Friday, December 21, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Bubble 2.0 ;-)

Love it! Thanks Colin. Via the new Naked team blog

Mashup Event & Merrill Lynch Social Networking Research

I went along to Mashup Event last week which was on the topic of Social Networking. Merrill Lynch hosted the event and used it to present some research they did on the topic. Sadly I dont have time to offer you insightful and intelligent analysis of the results, but you can read the results here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Give One Get One

"From now through December 31, 2007, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. For a donation of $399, one XO laptop will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation and one will be sent to the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. $200 of your donation is tax-deductible (your $399 donation minus the fair market value of the XO laptop you will be receiving)."

How about a One Mobile Per Village (OMPV) Programme anyone??

Monday, November 26, 2007

Jason Devitt testifies to Congress

At Future of Mobile the other week, Brian Fling showed us this video - it left an impression on me and made me wish that I was as eloquent.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Future of Mobile - November 14th

There's a "Future of Mobile" event on at the BFI IMAX Cinema at London's South Bank on the 14th Nov. It's cheap to attend (£89) and they have a great line up of speakers. It's organised by Carsonified who put on a great show at FOWA last month.
Topics to be covered that caught my eye include; Beyond WAP: Advance Browsing, Mobile Ajax, and the future of the Web (Dan Appelquist from Voda & MobileMonday), Gmail and the Next Generation of Mobile Web Apps (Marcus Foster from Google), and the keynote from Tony Fish: Tuning in to Mobile Culture. See you there?

Pipl - better people search

I like this - Pipl is a search site specifically for people - the returned results are more comprehensive and its a category which has a lot of scope as more and more of people's personas and lives are mirrored on the net.

"Unlike a typical search-engine, Pipl is designed to retrieve information from the deep web, our robots are set to interact with searchable databases and extract facts, contact details and other relevant information from personal profiles, member directories, scientific publications, court records and numerous other deep-web sources".

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Prostate Cancer Awareness

The UK is sometimes known for it's eccentricities and this month is no different. November is now "Movember", and to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer, men up and down the country are growing a variety of facial hair styles to make the point. Here's my efforts - I went for the Mexican druglord look which ensured I had plenty of room to move on the tube this morning ;-)

Donations welcome here

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Geek tees

Switched have a done a neat review of the top geek are my favourites:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Facebooks for Enemies

So you set up your facebook account and connect to all your buddies, but what do you use for those that you detest, hate or want to diss?
here's a selection...

EnemyBook is a handy app that you can plugin to Facebook and add people as Facebook enemies, specify why they're your enemies, and even become friends with the enemies of your enemies.

Next up is Hatebook, a Facebook clone that simply connects you to all the people you hate. Presumably their Supoerpoke equivalent includes "run-over", "shoot", "stab", "poison" etc

Finally, Snubster. This site enables you to create a list of people that you want to alienate yourself from - avoid them like the plague. You can put them to "on notice" or "dead to me".

This is all humorous evidence of a real issue with social software in that very few sites are able to reflect your social context within the confines of their technology. You don't want to be connected to 'everyone' and forced to share everything - most peoples social spheres consist of multiple sub-segments of groups (close family, not so close family, current colleagues, old colleagues, mates that live close by, mates that live abroad, etc etc). Technology needs to mirror how we communicate in the real world, notably enabling me to share different things with different groups - to fence these groups off from one another so that the lines dont blur.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Social Network for Two...

Cool animation set to Zefrank's recent tune "A Social Network for Two".
Via reboiled

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Work Naked...

Nothing to do with us, I swear!
image via crackunit

Google acquires Jaiku

Here's the news from the Jaiku team - another interesting piece of the puzzle in the long running Google Phone (probably an OS) speculation...

"Wonderful Jaiku users,

Exciting news, Jaiku is joining Google!

While its too soon to comment on specific plans, we look forward to working with our new friends at Google over the coming months to expand in ways we hope you'll find interesting and useful. Our engineers are excited to be working together and enthusiastic developers lead to great innovation. We look forward to accomplishing great things together.

In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now. But fear not! All our Jaiku services will stay running the way you are used to and you will continue to be able to invite your friends to Jaiku.

