Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nokia Maps 2.0 -Location Detection without GPS

Nokia announced on May 12th at the Where 2.0 Conference in Burlingame, California, that they had released their Nokia Maps 2.0 beta, with a raft of upgraded features and web linkage to its site.

Ovi is a Nokia Web portal for Internet services such as content sharing. Maps on Ovi will let people use and mark up maps on the Web and then upload their changes to a cell phone. This is all part of Nokia new gambit into the world of software development and its desire to extend its reach beyond its own hardware.

However, the interesting part is a not-as-yet-reported initiative by Nokia to make Nokia Maps truly mainstream by eliminating both the need for GPS and the need for the Mobile Network Operator.

How? investing over the last few years in building up its own database of cell IDs matched to geo-cordinates, and then building functionality in Nokia Maps that allows for an estimate of the user's location based only on cell ID.

Gone would be the days of waiting up to 5 minutes for GPS fixes, 'indoor blackspots' and battery drainage... Location Based Services would truly be able to achieve the ubiqitous status that both Navteq and Nokia are placing their strategic bets on.

The implications of this development are truly dramatic and it will not be long before the impact is noted by companies operating in this space...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Future of Location Based Services...according to Navteq

BARCELONA -I was at the Forum Nokia Camp in Barcelona today and attended the presentation by Tom Tierney, Developer Alliance Manager at Navteq, based in Chicago.

Here are some tidbits from his presentation:

  • Referring to the difference between PNDs (Personal Navigational Devices) and mobiles, Tom described the mobile device as being the 'navigational ringtone' for the user and sees the PNDs and mobiles to be complimentary instead of competing for the same audience

  • Some new technologies not everyone has heard of yet were discussed -namely P-Cell Technology (developed in Korea) and TV-GPS Hybrid Positioning...I will investigate and report back if there are interesting developments in these areas

  • According to Tom, the use of audio, touch screens and voice interactivity will eliminate the need for banner ads in the future

  • Unsurprisingly perhaps, Tom stated that LBS's will be ubiqitous in the future. Also, according to Navteq's own research, consumers principally want 3 things from them -for them to be cheap, accurate and easy-to-use

  • According to Navteq, consumers will pay for navigation and gaming applications but not for social networks and search (in line with internet trends)

  • To put figures to the growth opportunity we are talking about here, in Q1 2008, 43% of all downloads on mobile phones globally were for Location Based Services..accounting for 62% of total revenues...a sizeable pie which is clearly growing as we see LBS being demanded for Resource Management or Asset Tracking, Entertainment (including Location based dating) and Security (Child Finder features etc.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Startup 2.0 Winner Declared -Zilok

BARCELONA -After a heated round of presentations (most of which were amusingly interrupted by the erratic functioning of the slideshow remote control), the 3 top European startups in this year's competition were announced.

In third place, to some surprise, came, a cooking community with emphasis on video feeds based in Ireland. The company declared having only 3000 active members despite launching over 6 months ago and also competes in a densely packed market segment dominated by The Food Network. However, I did like their idea of awarding brownie points according to the type of contribution made by community members and the fact that this then entitled members to enter into prize draws.

In second place came socially responsible Unltdworld, a social network for do-gooders around the world attempting to redistribute wealth from the over- to the under-privileged elements of society. The concept was sound, though (like other attendees I was discussing this with) I failed to see what was unique about their proposition.

The clear winner was Zilok, a Franco-Belgian enterprise leading the way in the new market of P2P renting. With a strong management team, unique proposition and well-executed strategy, it was difficult to fault this company though some attendees did tut-tut at the fact that maybe they were not so much of a startup anymore...this old chestnut always pops up at some point, as the definition between a true startup and an established startup is not always clarified and the more entrepreneurially-minded would tend to prefer prize money to go to the startup that needs it the most..

Though not shortlisted for a prize, I believe that Talicious, a Hamburg startup established in 2007, deserves a special mention for most innovative concept, providing an online matchmaking service between talented people and talent scouts (and already breaking even, an achievement in itself)..check them out at

Overall, a great event with heavy emphasis on web startups and with plenty of room to let in mobile startups in the future as the convergence trend from web to mobile becomes more prominent.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Startup 2.0 Finalists Announced

BARCELONA-After several weeks of online voting, startup 2.0, a European-wide competition of web 2.0 sites, has entered its final phase.The competition, organized by Alianzo Networks and La Caixa, has the objective to promote and reward European startups involved in 2.0 technologies.

