Monthly Archives: September 2007

Upoc speaks out on Iran/Columbia Controversy


Upoc’s community speaks out on President of Iran’s speech at Columbia University

Sep 26 By mobileman

UPOC’s community speaks out on President of Iran’s Speech at Columbia University

A t UPOC we have a weekly poll of opted-in poll takers. During most weeks the poll centers on some aspect of pop culture.

With the big news item of the week being the speech of the Iranian president at Columbia University,

I decided to have the poll ask our community what they thought of that event.

Here is the poll question as it went out to about 350,000 mobile users:

President Mahmound Ahmadinejad of Iran’s speech at Columbia University…

A) Should not have happened

B) Was Okay – supports free speech

C) Don’t know/don’t care

Our typical response rate is in the mid single digits. While this isnot a strict scientific poll, it has enough responders and a broad enough cross section of demographic groups to give some valid indication of the pulse of the American public.

A similar poll was published in the New York Daily News. In that poll of approximately 2000 New Yorkers, 57% approved of Columbia University’s decision and 43% thought it was wrong.

The UPOC demographic tends to have an average age in the late 20’s/early 30’s, with almost an equal male/female split. All races, religions, geographic regions and political leanings are represented.

We have chat groups from all major religions. We have left and right oriented politics, as well all the varieties of sexual orientation. We have social networking in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and a several other languages.

So – the community does skew towards a younger demographic and thus under represents the 40+ population. With all that in mind here are the results:

Should not have happened 35%

Was Okay – supports free speech 31%

Don’t know/don’t care 34%

The UPOC community is basically evenly split between thinking that permitting the speech was a mistake, or “okay”, with a similar percentage undecided or not caring.

The purpose of the poll was not to make any particular political statement, but to show the value of mobile polling to rapidly reach a diverse audience and get a result back quickly and efficiently. The whole effort required one customer service representative to spend about 5 minutes.

As far as the interpretation of the results, I leave that to you, and other political pundits!

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Blog storming!

Blog storming!

by mobileman (09/20/2007 – 16:22)

Blog Storming! 

During the past couple of years the blogosphere has been full of mobile application projections and predictions. I have blogged about many of these in the past months.   Location Based Services, On-Deck Portals,  Off-Deck services, micro-blogs, video, games, TV, chaperone services, the Iphone, the Google phone, … the list goes on. 

My question is what is next? The trends that we are seeing in the web and mobile make a specific prognostication somewhat risky. But of course – here is my try.

I believe that a mobile device is fundamentally a personal communications device. We have already seen the early trend of the “type and style” of a device making a fashion statement or reflecting your inner self in some deep “Madison Avenue”  ad manner.   This was furthered by the ringtone explosion. 

Consumers wanted others to hear their ringtones because it makes a statement in some psychological way about who they are. This is true even if the ringtone goes off in the middle of a bunch of strangers. It is part of your  self definition.    On the web this trend of self-definition is being carried on by the explosion of blog and networking sites.

Since I believe that the past is a got roadmap to the future – the next big thing in wireless will center on new ways to self define yourself and announce yourself to the world. We have gone through the visual (what phone I have) and the audible (the ringtone).    The connection with the web self-definition is inevitable. The next big wave of mobile application will involve the ability to define yourself through your mobile application environment. 

Micro-blogging from your phone, allowing your friends to track where you are (LBS) on your web social network, streaming live video and audio from  your live experience to your web persona. In essence this all equates to consumers becoming real time publishers of their own reality TV channel.  Call it Blog storming . Where am I, What am I doing, What am I seeing, What am I hearing and experiencing. 

The new generation of Mobile 2.0 applications will have to be self-aware and self reporting. It is still intrusive to stop what you are doing to send that sms or mms. You take yourself out of the activity to send a message about. The application must be recording your environment seamlessly.

I probably would have not predicted the popularity of reality television, but if watching people chasing each other around on some deserted island is good TV, then watching millions of people ran around in their daily lives would prove irresistible. MTV is as much the reality network as it is a Music network!

While I would never want to do this myself – the attraction of this type of application   and societies voyeuristic side will make Blog Storming , the perfect storm.