We have put together a quick Q&A about the acquisition at

Jyri Engestrom and Petteri Koponen, Jaiku Founders"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Vodafone InsideOut 4 2ndLife

Vodafone have launched 'InsideOut' for fans of SecondLife, enabling you to call and text within SecondLife and between SecondLife and the real world. So as your directing the construction of your new condo in ever-bright city , you can call and text people in the real world from your virtual mobile device.
Vodafone is handing out free HUD's (Heads Up Displays) from a Vending Machine in Vodafone InsideOut Island - they allocate you a virtual mobile number (currently a +49 german number) - and you carry the HUD around with you in SecondLife to make calls and text to other residents within SecondLife and people outside as well.
Until the end of November all calls and texts are free, although Voda reserve the right to charge from this point onwards.
The HUD could evolve to provide location alerts to other users within SecondLife, notification and live-streaming of real-world events in to SecondLife, and a neat monetisation model for online to offline communication.

Monday, September 10, 2007

We are now recruiting for the following role at Naked - pls get in touch if you know anyone that might be appropriate...

Role: Software Engineering & Infrastructure Lead
Company: Naked Ltd
Direct Reports: 2-4 (Year 1)
Salary: Competitive + Equity + Options + Health
Based: London, UK

Who is Naked?
Naked Ltd is a London based start-up company with a core team of 7. Naked is properly funded and is finalising its next financing round to support the scope of its ambition to grow into a global community within 5 years.

Being Naked
Naked is a state of mind as well as a service offering. Being Naked is being close to the people you care about, individually or as a group, by being true to yourself through genuinely open and transparent communication. This closeness is unique and special for each individual, and exists between their chosen groups of family members, friends and aquaintances – their ‘world of we’.

Open Messaging
Naked is a new open messaging service that addresses people’s desire for closeness between friends, family and acquaintances. Naked enables people to share idle thoughts, profound comments, feelings, experiences, through short-form lightweight mixed-media posts. Unlike conversational systems like instant messaging, the resulting stream is both ephemeral and permanent, and is automatically shared in online spaces dedicated to each individual and the specific people and groups they want to be close with. Posting to and accessing these streams can be done through multiple channels (web, mobile, IM, email, RSS) enabling ongoing and ‘anytime’ sharing.

Platform Approach
- Open
Naked adopts an open approach to platform, architecture and member data. 3rd party platform API’s ensure open access to developers and other web services while an open architecture means support for industry efforts to converge messaging across services, channels and networks, through standards bodies and API’s. And open member data recognises that our members own their personal information and should control when, what and where this data is shared with others.

- Channel Agnostic
Naked is designed to work across devices, enabling anytime and anywhere messaging on a pc or mobile, via the web, im, email and rss. Availability of open API’s and web services ensures that as the service evolves, others can compliment the channel spectrum with whats new and needed.

- Rapid & Agile
A development methodology that recognises our members as co-developers, incorporating feedback in to regular rolling release cycles that spur the evolution of the service and its social application.

Who are we looking for?
Naked is seeking a Software Engineering and Infrastructure Lead to recruit and lead a small, close-knit team of exceptional IT talent. You need to be an exceptional coder, collaborator, inventor, architect, leader and mentor, all rolled into one. You like working in a fast-paced and engineering-driven environment and you love envisioning projects, motivating a team of engineers and are happy to roll your sleeves up to implement critical components yourself.

You will be responsible for all software and infrastructure related projects, including those that are managed in house and externally in collaboration with 3rd party development partners. You will need to direct your team efficiently across projects and govern the technical roadmap for Naked. You will manage the ongoing scaling of the application environment and the associated infrastructure requirements and costs.
You will need to play a stakeholder role in all related industry activities while leading the implementation of supporting initiatives within Naked. You will be an opinionated proponent of open member data and technology, and develop a vision for how to realise this within the context of a social messaging environment such as Naked.
You will have in-depth experience across web and mobile technologies and standards, as well as substantial experience in designing, documenting and supporting web services API. You will have worked in an agile way on a number of previous projects and be accustomed to supporting a member-led development process.
You and your team will play a critical role in shaping the evolution of the next killer application and will be ready for all the tears and laughter that accompanies this challenge.

