Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heroes of Mobile London Podcasts & Round-Up

Didn’t we have a lovely time, the day we went to Mozilla’s HQ last month to talk about mobile. We did three lovely sessions and they were all recorded so even if you weren’t there, you can have a listen. I’ve also included links to some articles about the sessions and the day as well in case podcasts aren’t your thing. This is cross posted from

State of the Mobile Nation was chaired by Russell Buckley who is now running Ballpark Ventures and the session was sponsored by Hotwire PR. On the panel we had Eamonn Carey of Kiip, Benedict Evans from Enders Analysis, Azeem Azhar from PeerIndex and Roberta Lucca from BAFTA award-winning Bossa Studios. The group talked about the future of computing, additive printing, mobile innovation, consumer trends and a whole lot more.


Hotwire’s Andy West did a comprehensive write-up of the session here.

Next up was Mobile Advertising will Eat Itself. Again chaired by Russell Buckley, he was joined by Chris Bourke from Qriously, Stephen Upstone from LoopMeMedia, Greg Isbister from Blis Mobile, Denise Breslin from Mobsta and Nicky Spooner from O2 Media (now Weve). They talked innovation (or not), explained a bunch of acronyms, covered location based services and talked about how the landscape has changed over the years and what’s coming up and uncovering some of the opportunities in the sector.


And last but not least, we had (Mobile) Money Makes the World Go Around. Tim Green of Mobile Money Revolution chaired the session and he was joined by industry veterans Roy Vella (who will always be remembered by me for sharing the real meaning of the acronym NFC. For those of you not in the know, it’s ‘not for commerce’!), Martin Harris from Bango, Matt Dicks from BlueVia and John Maynard from mPesa. I’m not sure we drew that many conclusions but a lot of ground was covered and many issues raised. Well worth a listen.

BlueVia covered the mobile money session here.

We got covered on an interesting email discussion thread here. Thanks Bernard Tyers!

Guy Southam from The Lab at O2 covered the whole day here.

Many thanks to Hotwire PR for sponsoring and to Mozilla for hosting us. A big thank you to Russell Buckley and Tim Green for chairing and to all our panellists. Also, many thanks to Kirsty Styles and Mobile Marketing Magazine, Harold Verhagen, Emma Brincat and Inspiring Interns, Sofiana Dewi and James Norris for their support for the event.

Videos coming soon…

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

m-Commerce Learnings–from the Horses’ Mouths

It’s pretty much exactly a year ago since I live tweeted an event organised by my friend Catherine Crawley for the Ecommerce UK Group on LinkedIn. The topic was m-Commerce and it was done Pecha Kucha style. What that meant was that we had 7 expert speakers talking about their experience or thoughts on m-Commerce and they each had 7 minutes in which to speak and answer questions. The gong went if they ran over time and they had to stop at that point to keep everything to time. (I loved the gong. It was a great touch.)

I’d forgotten that I’d done a storify on it when I was pootling on the storify site earlier, so I’ve finished it by including the videos from the evening as well as the slideshare of all the slides used.

I’ve also taken another look at the content, and a year on, it is all still relevant. The issues that retailers face with mobile are very similar – except maybe the screen size has changed and now they’re looking at having to deal with 4G and perhaps the day they need to start taking NFC more seriously is edging closer. But when it comes to consumer behaviour, internal culture, the challenges of dealing with multi-platform and multi-channel retail, the issues are pretty much the same. The usage numbers of course, have only gone one way, and, in the words of Yazz, the only way is up!

So take a look. Listen to the retailers telling their own stories of mCommerce joy and woe… just follow the link.

I know what you did five minutes ago

Friend and fellow mobilist, Terence Eden, has just published a really interesting post ‘The Future is Now but not Everyone Knows it’. Well worth a read. This resonates with me on the privacy issues front in particular. I’ve been sort of aware of security issues around identity fraud, having your credit card cloned, about having your site or email hacked into. But it has never really felt real. It has always felt to me that these things happen to someone else, they’re things you read about on the news or memes that travel on twitter. And I sincerely hope none of them happen to me. But I fear that some of this stuff could become as commonplace as shoplifting or pickpocketing.

The reality is, that you usually give yourself a split second to decide on the convenience of clicking on something right now to get to a site or buy something or not and so we usually click. Who reads privacy policies, terms and conditions and what not? How do you verify a site is real and not fake? Convenience or immediate gratification usually wins out.

I’m afraid I don’t have the answers when it comes to data privacy and online security issues. But I do know that the mobile environment is dealing with similar issues around malware that the desktop world experienced ten years ago. Growth of mobile malware is huge and ‘it is now fully functional and mature’ to quote this article. There are holes in our smartphone operating systems that means smart, and probably not so smart, hackers can worm their way in to take control over a device or install a key-logging operation and from there, everything can unravel pretty quickly. The holes are often to do with the access rights that we actively give to app developers and also down to the access rights the handset manufacturer and network operator sets when they add on the 70 or so apps we have no control over to make our devices work.

And even if you don’t succumb to mobile malware, if you’re not careful with how you manage passwords, pin codes and privacy settings, you can still be vulnerable, as this wonderful video by Tom Scott demonstrates.


The Harrods fake till scam

samsung cash register 1990sIt’s always busy at Christmas in the retail world, especially for department stores. When I worked in Selfridges in 1990, I think they took on an extra 2000 staff for the season. That was in just one store. They’ve now pared that down but even last year, they took on an additional 1500 staff across their four stores. And come the first day of sale, everyone is on duty along with a bunch of people you’ve never seen before. The concessions will rope in extra staff from quieter branches and may even get additional help from Head Office staff who are usually sitting behind a computer screen for the rest of the year. It is pretty chaotic. We also used tills like the one pictured – although somewhat cleaner.

There was a story that went around at the time about a similar scenario in Harrods. A couple of thousand extra staff in store, and crazy busy with the general public eagerly buying their bargains. On the ground floor, an extra cash-only till was set up to deal with the additional customers. And then at the end of the day, it left as quickly as it had arrived. Full of money. It was a fake till. Some criminals had wheeled it in and it had been used all day by uniformed staff and then it and they left again, with thousands of pounds, no doubt. Or so the story goes. I don’t know if this is true or simply an urban myth. If it’s a myth, it’s easy to see how it could happen.

But that was 1990. Fast forward 20-odd years and we’re talking about a different in-store experience. I was at the Neoworks roundtable last night discussing the latest customer service issues in-store and on-line. One of the biggest customer gripes is having to wait in a long queue to pay. And hurrah, we can now issue staff with tablets so that staff can take payment where the customer is, there and then. With services like iZettle, Square and their ilk, taking payments like this is a breeze. Credit card swiped, confirmation of the amount and off we go.

Except, how do you know that it’s a real member of staff with iPad in hand? How do you know whether or not your card number will be secure? How do you know it’s not a scam in the same vein as the Harrods fake till story?

So before you rush in to adopting some shiny new technology, please have a think about some worst case scenarios so that you can work out ways to counter them so you don’t end up falling victim to some dodgy scam.

And if you’re a consumer, just be careful out there. Security risks are out there in the offline world too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wenlock–what is it?

A friend was over in the summer from San Francisco and her trip coincided with The Olympics. As a good tourist, she bought her fair share of London souvenirs, including a plush Wenlock. There’s no denying that Wenlock is a bit weird. Hey the whole Olympics branding was a bit weird, but in this short video, we talk about what we think of Wenlock over a pint down at London Wonderground at The Southbank. It’s a bit of light relief.

