Hotspot vendor The Cloud says the iPhone is making a “huge difference” to its data traffic, while it’s also looking to the future and thinking about possibilities with WiMAX. We spoke to Owen Geddes, Development Director at The Cloud, about the Wi-Fi hotspot market going forward. He told us that devices are a crucial component for ease of access. “It doesn’t matter what you do with the networks.

"At the end of the day if the devices aren’t there - the devices with the right sort of interface - you’re going to get absolutely nowhere. And again, [the] iPhone is making a huge difference to the user experience."

Geddes said that Apple had gained by initially removing operators from the way the iPhone was developed, especially its user experience. “It’s very much an Apple product, he said. It’s very different from everything else on the market.”

Speaking about the impact of iPhone traffic, Geddes said it was “very obvious” that take up of hotspot access increased: “Certainly data increases. We see an enormous amount of YouTube across our network from iPhones. We just don’t see that from other devices…because it is so easy to use.”

Hotspots to support WiMAX devices?

And when we quizzed Geddes about the future impact of WiMAX on out-and-about internet access, he said The Cloud would be keeping tabs on development, especially with Intel implementing native WiMAX support within the next edition of the Centrino platform. “[We] will absolutely be involved in that space,” said Geddes. “We see our business evolving onto other areas including WiMAX. In the end, the user will [do things] the way that they want in a much more open model.”

However, he warned that the technology needs to become established in more devices first, “WiMAX doesn’t really happen until it’s integrated in more mobile-orientated devices. For the same reason Wi-Fi [has] only really started to happen in the mobile market with devices like the iPhone. There’s a clear difference between the business traveller market which is PC-orientated and the consumer market which is driven by smaller devices.”

“It’s going to be very interesting to watch that space.”

Geddes also said that services would become more integrated – at least that’s how it would seem to the end use. “They don’t have to worry if they’re connected via cellular or WiMAX,” he added.

He also stressed the importance of intelligent devices, able to make informed decisions about whether to connect using cellular, Wi-Fi or other technologies depending on what was cheapest or best for the user’s needs. “Something we’re doing later this year is releasing some technology into the market that will actually select networks and authenticate you onto a variety of networks. Geddes added that it would “also work hand in hand with the cellular [provider] pf that device” to select the best method. “Whether that’s The Cloud or somebody else - from our perspective it’s [about] a better service for the end user that’s absolutely vital.”

Source: Dan Grabham at TechRadar.

S60 not a Touch on the iPhone

Came across a witty and incisive demolition of Nokia's stumbling over the touchscreen interface on Techype. You know it's going to be an interesting and entertaining read from the first paragraph:

S60 + Touch = ...?

Sadly, when the answer to that equation was shown, there were no surprises - if you hack a touchscreen onto a badly designed mess of a UI, you get a badly designed mess of a UI which can be controlled with touch. The iPhone experience was not a game changer in Finland after all.

After a full and frank examination of the S40 and S60 platforms (and landed a laudable sideswipe at the marketing profession), Raddedas moves in for the kill:

Nokia's S60 platform is confusing, obscure, constantly changing and always hugely underpowered and unresponsive, with software to do everything you might ever want to do, but after moving round the menus quite a lot you'll probably give up trying to find out how and just use it as a rather slow poor phone.

Nokia's S60 Touch seems to extend this experience by allowing you to move round the same menus with your finger smearing the screen.

Ouch!

It will take a massive sales hit to understand that this approach will not, in the long term, work out. They must innovate and diversify into handsets that are once again fun and/or efficient to use; even S40 is creaking under the weight of the features loaded into it now. Sadly Nokia have such huge sales volumes that they can coast for a long time without realising this, and their customers will be all the poorer because of it.

Encore!
Couldn't agree more but I shan't be holding my breath...

Mobile Today reports:

O2 today entered the UK mobile advertising market with a new service allowing brands to target the operator’s mobile customer base. The new service on O2 Active will enable brands to deliver both display advertising and advertising-funded content models to specific audiences.

For the first time in the mobile industry, advertisers can be provided with the tools to measure how effective their campaigns are and which audiences react well to their adverts.

Advertiser's microsites will be zero rated so that customers who click through will not incur any data charges while they are browsing on these sites.