To work at Naked you need to have:

• A degree BS/BA/MS in Computer Science or related field.
• Software background with significant knowledge and exposure to Ruby on Rails.
• Entrepreneurial drive, demonstrated ability to achieve and stretch goals.
• Solid leadership skills and experience building strong engineering teams.
• Significant experience in software development across boundaries in a highly geographically distributed environment.
• Multi-domain expertise in mobile, web, and messaging technologies and standards.
• Strong project management skills.
• Budget forecasting , management and reporting experience
• Proven track record of product delivery.
• Able to fit in well within an informal start-up environment and to provide hands-on management.
• Able to establish credibility with smart engineers quickly, and provide long term vision and motivation.

What’s in it for you?
Apart from working in a fun but highly dynamic and challenging environment, we offer a competitive salary and benefits, stock equity package and an outstanding and unusual working environment.
Naturally we are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Nokia's Mobile Social Network; Mosh

While most operators are busy enabling mobile access to the leading social networks, Nokia has been developing its own with a strong mobile flavour - Mosh. Out now in private Beta. Luca Filigheddu has a good overview.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Naked Yak

Since February this year, I’ve been working on a new company called Naked. We’ve been pretty quiet as of late, but are now beginning to emerge out of stealth as we finalise the Beta, which is due to launch in Q4.
Naked is a new ‘open messaging’ service that enables people to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences, through lightweight mixed-media posts. Unlike conversational systems such as IM or text messaging, the resulting stream is shared in online spaces dedicated to each individual and the specific people they want to be close with. It’s new, it’s different and I want to avoid saying it’s like X because it really is a very differentiated proposition from what is available today. We’ve combined functionality in to a totally new communication experience that we believe addresses a core human need to keep in touch and stay close to the people that you care about. It’s not a platform for collecting and broadcasting that you have 5000 friends, it’s a much more intimate environment that is member centric and cross-channel, so it works on your mobile, you can access it on the web, and keep in touch with it via IM and email.

You can follow the first part of our member engagement strategy at NakedYak.

Stay tuned, there’s more to come… ;-)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


A great initiative kicking off in September 07 to identify, support, fund and mentor Europe's most promising start-ups. Sign up for it here

i came across this on Saul Kleins blog here

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Social Networks using Ruby on Rails

Congratulations to my mate Alan, who has recently finished his first book - "Practical Rails Social Networking Sites". It's out now on Amazon, and is a must read if you're considering building anything in Rails.

"Practical Rails Social Networking Sites shows you the complete development cycle of a social networking community web site. The project develops first as a simple content management system, after which it progressively adds features in order to build a full Web 2.0--enabled community-based social networking site using Ruby on Rails".

"You will learn how to make the best use of the Ruby on Rails framework within a large project and how to implement and adapt features specific to a community. The book offers practical advice and tips for developing and testing, along with guidance on how to take your site live, as well as optimize and maintain it".

"The book also explores how to integrate with other community sites such as Flickr and Google Maps, and how to make good use of Rails' Ajax features. You will also learn how to optimize and adapt your site to work well on mobile browsers".

Monday, June 25, 2007

Unlimited SMS, MMS & Video for $5/month

Unlimited SMS, MMS & Video for $5/month on Cingular

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blue Planet Run team need Global Mobile Sponsor

Just got pinged by the CEO of the Blue Planet Run Foundation - a charity that is raising the awareness of the global safe water crisis (unsafe water kills 6000 people/day). They need some help - ideally about 50 cheap (preferably free) mobile contracts with big data plans (roaming enabled), 3G/UMTS cards etc, and pronto...

"On June 1, 20 runners will leave the UN Building in New York City on an unprecedented adventure – running around the world, 24 hours a day, to raise awareness of the global safe drinking water crisis. This crisis shapes the lives of the over 1b people that live today without safe drinking water; half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people suffering from water borne disease. The 20 runners will run relay style, passing the baton each 10 miles, as they run across countries including the UK , France , Belgium , Netherlands , Germany , Poland , Russia , Mongolia , China , and Japan , then returning to the US on August 1 and running from San Francisco to New York City , where the Run will conclude on September 4th".

With 20 runners, 30 support people, and lots of multimedia to be pushed to the website, wireless connectivity is critical. The event should be generating tons of press throughout Europe, Asia, and the US. The Team will be using wireless technology for voice comms, wireless email, location positioning and wireless data.