The question is, am I right about Wenlock? Is it indeed back to front?!

Mobile coupons: People are the weakest link

I’ve just been reading an article over on Monty Munford’s blog by Rob Thurner about the ‘three things that need to happen before mobile couponing kicks off’. They’re both friends of mine but as a veteran of the mobile couponing business, I feel I should add a comment.

Some of you already know that I have many years experience at the coal face of retail. For those of you who don’t know, I spent the best part of 10 years working in fashion retail and working my way up from sales assistant to store manager in the early years of my working life. I’ve worked my way from the wilds of Worcester High Street to the bling of the West End and Knightsbridge. There’s not much I haven’t seen from store openings to store closings to being held at knifepoint for refusing someone a refund on something they’d clearly stolen. Yes, really. I was also lucky enough to work at the world’s first mobile couponing start-up, ZagMe, where we sent text messages to shoppers at Lakeside and Bluewater shopping malls. I think I know a bit about how this couponing and retail thing works.

Couponing in the UK is nothing like at the obsession levels that you’ll see in the US. They have shows over there about ‘Extreme Couponing’. I kid you not. We still like a bargain here, but we’re not quite as bothered about it. But it’s still big business and seems to be made for mobile. Well you’d think…

Like many things, usability isn’t quite there yet. But there are workarounds. Back in ZagMe days, we sent coupons via text message. We couldn’t event concatenate the message (that means combine two messages as one). Some phones could only store 10 text messages at the time. Can you believe it?! We’re talking 2000 and 2001. Yes, that long ago. Mobile couponing is not new. The ZagMe texts we sent had a code in them which was generated based on your age, gender, retailer and time of sending. That meant you might see a different code to your friend who received the same message so it looked like they were uniquely generated codes. Now of course, it is entirely possible to put a unique code into a SMS. If you want to. But it really depends on why you’re sending the coupon in the first place and how it’s financed. Since most coupons and discounts are funded out of margin, it doesn’t usually matter whether or not the coupon is shared or replicated. Indeed, that can just reduce the costs for the retailer that they’re getting free distribution. So chances are, you don’t need a unique code necessarily, you just need a way to manage the coupon or discount.

The way to do that is to set up a discount barcode for the specific promotion and have it reside by the side of all of your tills. You’ll need to train your staff properly so they know what to scan and when. And in the text message, email or whatever other coupon format you want to use, you make sure you put in any limitations on the offer – this usually means the date. Don’t have an open-ended offer. And if there are terms and conditions, make sure those are available for both the customer (perhaps via a link to click in the message) and the store staff (at POS and included in the training for example), so there’s no question about when the offer runs out. As it happens, I still have an Ann Summers coupon lurking on my hard drive offering me £5 off any purchase. There is no expiry date. It’s just a gif file. Maybe I should try redeeming it….

In his article, Rob goes on to explain about keyed entry, scanning and NFC as redemption methods. These are all coming. Some retailers who are further ahead have already embraced them. And as each retailer reviews their EPOS systems, they’re going to be thinking about mobile, tablets and offer redemption as part of the new system so we’ll see more. But these systems don’t get replaced every year like mobile phones or school shoes. They’re in place for many years and replacing them isn’t easy and it’s expensive as they impact on the whole supply chain.

But there’s no need to miss out on mobile commerce via couponing for non-food retailers*. You don’t have to wait until you implement your fancy new EPOS systems. Think about workarounds. Think about how secure your couponing needs to be (in which case, you can turn to Eagle Eye for a solution). SMS can still work here and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Or particularly techie for that matter. You just need to think about the customer experience and how you’d like that to be and then work out how to achieve it. And I suspect that eight, if not nine, times out of ten, you won’t need to have something particularly complex.

However, you choose to implement your discount offer – be that on mobile, email or pigeon post – please remember to communicate to your staff. It is no good having the fanciest mobile couponing system in place if your staff have no clue what to do when a customer turns up wanting their £5 off. Your people will be the weakest link if they haven’t been brought up to speed.

*caveat – grocery retail is a lot more complicated than other sectors of retail and the couponing rules are different.

Digital Inclusion Innovation Funding

There’s a new ‘contest’ for some funding to create some commercial prototypes in key areas of digital inclusion. Don’t be put off by the ‘contest’ label. That’s just public sector speak. They have to call it a contest. But it’s really a call to hear from people interested in this area who can create relevant prototypes and to allocate funding to the ones that most closely fit the brief. There is a briefing event in London this Thursday, 29th November. So if you’re half-interested, it’ll be worth popping along to to find out more.

Some more details for you:

Contest Overview
Digital Inclusion Innovation Contest - briefing event on Thursday 29th November, in London


The Digital Inclusion Innovation Contest is being run in conjunction with Scope, RNIB and the University of York and is offering businesses up to £48,000 each in funding for the development of innovative commercial prototypes. We are looking for applications under three challenges focusing on different areas of the digital inclusion theme

The challenges

  • one award of up to £48,000* for the development of a prototype service or application in the ‘sensory assistance’ challenge area supported by the University of York. For more information please click here.
  • one award of up to £48,000* for the development of a prototype service or application in the ‘inclusive media’ challenge area supported by RNIB. For more information please click here.
  • one award of up to £48,000* for the development of a prototype service or application in the ‘accessible Internet of Things’ challenge area supported by Scope. For more information please click here.


The successful applicants will benefit from:

  • funding of £48,000 to produce their commercial prototype
  • gain from exposure to a range of leading sector partners
  • test their proposed application or service with leading sector partners
  • promote their prototype solution via the IC tomorrow programme
  • retain their intellectual property
  • register a trial on the IC tomorrow digital test bed.

For more details on how to apply and what’s involved, please go to their website at There’s a two-stage process – a form to fill in online and then you have to submit a two minute video about your proposal by 8 January. Why not give it a go? The longer I’m in the mobile sector, the more I see the area of digital inclusion and accessibility growing. Why not be part of that growth story?

It’s complicated…

A friend on LinkedIn sent me the link to this thread about women's conferences being boring The comments are a real eye opener too. But that’s because the issue is complicated. There are pros and cons to women-only and women-mostly networks.

Sexism is still rife in this world. I’m astonished that inequalities in pay still exist. It saddens me to see all-male line-ups at conferences and all-male boards for any kind of company and dominance of men of a certain background in politics. I hate to see gender stereotyping when it comes to technology (although, admittedly, much of that is culturally specific to The West). Women’s voices need to be heard. There needs to be ways that women can get involved in society, in business, in how things get done. Our voices are just as valid as anyone else’s. In developing nations, it is even more important where violence to women is more commonplace. It is because of these issues that women-only and women-mostly networks exist.

As many of you will already know, I am a strong supporter of women in business. I like to see women speak and hear them on panels. I want to see that women are doing well at senior level. We know that mixed gender teams and boards means more profit and happier staff. You can look up the research. It’s all there and it’s not rocket science. It’s better to have a mixed gender team of average competence than a single-sex team of high competence.

I have also been a strong supporter of women’s networks in my career. I cut my networking teeth a long time ago at Digital Eve in London. It was a great place to learn about networking in what felt like a safe and non-competitive environment to do so. Mixed networks, or should I say, predominantly-male networks were just so unappealing with the sea of grey suits, the posturing, the competitiveness and the unwelcoming nature of them. And not long after that, I was a founder member of the Women in Mobile Data Association. Again to show that women had a voice in the male, mobile industry. I have met some amazing women in both those networks, and others I have participated in. No question. But there are limits. I soon realised that you can’t just do business with women. In fact, if you had any business development to do, you actually had to go and play with the big boys and hold your own. So I did. But I couldn’t have done that without testing the waters first in women’s networks.