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Here comes Google in Mobile!

Here comes Google!!

by mobileman (09/14/2007 – 04:33)

Here comes Google…

The market has yet to catch it’s breathe on the Iphone, as rumors of the Google phone continue to circulate. Google, like Apple, is a world class capable company that innovates at a dizzying pace.

Its resources seem almost limitless as it sets it sights on a bigger slice of the mobile market. Will it just be a handset?, A bid on spectrum, an outright purchase of a wireless carrier? If I were sitting at Google I would proceed with great caution.



Google should dust off all the press of the failed ESPN MVNO and learn from it. ESPN has wonderful content, a killer brand and is a marketing powerhouse. Their mobile content was on every carrier, with application innovation in sports being pushed and pushed. With these assets as a base, ESPN took the leap of faith to launch an MVNO and become a retail wireless carrier. 


The skill set to become a successful carrier include:   Retail distribution, mobile handset sourcing, customer service, billing, wireless network knowledge, wireless network operations (even if you have an MVNO),and  mobile feature innovation across all mobile features (voice, IVR, LBS, games, music, social networking, messaging, etc.) Look at the above list and determine which competencies ESPN had before they decided to place a big bet on wireless?

 Great content is not enough. ESPN had an overly expensive phone, with limited distribution, a post pay model,  few features other than sports, no family plans, etc.


Virgin Mobile has been successful because they actually ran other wireless MVNO services (in the U.K) before they launched in the U.S. They had the necessary corporate skill set and have been successful.

This now gets me back to Google.   On the surface it has some direct parallels to ESPN.   Google’s existing wireless services are very popular and are on most every carrier. They are best in class at innovating web based products and then applying those features and functionalities to mobile.   They have just launched a version of their incredible cash engine, adwords, for mobile applications.

 As was the case for ESPN, they are firing on all mobile cylinders. By continuing on their present course, they will be a significant and dominate player in mobile content, search, applications and advertising for the foreseeable future.

 Is the talk and effort on spectrum auctions and Google handsets a negotiating tactic for better terms from existing carriers, or is it the far reaching aspirations of the web’s most dominate player? Is it a tactic, a strategy or corporate hubris?

Google clearly has the financial capability to acquire all the wireless network talent and competency it needs to compliment its web prowess, should it choose. 

The moves that Google makes, and succeeds or fails at, will have industry forming impact for years to come. 

This is a very interesting time for all of us!




Even these carriers have Google

Tag: apple carrier espn google navy numberonesportsnetwork virgin

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Iphone – Chaper One – Crash and Burn

by mobileman (09/07/2007 – 20:37)

Iphone – The Next Chapter

In June and July I gave my view of the then newly released Iphone. In summary, I thought it was a great Ipod and a poor phone.   Lousey keyboard, no MMS, no ringtones (until recently) , lower speed data, etc.   


It looks like Apple agrees, at least partly. 


The introduction of the Iphone-less Ipod (aka the ITouch) is a great addition the the Ipod line. It’s introduction also undercuts the techno sex appeal of the Iphone.


Then,  we have the biggest news of the week – the $200 price cut in the Iphone – Wow! Not only was there a  price cut,  but Steve Jobs (whom I really do respect) tried to spin it as a success story!


 If you are selling the hottest gizmo on the block and they are flying of the retail shelves, you do not cut the price. 


When demand falls,  you cut price 5-10%, not 33%. You cut prices by that amount when you have a potential disaster on your hands.   With a user base revolt on their hands, Apple then agrees to rebate all Iphone users $100 worth of Apple credit.

There is a problem in Iphone-land.   The stock market also agreed , punishing Apple’s stock with a drop of 12 points in the last two days , a 8% drop in value and a loss of around $10 Billion (with a B!) in market value.


The early adapters gobbled up the hype and the product. The strategy of having the techno elite show off their shiny toys to envious friends who would also rush to buy them did not work.   The Iphone  marketing virus stopped. Why?


