewers receive incentives for interacting with one of their favorite programs what could be better."

Great idea. Take this concept one step further and use in TV ads, magazine, billboards, radio. Mobile marketing will start this way, but advertisers have to provide incentive to opt-in and make sure the marketing campaign is relevant to the user.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Integrating The Internet With The Physical World

This came up through one of my alerts. I don't know who Little Spring Designs Design is or if they are being paid to promote, but I found the article very "familiar".

Integrating the Internet with the Physcial World.

Up until recently, the Internet, with all its information capabilities, was something you used while sitting at a desk. Do you want more information about a particular product? Check the internet. Would you like to compare prices? Check the internet. Would you like to know whether the product on the shelf you are looking at in the store is a good value? Wait until you get home.

Companies have long recognized the potential benefits of allowing the virtual world to interact with us in the physical world, but nobody has yet changed our lives in that way. Several companies are close, waiting on location-based services, but we believe that NeoMedia's PaperClick is likely to be the leading service for pull-based integration.

Pull based integration will turn into push marketing for brands.

Companies from the dot-com boom such as E-Compare were attempting to do price comparisons by requiring the user to type information using limited keypads. The services failed for serveral reasons, including slow network speeds, user typing, and the databases only including internet prices. The companies failed for all the above reasons plus not having good business models.

Along similar lines, there have been products that allow users to collect snippets of information from the physical world for later use. Examples include bar code readers such as NeoMedia 's Cross pen and even voice recorders.

Yes, the CueCat.

These solutions require a lot of time investment from the user, who has to be interested both at the point of information physical presence and later when the user sits down at a computer. This will only happen if the user has an intense interest.

Waiting on Location-Based Services

There is another set of products that will work beautifully once location-based services (LBS) are prevalent and cheap. Mobile yellow pages from companies such as Go2online and InfoSpace have good products. Perhaps the most important feature of these products is that they can extract revenues not from the users, but from the companies who would like "premier listings". However, these products won't really come into their own until location services allows the user to find the nearest restaurant or ATM to where they are, rather than some location they can actually type in. This will also allow accurate directions to get to the point of interest.

While Go2online is purely a "pull" technology, the advertising industry is clamoring to push messages to users based on time of day, situation, or location. At lunchtime, local restaurants could send coupons or other messages to increase traffic whenever necessary. The chief problem with these services, aside from lack of LBS, is getting people to opt in, especially in a country where the recipient and not the sender pays for messages. This problem can be overcome by giving users something of value in exchange for their participation, such as ringers, images, or coupons. Users' selection of what they value can help in market segmentation activities.

Seth Godin refers to this in his book Permission Marketing .

Permission is key for mobile marketing, This isn't spam or a pop-up, its much more intrusive. Those four square inches will be considered tho most valuable advertising real estate.

I talk about how advertisers must create campaigns that allow consumers to interact with the brand here.

Google purchased Keyhole , software and a database that allows users from their PC to view visual images of anything and everything outside, down to fire hydrants. They also recently introduce that gives users browser access to the data using Javascript. It may be only a short time until we can take pictures using our camera phones and have the phone tell us exactly where we are. This could be a method of getting location-based services without carrier participation, but the search requirements would be enormous without at least some help from the carrier or device. In the meantime, it's a cool desktop application.

Google buys Keyhole for their enormous database. Think of any vast database. That is what a search engine needs in order to provide a comprehensive search. Words, pictures, audio, video are all examples..Obviously the video contains the most data.

PaperClick – more than just bar codes

NeoMedia 's PaperClick service marries internet data with real-world objects. Wherever a bar code exists, users can launch an application on their camera-phone, take a picture, and be transferred to the appropriate web site. Taking a picture of a book's ISBN will direct the user to, for example, the web page for that book. A real estate sign bar code could take the user to a virtual tour of the home. A picture of a consumer electronics bar code could take the user to a page with demos, features, and user guides.

I call them Physical World Hyperlinks.

By the way, don't try to make your own bar code picture technology, unless you use the NeoMedia switch. They've got a set of patents, including a few protecting the use of bar codes or other machine-readable codes to look up electronic information.

