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.