And what about today? There’s a very high-level, high profile women’s networking event happening in Brussels right now organised by the GSMA. The aim of the event is to incorporate more mentoring and structures in place for women to better succeed in corporate life. Not a bad thing to be supporting at all and it complements their mWomen initiative for developing countries too. Women in Wireless is growing and the London chapter has held some interesting events and is attracting a steady stream of intelligent, capable, enthusiastic women – entrepreneurs to life-long corporate employees and everything in between. There are even a few men who come along (and they’re very welcome).

But. And yes, there’s a but. I know what Nancy means in her flippant comments about women-only events. They do tend to focus on ‘how I made it in a man’s world’ and other such-like women’s issues. And it’s easily done as there are still issues to address. The trouble is, we don’t want to be silo’d and be included on token women-only panels at an otherwise all-male event. Would you have the Chinese-only panel or Turkish-only panel at an event? No, you wouldn’t. Well, I wouldn’t anyway. We want to participate fully. We want to be included. We want to see other women included. We want to see some diversity dagnamit.

So, Nancy. I think your comments were flippant and not at all well-thought through. But I hear you. I don’t want to see token female panels. I don’t want to be limited to just talking about women’s issues or women’s careers in male dominated industries. I just want it to be normal for women to be included and seen in these things as a matter of course. And if having women’s networks and women-only events means that women can learn their craft better so they can better succeed in mixed gender public platforms, then let them continue. And if it means we get better representation at board level, even better. Because that will lead to growth and success. And that’s what businesses are after isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hints & Tips for Winning Awards

I’m very lucky to judge many different awards ranging from mobile industry specific ones like the Meffys and the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards to ones that are not immersed in mobile like the Sony Radio Academy Awards and the Wirehive 100 to innovation awards like Vodafone Mobile Clicks and Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards. As such, over the years, I’ve seen many awards entries and see what a winning entry looks like.

Since it’s the run up to the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards, David Murphy, Editor, Mobile Marketing Magazine, asked a selection of judges to join a Tweet Chat to discuss this year’s entries – what was good, what was lacking and what we’d like to see more of. It was a really interesting discussion with Rob Thurner, Russell Buckley, myself and James Cameron. You can see the collection of tweets over on Mobile Marketing Magazine

Some common mistakes creep in to these things. Often the task of filling in the form is delegated to someone junior or someone who has not been hands on with the campaign. I still see a lack of evidence. Saying something along the lines of ‘the client was really happy with the results’ just doesn’t cut it. You could have the coolest sounding concept, but if you can’t tell the judges what the results were, then we can’t judge you and your entry will be discarded. I also see entries that have not answered the questions and also have clearly been cut and pasted from a case study or press release which means it can be harder to discover the nuggets of information that you need to judge one entry over another. And I see entries for categories where I really can’t see the connection at all. So my advice is, keep it to the point, answer the questions and justify why you deserve to win the award with actual demonstration of innovation, originality, effectiveness etc. And include the numbers. The information is kept private and is not published. Be proud of your work and take the time to communicate why it’s so good with the judges. Make our jobs harder each time!

If you’re interested to see who made the shortlist (and there are some fab companies and campaigns on that list), you can find more information here and you can also book your tickets to the Award Ceremony on 29th November. I think there are a handful of tickets left. If the last two years are anything to go by, it should be a good night.

I recently talked about this stuff for the MEFFYs too on video which you also may find useful.

So for the next time you enter an award, best of luck and don’t let yours be the entry that gets discarded for not completing the entry form properly.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Social media– some recent linkage

Sharing some links and some thinking about social media from the last week or two.

The biggest sites in social publishing – seems like the Huffington Post is ahead of the game by miles

Pinterest is hot. I’ve just started playing around with it. I can see why it’s appealing to women. The shareability, the visuals, the ease of use – all make it a lovely site to play with. I’m currently using it as a digital scrapbook – Delicious on steroids if you like. And as a crafter, I’m really loving the access to a wide range of ideas and projects that I can both admire from afar, but also actually be able to do myself. So it becomes a source book of inspiration in much the same way as I used to subscribe to Essentials and Prima in the early days for their patterns so I’d always have something to inspire me when it came to sewing. Anyway, where you should be sitting up and taking notice, is that Pinterest had 18.7m users back in March of which 80% were women. And a picture really does paint a thousand words. Read more here

In other news, there’s been hot debate about the new promoted posts over at Facebook. There has been an outcry. I’m not sure why. The model has been working for mobile social networks such as Peperonity and Flirtomatic from day one. So I don’t get that side of the uproar. The side of the uproar I do get is the fact that Facebook may well be holding page admins hostage to their own fans. You’d think by liking a page that you’d get to see the stuff that was posted on their in your feed. But this doesn’t seem to be the case. I haven’t been monitoring it *that* closely for my Facebook pages for my blog, Swedish Beers and Heroes of the Mobile Fringe and Mobile Monday Shoreditch. And it’s hard to know how many of your likers are online at any one time to see something you post anyway. But the numbers are down and by paying, you guarantee that your post will be seen by x. For me, it’s not a lot of money to promote the odd item and is probably worth it for events and special one-offs. But it’s essentially a tax on being popular. The more popular you are, the more it’s going to cost. Seems a bit unfair but have a read of this article on Dangerous Minds and see what you think.

One of the things I’d like them to change back is the ability to message people who have said they’re coming to your event – especially when there are changes or when you’re running a new event. But I guess that’s one to tackle for another day!

The Guardian Tech Weekly Podcast–I’m in it!

In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited in to The Guardian’s offices to join Alex Krotoski, Jemima Kiss, Martha Lane Fox (yes, *the* Martha Lane Fox) and Suw Charman-Anderson to discuss why the tech industries need more women and what we can do about it. This was part of Ada Lovelace Day on 16 October.

We clearly didn’t have long enough to chat and we didn’t have all the answers for sure. But hopefully there are some gems in there that makes it worthwhile listening to. This is a recurring theme. We know that where there is a gender balance on high performing teams – they do better than single-sex high performing teams. Boards who have female directors have more profit. This isn’t rocket science. So have a listen and let’s do something about it.

Click here for the links to download or listen

New York Times–a look at their business model

Many of you know that I work with media owners as a consultant to help them navigate their way around the new mobile and social environment. As such, I like to keep up to date with key insights and information which is why I enjoy reading the Monday Note. Today’s Monday Note article about the New York Times was particularly pertinent and reiterated to me a few key points.

  • Advertising revenues are dropping. It’s a case of ever-diminishing returns – whether that’s print or digital. For the NY Times, ad revenues are down –9% across the board, print is down –11% and digital ad revenue is down by –2.2% (for the second quarter in a row).
  • Costs are not decreasing. Increased people costs coupled with increased cost of printing
  • Circulation is up - hurrah – by 7% on last year. This is mainly due to the rise in digital subscribers – double hurrah! This sounds like good news, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately not. Circulation figures do not offset the the loss in advertising revenues. Jim Follo, CFO, says on their business model ‘When advertising revenue goes down, 90% of the decrease translates into a margin loss, but circulation revenue gains generate additional costs’. Oh dear.

I don’t know if at some point those figures change and the circulation model does eventually offset the advertising losses. The article suggests that the paywall strategy is a work in progress and that growth abroad, particularly in China, may yield results.

