Extreeeemely geeky but nevertheless fascinating Wiki documenting the software currently installed on Matt Croydon's mobile phone. He's also looking for recommendations from readers so help the guy out!
On this day last week I checked to see how many subscribers O2 Ireland had to their new Foneblog service. The figure was 179. Exactly one week later it's 305. Hardly earth shattering growth is it? It also seems as if the vast majority of the blogs are as yet nothing more than blank placeholders.
However it should be kept in mind that the population of Ireland in only about 4 million and that O2 introduced this service with a VERY soft launch.
"A new study by research group Analysys suggests that the growth of messaging, content and entertainment services will be linked primarily to pricing. Operators may lose as much as 16% of revenues if they fail to choose the most appropriate price levels for new services."
Which means they'd better start getting a little more scietific about it than just applying a multiple to current SMS rates.
I can't argue with any of the tech stuff by I might just add extra weight to the viewpoint of the 'ordinary' user.
I'm a techie too by background but my day job of managing a web-based community of more than 5,000 members, and my past life in tech-support, has led me to a greater understanding, than I would have ever wished for, of how average people with a non-technical background approach computers and other gadgets. I'm not talking about technophobes here either, just average Joe Soaps who don't particularly love gizmos nor hate them. They just want to use them as a tool.
And the word 'tool' is very important. The best tools are the ones that do simple, well defined tasks, where the usage is obvious and you don't need to read an instruction booklet. Because if I've only learned one thing in my years of tech support and community management it's this - PEOPLE DO NOT READ INTSTRUCTIONS! (even when you print things in capital letters ;-)
Believe it or not, that simple insight is fundametally important in understanding users. And the corollary of that point is that for every little bit of 'extra' capability you add to a tool, every little blade, edge, button or icon, you add an exponential degree of complexity and UN-usability (think Microsoft Word for example).
As a techie it took me years to be comfortable with this. You know how we techies crave features, extras, easter-eggs. You can't imagine how many times I felt like shouting down the phone line - just READ THE BLOODY INSTRUCTIONS!!, would ya?
So, I would be inclined to put *much* greater emphasis on two of the pros Russ assigned to MMS - 'just works' and 'simple to use'. Believe me, as long as those two pros can be attributed to a techology it makes up for a hell of alot of other cons.
"After establishing a significant footprint in northern Europe, the I-mode mobile Internet service pioneered by Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc. is stepping southward into Spain and Italy."
It may be so but I really don't think I-mode is ever going to see anything but limited success here in Europe. Voafone has simply done too good a job with Live! and the other networks have followed with their own Live! lookalikes. Too late now for I-mode.
"... extending its Vodafone live! service to offer customers a personal library for the storing of MMS, an extensive image gallery and easy composition and sending of MMS to one or a group of mobile phones, e-mail addresses or to another multimedia album from a mobile or via PC. In addition, the Vodafone Multimedia Album enables customers to exchange messages between their personal Multimedia Albums, as well as to and between individual or groups of mobiles and e-mail accounts."
In Spain, Vodafone is playing cath-up with this service but I wonder if they should have bothered at all. I'm just not convinced of the core idea here, the metaphor of 'albums'. This is yet another example of trying to apply an age old model (sharing physical photographs) to a new technology. It may be necessary from a marketing viewpoint, to give users something they can visualise, but the problem is when the operators limit themselves by applying that metaphor too literally.
The problem is that 'albums' were appropriate in a time when photographs were -
Expensvie to acquire, and therefore....
Only occasionally taken, and also...
Posed (and horribly false)
Only occasionally shared (during family get-togethers), and therefore...
Precious and held for long term storage
In stark contrast, camphone snapshots are -
Practically free to acquire, and therefore....
Taken all the time, at any time, and so...
Unposed and thankfully true to real life
Shared instantly with anyone anywere, and thus...
Yes, disposable! Project your imagination to a time, not so far away, when all your friends and family will have camera phones and will blog them to their own fotoblog, as well as instanly MMS you the odd highly relevant or special one. We're talking hundreds of images daily with various degrees of relevancy to your life and the lives of those around you. These images are for the moment, not forever. Disposable.
