Category Archives: Mobile Devices

How use of mobile devices affect the news, entertainment, and information industries.

3G Mobile Content in Ireland

Vodafone Ireland has released its pricing list for 3G broadband mobile phone customers:

Unlimited access to Barclays Premiership goals, match previews and post-match interviews for ?9.99 per month. On a promotional basis, that service will be free to customers until February 2005.

Full-length movies for ?4.99 and movie clips for ?2. There will also be a Movie of the Month service (this month’s movie is Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) for ?4.99, a service which is free until February 2005. Individual clips can also be downloaded through this service for between ?0.50c and ?2, depending on the content.

Vodaphone Ireland and Viacom will offer a MTV Music video subscription service that cost ?7.99 per month and will offer access to MTV Live Lounge and Making the Video.

Online games will be playable for up to ?7 per month.

Video calling will allow customers to see each other while on a video call, and Vodafone Ireland will be charging video calls at the same price as voice calls on a promotional basis. Prices for interpersonal MMS or interpersonal pre-recorded video messages will be ?0.19c to ?0.69c according to message size.

Vodafone Ireland has signed 3G roaming agreements with networks in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

So far that I’ve seen, no major publishers or broadcasters from Ireland or other countries will offering news through these 3G services.

Digital Newspaper Strategies at the Financial Times

A month ago, I’d mentioned Nigel Pocklington‘s appointment to the newly created role of director of online publishing for the Financial Times. From London, Kieren McCarthy points me to an article he wrote today in The Independent about Pocklington’s role at FT.com and thoughts about paid content and also publishing to handheld mobile devices. This good article also quotes the thoughts of Simon Waldman of The Guardian and Annelies van den Belt of the Times, and Alex White of the UK Association of Online Publishers about some of those same subjects.

Publishing to handheld devices is already beginning to transform the news business in South Korea and Japan. I believe that the first English-speaking market that it will transform is the United Kingdom, due to already widespread consumer adoption of fairly advanced mobile phone handsets and texting, fierce competition among the national dailies, and the follout of 3G (UMTS) services.

True Mobility: GPRS, WiFi, and Bluetooth all in Hand

Pocket PC HTC.gifiPAQ6315.gif

When I emphasize how important mobile devices will soon become to online publishers , I speak from the experience of a user. I’m on the road about 14 days each month, and I can now leave my laptop at home.

In August 2002, I began replacing my Sony Viao laptop with a Pocket PC Phone manufactured by HTC of Taiwan and sold by T-Mobile. This dual-band GSM phone featured a 110MHZ Intel processor, 32-megabytes of RAM, and a 4,096 color, 240 x 320 pixel touchscreen. It was pre-installed with the Pocket PC versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, Reader, and Internet Explorer. I inserted a 128-megabyte SD memory card into it and installed Adobe Acrobat, a half dozen cities’ restaurant guides from Zagat, and had about a dozen e-book in it at any time, almost all in Reader format (yes, e-books are harder to read than paperback books, but it’s hard to carry a dozen paperbacks in your carry-on luggage). I’ve kept it automatically syncronized with my desktop PC’s e-mail and other daily files, via the handheld device’s cradle.

People say that using broadband changes how you use online. Well, I can report that true mobility also changes how you use online. The ability to surf the Web wherever I could get a phone GPRS signal (which was everywhere I went in North America and Europe) was a revelation (even if the connection is only dialup or DSL speeds). I can Websurf from the beach, a boat, a train, a moving automobile, and having ready online access is a hell of a way to resolve bar bets.

Nevertheless, I still often had to tote my laptop with me because the Pocket PC didn’t have Microsoft PowerPoint or any other easily usable presentation software.

Last month, I upgraded to a HP iPAQ 6315 Pocket PC Phone and no longer need the laptop at all. The newer device is a quad-band GSM phone running a 200Mhz processor, with 64-megabytes of RAM, and a 64,000 color touchscreen. (Other PDAs feature much faster processors, but HP keep this device at 200Mhz to extend its battery life. Besides, remember that 200Mhz was the speed of the first Pentium processors, not bad for this handheld device). It also features a digital camera, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

When online, it automatically bridges among WiFi, GPRS, and Bluetooth, switching to whichever can offer the highest speed connection. The Bluetooth lets me keep it wirelessly syncronized with my desktop.