A key court case could be settled in the next few weeks that may determine how encompassing these patents are.

The beauty of NeoMedia's business model is that they are monetizing the switch, not the end user applications. Companies can bid for specific bar codes or blocks of bar codes. For example, could pay for all ISBNs one year, but Barnes & Noble might win the bidding war in the following year. A real estate agent could pay for the bar codes for her properties. Sony could pay for bar codes for its products.

As more people use the PaperClick service the bar codes become more valuable, and NeoMedia has finally hit upon a combination of factors to make end user adoption easy. First, users can download the J2ME application to access PaperClick services for free. Second, the only necessary hardware is a camera phone with J2ME MIDP2.

The bar code technology can also be used to create interactive advertising campaigns, something NeoMedia is actively and successfully pursuing. Any sort of magazine or poster campaign can add a bar code, allowing PaperClick users can visit the site for information, ring tones, coupons, sweepstakes entry, or anything else deliverable via the Internet.

This is how mobile advertising starts. No need to pay for keywords when your user has given you permission to market to him on his cellphone.

The brand can reach the consumer anytime, anywhere...POWERFUL.

There are other ways to make money with PaperClick. Do you manage a tourist area? If you place a few signs with a PaperClick bar code, users can learn about when this building was built and burned down, what related information is nearby, how to get related souveneirs, how to get anywhere else in the tourist area, and where the nearest bathroom is, all for relatively low costs. The user can keep all this information, especially directions, long after walking away from the sign or kiosk. You can also track users' interests by their behavior. You can integrate with a service such as Go2online to integrate your tourist area with the larger region, providing users with a nearly seamless integration.

At CTIA Wireless & IT 2004, NeoMedia also announced keywords for sale (their WordRegistry service). While this sounds like yet another Internet land grab, we need to look at it in the light of the PaperClick service. Within the same PaperClick application that allows users to take pictures of bar codes, users can type a word or phrase. The idea is that the PaperClick switch would then take the user to the "correct" web site. Typing "Treo 650" could take the user to the PalmOne Treo web site, rather than a community site or a sales site. This will work once PaperClick approaches ubiquity. In the meantime, it's another land grab.

Ubiquity is key. If I was Google I would start incorporating this ability into my search. The point when more Internet traffic is done via mobile device than the PC, then what do search engines do then?

The dream of a virtual-enhanced physical world is one of the guiding visions of the mobile internet. Companies have been waiting a few years to get good location-based services from the carriers, and some have failed during the wait. NeoMedia has taken an alternate path to interacting with the physical world, one based on their deep experience with bar codes. This one may work, and soon.

Yes, I refer to this as The Next Google?..No Much Bigger...

Identifying Thieves

From Digital Water marks thieves.

CARDIFF, Wales -- Crooked criminal hearts may have fluttered and skipped a beat Monday when some of Britain's most notorious thieves opened a valentine from an unwelcome secret admirer -- one of London's top female police chiefs.

But the greeting -- in which Chief Superintendent Vicki Marr wrote "thinking of you and what you do" -- was not so much an amorous expression to the underworld as part of a sting designed to catch hard-core burglars using new chemical microdot crime-fighting technology.

Smart Water is a clear liquid containing microscopic particles encoded with a unique forensic signature that, when found coated on stolen property, provides a precise trace back to the owner and, when detected on a suspect, can conclusively implicate a felon.

Likened to giving household items and vehicles a DNA of their own, the fluid is credited with helping cut burglary in Britain to a 10-year low, with some cities reporting drops of up to 85 percent.

A decade in the making, SmartWater is the name for a suite of forensic coding products. The first, Instant, is a property-marking fluid that, when brushed on items like office equipment or motorcycles, tags them with millions of tiny fragments, each etched with a unique SIN (SmartWater identification number) that is registered with the owner's details on a national police database and is invisible until illuminated by police officers using ultraviolet light.

A second product, the Tracer, achieves a similar goal by varying the blend of chemical agents used in the liquid to produce one of a claimed 10 billion one-off binary sequences, encoded in fluid combinations themselves.

SmartWater CEO Phil Cleary, a retired senior detective, hit upon the idea after watching burglars he had apprehended walk free from court due to lack of evidence.

