Category Archives: Mobile Devices

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

The EU Ban on Spam

While North American governmental bodies lament the rise of spam, the European Parliament is banning it. Effective in October, the Parliament’s Directive 2002/58/EC [(PDF format)] bans unsolicited commercial e-mail within the European Union countries.

The directive, which also applies to unsolicited SMS and MMS messages, permits commercial e-mails from any company which has received the informed “prior explicit consent” of its own customers. It permits a company to sell, lease, or otherwise release its e-mailing list to another company, but only if the seller has received the informed “prior explicit consent” of all the consumer on that list each and every time the company sells it. The directive also requires that directory publishers get such consent before listing consumers’ data.

2002/58/EC also requires wireless networks or wireless application operators to get consumers’ informed “prior explicit consent” before operating geolocation services that can track consumers’ movements.

The directive also requires Web site operators to inform users whenever a site or other type of online service uses “spyware, web bugs, hidden identifiers, and other similar devices [that] can enter the user’s terminal without their knowledge in order to gain access to information, to store hidden information or to trade the activities of users and may seriously intrude upon the privacy of these users.” That includes ‘cookies’. The new directive, an extension of the 1995 European Commission directive on personal data and the movement of such data, was enacted by the European Parliament last July.

Pocket PC Streaming Video on GPRS and WiFi

GoConnect of Australia, which already provides streaming videos to Pocket PC mobile phone using GPRS phone networks, is also offering those videos to those users on less expensive WiFi local networks there, too. GoConnect’s m-Vision streaming service currently includes Austrialian business and sports news, horoscopes, and music videos. Earlier this year, The Age reported that some 16,000 users worldwide had already downloaded GoConnect’s GPRS streaming video application.

Truly Smart Clothing

The Pioneer Corporation of Japan has developed a wearable computer with a display you can wear on your sleeve. A prototype jacket was shown in Tokyo last week. The wearable color display is composed of active-matrix organic-electroluminescent (OEL) film, a material which was developed four years ago by a variety of manufacturers. These screens are readable from almost all viewing angles and in bright sunlight (which is why many car stereos now use OEL screens). Pioneer’s wearable computers with sleeve screens are being designed to for use in the medical, firefighting, and farming professions, but I expect this ‘smart’ clothing will be purchasable by you in not too many years.

"A Martian in the Baseball Dugout"

Two quotes by Christopher Lydon, formerly of WGBH and American Public Radio, now at Harvard University, speaking at the ClickZ Weblog Business Strategies Conference to Boston:

“weblogging is the digital equivalent of playing hockey. ‘Oh, sorry, what I just posted about you knocked out you teeth.'”

“As a tradition journalist attending this conference, I feel like a Martian whose sitting in a baseball dugout and trying to figure out what’s going on.”

Are Blogs Useful for Media Companies?

On Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be at the ClickZ Weblog Business Strategies 2003 Conference & Expo in Boston, where on Tuesday morning we’ll be sitting on a panel entitled Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms? Here is its description in the conference program:

“No business is likely to be more affected by Weblogs than the media business. Do Weblogs threaten mainstream media by fragmenting their audiences and offering separate, uncontrolled platforms to individual employees? Or do they offer opportunities to develop targeted services and new syndication models? Bloggers, media executives and media commentators explore the impact of Weblogs on traditional media businesses.”

David Shnaider, former president ZDNet and a founder of Prodigy, will moderate the panel. My fellow panelists will be PaidContent.org Editor & Publisher Rafat Ali, Advance.net President & Creative Director Jeff Jarvis, and Gawker.com Editor Elizabeth Spiers.

UK Banks Scrap WAP

Several large UK banks have scrapped their WAP-banking services this week, following sparse demand by banking customers during the past few years. Halifax and Abbey National have scrap WAP. Many European (and few American) publishers still features WAP as their primary wireless services. They apparently haven’t heard that consumers think it means Worthless Applications Protocol.

Average MMS Price is Euro 0.35

eMarketer reports an In-Stat/MDR study showing the current price per multimedia message service (MMS) is now $0.40 (0.34 Euro) in Europe. That’s too high a price for consumers, effectively limiting MMS to business use.

However, the study believes that the price per message will decline by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16% between 2003 and 2007 — hitting $0.17 (0.15 Euro) per message in 2007.

eMarketer also notes Jupiter Research forecasts that 31% of the population in Western Europe will have MMS-enabled devices by 2007, but only 21% of that population will be active MMS users. Jupiter notes that by the end of this year, only 2% of the population will be active MMS users.

The Digital Aboriginal

Although the words Bush and Technology seem incompatible in so many ways, members of the illiterate, hunter-gatherer society known as the San Bushmen of Africa’s Kalahari Desert have begun using handheld Personal Digital Assistants equipped with Global Position System cards to map animal tracks and droppings. When these 21st Century aborigines find tracks or spoor, they punch an animal’s icon on their PDA, which records and maps the find. For millennia, the San Bushmen have been renown for their abilities to track animals, which is one of the longest continuous traditions of systematic human knowledge in existence today. But this is the first year in which they’ve done it digitally.

Phone that Recognizes Chinese Text Inputs

Furthering the convergence of mobile phones and PDAs into single devices for multiple purposes, Nokia’s Bejing research laboratory has developed a phone that recognizes inputs in Chinese language pen strokes. The Nokia 6108 apparently recognizes all or most of the 2,000 characters in the simplified version of the Chinese language alphabet. It also recognizes Latin alphabetical characters and includes a Chinese-English-Chinese translation dictionary. A user can input and send notes in either (or both) languages. It also features a contact manager, MMS, e-mail software, and a Lunar Calendar.

What Makes a Weblog a Weblog?

Perhaps no one knows the answer better than Dave Winer, pioneering technologist and manufacturer of one of the first and most popular blogging softwares. Winer is now on sabbatical as a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, where he is evangelizing Webblogs and theorizing their impact upon society. He’s also trying to define just exactly what is a Weblog..

Meanwhile, writer Mark Fraunfelder this week writes in TheFeature (a wireless content strategies site that is funded by Nokia) about Moblogging and Audblogging. Mobloggers are people who use mobile phones, not personal computers, to create text blogs. Audbloggers use mobile phones to create blogs containing not text but audio actualities of events (for example, providing audio coverage of a news event). Expect to see vidblogs soon.