Using mobile IM interface to segment users

A problem with number portability is that users can’t know which operator their friends are at. So fixed rate plans have a big issue as you don’t know if your friend is within your fixed rate plan or not (often fixed rate only covers on-net). So an IM interface could also include this information so that users know who they can call for free.

This isn’t really a new idea, as it’s been part of the IMPS specification. But I don’t think it has actually been implemented…

So the iPhone is actually a very nice product

A friend of mine gave me an iphone a few days ago. Who can get a better friend than that 🙂 (Thanks Simon). His intention was clearly to try to bring me into the Apple sect, and the first shot was for free.

I’ve now used it some days, and I’m already on the way to become a worshipper. Over the last year I’ve used a Windows Mobile HTC TyTN and an N95 (and even a Trolltech Greenphone). Both of them are good phones, even great phones. So full of features that I’m amazed they can fit it in.

Then comes the iPhone, which in so many ways is the complete opposite of those two other phones. In terms of features it’s pretty basic. There are so many things I am used to doing with my earlier phones that this new phone just doesn’t have. Basic configuration settings aren’t there any more (or should I have said ‘advanced’ configuration settings’), and features have been cut to a minimum. I’m a bit of a feature freak, so clearly I should have been disappointed.

But… the stuff that’s there just works so well, that I just have to admire it. It is so fast and responsive to my commands. It does what it’s supposed to do in a very elegant manner! I like it… time will show if I over time will lose the initial close-to-religious first impression and turn back to being a feature freak.

In addition to all the lacking features (3G, GPS, MMS, WAP, SIM contacts etc etc), there are some definite bugs such as handling of norwegian numbers, as well as some internationalization things that are probably being fixed. Edge and Wifi seems to be more than enough actually. No need for 3G it seems.
So far my verdict is clear: go buy it! and maybe less is more… if less looks better.

What is that phone with a cable?

The daughter of a colleague had an interesting comment this summer when they were visiting a hotel in Greece. The hotel room had a fixed phone, as most hotel rooms do.

She was wondering what that cable from the phone to the wall was there for. Was this some mechanism to prevent the phone from being stolen? She had obviously only seen ‘wireless fixed phones’ in her life, and could not understand why the phone actually needed a cable.

I think this is a strong sign that things are definitely changing!

Advertising…

I’ve added some Google ads on the site, just to learn how it’s done. I don’t really expect the big volumes 🙂

I am wondering about mobile instant messaging and advertising. Will it happen? How to get most out of it? How to make it less annoying for the user?

How can pricing affect fixed mobile convergence

Fixed mobile convergence can be promoted and stopped effectively by varying price plans.

Mobile carriers will have to earn money somewhere. Mobile-to-mobile calls within the same network will increasingly be fixed price. With the VOIP wifi service, the user and phone will be able to select between several possible carriers of the voice call when ‘crossing operators’. Although carriers can fight this temporarily with banning VOIP functionality on phones, the major trend cannot be held back.

Continue reading How can pricing affect fixed mobile convergence

Build my own phone?

I’ve been looking for some hardware for an embedded linux project. Wanted to build a device for the cabin that can post webcam pictures on the web of how much snow there is… had to be a low powered unit as the cabin only has solar power.

I came across gumstix.com who make really low powered hardware for embedded linux. They even have en expansion board with a Siemens GSM unit on it and a display one can hook on. So now it’s really easy to make your own phone. Put some trolltech software on it and you have your own greenphone.

It makes me wonder which features I would have liked to have on my ideal phone. I have the N95 now, which is great, but I am as Clayton Christensen may have put it ‘overserved’. I wonder what would really be the perfect features if I could make my own. I think less features than N95, but maybe some additional ones…

Btw: Turns out someone has done this already (obviously). Read about it on www.surjpatel.com and www.opencellphone.org

Will mobile broadcast TV be a success?

The trend in TV is clearly away from broadcast TV and towards on-demand (or downloaded) programming. Why should broadcast TV be more interesting on the mobile than on a fixed TV? I think rather the opposite, and I don’t see why so much investment is being put into solutions for broadcasting TV to mobiles. Will the live shows (mainly sports events) really justify this?

Is VOIP over WiFi a disruptive technology to telephony?

Wi-Fi has already taken an important role in mobilizing broadband solutions, in the home and in the office. A large part of home ADSL users already have Wi-Fi routers, and ADSL providers are increasingly providing this as part of their standard offering. Wi-Fi provides a local wireless extension to the fixed broadband offering, but does not extend effectively out of the office, home and some restrictive hot spots. So far, Wi-Fi has been used to extend the fixed internet experience and has not so much been used in extending or replacing the mobile services.

Analysts have predicted that Wi-Fi will play an increasingly important role in mobile services. Some predict that Wi-Fi will be a competitor and threat to cellular carriers, while some say that Wi-Fi will only complement the cellular carriers’ offerings. The question is whether this is a disruptive technology that will change the industry as a whole, or just a sustaining technology that will provide cellular carriers with a richer service offering without disrupting the market. The answer lies with how the existing cellular carriers embrace the Wi-Fi technology and how they shape their existing services to respond to the threat of Wi-Fi.

Continue reading Is VOIP over WiFi a disruptive technology to telephony?

Service Convergence and Communication Divergence?

Many analysts and vendors predict communication convergence. One of the great mantras of the dotcom days were unified messaging. You should be able to send a message to your contact and not worry about how the message is delivered.

The traditional notion of unified messaging shows a clear misunderstanding of what is actually wanted by the market. Unified messaging was defined by vendors who did not understand the communication trends amongst young people.

Continue reading Service Convergence and Communication Divergence?

The N95 VOIP functions

I’ve been testing the Nokia N95 for some time now with our voip-PBX at Colibria. It is a very exciting phone from a technology perspective, but it reminds me of what someone said to me about technology: 

“Technology is a word used about things that don’t work. Once it works, you no longer use the word technology… ” (I believe it was Andreas Nergaard who said this)

That phone is so stuffed with technology that it really impresses me and I don’t worry so much about there being certain issues with it, such as rebooting regularly. And yes, I have updated the firmware.

The voip function is really high quality, but there are drawbacks. It seems the stability is different on various routers and the phone sometimes misses calls and restarts, and the battery is drained very quickly. But the voice is so much clearer than GSM. I’ve even tested it on my friends, calling them first on GSM and then on VOIP, and I’ve gotten comments about how much better quality the VOIP was.

The question is whether this function is enough to make people use voip instead of GSM. Shouldn’t it also have presence (the phone can use IMPS presence), or maybe video calling. I think it’s a very good start, and I thank Nokia for driving the market. I believe that this will be big, although there are business barriers just as much as technology barriers in making it happen.

The phone also has many other good functions. My other favourite is the podcast programme, and the possibility to show the phone’s screen on a projector for demos and presentations…