"It was born out of my frustration at arresting villains you knew full well had stolen property, but not being able to prove it," he said.

Cleary is reluctant to discuss "trade secret" details of a product he has patented, but he concedes that, together with chemist brother Mike, he has developed "a mathematical model that allows us to generate millions of chemical signatures" -- an identifier he boasts is "better than DNA."

But more than property can get tagged. In spray form, the fluid marks intruders with a similarly unique code that, when viewed under UV in a police cell, makes a red-faced burglar glow with fluorescent green and yellow blotches. The resemblance to Swamp Thing and the forensic signature found on his body are telltale signs the suspect has been up to no good at a coded property.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Marketing

A great idea. Simple and very "useful".

Sports Illustrated is selling wallpaper images for your mobile phone.

To see the images click here.

Now once you download an image for $2.00 plus applicable carrier charges, does this give SI the permission to market to you?

Will you get mobile messages offering SI at cheap rates? Will they advertise a reduced rate on the Swimsuit Issue thru an SMS?

Howabout an add-on service that is a Veronika Verekova ringtone. Verionica says "you have a call". How neat would that be?

SI could incorporate a mobile campaign by putting a code under each girl's name in the swimsuit issue for wallpaper downloads.

Combine a wallpaper download and a 1 minute video feature for the phone.

As the clarity of cameras on cameraphones gets better (why can't you take a picture of the girl in the magazine and save on your phone), the wallpaper download biz shrinks and it will be other applications (video clips) that keeps the revenue going.

Will The Real Click Please Stand Up

I have been saying this model is flawed for a while. There WILL be a model that wont be determined by clicks.

What if there was an "all u can eat" like model? Pay an annual fee and the brand determines how to get traffic to its site?

From USA Click fraud looms as threat to online advertisers.

SAN FRANCISCO — Like thousands of other merchants, Tammy Harrison thought she had struck gold when hordes visited her Web site by clicking on the small Internet ads she purchased from the world's most popular online search engines. It cost Harrison as much as $20 for each click, but the potential new business seemed to justify the expense. Harrison's delight dimmed, though, when she realized the people clicking on her ads weren't really interested in her products.

She was being victimized by "click fraud," a scam that threatens to squelch the online advertising boom that has been enriching Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and their many business partners.

The ruse has different twists, but the end result is usually the same: Merchants are billed for fruitless traffic generated by someone who repeatedly clicks on an advertiser's Web link with no intention of ever buying anything.

"Click fraud has gotten out of control," said Harrison, who sells computer software to doctors. "It's stealing money from my pocket. It's just as bad as someone walking into a store and taking a television."

Estimates vary widely on how much click fraud is going on in the $3.8 billion search engine advertising market

"Click fraud is like a big elephant standing in the middle of the living room," said Lisa Wehr, president of Oneupweb, a search engine advertising consultant. "Everyone sees it and knows it's there, but no one is quite sure what to do about it."

The incentives for click fraud have increased along with the money devoted to search engine advertising — a concept that didn't exist until Overture Services introduced it in the late 1990s.

Such advertising, Google calls it AdWords, works like this: The search engine auctions off the right to have advertising links displayed when designated words, such as "vacation Hawaii," are included in a search request. The top bids get the most prominent display on Web pages

Higher prices have turned click fraud into a cottage industry.

Some swindlers have hired cheap overseas contractors to sit in front of computers and click on targeted links all day.

Others are developing sophisticated software to help automate and conceal click fraud.

What if there was a way to bypass a search engine completely? What if an advertiser could incorporate their other mediums to generate traffic to the site.

Between click fraud and trademark issues, search engines will have to be creative in order to keep advertisers spending their dollars.

A new platform for search is coming though. A platform where brands can completely bypass the search engine. That should change this pay-per-click model dramatically.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Microsoft Mass Market Phone

From Alan Reiter's Camera Phone Report.

Alan sheds some light on MSFT's announcement today.

From I learned that Microsoft is working with the huge contract electronics manufacturerFlextronics to develop a mass market GSM GPRS camera phone that's a new, slimmed down version of its current SPV cellular phone using the Windows Mobile Smartphone operating system, according to an article in The Guardian and also a Flextronics' press release.