As I predicted the,   the phone features on the the Iphone have been panned by pundits and consumers alike. With the bulk of the value in a “cool” Ipod, paying the $50-$60/month to AT&T seems prohibitive.


The mobile phone market was not invented by Apple. The competition is fierce and the price pressure is immense. With the sale of nearly  1 Million Iphones, Apple is a small blip on the marketscape of mobile devices. The Research in Motion Blackberry has over 8 Million consumers. Nokia sells over 100M every three months!


Apple will learn, adapt and come back.   The genetic mutation of IPods, mobile phones and online commerce has created the first model of a new species. Like DNA based species, this one will have a learning curve, some painful near death experiences and many natural predators.  This is just chapter one of a long novel, enjoy it.

Tag: apple disaster intelligentdesigncartoon iphone plane shark

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The Daughter, The Doll and the Wife!

LBS Services, The Daughter, The Wife

by mobileman (09/05/2007 – 15:05)

LBS Services, The Daughter, The Doll and the Wife! The classic example of why LBS services may not have reached their market potential yet is a story I first told at a CTIA event over 5 years ago. It happened to me about a week before the show and has the perfect metaphor for the state of LBS services. It has been re-told by pundits  and even published in trade magazines. Indeed many now tell this story as though it happened to them! So now without further pre-ample is the LBS story of the daughter, the wife and the doll. 

We were going “through the woods and over the hill” to grandmother’s house. In this case the woods were 180 miles of New York State Thruway and the hill was the Catskills Mountains. The car was packed for the weekend with me, my wife and three kids. 

The youngest at the time was about 3 and she was never far from her beloved “dolly”,   a ragamuffin doll that is stocked at every Toys-R-Us. 


You see, we were now seasoned experienced parents. We learned that favorite dolls have a way of going missing and therefore getting our child to bond with one that was easily replaced seemed like a good idea. We even had bought 4 copies of the original one  and stored them in our house, just in case! 


Getting a three year old to go to sleep without her comfort doll is not a pretty sight.

About 2 hours into our trip our worst fears were realized! My daughter called out for her dolly. I looked at my wife and she looked at me and both of us said, “I thought you ……”. The family is now in dolly Defcon 4 mode. We stop the car on the side of the highway and do a complete search with no luck.


We continue our journey with a now distraught, crying child.     All I have to do (in theory) is find a Toys-R-US and buy a new doll. This is the solution that our doll standardization efforts should have yielded.


 Being a wireless guy, I decide that the easiest way to find a Toys-R-US is to use the search function on my WAP deck (at 70 miles an hour!). I was able to find a page on the toy store but it had no location information.


The crying seemed to increase and  the leers from the front passenger side got more serious.

 My next technological solution was to guess that Toys-R-US probably had a 800 phone number that is 1-800-toysrus. This worked! (you can try it) I felt as though my technological  manhood had been restored! I navigated the 78 step voice response system to finally get the prompt that promised to tell me where the nearest toy store was.   It then said “ Please enter  your zip code…”.


For those of you who have not been on the NY State Thruway recently (or ever), it should be no surprise that that State highway authority seemed to have forgotten to put zip code signs next to each exit.


Okay, I am not deterred, technology will get us out of this problem, I assure my increasingly skeptical family. All I have to do is figure out what zip code we are driving through, then call the 800 number again, navigate the 78 step voice system and voila!, I will have the location of the nearest Toys-R-US.


The fact that it was now 8:45pm and most Toys-R-Us stores close at 9:00 pm was just a minor glitch.

The next exit came up and I got off. I told everyone confidently that I will ask the toll taker what his zip code is and we will be in good shape.   My daughter wailed even more desperately in a demonstration of lack of confidence.

With all my self- assurance,  I paid the toll and started to ask the toll taker the zip code question. I was cut off with a still painful elbow to the ribs. My wife leaned over and had this conversation with the toll taker.

“Do you have a Toys-R-US in this town?”, “You do, great!”, “Can you give me directions?”, “ 1 mile, turn right and you will see it?.”, “Great!, Thanks!”



Humbled, I drove the precise directions to the store and bought the doll and put my internet enabled phone away for the rest of the weekend!

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