If I've heard that cousin John is gone backpacking to Australia I may subscribe to the RSS feed of his fotoblog for a whole year to follow his adventure. If my sister has a new child I'll subscribe to her feed for a few months to follow the progress of my new niece and share in their joy. My subscription to the 'image droppings' of the people in my life will vary according to my interest and perceived relevancy. I'm not going to pore over each of the hundreds of daily snapshots but will thoroughly appreciate being able to tune in and out as I please.
Of course 'real' photography and it's storage medium (albums) won't disappear. To suggest that phonecam images are going to replace them is like saying that the internet is going to replace newspapers and books. Nonsense. They are two completely different models of image capture, and the acquired images have completely different life cycles to serve completely different purposes.
So please don't pigeon hole camphone snapshotography with old ideas. The network operators should be looking to the future, like O2 in Ireland with Foneblog, not like Vodafone with their.... albums.
"People thought that the Internet was going to be a new publishing medium -- like television, a way for large media brands to package and distribute content for the consumption of the masses. While it has become an interesting publishing medium, the interesting things that have created the most volume in usage on the Internet have not been when a few central nodes publish to all of the leaf node consumers but rather when all of the leaves become self publishers and start talking to each other without the need to have a central node mediating the conversation. Personal home pages were an early example and blogging has taken this to another level."
"The bias of phone companies was to believe that these new mobile devices would become another broadcast medium, allowing central nodes to present information to all of the end consumer leaves. I believe the real transformation will come, however, as it did with the Internet when the end nodes become the publishers."
Great insights. Again, this emphasises that "P2P is key".
NowMMS service shutting down Tom Hume tells us that NowMMS.com are making a final plea for sponsors to fund their operations.
"The popularity of the NowMMS.com service has caused us to exceed the monthly fees that we have budgeted for running the free service. This, combined with pricing and policy changes from our SMS service provider which would have further increased our costs, have led us to making the difficult decision that the free MMS services provided by NowMMS.com must be ended."
Ok, they claim to have been highly popular but I don't know anyone who used the service? Do you?
"It is also possible to calculate the price premium of an MMS compared to the SMS. Our experience shows that companies can – as a rule of thumb – take advantage of only 50 per cent of the created value in terms of price. Consequently, we adjusted the measured value premium according to this corrective element. On average, for the German as well as the Italian respondents, an MMS is worth 3.5 times more than an SMS. Based on the given standard SMS prices in the market, this gives an MMS price of E0.665 for Germany (standard SMS price E0.19) and E0.41 for Italy (standard SMS price E0.12). A significant price difference – due to the different SMS price levels in the two countries."
Enter the Matrix. The Pure Matrix that is! O2 and Pure Matrix today launched ESCAPE, a new mobile service from software provider Pure Matrix that offers any mobile customer registered on the O2 portal the ability to easily create and share SMS based services. Customers will be able to create open communities, announcements, voting, and info services.
The initial period of this roll-out provides members of O2’s portal the ability to create personal applications around mobile terminated text messaging. It is anticipated that the offering will expand to include content and MMS services in Q3 2003.
This is great stuff. We're slowly but surely getting to the stage when we'll be able to fully replicate, on our mobiles, all the best things we do online - message each other, share files, photos, opinions, etc, etc.
Time for photo blogging? It seems like photo blogging is getting it's 15 minutes of fame right now. The latest to chime in is Time magazine. The article doesn't really add much to the discussion except to report this insight from a University student -
"Erin Boyle, a student at the University of San Diego, uses the camera on her Sanyo 8100 phone to update friends and family on her latest activities - whether it's a day at the beach or a night at a club. She hardly ever uses her regular digital camera anymore, even though it takes sharper pictures than the phone cam, because she doesn't like the hassle of carrying it around. "I always have my phone with me," she says."
Ah, there we have it again. Another person noticing why camera phones are the ideal tool for recording and sharing our lives and that image quality doesn't matter. Immediacy, omnipresence, convenience. Those are the keywords.
Pefect gadget - PDA or Mobile phone? I just don't understand Chris Pirillo. He's been photo blogging with a Nokia 3650 for a while but he's still lamenting that no-one has yet made his perfect PDA. No, I'm not so besotted by it as to suggest that the 3650 is the ultimate device. I'm just asking why in hell, after playing with a 3650, Chris is still looking for his dream gadget to emerge from the outdated PDA platform?