While Nokia have announced, almost breathlessly, their "premier mobile advertising network":
Nokia enables advertisers to place ads on high quality and brand-safe publisher and operator mobile Web pages, as well as Nokia properties, representing an unprecedented global consumer reach - more than 100 million mobile consumers around the globe.


Not wishing to, erm, "pour" on their parade but we've been here before, with the desktop battles for eyeballs. And similarly it'll doubtless prove difficult enough getting zillions of consumers to visit the ad-laden portals, let alone persuading them of a reason to click on the adverts.

Without a compelling motivation, it could all become mobile marketing's wet-dream. Not that you'd notice from this blinkered puff:
Sally Cowdry, O2 marketing director said: ‘Mobile advertising is the advertiser's holy grail, combining a high resolution screen in every pocket with a customer database which has the power to deliver messages to exactly the people you want.

‘This new service will provide a boost to the market while at the same time ensuring advertising is relevant and non intrusive for our customers.’

Non intrusive advertising?
I reckon they'll need to make it squeeze your balls so hard that you'll simply have to click on the bloody ad!

Shame that neither company find time to mention the enormous (and potentially useful) opportunities of advertising within applications ("can't find that address? Click here to order a CityWide cab now") or LBS ("after all those calls, you deserve a Starbucks - there's one around the next corner").

Research from Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software shows that customer defection rates (aka ‘churn’) within the mobile telecoms sector have risen from 33.4% in 2005 to 38.6% in 2007 – an increase of 15.3%.

Having studied the phenomenon of churn in Britain for the past four years, the 2007 edition of the Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software Customer Churn Report decided to collect data that compare and contrast the situation in key European economies and in the US. A representative sample of over 1,000 consumers in each country was interviewed by email and telephone questionnaire.

They were asked (1) whether they had switched supplier over the previous year in each of a number of sectors; (2) how likely they were to switch over the coming year; and (3) what the principal reason for switching was/is.
The overall results toppled a number of pieces of received wisdom. The primary findings of the research are as follows:-

  • Britain is the customer defection capital of the West (22% churn per annum), possibly because of its crowded geography, its national wealth per capita, and its high levels of deregulation across all sectors studied.
  • Mobile telecoms retain the highest average customer churn at 38.6%

  • The industries experiencing the highest levels of growth in customer defection rates since 2005 are supermarkets and general insurance providers, with both seeing a 7.6% point increase in churn rates. Both of these, however, look small compared to the 15.3% increase seen in mobile churn.

  • The three key reasons why people change supplier are consistent across Europe and the US. These are, not being recognised as a valuable customer (all countries average: 55%); unhelpful staff (47%); and ineffective call centres (42%).
According to Group 1, the findings indicate that the UK consumer is becoming more mobile and that companies’ retention strategies need to improve to deal with this phenomenon.

“The world is becoming generally more mobile and less loyal,” says Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software VP, International Marketing, Andrew Greenyer. “Yet despite all the effort and investment going into customer retention and loyalty, the effective strategies implemented by well known success story companies are not yet the norm.

Commenting specifically on mobile churn, Greenyer says:
“Mobile Telecoms remains a very fluid area. Here, strong brands are evidently having an effect, with the issue of content provision likely to be a key factor in future churn (or indeed inertia) patterns. 3G provision has initially disappointed consumers, leading to massive churn. Nevertheless, the sector is so volatile that this situation may easily reverse after its initial customer relationship difficulties.

“The US experiences far lower rates of churn, but this probably reflects the closer link in North America between cellphone carrier and handset. In Europe, the two are independent of one another, allowing the SIM card to be fairly portable between models. However, this also helps network operators use attractive handset ranges to persuade customers to switch. Also, number portability is relatively new in the US. The UK got portability in 1998, Spain and Sweden in 2000, and Italy in 2001. Americans didn't get it until the end of 2003.

“Finally, there are the factors of overall mobile penetration and pre-paid penetration. Mobile penetration in Europe now exceeds 100%, with 666 million connections. The US has 70% cellphone penetration compared with over 80% in France, more than 100% or more in Germany, Spain and the UK, and over 120% in mobile-mad Italy. 25% of US cellphone users switch plans each year. However, there will only be 40 million pre-paid customers in the US in 2009 (17% of forecast total market). This compares with over 50% pre-paid penetration in Europe, and pre-paid churn is on average three times higher than post-paid.”

Source: Mobile Marketing Magazine

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