The phone, code-named Peabody, will include a camera (no details about the resolution or features) and Bluetooth. It will be sold to Original Equipment Manufacturers.

Microsoft's strengths

Look, for example, as Microsoft's entry into the blogging sphere. Its MSN Spaces (see below) might not be the most well known or feature-rich, but it has 1.5 million or more users (at least that number has signed up), according to a report in Blogcount.

Think of how MSN Spaces could encourage camera phone use.

(The Six Apart blogging empire, by the way, has about 6.5 million subscribers, of which 3.5 are active, notes another entry in Blogcount. TypePad has a very nice photo albums features.)

Business applications

Consider Microsoft's power in the business market and then consider what a terrible job the wireless industry has done in marketing -- or not marketing -- camera phone applications to businesses.

Think about the vertical markets where camera phones are being used now: Journalism, real estate, construction, field sales and service, healthcare, politics, entertainment, etc.

When you begin adding up Microsoft's interests and the current and potential applications for camera phones, you can see how wireless imaging cuts across a great deal of Microsoft's ventures

I talk about how Microsoft could dominate Phase 2 of the Internet here.


Pacemaker sends SMS to warn of health problems.

Dutch university medical centre has carried out the first patient implant of a pacemaker system that sends out SMS messages or faxes if it detects heart irregularities, and can also upload heart monitoring data to the internet.

The Philos II DR-T Dual-Chamber Pacemaker with Home Monitoring manufactured by Biotronik, can be configured to send faxes, e-mails or text messages to doctors or carers if it detects problems such as arrhythmia.

The wireless device used to send the data, called the CardioMessenger, resembles a one-button mobile phone and is carried separately by the patient.

When the doctor treating the patient receives a communication from the handset, s/he can go online to securely review the data, and from there, decide whether any problems are serious enough to warrant treatment.

According to the VU Medisch Centrum (VUmc), the university medical centre that pioneered the operation, the operation was recognised by experts as a world first. They add that in the long run, they expect technology to be able to detect any heart problems indicated by the data, and that doctors will need to check up with their patients less and less until this eventually become "superfluous".

The disadvantages of the system include a short battery life of 24 hours on the handset, as well as all the others associated with regular mobile phones. The CardioMessenger must be kept at least eight inches from the pacemaker at all times. Biotronik also point out that the system needs to be turned off in planes and hospitals, and is not suitable for in areas with no mobile phone coverage.

Somehow the phrase "can you hear me now?" carries a little more significance.

Mobile Marketing Across The POnd

Mobile marketing, Europe offers inspiration and ideas.

In the U.S., mobile marketing is nascent. Activities such as the BMW 3 series promotion are largely experimental. Here in Europe, however, the practice is increasingly widespread and sophisticated.

The mobile channel's growing adoption among European marketers has been driven by a number of factors. Deep penetration of the consumer marketplace, verging on ubiquity, means mobile now offers great reach, whatever the target audience's demographic profile. By the end of 2004, 77 percent of Europeans subscribed to a mobile telephony service.

Marketers have a simple and effective messaging platform with which to communicate to their audience, albeit within 160 characters of black and white text via SMS (define). It offers ease, speed, and comparatively inexpensive way to send and receive non-voice communications.

The introduction of cross-network, five-digit shortcodes for consumer textback response has also been a boon to the industry, helping marketers initiate a mobile dialogue with consumers. As a result, investment in the channel has increased significantly over the last few years, growing by 34 percent from €155.3 million in 2003 to €208.7 million in 2004.

As these development occur, Europeans consume more and more mobile data. The channel is becoming more visual than verbal, and opportunities for brand building via the mobile channel are burgeoning.

We're seeing increased use of rich media mobile messaging for greater brand and communication impact. Marketers now have at their disposal MMS (define), WAP push (clickable links to WAP-based multimedia content incorporated into SMS messages), and video shortcodes (consumers receive a video stream directly to their handset in response to texting to a shortcode), recently launched by MX Telecom.