I wonder if we’re not being brave enough in our thinking. I wonder if it’s time to reinvent advertising altogether. Mobile advertising is huge and growing. Yes, we know that, but since there is limited screen real estate. That means there’s a limit to how many ads can be served and the old metrics just don’t wash and actually, the formats and metrics feel a bit tired. And I have seen nothing around measuring the serendipity of advertising – i.e. the ad that wasn’t targeted for you but was relevant in that moment as you needed to buy someone a gift or had a very specific, unexpected need that wouldn’t fit your big data profile.

Equally, I’m hearing anecdotally, that young people are tuning ads out and actively ignoring them. This begs the question of how are they going to find out about new brands (for the young in the UK are hugely brand savvy), new trends, new music, new whatever if they’re limited to their social streams? And what does that mean for marketing in general? Does advertising still work anyway? And in a perfect world, what would advertising and marketing look like in say, 2030? We are lucky to be living in an age that can invent its own future. So why isn’t advertising being reinvented?

Will it be down to context, location and big data? AR, QR, rich media formats, is that enough? Can you even remember an advert you saw in the last day, week, month? Will discovery of new stuff be reliant on a few key trendsetters in our circles being given ‘perks’ and freebies via the likes of PeerIndex, Klout and its ilk and then they talk about those things in their social stream (admittedly early days for these services but you can see where they’re going)? Are innovations like kiip, qriously and LoopMe enough? If we are questioning the future of newspapers and media in general, shouldn’t we also be questioning the future of advertising too?

References and resources:

The Monday Note: The New York Times Shifting Model

LoopMe Launch

Mobile Marketing Magazine Issue 11. Off Deck (last page): Helen Keegan calls for mobile advertising to reinvent itself

Newspaper Extinction Timeline (PDF). This shows the death of newspapers in their current format by country. It’s a sobering infographic

Newspaper Death Watch blog

Thursday, October 25, 2012

To pink or not to pink it, that is the question

What a furore I have seen this week in the tech press about Fujitsu’s latest ultrabook launched in Japan. It has been designed by female engineers at Fujitsu in Japan and is aimed at the female market in Japan. It is an elegantly designed piece of kit with smooth lines and some feminine details that, no doubt, will appeal to some. And actually, the pink one is a very pale pink and some people like pink things so why not?

So what’s the fuss about? Well, the Western media, particularly female journalists, have taken offence to the advertising video and the press release which they feel is patronising. It probably is. The apps the laptop comes with have been derided as one of them is an astrology app. For that target market, that app may be entirely appropriate – I don’t know the market well enough to judge. I know I would find the scrapbook app useful – not for shopping for shoes, but for keeping track of craft projects I might like to do, articles I want to read again and recipes I want to keep. And maybe they did get the tone wrong, but I have no problem at all with bringing elegant design into computing. I’d like to see more of it. We use these things day in day out and to have something that is more pleasurable to use because it appeals to your aesthetic sensibilities is great. If you like a bit of bling, why not show that in your choice of laptop or how you choose to decorate your laptop?

But what price does that come at? Are women being ripped off? Well, it looks like we are in this instance. I’ve had a cursory glance at the specs of the new Floral Kiss and the Fujitsu Lifebook UH Series laptops to see how they compare. The Lifebook spec seems to be very similar (perhaps someone more familiar with laptop specs would like to comment?), and it also looks to be a stylish piece of kit. And it works out about £200 or so cheaper than its equivalent Floral Kiss model. Now I haven’t seen either model in the flesh so it’s hard to compare the quality and the workmanship, but I’m pretty sure that they will be of a similar high standard. These are, after all, premium products.

I don’t know how the launch has gone down in Japan. I suspect there are many women there who are up in arms about it too. Equally, I expect there’s a whole bunch of women, probably young women, who think it’s lovely and would like to own and use one. The real point here isn’t that they’ve chosen to make a laptop with a feminine design, and I can even live with the patronising tone of the marketing video and press release if it’s priced fairly and we’re not being taxed for being stupid women. Therein lies the real rub. Adding a crystal to the adapter lead is not worth two hundred quid to me…

On the other hand, I’m really interested to learn more about the female engineers who worked on the product and how and why they designed it like they did. I wonder what their vision was and if it was delivered?

Further References:

Original press release

Floral Kiss Facebook Page

Belinda Parmar’s article at HuffPo

CNet article

Even the Daily Mail is critical

The Mary Sue doesn’t like it much and some of the comments are interesting

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Heroes of Mobile Day: London Edition 17 Oct

Following on from the great success that was Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival in Barcelona earlier this year, we’ve decided to do some smaller scale events starting in London to keep the buzz going and help build up to the main event in Barcelona next February.

With that in mind, we have three discussion panel sessions happening at Mozilla HQ on St Martin’s Lane on Wednesday 17th October. All being well, these will be live webcast, but if you’re in London, you can join the audience as well and participate in a bit of networking at the same time. Each session will run for about 45 minutes with some time for refreshments before and after. You’re welcome to come to one, two or all three sessions, as you wish. They’re free to attend but we are limited in space as we want to keep the atmosphere intimate and to encourage discussion and questions from the audience.

State of the Mobile Nation

This session is sponsored by our friends at Hotwire PR and chaired by Russell Buckley. The discussion will be a review of where we are and where we’re going in the mobile industry and what that might mean for your business. More details and RSVP here. Doors open at 09.30 for a 10.00 start.

Mobile Advertising Will Eat Itself

This session will also be chaired by Russell Buckley and look at the latest innovations (or not) in the world of mobile advertising. More details and RSVP here. Doors open at 11.00 for a prompt 11.15 start.


(Mobile) Money Makes the World Go Around

This session will be chaired by Tim Green and will take a look at the world of mobile money, from payments to mobile wallets to the future (if any) for NFC and more. Details and RSVP here. Doors open at 12.30 for a prompt 13:15 start.

We will be finished by around 14:00 but you’re welcome to stay for further networking and refreshments. There is free Wi-Fi at Mozilla Space London and you’re welcome to stay to do some work if you wish.

About our sponsors

Hotwire is an integrated PR and communications agency. Founded in 2000, the agency spans a number of industries including telecoms, media, marketing, consumer, technology, financial services and cleantech. Quickly becoming a global offering, Hotwire has offices in the UK, across Europe, Australia and the US. Suffice to say, the team are passionate about all things mobile and will be on hand to chew the fat with you.

firefox logoMozilla Spaces are open working environments where Mozillians can hack,code, design, research, create, engage and contribute to building a brighter future for the web and they are hosting this session. You may be familiar with Mozilla's brilliant Firefox browser for desktop and mobile and more recently, they announced their Firefox OS for mobile. 

And there’s more… Swedish Beers is 11 years young and we’re celebrating!

To round off the day, we’ll be celebrating Swedish Beers’ 11th Birthday Party at The Nordic Bar from 18.30 with our friends from Millennial Media, LoopMe Media, Yuilop and Inspiring Interns. Again, free to attend. No formalities, no presentations, just good company, good chat and some free drinks (beer, wine and soft drinks a-plenty courtesy of our sponsors). More details here.