I know a few of my readers work in some pretty big European/Global mobile operators, so I was kinda hoping that you might drop this request on the desk of your friendly PR/Sponsorhip department. This is a genuinely credible and extremely worthwhile request, so if you think you can help, please get in touch, and I'll forward on the details.....thanks :-)

Thursday, April 26, 2007


If you've observed and enjoyed the recent hype surrounding Twitter, then take a look at MySay - its the voice based equivalent - "phatic voice". Im not sure the target demographic likes voice quite so much though.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Vodafone MobileScript

Just heard that Vod have released a device optimistation script for Betavine developers....

"Vodafone MobileScript is an ECMA script extension that allows developers to access device functionality in a very simple manner. The goal of Mobilescript is the creation of a common framework in order to easily and quickly develop new services in mobile platforms, using a ECMA Script Open Source engine including new features which enable the developer to control new actions and events in the terminal".

Download from here
More info here

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Blyk to use Orange for Mobile Ad MVNO

Orange and Blyk (the first ad-funded mobile network) today announced an MVNO deal that will see Blyk customers using the Orange network to make calls, send messages and access the mobile internet. The two companies have entered into a wholesale agreement regarding the transportation of voice and data traffic across the Orange network.

Full release here

Monday, April 02, 2007

Mobile Long Numbers?

Does anyone know where I can get hold of a range of voice and SMS enabled mobile long numbers (virtual MSISDNs)? I have a UK supplier - I need someone/anyone in Europe ??


Sonopia - MVNO Long-tail?

Sonopia are recently out of stealth mode and have announced that they are offering the ability for brands, communities, people, clubs or whatever to set up and offer their own mobile service offering (in the US).
Say you're a soccer team with a legion of committed fans. You can now offer your own branded mobile proposition consisting of customised calling plans, handset range etc. Each brand also gets it own customised "community" platform which is accessible both on the PC and mobile. Sonopia makes it easy for the brands to interact with their customer base, and for the users of the brand to interact with one another.

The example above is LonelyGirl15's mobile offering - she's apparently famous on MySpace and is now using Sonopia to offer a mobile package!!!!!

Read more at VentureBeat and GigaOM

Friday, March 30, 2007

Orange & Bebo tie-up

The Times reported that Orange and Bebo are close to closing a deal to enable Orange customers to interact with Bebo while out and about...

"The tie-up — Bebo’s first with a mobile operator — will allow Orange customers to edit their Bebo profiles, update their blogs and find friends on the online “hang-out” without sitting at a personal computer.

The service, the latest in a series of alliances between cult internet brands and mobile operators, will start in Britain this summer, with extension to other markets expected later.

Bebo, which has amassed 31 million users in the two years since its launch, hopes that the link will enable it to extend its reach in its target audience of people aged 18 to 24.

For mobile operators such as Orange, the ability to market well-known PC applications can be a critical tool in attracting and retaining customers in fiercely crowded markets".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Flurry Update and Director of Marketing Role

There's some great news from the Kings of Mobile Email - Flurry. Not only have they raised a whopping $3.75m Series from DFJ, Draper Richards and follow-on investors Borealis, they are now looking to recruit a Director of Marketing to compliment their existing team.

If you haven't upgraded to a whoppingly expensive mobile device and subscribed to an even more whoppingly expensive mobile email service, simply go to and get it sorted. It works, it works really very well and it uses a tiny amount of your monthly data allowance (it will even show you how much on the web site).

If you're a senior marketing dude, you understand brand, entry strategy,
proposition, positioning, pr and comms, and you're looking for a hot role with great start-up based in San Fran - read on:

Job Title: Director of Marketing
Description: Flurry is a leader in the growing field of next-generation mobile services. Our flagship product is an easy-to-use mobile email and RSS solution that works on hundreds of different cell phone models and thousands of email providers and carriers worldwide. It is the first service to be introduced by flurry based on our Mobile Services Platform, a platform designed to provide high-performance, consumer friendly applications.

We're seeking a smart, creative, enthusiastic, and experienced marketing executive to help us build the brand, drive consumer adoption of our products, lead overall marketing and communications strategy and manage related marketing programs.