We're also seeing increased use of branded mobile content and applications. In Germany, Coca-Cola offered participants branded wallpapers, logos, and icons as incentive to its "Message in a Bottle" promotion. In France, Procter & Gamble developed what might be the first example of a mobile advergame, a Grand Prix style racing game for Head & Shoulders shampoo

Not only consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are getting in on the act. Automotive, fashion and beauty, and financial services companies are also exploiting the medium.

This may all sound a long way off in the U.S. Yet as industry barriers come down, connectivity and handset functionality improves, and consumer adoption of mobile data rises, these types of opportunities will emerge. For marketers keen to adopt the mobile channel on either continent, they first must build relationships via consumers' handsets with promotions and customer alerts. Mobile marketing service providers, such as Enpocket, Flytxt, and Mobile 365, and network operators (for large-scale channel use) can help exploit the medium.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Banks Combat Fraud With SMS

Great idea, especially when they start issuing PayPass cards.

From Spamfo Master Card turns to SMS messages to combat fraud.

Written by Aunty Spam
Saturday, 12 February 2005

Here’s an interesting scenario: Someone somehow manages to get your credit card number (of course you would never fall for a phisher’s bait… your virus, spyware and firewall software are all up-to-date…

you don’t leave your card lying around… and who uses paper credit card transaction receipts any more to be found in the garbage?…but somehow they get your credit card number…) and they go to Fry’s and try to by a gross of radio pens.

The MasterCard system, noting the attempt at the unusually high charge of $15,588 from Frys in Sunnyvale, California, when you oridinarly only ever shop at Comp USA in Boston, attempts to alert you.

So far this scenario is not terribly new…the credit card giant has always attempted to protect its users from fraud - after all, user losses often turn into MasterCard losses.

But here is what is different: u r going 2 get a txt msg on ur phone, d00d!

That’s right. MasterCard International is putting in place a new program which will allow interested users to register their cellphone numbers, either online or at their bank, and if there is a questionable transaction, the system will send an SMS text message to the user’s phone. According to a report on,

“If the cardholder confirms the transaction is fraudulent, the card can be blocked in minutes, instead of having to go via the bank’s call centre operatives."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Who Will Have The Next Google Like Application ?

From Study: Wireless ads set to spike.

Wirelessly delivered advertising associated with the Internet could be the next craze among marketing and sales organizations as Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled mobile services and handheld devices gradually make their way into the market, according to a report from Dublin, Ireland-based study group Research and Markets; the group’s latest work, “Mobile Marketing and M-Commerce:

The key is how advertsers get permission to get on your phone. THAT will take more effort than what they do after. The incentive can be a contest, coupon, free t-shirt, free trial of the product. I have no doubts that the permission allowing "act" will undoubtedly be a physical world hyperlink and the connection via mobile device.

Global Spending And Trends,” suggests 2005 is projected to be a breakout year for mobile marketing, with spending spiking from "virtually nothing to millions in pilot investments".

Think back three years and how search engines were just considered a novelty. At that time the market didn't know that the search engine would be the vehicle of choice for advertising on the Internet.

There will be another "vehicle of choice" for advertising on the cell phone. It's not that hard to see. It is an application on your cell phone, that provides a one- on-one interaction with the product or brand AND gives the brand the permission to market to the user through that device.

Internet surfing with a PC versus a mobile phone are completely different and advertisers will have to realize that your phone is much more personal than your PC.

What application allows a one-on-one mobile interaction with a brand now?

That's the "Google" for mobile market advertising.

“Though that sounds suspiciously like the online advertising hype of the 1990s, remember, the Internet is now key to the marketing and sales strategies for most companies,” the study organization says.

“Wireless represents the next frontier.”

When theres more Internet traffic done via mobile devices than PC's (very soon), advertisers will HAVE to find a way to get to them.

An assumption being made by the report’s scenarios is that - in percentage terms - wireless advertising is at roughly the same level relative to interactive advertising that on-line advertising was in relation to traditional ad spending in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Friday, February 11, 2005

A Pivot In Keywords?

From Keywords for ad buyers, pay up.

A couple things I found interesting in here.