Friday, October 05, 2012

It was twenty years ago today

Well, almost. It’ll be twenty years ago on 3rd December since the first text message was sent over the Vodafone network and a new era of communication and data dawned or should that be ‘spawned’? It took some time for SMS to break through to the mainstream, but when it did, it seemed to happen pretty fast. Now it seems a bit old hat as I find myself reverting to email, twitter, facebook and IM to connect with friends, family and colleagues. As for calling, well, I barely need that function on my phone any more. We’ve all been part of this change and it has been hardly noticeable as we migrate from one service to another. And with these changes, you’d think that incumbents like Skype and BBM had the sector sewn up. But if Skype’s future isn’t as clear cut as we may have thought, that means there’s still wiggle room and there’s still scope for new services to emerge and I’m interested to see how and when these take off.

yuilop_logoSo the newest kid on the block is yuilop who happen to be based in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities in the world. My friend Phil has gone to work for them and I challenged him on why he’d chosen to go and work for a start-up in, what I thought, was a market hard to penetrate and with little (obvious) sources of revenue for all the above reasons. And why would you go for yuilop and not, say, Whatsapp (which seems to be almost ubiquitous now and a real threat to the once dominant BBM)?

Yuilop seems to have greater ambitions than Whatsapp or BBM and calls itself a ‘social communication app’. It allows free rich media messaging (so audio, pictures, video – what the operators may have described as MMS once upon a time), free yuilop to yuilop voice calls (all via mobile) and on top of that, you can message your friends who are not on yuilop via standard SMS or voice. This means you can get in touch with your friend who has an old Nokia handset without app capability and still message or talk to them. The latter has some significant cost to it, but they don’t charge customers for this at the moment, but instead require them to get Energy by getting your friends to sign up and by engaging in consumer offers. The free calls and messages angle is always popular in youth markets and they’re savvy when it comes to taking advantage of them.

The ad-funded telco offering is not new. We saw it with Blyk back in the day, and more recently with Ovivo Mobile. But it’s a tough one. Will the maths stack up or, like one commenter on Yuilop’s Google Play page, should you just let the customers buy credit if they want to? I’ve been wary of wholly ad-funded services for digital services. The danger is that you attract the freeloaders who suck you dry and find every loophole in the system. They’re also the customers who will never ever respond to an advert. Or even if they did, they don’t have the money to spend anyway. The customers you’re trying to attract can probably afford to pay. It’s a dilemma. That’s not to say new business models shouldn’t be tried. They absolutely should. And our digital lives are changing and moving so fast, exponentially even, that anything could happen and the innovators and the businesses nimble enough to try something new are the ones who will win out in the end.

So is there room for something like Yuilop? Yes, I think there probably is. They’ve had very fast growth in the last 6 months with over 30,000 Google Play ratings which is just a proportion of the overall number of downloads, it’s clear that this one is doing something right. If they can get the balance right between consumer insight and marketing offers, then they’re on to something. Add in a dollop of big data when they get to 250,000 customers to do interesting targeting beyond age, gender, location and device, and we might start to see some interesting results for advertisers and customers alike. Will they catch up with the likes of Viber, Whatsapp, Kakao, Line, Skype and more? Time will tell.

Phil from yuilop will be in the UK on 17th October and you can meet him to talk about the opportunities with yuilop in Spain and the UK at Swedish Beers.

Find Yuilop online at, on Facebook and Twitter. Download the app for free. Currently compatible with Android and iOS.


Want to know more about what exponential actually means? Well, I could explain it, but I’ll leave it to friend and colleague, Russell Buckley, to do that in this short video.

Is mobile couponing finally hitting the mainstream?

zagmeIt seems like a lifetime ago since I had my first exposure to mobile couponing back in 2000 at ZagMe. Yes, it’s some twelve years ago since I helped invent location based sms couponing with fellow mobilist, Russell Buckley. I’ve seen many coupon projects come and go and I’ve seen many location based services come and go, but finally, we appear to be at the point where this thing is hitting the mainstream. And yet again, we have Apple to thank for it.

May of you will know that I do not worship at the altar of Apple but there’s no denying that they have changed our mobile world forever. And may well be changing the world of mobile couponing forever too with the introduction of Passbook. This is an app that helps you keep track of your mobile coupons, tickets and gift cards. With the added bonus of being location-aware (optional), it can nudge you when you’re near an outlet where you can use said coupons if that company’s app has that feature included. I don’t have a working iPhone so I haven’t tested this myself, but from the description here, it still sounds a bit clunky. But I have no doubt that the clunks will be evened out pretty quickly as there’s more take-up and developers work out how to get the best from the service.

This is first to market in the US, but the UK is catching up. We’re not as coupon obsessed in the UK as the US (where they have a TV show dedicated to the topic), but we do still like a bargain – Groupon and its ilk have been a success here and SalesGossip is also gaining traction. Meanwhile, Harvester has teamed up with Eagle Eye and Millennial Media to be the first UK company to use Passbook for their couponing.

Helen Worrall, Marketing Manager, Harvester said: “We are excited to be amongst the first in line to use this new way to distribute mobile vouchers to Apple Passbook users, offering our customers a better and more convenient experience. Not only does it provide us with a new way of engaging the iOS 6 iPhone users, but the benefit having one central point to digitally distribute and redeem vouchers in real-time means we have more control and visibility over our marketing campaign performance.”

I’m interested to see how this one plays out (you can try out the campaign for yourself if you go to from your iPhone) and I will be watching to see how the campaign fares as well as keeping an eye out as to how other retailers take on the challenge of digital couponing beyond the iPhone.

Dare I say it? Is this the year of mobile couponing?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ollie and the Summer of Love 85

There is more than a little incongruity to go to An Evening with Ruby Wax talking about Mindfulness in aid of Action for Happiness and then to come home and find out that an old friend, who you’ve been wondering what happened to for such a very long time, actually hanged himself 10 years ago in the woods in Worcestershire.

I hadn’t seen Ollie in probably 20 years. None of us had. Yet we’d all been so close as teenagers but we grew up and grew apart. I knew of Ollie but didn’t meet him until I was 17. He was a free spirit even then. He left school or was expelled at 16 – probably the latter. He ran off to Spain and sold dope on the beach for a few months and then I guess it got colder so he came back. He was an integral part of the gang, alongside Phil, Pike, Wend, Maureen, Penny, Skel et al. No matter what was going on, he was always smiling, always chirpy, always a hug for us, always flirting with the girls, always sociable. He made you want to look after him. And yeah, he liked to drop acid and smoke dope. Lots of my friends did. As I didn’t partake, there was more than one occasion when I spent hours with Ollie seeing him through a trip, holding his hand and keeping him calm. And there other times when it was hilarious fun to hear about what he could see and what he was experiencing. There is a particularly surreal occasion when he turned up for tea with Phil and they’d just seen an eskimo in Britannia Square. As you do. The boys were in hysterics whilst I was busy trying to cover up that they were tripping to my Mum who made us tea and cake.

Ollie didn’t live at home most of the time. He shared a rented room with his brother Simon in a dodgy part of town. There were two single beds in the room and that was about it. I guess there must have been a shared kitchen and bathroom but I never saw them. Simon was a lot older than us and had blown his mind on acid and heroin in the 70s. It was clear to me he was strange. He spooked me out more than a little bit. I bunked off school one afternoon with Maureen to go and see Ollie in his room. I remember Ollie worrying about the couple in the next room as they were hopeless glue addicts and then his brother proceeded to snort speed off the carpet because he’s dropped a bit. It was a filthy carpet. I’m sure there were more bugs that he hoovered up than active narcotic. Not pleasant. Enough to put you off drugs for life.