• Establish overall marketing and communications strategy and strategic positioning
• Lead all aspects of engagement marketing for flurry and all its products. Candidate will design, implement, and manage strategies to increase user acquisition, retention, usage and monetization. Special emphasis in viral marketing and community growth around the service
• Create corporate and product communications plan
• Lead and manage all public relations activities
• Work closely with product, development, and management teams to achieve business objectives through effective marketing programs
• Manage production of marketing collateral and marketing budgets
• Establish and manage affiliate relationships
• Build and keep to schedules and budget; meet or exceed department goals
• Define key metrics to measure the effectiveness of marketing programs

• BA required; MBA strongly preferred
• 5+ years of consumer marketing experience, with emphasis on online consumer marketing
• 3+ years of management/leadership experience
• Proven track record of success in acquiring users for consumer products
• Experience managing outside agencies (e.g., PR)
• Strong business acumen, keen analytic skills and direct marketing experience
• Excellent verbal and written communication, presentation skills, and relationship management
• Ability to thrive in a fast-paced startup environment

This position reports to the CEO and would be based in San Francisco.

to apply for this, visit for contact information

Friday, March 16, 2007

CEBIT-Vodafone shows Internet (Skype) calling on mobile - Starfish

"HANOVER, Germany, March 15 (Reuters) - Vodafone (VOD.L: Quote, Profile , Research), the world's most international mobile phone carrier with over 200 million subscribers, showed Internet-calling for mobile phones with Skype, which it said it may launch in the future.

Code-named Starfish, Vodafone showed the application in the future zone of its booth at the world's biggest technology trade show, CeBIT. It has yet to decide whether it will start offering consumers the service, which could eat into its traditional mobile voice telephone business".

via Reuters (full article here)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Technology Yoda Required!

We (Naked) are currently looking for a high calibre individual to review and assess the technology implications, opportunities and challenges for a mobile start-up. If you are the man (or woman) for the job, or you know someone who might be, ping me at - thanks. (we expect project duration to be in the region of 20-30 days at a competitive day rate).


The candidate will have 10yrs + experience in a leading mobile operator and/or Internet player with at least 5 yrs in a senior architectural, engineering or CTO role. With a comprehensive understanding of core messaging and voice architectures and standards (IM, IMPS, VoIP, SMS, MMS, Email, Web services and standards), the candidate will be adept at mapping commercial requirements to the realities of today’s and tomorrows technology capabilities. Familiar with communication related product offerings from leading vendors and emerging start-ups, the candidate will have a strong industry network and an in-depth understanding of the technology value chain.


• Provide technology strategy insights to the commercial start-up team.
• Review and assess the company’s overall strategy, entry strategy and goals in light of current technologies, capabilities and trends.
• Provide analysis and recommendation on software, hardware and handset architecture and infrastructure.
• Identify and provide access to possible technology partners
• Conduct technical due-diligence on capabilities, IPR and fit of potential technology partners.
• Review and assess the technical team’s organizational model
• Navigate key technical challenges and risks to provide a service realisation recommendation supported by key assumptions, evidence and insight.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

MeinPC wins 3GSM award!

Yehaa! I just heard that my former team colleagues at Vodafone have just won a 3GSM award in the "Best Made for Mobile Music" award category.
See my original post here (June 06)
Congratulations FPU, lets hope it's the first of many!

Other winners included Shozu, the SE K800 and 3's X-Series, full list here.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Emap acquires YoSpace!

Nice move! Yesterday Emap announced it had acquired YoSpace, a mobile user-generated content platform provider for £8.7m in cash + a further earn out of £5.7m.
YoSpace have been working in mobile since 99 and havent had it easy. They made a name in emulators and virtual handsets before developing what is now described as a Media Community Platform - this is essentially a platform for managing user-generated mobile videos, pictures, audio and text. Three UK use it for their SeeMyTV UCG product offering and O2 have a similar offering also running on the YoSpace MCP.
Emap has now bought itself a very robust, scalable, capable and proven solution (+ a great team) that can be used to sweat the UCG assets of their numerous brands. Emap will compete with YouTube, MySpace etc horizontally, through sub-segment brands such as FHM, Bike, Kerrang, Kiss, Smash Hits (not so sure about appetite for a UCG Steam Railway and Trout Fisherman portal :-)

