Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April round-up

Things have been busy this month and my postings have dwindled, so my last April post is designed as more of a radar round-up.

There has been a lot of recent activity in the mobile payments space following announcements re: PayPal Mobile, Obopay funding, and PayWi. Another new start-up on the radar is Luup who currently provides services in the UK, Germany and Norway. You can send and receive money online and via SMS, provided the recipient is also using the service. MoniLINK (UK only) also announced that HSBC and FirstDirect would be the first partners to support their mobile banking service (provided via application download) which is scheduled to launch in the UK later this year.

If you liked the idea of Hotxt, but weren’t prepared to stump up the 1 pound per week then take a look at Tex2 – providing a similar service for free. The application downloads, installs and works well but the website side of things needs some refinement. SMS is ripe for some disruption – it accounts for a significant proportion of operator revenue and is the killer mobile app for most users. The younger user segment will be prepared to accept some service misgivings provided that they can reduce their bills and with something like txt2, they can. Mobile-IM has yet to ramp up so there is likely to be a window of opportunity in this product space, but marketing dollars will ultimately dictate who gets the critical mass.

Stanford University is hosting Startup School this Saturday. Topics covered include what makes a good startup idea and where to get them; what to look for in a co-founder; how to get angel and VC funding; how to incorporate a company and what agreements founders should have among themselves; when and how to apply for patents; what can go wrong in a startup; what acquirers look for; and how the acquisition process works. The speaker list is very impressive.

Cool Hunting profiles the Orange shop in Notting Hill, London, UK. It’s an experimental new retail format incorporating chill sales staff who know their product and awarded on customer feedback not sales. “Customers are encouraged to come back often—in the shop you can grab a coffee while your mobile is charged and cleaned or you can learn how to load music and read email on your particular device”. Neat.

My Fon wi-fi router has arrived, but has yet to be configured due to it not behaving as the instructions suggested it would. The weekend should crack that though, so if you're in Düsseldorf and need internet access... will update next week

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