We all used to hang out in Poppins after school and Ollie would meet us there or we would find him up the High Street and bring him along with us. Admittedly we were probably the worst customers in the world and would routinely take over a whole section of the cafe and share a cup of tea between 5 and if the cafe were lucky, we might also buy a toasted teacake and share that around too. But they were pretty good to us and we rarely got thrown out. And then we noticed that we’d keep seeing the same guy coming into Poppins at the same time as us. And then I’d notice him behind me in the High Street or as I was walking home. Turns out he was a policeman and Ollie got done for possession. It went to magistrates court. Maureen and I went along (unasked) to support him and I think he got away with a caution as he wasn’t found with much. The story goes, he hid most of it in his ear and the cops didn’t find that.

Then there was the time I went to his parents house. His Mum was a jewellery maker and his father was a sculptor if I remember rightly. I never met them. Ollie had gone back to theirs for a bit to live. I guess he ran out of housing benefit or dole money or something. They lived in the countryside. It was pretty idyllic. Ollie wanted to make us a cup of tea while we were there but there was absolutely nothing in the cupboards. Nothing. Not a can of food, not a teabag, not a packet of cereal. It was bizarre. So we drank water and went outside into the fields and found some haystacks to sit on until it got too cold and we had to go home.I remember feeling terribly sad that there was no food there and that Ollie was alone in that house with nothing.

Another time, Ollie turned up at my house one Sunday afternoon, out of the blue. The rain was absolutely pouring down and he was wearing some jeans and a fake fur jacket and he was soaked to the skin. He looked like a drowned rat. I took him in and my Mum came downstairs to see who was there. And even though she didn’t like him (she knew he took drugs, wasn’t at school, was walking on the wild side as it were and was a ‘bad influence’), she was moved to try and look after him. She fed him a proper meal and tried to talk to him to help him sort himself out. But he wasn’t listening or didn’t want to listen or wasn’t ready to hear.

There were lots of good times with him of course. Lots of parties. Lots of talking all night about nothing. Lots of listening to music that was terribly meaningful to us at the time. He lived at my house for a month in the summer of 1985. There were a few of us living at my house that summer. My parents went on holiday for a month and left on the day of my last A level. They left me in charge of the house. Quite a large house in the centre of town. Phil, Ollie, Penny and Maureen more or less moved in.  Mark, Wendy (aka Duncan), Skel, Pike, Karen and others were regular guests. We lived on fresh air, laughter, music, the ready meals Mum had left me in the freezer and Maureen’s weekly wage from working in her summer job at Russell & Dorrell. We had a roof over our heads and a hi-fi and each other. Ollie used to wash up with shampoo as he couldn’t find the washing up liquid and he’d routinely borrow stuff from me – he pierced his ear with one of my earrings and he borrowed clothes off me. We were all family. Oh yeah, and Live Aid was right in the middle of it. That was a good night! That’s all we needed then. I’m amazed we didn’t get complaints from the neighbours, but somehow, we got away with it. They were very happy times and Ollie was a big part of that. It wouldn’t have been the same without him. We wouldn’t have been the same without him.

And then the summer of 1985 drew to a close. Phil and Wendy went off to France together. Skel sold his motorbike and went to Thailand. Penny went back to school to do her A Levels (she was younger than the rest of us). I scraped enough grades to go to University in London (although I dropped out 6 months later and went back to Worcester). Maureen went to tech to retake her A levels and well, I just don’t know what happened to Ollie. He drifted in and out of my life for a year or two and then I moved to London and lost touch. There were rumours that he had a girlfriend who was HIV+ and there were rumours about heroin – her heroin addiction rather than his. I heard he’d done a nude photo shoot for a gay magazine and was the centrefold because he needed the money. But there were just rumours, none were ever substantiated. I remember bumping into him in Worcester when I was home for a weekend. I must have been in my early twenties. Ollie didn’t recognise me so I walked on by. And then never saw him again. There were more tales that he’d ended up in a mental institution in Worcester and that he thought he was an orange. And that was the last I heard of him. Until yesterday.

Phil was Ollie’s best friend back then and he and I had always managed to keep in touch. When we got together, we always talked about Ollie and wondered what he was up to and made some attempts to located him but no-one had heard anything. We always hoped we’d see him again. And I suppose, I hoped that it would be like it was back then, in our own Summer of Love of 1985. Of course, it was never going to be, but you can dream and you can be nostalgic.But it was never to be.

I don’t know what happened to Ollie. To get to the place where hanging yourself is the only option is very hard to imagine. To be alone at that point, having been so loved and cherished along the way is hard to understand too. I’ve no idea if he’d been through a terrible tragedy or was suffering from depression or had some kind of breakdown. I don’t know if he was in trouble financially or otherwise. But there you have it. It happened. It does happen. Suicide is the biggest cause of death amongst young men. Ollie is now part of that statistic. He’d have been 35 when he died.

I think the cards were probably stacked against him from an early age. Despite going to a good school and having good friends, he didn’t have the stability the rest of us had. He always had a bit of the little boy lost about him. He was beautiful and he was charming and lovable. And thinking about some of the things Ruby was explaining last night about how the brain works, he’d probably hard-wired his brain very early on and never managed to break the patterns of his youth and move on from those negative patterns. And the drug-taking won’t have helped any either. But we’ll never know. What I do know is that he meant a lot to me. I’ve missed him all these years. And I’ll never forget him. Maybe I’m lucky, as the Ollie I will remember is the one who brought me joy and happiness and was part of my Summer of Love 85.

Me and Ollie

RIP Oliver Poole. I hope you have found the peace you were looking for.


If you’re suffering with depression or suicidal thoughts, please get help. Ruby Wax’s Black Dog Tribe may be a place to start. Or talk to the Samaritans.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

2012 Wirehive 100 Digital Agency Awards

Yes, it’s most definitely award entry season. I’ve just spent the day reviewing and scoring the entries for the Meffys. The Mobile Marketing Magazine Awards are still open for entries here. And just in, I’m going to be a judge on the Best Mobile/Tablet category for the Wirehive Awards which are new this year and supported by Digital Donut and BIMA and sponsored by and Mundays with individual award categories also sponsored.

Some might ask why I’m involved with judging yet another awards… well this one is a bit different as it’s very regional. It’s designed to celebrate the work of digital agencies who are outside of London but in the South or South East. And there are *a lot* of them. These are often the agencies servicing local businesses well but don’t always have the scale to compete for the larger national or international accounts. But they’re still doing good work in digital and they’re still innovative and still working in mobile and more. So from judging the global Meffys today, I’m going to the other end of the scale with these highly regionalised awards.

So here’s the deal. If you’re outside of London and you’re a digital agency, you can apply to be in the Wirehive 100 League Table. This is free, gratis, no charge. Plus it gives you a vote for a peer agency in the Most Respected category and automatic entry into the Fast Growth and Most Efficient if you want to submit them. These are all free.

Other categories cost just £50 each to enter and you can enter for as many categories as you like.

You may be wondering what constitutes the South or South East? It excludes London but does include all the Home counties and all southern counties. It does not include the South West – i.e. Bristol and beyond. Not sure if you qualify? You can always ask here.

But what if you have offices in say, Manchester and Brighton? If you have an agency with an office in the eligible area and the billing entered is specific to that office, then that’s just fine. However, if your billing includes the billing for the Manchester office (in this example), then then that wouldn’t qualify. Still not sure? Then please ask here.