This is very sensible strategy from Emap and a relatively cheap acquisition that adds significant value to their brand portoflio. I say "cheap" because I think YoSpace could have got more. There arent too many of these platforms in the market, and very few that are proven with paying customers.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Interview with VF R&D - Vodafone Betavine

I recently did a post on the Vodafone Betavine launch, and thought I would follow it up with an interview with one of the project team that was involved in creating it. So I got in touch with Stephen Wolak, Web Technologies Manager at Vodafone Group R&D , one of the key project proponents.

abigidea: hi Steve, how are you doing?
Stephen W: I am pleased that we managed to launch Vodafone Betavine in January as promised ...

abigidea: How's Newbury?
Stephen W: I like Newbury, it is small and does not have a cinema but it is very friendly and a great place for families. People still say hello to you in the street ...

abigidea: What handset are you currently using?
Stephen W: I am using a Nokia N80

abigidea: Whats your favourite mobile application or service?
Stephen W: Flickr via Shozu. I really enjoy creating a photographic trail of my life ... a photoblog ..

abigidea: Can you summarise for the readers what Betavine is all about?
Stephen W: Vodafone Betavine is all about mobile and internet communications. It is a platform and set of tools to enable developers and early adopters to work together creating new things and socialising those new things, applications.

We would like it to become a hub for creation of new concepts and technologies applied to communications.

abigidea: So developers can test out new apps with a hungry audience - do you vet the apps first?
Stephen W: We are as open as we can be, we do not vet applications as such but do perform a quick AV scan to protect our users from known viruses.

abigidea: How long has the project been in the works?
Stephen W: It has taken the team 7 months to develop using open source software components.

abigidea: Was it difficult to achieve this in a company the size of Vodafone?
Stephen W: It was surprisingly easy! We came up with the concept in May 2006, got approval in June 2006 and delivered the website in January 2007 ... Clearly we had to consult to a range of people to ensure that what we were doing aligned with the Vodafone Group Strategy and complied with good governance but there was a lot of support for the concept from the beginning.

abigidea: How do you see Betavine evolving?
Stephen W: We are going to introduce an open source website soon and also start some student competitions. Beyond that we would like to experiment with APIs on the website, for developers to try out new services.

abigidea: Much of the mobile blogosphere complains about operators and their apparent lack of willingness to support the developer community, hindering the overall rate of innovation. Betavine is a huge step in the right direction, but do you think we'll ever get to the developer utopia of a comprehesive API on to the operators infrastructure (e.g. offering location, presence, billing, messaging, voice and more)?
Steve W: yikes! That is a good question ... I really believe that Vodafone Betavine is a valuable platform for developers, from all areas, to use to promote their applications and get valuable feedback.

abigidea: Thanks for your time Steve - good luck with the project
Steve W: Your welcome.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vodafone BetaVine

As it's my last day at Vodafone today, I thought it only appropriate to use my last few hours constructively and do a post on a great intiative being led by our Group R&D team - a collaborative mobile innovation portal called Betavine.

"Vodafone Betavine is a testing ground for the latest concepts and technologies in mobile and internet applications. It allows people to test their ideas in real-world conditions, with others who are knowledgeable and interested in developing mobile applications for the future".

Take a look today and you will find a directory of mobile applications, discussion forums (including open source, API's, resources and Apps), and a Developer Zone where you will be able to create a project forum, solicit input and feedback from other members, and test/trial your application with a willing community. The site is a work in progress so naturally there are some sections that are "coming soon".

This is an altrusitic contribution from Vodafone designed to foster more information, more transparency, more discussion and ultimately more innovation. I hope that this will eventually evolve in to what many have been craving for years; an operator "API" that provides access to location, presence, device data, customer profile, billing and more.

Paul Walsh @ Segala had the exclusive here

Screenshot 1 - displays most popular downloaded mobile applications together with device compatability and popularity. Screenshot 2 - Forum listings.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mobile Bits and bobs

I've been a bit slack on the blogging front....busy times.So I thought I'd write another summary as the last one proved quite popular....