It's costing more and more to link Net ads to popular search terms

Even Google's biggest boosters expressed surprise at the results. On Feb. 1 the search giant reported $400 million in net earnings for fiscal '04 -- a whopping 278% gain -- on revenue of $3.2 billion. What accounted for the outsize profits? The high prices Google charges for search keywords, for one.

Still, with keyword prices soaring, businesses from eBay Inc. (EBAY ) to are rethinking how they use this powerful advertising medium. ``It's incumbent upon figure out how to moderate these quite significant increases in media costs,'' eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman declared in January following disappointing fourth-quarter results, when rising search marketing costs helped pinch profit margins.

This is the first time I've heard of a company mentioning search marketing costs directly, let alone that they had an impact on the bottom line.

What type of money does Ebay spend on advertising to Google alone?

eBay was one of the moust sought after search words last yr. According to a study of top requested searches, eBay was right at the top. So if so many people were trying to get to eBay, why should they have to pay so much in search engine marketing?

This doesnt't seem very efficient to me.

Doesn't seem like whoever they use for a search engine markting company is doing a good job. I mean how hard is it to find eBay really?

To ensure they get the best bang for their search-advertising buck, eBay and others are doing everything from using different search keywords to redesigning their Web sites. The goal: getting folks who click on their search ads to actually buy something. ``Search advertising takes a significant amount of testing, work, and knowledge,'' says George Collins, CEO of, a seller of coffee items in Ashtabula, Ohio. ``Otherwise you're just wasting money.''

A couple things to consider, keywords, no matter how attractive, are commodities and cyclical. Their value will vary according to news and the economy. One thing that won't vary in value (according to the keyword model) is a trademark.

Google lost two trademark suits in the last few weeks. The suit accused Google of placing competing ads next to a search for a specific trademark. I'm wondering how much of an impct this will have if all trademark owners start to say "stop it Google or pay us".

I would think this would be a key component to the pay-per-click business model.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Mobile Commerce......Judgment Time?

A landmark case could be resolved this month and may set a precedent for how the physical world gets connected to the electronic one, or how it affects Internet Phase 2.

The idea of a barcode or an RFID tag being connected to the Internet through a mobile device was beyond comprehension in the States, until Virgin Mega Stores started to do this in their stores. In any Virgin music store you can take a CD or Video, scan the barcode, and up comes the contents of the CD and or video.

In the past, barcodes were scanned within a store and information was fed back from the store’s own internal network. The Virgin process allows a barcode to be scanned and information to be accessed outside the internal network. There are patents that allow this external access.

This intellectual property has been validated by contract, but has never been validated by the courts. The following lawsuit, I believe, is the first lawsuit involving the barcode/RFID tag being connected to the Internet via a mobile device.

Mobile commerce will include a cell phone, a PDA , a camera phone and any mobile computing device. This lawsuit could set a precedent and be a very key point in the development of mobile commerce.

The suit involves Virgin Entertainment Group.

Virgin Entertainment Group, Inc., et al., No. 04 C 00021. Subject: Complaint alleging infringement of plaintiff’s patents for automatically accessing remote web sites through use of secure machine-readable codes

The patent number 6,199,048 a system and method for automatic access of a remote computer over a network

The patents-in-suit generally relate to systems that allow users to scan or enter a machine -readable indicia, such as a barcode, ISGN number, EAN code, RFID tag, etc. Said indicia located on an article of commerce, such as a CD, DVD or computer game, allowing access to product information, such as music, movie previews, album and video cover art, notes and reviews about that particular item.

Now that barcodes can be connected to the Internet, how will this affect barcode related companies?

This use of the barcode is completely different from what Symbol Technologies has been doing with their barcode reading devices all these years. Symbol Technologies is considered the pioneer of barcode reading devices. Up until now, the information extracted from a barcode came from within a closed network.

Do you think Symbol will be keeping a close eye on this case?

Not because it involves just the barcode, but because a RFID tag is also considered a machine- readable identifier.

Do you think this is why Symbol took the necessary step years ago to insure if a barcode is connected to the Internet, they would be covered by licensing this technology?

If any company recognizes the threat they face when RFID tags replace barcodes, it would be Symbol.

A former Symbol VP, Rob Durst, was one of the inventors of this patent that allows the barcode, and RFID tag, to be connected to the Internet. Symbol does not own this intellectual property.