You have until 13 August to get your entries in and then it’s a month until the big awards bash itself hosted by Gadget Show’s Suzi Perry no less. I look forward to going through the entries for the Mobile & Tablet category.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Carnival of the Mobilists #277

Carnival of Venice 2010 

Yes, it’s come around again and I’m this week’s curator of the Carnival of the Mobilists and what a week it has been. Plenty going on in the world of Nokia and RIM. Innovation is being supported with various awards and accelerator programs. And mobile is still most definitely big news. So here’s my round-up.

Awards and other Programs for Mobile Entrepreneurs


The Annual Effective Mobile Marketing Awards are open for entries until 10 August. There are 20 categories and they are free to enter and are global. Disclaimer, I’m a judge and I co-hosted the awards last year.

The 9th Annual Meffys are open for entries until 19 July. Just a few days to go so don’t delay. These are global awards with special categories and prices for start-ups. More details here. Disclaimer, I’m a judge.

Russell Buckley tells us about UK accelerator programme, Springboard, why he supports it (including investing in it) and what the opportunities are for mobile entrepreneurs this year with the very first mobile-focussed accelerator. Closing date to apply is 22 July so not long to go.

QPrize is now open for entries too. This is Qualcomm Ventures seed investment competition. I don’t know much about it yet (I’m doing a bit more research into it), but just highlighting it for reference.

Handset Wars

Marines engaged in a six-hour firefight

Goodness me, watching the demise of Nokia and now RIM is not a pleasant experience. The chatter about both is endless at the moment. How to you make head or tail of it? Are both dead in the water? Will we see them fight back? Will they be bought, die or rise from their ashes like a phoenix? …

Tomi Ahonen thinks Stephen Elop is the worst CEO of all time. With Nokia’s share price at an all time low of $1.92 at the time of writing, Elop and the Nokia board certainly have some serious questions to answer. This one isn’t so much as a blog post as an essay so don’t expect a quick read. Grab a cuppa and set aside some time to read this one and take in the comments too. I have friends at Nokia. I have friends who have been made redundant from Nokia. I have a drawer full of beloved Nokia phones. I like Windows Phone too. I don’t want to see Nokia die but there’s no denying they are in deep, deep trouble.

And then there’s RIM. Another one who has been in the wars lately. Delaying the BB10 launch is a bit of a nightmare. There were 5,000 enthusiastic developers who went home from BlackBerry World in Orlando and many hundreds, if not thousands returning home from various BB10Jam meet-ups globally with their prototype devices and told their friends and family they were excited about the upcoming launch of BB10 for Christmas. BlackBerry hasn’t just let down their developer community, they’ve let down their loyal customers who are desperate for an upgrade if they haven’t jumped ship already to Android or iOS. There are three articles of note I’d like to point you to on this one. First is’s post which takes a look at the numbers and thinks RIM needs to focus on saving the company, Terence Eden ponders how to solve a problem like BlackBerry and Michael Selvidge thinks RIM can be saved in three easy steps. What do you think?

Then there’s the story of Maemo from Randall Arnold. Do any of you remember that OS? I do. I had a Nokia 770 and if I remember rightly, Rovio of Angry Birds fame was developing games on that platform. Is there hope for Maemo to come out smiling out of the Nokia warzone?

Mobile Marketing, Advertising and Commerce

Allih Phone Accessories

For the first year at Cannes Lions, there was a section for mobile. Finally, advertising agencies are catching up with their clients and taking notice of mobile as an integral part of any marketing campaign. This is a major step forward. Hey, I may even be tempted to take a trip to Cannes next year to check it all out. In the meantime, Andy Favell from MobiThinking has done a very comprehensive round-up of the winning entries (including their videos and case studies) and also the stats behind the awards. Both make for a good read. Again, this is something worth setting aside some time for but if you’re in the mobile marketing game, this one is for you.

Global Mobile Commerce: Removing Payment Friction & Boosting Customer Engagement by Diarmuid Mallon is a guest post on Mobile Groove and is the first of a series of articles which will form part of the Mobile Commerce Guide 2012. Common sense tells us that by making it easier for customers to buy they will buy more. You wouldn’t have a front door to a shop that took five minutes to open so why would you make the payment options overly complicated? It’s very, very easy to click away from a purchase.

Mobile Apps and Games

stu dredge

Here are a couple of good articles that should get app developers thinking and help then on their way to making more money for them and their clients. First up is a piece from CodeNgo which looks at the opportunity of making sure your app is available in different languages. The stats make sense to me. Next is one from the mainstream Techcrunch, but it was a good one so I’ve included it: 8 Ways Mobile Developers can Make the Most Money on Apps. Sensible advice indeed.

Missed out on Google I/O? Never fear, Tom Hume was there and he’s got some thoughts about the new Google Nexus tablet and the role it will have. A game changer? Maybe… have a read.

Mobile Games has been a hot topic recently around Technokitten Towers, not least, because I was helping the Mobile Monday Shoreditch team get set up and their first event was the A to Z of Mobile Gaming. You can read a round-up of the evening here and it includes links to video vox pops from the night too. We also enjoyed some AR gaming on the night and playing games on BlackBerry Playbooks. Well, MobyAffiliate has gone the extra mile and taken a comprehensive look at the companies in the mobile and social gaming space and written it all up for you to create a guide to the sector ‘The World’s Top Mobile Social Games Developers, Publishers and Platforms’.

Further Food for Thought

PSU Food For Thought Gallery Thu April 12, 2012 81

A couple of podcasts you might be interested in having a listen to or watch are the Disruptive Social Care Podcast where I was a guest last week and talked about the role of mobile in healthcare and the importance of making websites and services accessible on mobile and accessible to those with disabilities or impairments amongst other things with Shirley Ayres and Stuart Arnott.  Then there’s this one from Hashbang TV where Elizabeth Varley tells the TechHub story. OK, the latter isn’t mobile specific, but it’s still relevant inasmuch as it’s the story of an entrepreneur focussed on supporting tech start-ups. And both podcasts are about disruption in some shape or form.

And finally, some food for thought from Antoine RJ Wright. Were Mobile Phones the Wrong Turn? Antoine ponders if we haven’t missed the point with mobile technology and that perhaps it needs a rethink as we’re asking devices (read battery life and bandwidth) to do more than it can really deal with.

Post of the Week

My post of the week has to go to Andy Favell for such a comprehensive round-up of the Cannes Mobile Lions. It’s in my sweet spot of mobile marketing and it’s great to see it entering the mainstream in this way and it’s great to get up close and personal to such a variety of case studies. What’s your post of the week?

Next week

Next week’s Carnival will be hosted by Martin Wilson of Indigo 102. And you can also support the Carnival of the Mobilists by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter or sharing this post.

All photos sourced from Flickr and used under Creative Commons Licence.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Yet another child tracking app is released

There have been so many child-locating tracking mobile apps and services in the last 10 years that I’ve lost count. Being able to keep tabs on your offspring by mobile device seems to pop up every few months when another company rehashes the idea and launches. And it worries me. It preys on the fear of parents. Children today are monitored at every step of the way. Compared with my own childhood in the 70s and 80s, they have little to no freedom. They barely play outdoors anymore. They don’t just hangout with other kids in the same street. They can’t get on their bikes in the morning in the school holidays and come back at dusk when they’re hungry without their parents wanting to know every last detail of where they are at what time.

I’m not taking the situation lightly. If instances of child molestation and paedophilia was higher than back then, well, I’d say, fair enough. Maybe we need to be more careful. But as one speaker mentioned at the recent child safety conference I went to, there has been no increase in either. The threat is not any greater than it was 10 or 20 years ago. And the threat hasn’t gone away either with the advent of molly-coddling our children or having apps to follow them around.

