Thursday, February 8, 2007

MS unveils Windows Mobile 6.0

Microsoft is about to release the next version of Windows Mobile (6.0) on Monday at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona. MS has certainly been busy with recent launches of Vista and Office 2007. According to the article on The Tech Chronicles, devices with the new OS will start to appear in three to four months. Apparently customers using T-mobile's Dash will also be able to upgrade from v5.0.

Windows Mobile 6.0

Some of the more notable improvements include:

-A Vista-like interface (?)

-An improved e-mail experience (view email with HTML, tables), set their "out of office reply" remotely using their phone.

-New Office Mobile Suite. All Windows Mobile 6.0 devices will come with Office Mobile, which will enable people view and edit documents.

-Windows Live will allow users to easily perform searches or instant messaging.

-ActiveSync will be replaced (when paired with Vista)

The improvements include a more flexible calendar program, better security options and Internet telephony built in.

See Full Story ...

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

MoMIT event: PayPal Mobile comes to MIT

Matt Weathers, PayPal Mobile's Group Product Manager, visited MIT Sloan today to discuss mobile paypments using PayPal, and PayPal's mobile launch strategy. It was interesting to hear about the questions that they tackled, including customer base, client UI (IVR -- interactive voice response, WAP, client, SMS) and geographies.

PayPal mobile allows users to send money to each other, buy products on the go, and even donate money to charity.

One of the more interesting angles was the ability to donate by text to Amnesty International, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and Starlight Starbright.

Check out the online demo!

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Mobile Mondays Boston -- “Common problems facing mobile companies”

Mobile Mondays Boston was hosted at Sloan today, with a panel on “Common problems facing mobile companies.”

Moderator was Mark Newhall of Idealwave. The panel consisted of:
John Simon is a co-founder and managing director of General Catalyst
Randy Bogue is the founder and managing director of Venator Partners
Rob Adler is currently the CEO of 80108
Ann Walsh, is the Director of Human Resources for JumpTap

This was a true mobile effort, with moderator Mark Newhall taking questions via text.

Some notable comments ...

... on finding talent in Boston:

Ann Walsh: "People in the mobile industry in Boston are finding it a tight market for finding quality talent."

John Simon: "Handset developers -- Boston is not so much of a hotbed for this area. Typically we are relocating talent from other geographies"

Randy Bogue: "Relocation gets killed in the bedroom" -- referring to the family aspect and that employers should consider that angle when discussing relocation.

... on common mistakes by candidates during the recruitment process:

John Simon: "Not trying the product, not researching the product, looking at the competitors, not having played with it."

Ann Walsh: "Candidates don't ask the right questions. They don't take time to investigate the company they are interviewing."

Rob Adler: "Someone who just wants a job at your company is not a good person to hire. "

... on qualities that make candidates stand out:

John Simon: "Being mission driven ... results orientation ... a passion to build something that makes a difference."

Randy Bogue: "It's the attitude that differentiates the people "

... on what CEOs look for in top talent

Ann Walsh: "People who are leaders and who can mentor the staff ... make sure the people can take the team to the next level ... Energy, passion, not afraid to take risks."

Rob Adler: "Reliability and consistency in someone who works with you everyday."

... on advice for managers during interviews

Randy Bogue: "Keep it in neutral." Frequently, within the first 5 seconds to 2 minutes, you will have formed an opinion on the person (whether good or bad). If it's good, you'll focus more on the positive elements. If it's bad, you'll reinforce this opinion with what you hear during the interview. 

... on differences between on-deck and off-deck models

John Simon: "The most powerful models in mobile are on 'on deck' ... there are a number of areas where off-deck is going to pick up ... three areas that will facilitate the transition:

1) increasing network speed makes it easy and convenient to go off-deck

2) consumers are being trained to go off-deck

3) there are a number of business models that are being available to go off-deck ... mainly through advertising opened up via search."

There was much more to it but my typing couldn't keep up :)

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

Could Telcos build a search engine to rival Google?

Europe's biggest telcos, including Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia are apparently in talks to develop a search service for mobile phones. Cingular is the only American carrier that is involved.

It's no surprise that minutes are becoming cheaper, probably faster than the increase in minute consumption. Usage of mobile data services is on the rise, and this could be an opportunity for Telcos to create a new revenue stream, potentially in the $300M range (see back of the envelope calcs below)

Search-based advertising is a proven and profitable model that the Telcos could replicate.

Build vs. buy vs. license?

So why would the networks want to build their own? Why not just take a cut from the companies that provide new features? It seems that the Telcos have been operating under such a model where they capture a large chunk of the revenues from add-on services like mobile navigation services (TeleNav). Perhaps some criteria for selection would include:

  • Size of potential user base
  • Frequency of use
  • Value of use
  • Cost to produce

In terms of navigation services, the potential pool of users is small and infrequent. In this scenario, it's probably better to license the service and retain a healthy portion. Search, however, has broader appeal and given the dominance of the biggest players, Yahoo! and Google, it's harder to negotiate favorable margins.

Here's how Search stacks up relative to Nav:


Navigation service

Search service

Size of potential base



Frequency of use



Value of use



Cost to produce



Back of the envelop math:

Europe has about 600M subscribers, about 20% use mobile internet services, and each user could monetize for about $3 annually. Potential ad revenues come to about $360M, not necessarily a small chunk of change.

More from the Daily Telegraph:
Mobile giants plot secret rival to Google | Business | Money | Telegraph

Friday, February 2, 2007

Seagate launches storage device for phones

Seagate's unveiled a new drive specifically designed for mobile phones. The concept is that the drive would host all the storage hungry media and relay it to the phone on demand using Bluetooth. Also, since the phone can be physically separate from the drive, it could be stored away while allowing the phone to be portable and slim.

This reminds me of my IAP project a few weeks ago, experimenting with a similar concept:

DAVE (digital audio visual experience) will be available mid-2007, with a 10-gig capacity. 20-gig and 40-gig models are expected later this year, and in 2008 respectively.



More at CIO today ...
Mobile Devices - Seagate's New Pocket-Sized Drive for Mobile Phones

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Motorola announces backup service for mobile phones

Motorola has launched a new backup and recovery service for content and information stored on mobile phones and SIM cards. This is different from existing offerings because it does not require a PC for backup and recovery operations.

This is yet another sign that we'll see more PC-like service offerings for the mobile phone. An article last week (The year for mobile finance) made me think about the need for anti-virus software and related add-ons for mobile phones, tools we've mainly see on the PC that are making their way to the mobile arena.

Motorol's new service will cost $3/month.

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