Michael Mace continues to deliver the goods over at Mobile Opportunity with a great article and some original analysis on mobile data and handset segmentation. Mr Mace argues the existence of three main handset segments (entertainment e.g. NGage, communication e.g Treo, and information e.g. PDA) and that what lies intersecting all three is the "Zone of Death". IMHO, the "zone of death" presents the biggest opportunity IF the device manufacturer can get the UI and marketing right, and I dont mean market it as a Swiss/army phone. Surely, the mass market needs a credible combination of all 3 capabilties? Communication, Entertainment and Information are converging right? (2ndLife, WOW, Habbo, Pica etc)

Paul Fisher of FirstCapital has written a great overview of VC activity in Europe during 2006. This was a great read as most of the coverage I see is about the US with little to no European specific coverage (except TornadoInsider). Looking at who raised what and from who is also interesting - I'm still amazed that one of my favourite mobile services Zyb only raise 0.6m - a very slick backup service that works on most mobiles - i'd happily pay for that.
And while were on the subject of VC, AlarmClock Euro has a good summary of mobile-related 3i trade sales and an interview with Snr Partner, Ian Lobley.

I noticed that Steve Ives (former founder of trigenix which was sold to Qualcomm in 04) has started a mobile search company called Taptu - nothing to see but one to watch.

And again, while we're on mobile search, i came across a refreshing approach to mobile content search from MogMo - take a look.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pikeo from Orange

Last week, Orange officially launched the unofficial Pikeo, a web-based photo-sharing location-tagging map-viewable community environment which has spawned out of the Orange R&D labs in San Francisco.

"Available in French, English and Spanish, Pikeo allows everyone to share their talents, travel diaries, favourite collections and visions of the world with their friends, family and other Web users. Microsoft's Virtual Earth cartography service is integrated into Pikeo so that users can enrich a map of the world with their own photos.As a result, users can navigate through their friends' network of contacts to discover new members of the Pikeo community and the photos they have taken".

It's a product recipe made from ingredients such as Flickr, Buddyping, and Duosnap, but in it's current beta form, it doesn't taste too great. The application interface is designed in Flash which takes an age to load, and isnt very easy to navigate once it has. Uploading pictures can be done via your PC, or via your mobile using Shozu. I was surprised there was no MMS number available for users who don't have a Shozu supported device. You can set access rights and add tags as you upload your pictures, and each account appears to get 1Gb of space, which seems generous until you realise that uploading pictures doesnt work, so it doesn't matter if they give everyone 100Gb because there's nothing to store! So, yes - nice try but its broken and doesn't work. We should all check back in a couple of months once its out of Beta.

Hedge-funded Start-ups

I heard an amazing quest for funding story last week...about a UK company in the mobile space that raised an undisclosed (about $5m) Series A. They spent quite some time talking to VC's but opted for hedge-fund funding instead. The entrepreneurs behind the venture rationalised the funding intake arguing that they already had a strong network in place, it took very little time for the two parties to agree a structure and valuation, the funds were made available very quickly, there was no board-seat requirement, and because the fund was based in the US there was minimal day-to-day intrusion.

So I get home last night and open up my freshly delivered copy of Red Herring, and theres an article describing this new source of funding as an example of "financial convergence". It says that in the US, this is now quite common-place.
With the emerging trend of Micro-VC, hedge-funds and traditional VC, entrepreneurs are now witnessing a refreshing innovation wave across available finance sources, broadening choice and increasing the total amount of available funds.
P.S I would add that the hedge-fund route appears and makes sense only for the experienced and proven, so if you're starting out in this business, best probably to stick to the usual financial watering holes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Network Spaghetti

If you want to drive from say Battersea in London , to Brighton in Sussex , you will find that your journey encompasses a variety of motorways, A roads and maybe the odd B road. The A205, the A23, the M23, back on to the A23, the A27, along the A2038, and right on to the A2010, and then finally a cheeky hand-brake turn on to the seafront. Ignoring the heinous amount of stealth tax you pay in petrol (and if its a company car, the tax man will have billed you for that privilege as well), the only cost you pay for using these roads is the road tax that you pay each year. Something like a 175 squids for unlimited use of the UK 's finest roads. And if you're a foreigner, it's free!