Besides transfering my old device’s extra application onto it, I’ve installed Conduits Pocket Slides presentation software and all of Zagat’s restaurant, hotel, and entertainment guides worldwide. I’m experimenting with MMS. I’ve also added a 512-megabyte memory card because I’ve discovered how to convert movies into Pocket PC format via TMPGenc.

I never trained any of these devices for recognizing my handwriting, and I’d gotten used to typing characters on the old device’s touchscreen keypad. The newer device has the same touchscreen keypad, but also features a snap-on thumbpad keyboard, for when I want to have something in common with my SMS-addicted Europeans and Asians.

On either device, the phone talk-time is about four hours, the standby-time one week. Each device recharges in about 90 minutes.

So, go mobile online. Fully mobile. Not just tethered to WiFi at offices, coffee shops, and airport lounges. #&151; Vin Crosbie

Mobile and Digital Edition Ideas from 'Beyond the Printed Word'

The annual IFRA/WAN/FIPP Beyond the Printed Word online publishing conference was held in Prague yesterday and today. A summary of the presentations is available from WAN and there is an interesting conference moblog.

Here from the conference (my thanks to the IFRA and WAN summaries) are some interesting ideas about mobile and digital editions:

Continue reading Mobile and Digital Edition Ideas from 'Beyond the Printed Word'

US Magazine to Launch Free/Paid SMS Celebrity News Service

US Magazine later this month will launch a subscription SMS service for celebrity junkies, reports Technology Marketing magazine. US is targeting this service at educated, relatively affluent, North American women with an average age of 32 who live in metropolitan areas.

Called ‘US to the Minute’, the text messaging service will send breaking entertainment news headlines free of charge to subscribers mobile phones. Subscribers can then pay either 50 cents to see a full story behind a headline or else $3.99 monthly for all stories. Verizon Wireless, Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Nextel, Boost, and others wireless carriers have signed up to deliver this service

Half of Mobile Phones Now Have Internet Access

A Mobinet report says that 49% petrcent of mobile phone users worldwide have Internet access (eMarketer has a story about it). Mobile Internet access is 80 percent in Japan, 47 percent in Europe, and 37 percent in North America. Mobinet is a project between A.T. Kearney and Cambridge University’s Business School and the survey is basd upon 4,500 mobile phone users from 13 countries. The study determined that 75% of mobile phone users use mobile data services. However, only 1% are rated ‘heavy users.’ The cost of mobile data was the primary reason (35 percent) that respondents gave for not heavily using it.

Because a major problem with North American mobile content use is the incompatibilities among some of the mobile phone networks on that content. Publishers should keep an eye on the merger this week of the InphoMatch and Mobileway. InphoMatch is an American company that provides North American networks with mobile data compatiblity software. Mobileway is a French company that provide content to mobile devices such as phones and personal assistants. The combined company have annual revenues of about USD100 million. It is positioning itself to become a gatekeeper for mobile content in North America.

More Prototypes of Rollable E-Paper

rollable_polymer.jpg
I keep telling publishers that electronic paper isn’t science fiction but science fact, technologiy that will go into commercial production this decade. I’m particular a fan of the rollable versions. For example, the picture above is of Polymer Vision B&W prototype demonstrated on May 27th at the International Society for Information Display’s trade show in Seattle. (High resolution photos of this prototype are here.) the February edition of Nature, detailed how these flexible displays use active-matrix organic transistors, have video capabilities, and can be rolled to a radius of one centimeter (4/10ths of an inch) without significant loss in performance. In September, I’d published an illustration of Cambridge Technologies’ e-paper 6-by-4 inch color prototype that rolls up into a pen and other technologies demonstrated at the Seybold Future of Print conference in San Francisco.

What is driving manufacturers’ adoption of these technologies isn’t any desires to serve markets of people who want to read electronic newspaper or magazines, but the technological fact that e-paper displays consume 1/50th to 1/100th. That means a PDA, or mobile phone, tablet device, or rollable screen that utilized e-paper display technologies will much, much more battery life that an equivalent device equipped with current LCD displays.

News Industry a 'No Show' at Wireless Show

Many Many North American media companies plans to deliver news via mobile phones, yet none are exhibiting or on the presentations program at CTIA Wireless 2004> in Atlanta, which with more than 70,000 attendees claims to be ‘the world’s largest conference of the wireless industry’ (despite being only one-third the size of a similar conference held earlier this year in Cannes). Hollywood entertainment companies are well represented, both as presenters and exhibitors, here at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’s annual conference. They know better than to wait for the wireless industry to court them. Yet only Stats, Inc., a sports scores company that’s exhibiting, might be considered a ‘news’ company. These are some of the reasons why ‘content’ means entertainment, not news, to North American wireless companies and their subscribers.