That, in my opinion, is why Symbol took the necessary steps years ago to license this technology.

Think of how many barcode reading machines are out there that will eventually have to be able to read RFID tags. Every supermarket, retail store, and warehouse has a barcode reading device.
Every one of these will have to be retrofitted or replaced in order to meet this transformation.

Will every device that scans a barcode, or an RFID tag, and extracts information have to be licensed under this intellectual property? The answer to this question rests with the court.

Symbol knows that the RFID tag will replace the barcode eventually. It may take years, but it WILL happen. Symbol recognizes that the RFID tag is really just a barcode with much more memory and an Internet address.

Is that why Symbol bought Matrics, an RFID card maker for $230m?
Is Symbol trying to continue their dominance in supply chain space?

What happens AFTER the identifier is scanned… is the real story here.

Will the court’s ruling encompass an RFID tag?

This landmark case could be resolved this month and may set precedence.

How will the court rule…?

What are your comments or thoughts?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bank Fraud Detection Through SMS

Great idea. Now what happens if your cellphone is stolen and NFC is the norm then?

From PC Advisor MasterCard offers SMS to detect credit card fraud.

If you've ever had a credit card purchase mysteriously rejected only to discover later that the bank thought you were a fraudulent user, you may appreciate an effort by MasterCard to use SMS (short message service) to streamline the process of clearing up card-usage questions.

MasterCard has joined with mBlox, a mobile messaging infrastructure specialist, to add an SMS option to its Aristion fraud detection system and is making Aristion Communicator available to banks.

SMS fraud alert systems are already being used in parts of Eastern Europe and in South Africa by individual banks, but MasterCard believes it is the first credit card company to offer an SMS fraud detection and alerting system on a worldwide basis. MasterCard has spent the last 12 months developing and testing the SMS service, Gerber said, but the company declined to provide any users outside of MasterCard to recount their experiences.

The quicker the detection of unusual behavior, the cheaper for everybody. How about designating a pre set limit ($200, 500, 1000) so if your card is used by more than that amount in a certain period youre notified. Lots of options.

Does the bank make the credit card owner pay for this service?

Banks should pick up this tab.

Mobile Marketing Via SMS

From The Feature Mobile marketing starting to take off.

Mobile marketing is finally starting to get the stamp of approval from the media commercial world its practitioners have so long craved, as the use of SMS response mechanisms to traditional ads grows.

The UK's Channel 4, Virgin Radio and Capital FM have all separately announced ventures offering essentially the same concept: their media sales teams are now to offer advertisers and agencies the ability to have an SMS response mechanism within their standard TV or radio ads. So, for instance, an advert for a Nivea beauty product encouraged listeners to text 'nivea' to an SMS shortcode number to receive a free sample.

By texting the code, you're giving Nivea permission to market to you.

The ability of mobile to turn relatively static media into interactive ones has long been the message pushed by the specialist mobile marketing agencies. The recent moves by some of the UK's biggest media companies show how the mainstream media world is finally formally embracing

One of key the messages to advertisers is that mobile can finally make mass-market media accountable, letting advertisers know exactly which part of their multi-million pound cross-media campaigns are most effective.

"This is a way of marking airtime accountable," says Virgin Radio business development director Chris Goldson. "We can begin to see if there are certain times of the day that generate most responses."

WAP usage may still be rising in the UK, but brands have been slow to adopt the medium in marketing campaigns. Many believe this is starting to change. As brands accept SMS as a standard response mechanic in advertising, and use WAP to offer compelling content in exchange for starting a relationship with consumers, this can surely only grow the medium as a whole.

Nokia Introduces NFC Phone

From MySanDe Nokia announces the world's first NFC enabled mobile productfor contactless payment and ticketing.

In my opinion, this is huge and will be the catalyst for M-commerce.

It will turn your cellphone into a credit card.

I have a piece coming out that outlines all of the technologies that will play pivotal role in M-Commerce.