This Christmas, I found my self doing a lot of traveling. With family in UK and Greece and home in Germany , my girlfriend and I managed 8 flights, 6 airports and 7000 miles. My internet access during this period consisted of my home access provided by T-Com (@ €35,99/month), Vodafone Germany Unlimited (limited to 5Gb/month!) 3G data card (@ €50/month), 3 x 15min access on a T-Mobile Hotspot at Köln airport (3x 15 min = €12), 2 x 1 hour access to Swisscom Wifi at Zurich airport (2 x 1hr = 12CHF), 2 x 1 hour access to BT Openzone at Gatwick (2 x 1hr = 12ukp) and some borrowed bandwidth in Greece on EOL, and AOL in UK. So 1 month cost of Internet connectivity comes to a grand total of about €130!! I'm paying another €15/month for a "fixed" telephone line and about €50/month for my Germany Vodafone mobile contract. So my total basic "connectivity" requirement came to about €200 (excluding fixed and mobile calls, SMS and MMS messages and mobile phone data usage). What the %&$*!

This is not how it should be. So how should it?

Firstly, I want my provider to provide me with a "personal connectivity" solution - this means a home internet connection, a mobile phone and connectivity wherever I go. Companies are making inroads, offering combined billing for each of these differnet access offerings, acquiring or own-branding elements they dont offer and combining the offering under a single brand. Problem is, each network connectivity component is often provided by a different network infrastructure and therefore a different business unit. This makes technical and business integration and proposition development very challenging (although it really shouldn’t be that tricky). Look at T-Mobile - with its T-Mobile mobile division, T-Com fixed line offerings and T-Mobile Hotspots wi-fi business. If you go in to T-Mobile shop, you may find a T-Com leaflet, but no salesman is going to sell you the benefit of a seamless & simple personal connectivity solution.

Secondly, If I accept I may have to use a few different networks and providers (3G isn’t always available nor suitable), then please can I put everything on one bill. Perhaps my personal connectivity service provider could do a deal to enable me to use other networks using my mobile phone to authenticate and bill the transaction. This will avoid me having to whip out the credit card in front of a hundred tired and hungry passengers jostling for place in the EasyJet boarding scrum.

Thirdly, if I have a query or glitch, I would appreciate the ability to make a free call to a helpful service agent who can see my account details and ideally speak the same language as me. It would be a real bonus if they saw a read out of my customer value in terms of total historical expenditure, rather than the total of €3 that I just paid them. And it would be great if they could fix the problem.

Finally, I don’t want to have remember usernames, passwords, PINS and access codes for all these networks and services. This is rubbish. This total space is a frickin nightmare. My head is so full of different numbers, passwords, access codes and other crap that I can hardly remember my date of birth argghhh.

Ok - breathe deeply....

I know it’s a very crap and tenuous analogy, but I want the London to Brighton experience for my connectivity requirements, without any traffic jams. I dont want to have to stop at tolls at every junction. I would like one connectivity provider with one customer number I can call for any problems. I want one bill, one username and one password. If I happen to go abroad, I want to use the same account without having to pay extra. I want simplicity, seamless connectivity and value for money. And I really couldn’t give a toss if the network I’m using is 3G, DSL, HSDPA, Wifi, Wimax, or WiBro.

Sounds like it should be simple, but it ain't. Spectrum regulation, Telecoms de-regulation, Oligopilisation, Government deficit repayments, Technology IP ownership, standardisation, biggness, ignorance and a lack of customer focus have all contributed to what is now a spaghetti plate of network services across Europe . It's a mess, and although some companies are now heavily focused on detangling the mess, it will still be some time before we will get to this.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Swiss Army iPhone

Saw this which made me chuckle. Everybody wants one but I don't. Why - cos I think the usability will be awkward, the battery life appalling, it will be unreliable and if I drop it, it will break. Most mobile phones lead a pretty tough life. I get through at least 2 a year and a 300 pounds a pop it becomes an expensive consumable. If Mr Jobs saw the state of my 18 month yr old iPod he would cry. Me, I'll be sticking to my faithful Nokias and will take a close look at the iPhone at the beginning of 2009 when most issues and glitches will be resolved. Before then however, if I'm wrong, its hats off to Apple. If they do crack this nut, then they can build and sell anything. (thanks for the vid Bruno)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gizmodo Japan Mobile Shop Visit

Vid showing how Europe and US is almost medieval when it comes to handsets...Happy New Year y'all....