Camera Phones Catalyzing MMS Usage in the U.K.

Camera phonesare revolutionizing is public adoption of Multimedia Message Systems (MMS) in the U.K. The Enpocket Mobile Media Monitor found that during the the past 3 months the number of consumers using MMS surged by 40%. That surge was driven by 18 to 24 year olds of whom 37 percent are now using MMS. Moreover, 18 percent of all mobile phone owners in the UK now have a camera phone, including 47 percent of those aged 18 to 24.

Shovelware Online Newspaper Design

Steve Outing has a good story today about most online newspapers’ woefully rigid and cluttered graphical user interfaces, the design equivalent of shovelware. He quotes Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute (as is Outing) and the Digital Futurist consultancy and Nik Wilets of Morris Digital Works; but mainly quotes graphical designer Alan Jacobson of Brass Tacks Design.

I agree with almost all of the story. My sole concern is its recommendation to use dynamic HTML (DHTML) to make navigation links visible only when the user’s mouse rolls over them. That solution will work only when people are browsing from desktop or laptop PCs. But a minority of users nowadays browse from mobile handheld devices (such as mobile phones or Mobile Digital Assistants), whose browsers can’t handle DHTML. The DHTML navigational links won’t work for them, leaving them stranded.

Fortunately, that minority is perhaps less than 1 percent of most U.S. online newspaper sites’ users, but it is growing. Elsewhere in the world, it’s already a larger percentage or even the majority (for example, in China, where only 45 million people have Internet access through PCs but 200 million do through mobile phones, it’s the clear majority of users). DHTML is a workable solution for maybe three or four years with curent technology, but maybe not once a significant minority or majority of access is mobile.

I hope that browser software in those devices by then will also use DHTML. Meanwhile, I don’t think that adding more coding (DHTML) to create rollover elements is the best solution to complicated graphical navigation.

Mobile Marketing Association Issues Code of Conduct

The Mobile Marketing Association has released its ‘Code of Conduct for Wireless Campaigns‘. We think that online publishers should fit within this code, if not do even better.

The MMA Code’s pertinent points:

    Choice
    Consumers must “opt-in” to all mobile messaging programs. Consumers may Opt-in to a program by sending a text message, calling a voice response unit, registering on a website, or through some other legitimate paper-based method; they opt-in for a specific program only. Control Consumers must also be allowed to easily terminate — opt-out — their participation in an ongoing mobile messaging program through channels identical to those through which they can opt-in to a given program. Programs with multiple message strings must provide an opt-out option for each message.

    Customization
    As mobile messaging campaigns are most effective when appropriately targeted, consumers could be asked to provide demographic, preferences and other information. Consideration The consumer must receive and/or be offered something of value to them in return for receiving the communication. Value may be delivered in the form of product and service enhancements, reminders, sweepstakes, contests, information, entertainment, discounts or location based services.

    Constraint
    The marketer, content provider, or aggregator must provide a global “throttling mechanism” capable managing and limiting mobile messaging programs to a reasonable number of programs. Consumers should be able to override the throttle.

    Confidentiality
    The Mobile Marketing Association will align with TRUSTe with specific provisions on not renting, selling or sharing personal information about consumers participating in programs delivered through its platform with other people or nonaffiliated companies except to provide the products and services requested.

Good to see that the MAA has chosen explicit opt-in.

The MMA’s press release about the Code says, “The Mobile Marketing Code of Conduct is broken into six categories: Choice, Control, Customization, Consideration and Confidentiality.” You’ll note that is only five categories. Maybe another category will be forthcoming?

'Online' Is Becoming A Phrase of the Past

A fellow member of the Online News Association mentions that the phrases online news and online publishing won’t make much sense in an increasingly wireless world.

Speaking of which, Anil de Melo charts how mobile phones are evolving into ‘advanced human communication subsystems.’ The latest models are now capable of voice telephony, SMS/MMS, e-mail, Web browsing, AM or FM or TV, digital photography, online games playing, and navigation.

There of course are more mobile phones in use worldwide than wired phones and more mobile phones in use worldwide than desktop and laptop PCs. Online is becoming a thing of the past. A phrase of the past.