The PDA form factor was born as a portable extension of the PC or in the case of the PalmPilot a portable computer in it's own right. These devices are built around APPLICATIONS, doing well defined tasks which, aside from games, are mainly about organising your life...... YOUR life.
Mobile/cell phones, on the other hand, are built around COMMUNICATION, sharing voice, text, visual data between people. Nokia's "Connecting people" tag is spot on. Mobile technology is about organising and sharing our lives...... OUR lives. Sounds alot like the internet doesn't it.
When you use a connected PC, which tasks do you remember? Which ones make an emotional connection? Spreadsheets and word processing? Or email, IM and discussion forums?
PDAs are built out of an 80s PC mindset - personal computing. Modern mobiles are built out of a 90s Internet mindset - personal communications. Yes the lines are beginning to blur with all the cross-pollination going on but you know the old saying - you'll never make a racehorse out of a donkey!
Excellent, the lads on boards.ie have informed me that the Nokia Observation Camera is finally available for pre-order in Ireland. There have got to be soooo many uses for an innovative device like this! One scenario I posted on Boards.ie is this -
"A neighbour of mine, a farmer, recently installed an expensive wireless CCTV system to keep an eye on his cattle in a remote farmyard. It's a great system but he's still stuck with viewing the 'action' on a big fat monitor in the house. As you can imagine, there's no real need for continuous video footage most of the time. So in my view, the flexibility of being able to invoke an MMS photo and receive it anywhere far outweighs the benefits of unnessarily high quality video you can only receive in predetermined locations."
That's just one use where the NOC together with camera phones can replace existing technology. There has got to be tons more right?
Huawei Launches a 3G-based MMS Solution [via 3G Newsroom] "Huawei Launches a 3G-based MMS Solution June 23, 2003 Huawei Technologies announced that the company has made a successful demonstration of 3G MMS (Multimedia Messaging Services) on its trial network of WCDMA in April in Shanghai. The trial on the demonstration site showcased that an interconnectivity call completed between WCDMA commercial handset and GSM handset supporting MMS."
"Each of the phonecams I've demoed have been wildly frustrating in one way or another. Motorola's T722i add-on cam produces grainy thumbnails at best; image quality on Sanyo's 8100 (Sprint) is teh suck in all but bright light conditions. Until those megapixel phonecams hit America, mobile photobloggers might be better off combining a good, small digital camera like the Pentax Optio S with a wireless PDA for uploads and text captions."
Forget about megapixels Xeni, photoblogging is about capturing visuals of life and sharing them in real time with the greatest of ease. It's not about high quality artistic compositions.
Mobile applications designers get chance to show off [New Zealand Herald] "The search is on to find the best business and consumer mobile applications from across New Zealand and Australia. Today the New Zealand Herald, in conjunction with Ericsson, launches Frontier 2003, a competition to find the most innovative mobile applications. The applications can use one or more of these technologies: SMS, MMS, CDMA-1x, GPRS, WAP, 3G and broadband."
Paul Golding is not sure that Vodafone have got their Live! usability thought out properly: "Anyhow, I had a surf around the Vodafone Live site and entered a link called "Messages" as I was curious what messages were being stored there. One further option was called "Vodafone Messenger", so I thought to try it, only to be delivered the message shown in the screen shot here. Interesting that I'm surfing the site as a registered Vodafone customer, able to interface with the site via WAP, but I'm required to go elsewhere (i.e. a PC) to register?? Seems a tiny bit odd to me. I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation in the mind of someone at Voda."
Device manufacturers versus telecomms carriers Silicon Valley carries an interesting analysis of Nokia and the continuing power struggle within their industry ecosystem -
"Nokia's brand is a gold standard, but the carriers want their own brands to dominate in the mobile marketplace. They don't mind if customers buy Nokia phones, but they really want customers to think first that they are buying communications services, and the carriers are the ones that dominate the services. So if Nokia is moving into services -- as it probably must -- there's real potential for clashes with carriers."