ESPOO, Finland, February 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Nokia today introduced a new product for secure mobile contactless payments and ticketing. The world’s first Near Field Communications (NFC) product for payment and ticketing will be an enhanced version of the already announced Nokia NFC shell for Nokia 3220 phone. It delivers the promise of NFC based services, covering service discovery, payment and ticketing. The Nokia NFC shell will provide the first opportunity for consumers, mobile operators and service providers to benefit from an easy, touch-based access to services and content.

"Visa is always looking for exciting, first-rate innovations that advance the field of contactless payment and we are pleased to join forces with Nokia in this pioneering effort," said Jim Lee, senior vice president, Product Technology and Standards, Visa International. "The development of the Nokia NFC shell serves as a natural extension of Visa’s contactless card and phone programs around the world. Moreover, it aligns well with Visa’s commitment to enabling payments anywhere, anytime, through any device."

We are pleased that Nokia is developing technology that will support MasterCard(R) PayPass(TM) contactless payment technology in a mobile handset. This is a natural extension to the successful PayPass market trial that we carried out together in Dallas, Texas in 2003. MasterCard’s research has consistently shown that consumers are interested in using their mobile phones for making convenient payments in the future," said Richard Fletcher, senior vice president, Mobile and Wireless Centre of Excellence, MasterCard International.

The Nokia NFC shell for payment and ticketing will be available in mid 2005. The product will be distributed to consumers through operators, and as such it will not be generally available as a traditional enhancement.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Start Of M-Commerce Through SMS

From The Hosting E-commerce your products on wireless phones with txtNation's mEnable.

txtNation is proud today to provide a breakthrough in online payment, marking a revolutionary step forward for e-commerce businesses worldwide. With their most advanced service technology, txtNation are the first company able to provide its client the solution to sell tangible goods by premium SMS.

Thanks to its continued efforts, txtNation, a worldwide leading provider of mobile solutions, has empowered with this revolutionary means to accept e-commerce transactions. Tangible goods with their high fixed costs, has meant the outpayments offered by other SMS companies does not result in profit; unlike txtNation. txtNation's mENABLE solution combines exceptional outpayments in no less than 30 countries worldwide, and an easy integration method for any e-commerce billing scenario. offers an extremely easy and innovative way to choose items as posters, bookmarks, and film cells, providing customers to add them in shopping cart just clicking on the easy-to manage icons. Clients can choose the guaranteed fastest and safest way to order by their mobile phone: through mENABLE services they are charged for their payment through premium SMS passwords via short codes.

ZeeWee The SMS Disrupter?

From 160 ZeeWee mobile IM primed to disrupt SMS.

Echovox has unveiled the industry’s first mobile2mobile Instant Messaging application that works cross-network and cross-handset

‘ZeeWee’, combines the huge success of both SMS and online Instant Messaging in a highly viral format.

It is compatible with all JAVA-enabled handsets on both 2.5G and 3G networks, and thanks to Echovox’s proprietary network infrastructure ‘ICON’ (Inter Carrier Open Network), it is fully interoperable across both Europe and the US.

‘ZeeWee’ uses a patent-pending IP-based IM infrastructure to send and receive messages over the ICON network rather than standard SMS. This IM infrastructure uses a combination of GPRS (or UMTS) and Reverse Charged SMS to overcome the fact that mobile phones are not ‘always connected’ when initiating IM sessions. The usage of 2.5G or 3G capabilities to transmit messages cuts up to 90% off equivalent conversation via SMS.

The new service is targeted particularly at teenagers and high spenders in user2user SMS, enabling them to interact with multiple participants by sending messages in real time. It also delivers an enhanced user experience through the addition of emoticons, images, group sessions and further advanced features.

uLocate Catches A GEOsnapper

From Mass High Tech uLocate buys

Framingham-based uLocate Communications has acquired, a California-based web company integrating uploaded photos with GPS location information. No financial details were disclosed.

Users of GPS-enabled mobile camera phones such as the Motorola i860 can tag and post images to an online account. In addition to being automatically tagged with a physical location, users can label photos with keyword and or a category directly from the phone. Online users can search through photos by location, category, photographer or keyword, and the photos are matched with maps.

According to Alan Phillips, co-founder of uLocate, the new service is aimed at markets including law enforcement, real estate, city and municipal management, and the insurance industry.