What has happened is that our fear of the crime – maybe all crimes – has gone up tremendously. We’re very much more aware of it. The NSPCC has done the most fantastic job of raising awareness and putting programmes in place to deal with it. And Childline is the most fantastic service. But seriously, do we really need to be checking up on our children day and night. The evil creatures that force themselves on children won’t be perturbed by a mobile device that can be throw away in a river never to be seen again. Just what are these services for and who actually uses them?

I’m not a parent myself, but I do have two nieces who I have seen grow up into mature, responsible, charming and intelligent young women. And I ran a brownie pack for almost 10 years so childcare and responsibility for children is something I do know about.

So what has prompted these thoughts? I received a press release from DondeEsta a few days ago and it has been bugging me. Here it is…

DondeEsta™ presents new functionality “I'm at home”

"I'm at home" is the new functionality of DondeEsta™ mobile application, whereby parents automatically will receive an e-mail each time their children arrive or leave home. Useful, easy and free.

Unlike other applications, DondeEsta™ is a service designed for families, focused on family safety needs. Parents who are at work, for example, can know at which time have their children got home when they leave school, without having to make any calls or send messages.

"I'm at home" is another of the free features of DondeEsta™, which also allows the location of the mobile anytime, anywhere by SMS. Parents can locate their children by sending an SMS with three question marks. The son's mobile answers automatically with a message that includes his location on a map.

Privacy respect is very important at DondeEsta™: Only authorized contacts can be located.

The application should be installed in the mobile to locate (the son for example), this one should be a Smartphone. Parents could have any kind of device that can send and receive SMS's.

DondeEsta™ is a geolocation mobile service for family safety developed by Counterpoint a start-up based in Sitges (Barcelona), founded by Pol Gerbeau.


o Web page of DondeEsta™:

For what it’s worth, this is one of the smartest solutions I’ve seen so far for working out where someone is. It’s subtle and unobtrusive and it doesn’t rely on fancy apps. But it also doesn’t take away the need for parents and carers to have a good relationship with their children so that they are open and honest about where they’re going and who they’re with. Children need to learn about trust and responsibility too. And they need to be able to be released from the apron strings. Services like this don’t exactly help in those cases. Do we really want our 6 year-olds with a smartphone in their school bag every day to be nicked by the local school bully? That puts them at risk too. And what about the teenager who has two phones. One is where the teenager should be and the other is with the teenager doing what they shouldn’t. There will always be workarounds for those who don’t want to be tracked.

Where this *may* work better is when dealing with people who are suffering from dementia or Alzheimers. In the early stages at least, it’s likely they’ll have a phone on them and for them to work out where they are or to tell someone else where they are and to come and get them, could be a useful service. But even that is not without its difficulties… the subject needs to have their phone on them and it needs to be charged up with enough juice to work at all. Still not ideal.

Sadly I fear that services like these make everyone feel better in theory, but may make parents less vigilant about their relationships with their children, about teaching them responsibility and about good communication and equipping their children with the skills and tools they need to navigate the world – be that online or offline. It’s like the bike helmet issue. We never had bike helmets when I was growing up. I used to cycle a lot. And I was very careful. My parents made sure I knew how to ride a bike properly and understood the highway code. And I avoided roads with heavy traffic. If you wear a bike helmet, the tendency is to feel safer but pay less attention to the road. And have we seen a reduction in cycling accidents, I don’t think so. Drivers are more complacent and cyclists are more complacent as they’re ‘protected’. Neither of these scenarios is good. Just because we feel safer, doesn’t mean we actually are.

Anyone out there use one of these services and can defend its case? Am I barking up the wrong tree? Is this kind of app just waiting for its time to come and its time is now? I’m very interested to hear others views on this.

A round up of last week’s A to Z of Mobile Gaming event at Mobile Monday Shoreditch

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I was very pleased to help organise and attend the very first Mobile Monday Shoreditch event at LBi on Brick Lane and sponsored by BlackBerry, Marmalade and We Love Mobile. I’ve captured it in storify form for your delectation. It includes video clips, photos, tweets and comments – enough to give you more than a little flavour of what went on.

Please also check out Simon Judge’s super round-up of the evening. As ever, he’s managed to succinctly capture the event on his blog – it’s well worth a read.

Meffys 2012–Global Awards Open for Entries NOW–deadline 9 July 2012

**UPDATE 3 July 2012** The entry deadline has been extended by 10 days to Thursday 19 July so you have an additional 10 days to get your entry in. Not only that, but there is a special category, the Meffys Outstanding Contribution Award, and nominations are now open for it. This honours mobile pioneers and visionaries and celebrates a mobile hero whose seminal work has been fundamental to the growth of the mobile industry. You can nominate online now (it's a simple form to complete).

In cased you missed it over at Mobile Monday Shoreditch or Swedish Beers blogs, I thought I’d better remind you about the Meffys. It’s just a week to go to your entry in for the 9th Annual Meffys. The organisation behind them is MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce. MEF has been going for more than 10 years now as a trade association and has witnessed the worlds of mobile content and commerce grow and flourish in that time and these awards reflect that dynamic environment.
Judged by an independent and uniquely international panel of journalists, academics, analysts and VCs (and that includes me – I’ve been judging the awards for several years now), the Meffys are the global benchmark for measuring success and rewarding innovation in mobile content and commerce. Last year, more than 350 industry leaders from over 30 countries gathered in London to attend the Meffys, reflecting their stature as the premier global awards for the mobile content and commerce industry (aka, they’re awards worth entering).
So the nitty gritty -
Key dates:
From 29th May, companies are invited to submit entries in 13 categories until the deadline of July 9th (that’s next Monday people). The 2012 winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 12th September 2012 at the prestigious Park Lane Hotel in Mayfair. You can start the entry process here.
How much does it cost?
These awards are not free to enter but don’t let that put you off. The price per submission for non-members is £350 and for MEF members is £150. And start-ups, sit up and take notice of this one, for you, there’s a special price of just £75 to enter the four innovation awards categories if you’re a start-up*.
*A start-up is a company that is less than two years old and has received less than £1.5m in funding.
It doesn’t matter where your start-up is based. These are global awards after all. So get your thinking caps on and get those entries in sharpish for a chance to be a nominee and pitch to a group of influential CEOs and a chance to win one of the awards. More details here.
What are the categories?
The 2012 Meffys categories in full:
  1. Social & Entertainment App - NEW
  2. Life tools App - NEW
  3. Brand on Mobile
  4. Publisher on Mobile - NEW
  5. Content Service
  6. m-Commerce Service
  7. Consumer Trust - NEW
  8. Discovery & Engagement - NEW
  9. Social Responsibility & Development - NEW
Innovation Categories
  1. Innovation Award for Apps
  2. Innovation Award for Technology
  3. Innovation Award for Growth Markets
  4. Innovation Award for Monetization
All nominees in each of the four innovation categories will be given the opportunity to pitch to the C-level executives at the MEF CEO Summit to be held at City Hall, on the evening preceding the Meffys. The CEOs will then vote to determine the most innovative mobile product or service and the winner of this “CEO Summit Award for Innovation” will be honoured at the Meffys Gala Awards Dinner. And if you get a chance to attend the dinner, you should! It’s great fun and great networking. Ruby Wax was also totally brilliant last year as the host.
Best of luck! And I look forward to reviewing the entries.