Over 300 companies applied online for the contest, this now having been whittled down to 10 finalists who will be giving 5 minute elevator pitches in front of a prestigious panel of judges including Martin Varsavsky, Loic le Meur and Luca Conti.

The finalists are:

- iFoods
- UnLtdWorld
- Bubok
- Geospace
- AllRise
- Planetaki
- Talicious
- Learnit
- Zilok
- Wolpy

From a personal point of view, I'm particularly keen to find out more about Geospace, who offer a Location-based service via web and mobile...their website is in Hungarian, so it will be a case of discovering what services they have during their presentation.

The other startups have (mostly) websites in English, and are an eclectic mix of socially-minded enterprises to social travel networks and talent communities....I recommend you take a look and see what is boiling in the European startup pot for yourselves....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Best of Barcelona-Mobile Startups to Watch:Codilink

BARCELONA -I'm starting a new initiative this week, where I'll be highlighting local mobile/web companies based in Barcelona and track their achievements and future plans.

First off the starting block, is barcode scanning experts Codilink, set up by Ben Chesser and 2 other partners 4 years ago and now operating in Spain, UK and Mexico.Their main line of business are M-coupons, M-loyalty schemes and M-ticketing through the use of 2-D barcodes and count among their clients Audi, L'Oreal and Heineken. The company can now lay claim to having rolled out over 34 million barcodes worldwide.

Barcodes come in 3 formats, QRs (mainly used in Japan), Datamatrix and Bidis (the common name used in Spain). Bidis differentiate themselves by having been specifically designed so as to be scanned from a mobile phone screen, so are seen by some as being the more sophisticated solution.

Codilink prizes itself on its technology that allows its scanners to read any format of barcode, thus reducing investment costs for marketing campaigns.It also believes that developments in the Mobile Wallet concept (see earlier post) will accelerate the demand for barcode-based ticketing and vouchers. Already, Codilink established an agreement in Mexico with large scale cinema operator Cinepolis to replace paper tickets completely with an on-screen mobile barcode.

The future? Codilink is looking to expand rapidly in new markets and is eyeing India with particular interest (it has already conducted market tests there) and at the same time is attracting interest from OEMs looking to buy into barcode technology. Rumour has it that an offer from Motorola was rejected but that new deals could be in the pipeline...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Location-based music

CrunchGear announced today that Sony Ericsson is patenting technology that would essentially allow your digital audio player to determine where you were located and then offer you up a list of downloadable tracks that have been tagged to that location.

The idea is that certain music works well in certain locations, like tagging “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head” to all the gas stations in my neighborhood and “Livin’ on a Prayer” to the local bank branch.

Apparently, "many people associate a physical location or a place to songs or pieces of music. In visiting or arriving at the place, they may remember the songs or the pieces of music and wish to hear them. They may also appreciate being supplied, automatically or after a request, information about the songs or pieces of music associated with the place.”

This is a nice idea, but even better would be someting akin to a Geo-Pandora, whereby the music player actually recommends songs to you as you move around the city by remembering your personal associations between place and music...could this be a new patent for some creative genius out there to start working on?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

War of the Social Networks

I'm posting this humorous video short from that illustrates in a fun way how saturation has arrived to the world of traditional online social networks.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Facebook Personal Details at Risk?

A report by the BBC yesterday highlights that personal details of users on Facebook could be 'harvested' with relative ease by using mailicious code hiding behind any one of the numerous applications available to users.

This potential privacy scare comes on the back of a string of identity theft concerns facing Facebook and other social networking sites. The BBC already made a claim back in February that Facebook users sticking to the default settings may be targeted by fraudsters and expose their personal details to misuse.

The scare relating to malicious applications is a real one, given that most of these programs access the user's personal details stored on their profile whether this is required or not by the game, joke or other type of application.

An expert interviewed by the BBC stated that Facebook needed to tighten up its security to prevent members from being exposed to identity theft.

Facebook responded that it 'has an entire Investigations Team that watches the site and removes content and third-party applications that violate Facebook's Terms of Use. Facebook users also police the site and use the "report" button if they come across violators of our Terms of Use'.

Will this mixture of self-patrolling and In-house investigation be sufficient to stem the flow of privacy issues facing Facebook and other communities in the light of an ever more open Web and Mobile 2.0 ecosystem?