Thursday, August 28, 2008

US Closing Mobile Usage Gap

I posted a piece back in January this year about the Rise of the Mobile Wallet and was pleased to see that it was quoted in an Experian Consumer Research Report about the US Mobile Usage Gap.

The report suggests that while only 2% of US consumers regularly make purchases via a mobile device, already 16% use mobile banking services, roughly equally distributed among different age groups.

Interestingly, the research shows that the age profile of GPS users is heavily skewed towards 18-24 year olds, with a severe drop off in usage rates in the age groups 45-54 and over.

Mobile advertising acceptance is confirmed as being higher than for traditional web, with over a third of consumers who are online for at least one hour a week rating themselves as interested in receiving ads via their mobile provided there is a tangible incentive.

You can read the full 9-page report by clicking on the title of this post.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Social Network Valuations Reach Record Levels

I wrote back in March about AOL's acquisition of Bebo and the (inflated) purchase price they splurged for it (USD$850m). This, you may remember, equated to $38 paid per Bebo user.

Now an article in suggests that frenzied interest in social networks is taking these frothy valuations to new heights, and that Facebook's 100m users are worth at least $150 each based on the company's estimated value of USD$15bn.

Clearly, the exact calculation of Facebook's theoretical value remains a mystery, but by all accounts makes it the most valuable social network in the world and sets the marker in terms of premium valuations.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose personal stake is worth an extravagant USD$3bn., must be rubbing his hands with glee. And execs at Microsoft must be praying that their investment in 2% of the company pays off strategically.

Meanwhile, market analysts anticipate that Facebook has the capability to continue expanding its user base to over 200m members, which would ramp up its value even further...someone please prepare the smelling salts...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Killer Apps in Mobile Social Networking-Part 2

I posted earlier this week on potential candidates for the next Killer Application in Mobile Social Networking, identifying the following 4 potential candidates (so far):

-Mobile Dating Apps
-Mobile Social Network Aggregrators
-Virtual World or Second Life type applications with chat
-Phone Address Book

Here are my thoughts on the latter two candidates:

Second Life type applications with chat

There is no doubt that people are spending more and more time in virtual worlds. A company called Vollee has already released a public beta that allows you to make a connection to the Second Life Grid while handling the technical heavy lifting of rendering objects. The company then streams video output to your phone like any other media file.

By combining SL or other virtual worlds with chat on a mobile phone, a new dimension opens up for social interaction on mobile-anonymous and faceless maybe, but also with fewer boundaries than in the ‘real’ world. These characteristics may make it the next killer application in mobile social networking (at least in Japan, where anonymity in social networks is valued highly).

The Phone Address Book

The humble phone address book has been, is and will be one of the cornerstones of the social dimension of the mobile phone. Before anyone learnt to SMS, they learnt to add contacts to the phone address book. And when anyone loses their mobile phone, the thing they grieve about the most is the loss of their phone contacts.

The phone address book is the mobile social network par excellence –albeit a bit limited in its current state. But, let’s think about this…ALL one’s valuable contacts are already in the address book (no need to ‘add’ any friends), often with full contact details (including e-mail) and a photo…all we need is for a phone manufacturer to transform the phone book from its current state and integrate things like ‘preferences’, photo tagging and maybe some location-related info (“where are my contacts?”) and hey presto, you have a powerful social network ready to use!

Ok, some issues around privacy remain (will everyone be willing to make their phone address book public?) but the trend amongst mobile handset manufacturers is definitely towards beefing up their mobile software applications, and what better way to do this by transforming the now old-fashioned address book?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

uLocate announces deal with Garmin for Buddy Beacon

BOSTON-In line with a trend that has been developing this year, uLocate (well-known for its WHERE platform) is the latest LBS company to announce a deal with a device manufacturer. Today, the company has released a note stating that they will integrate their Buddy Beacon application into Garmin's connected devices and their Mobile XT Platform.

The full press release is as follows:

" August 19, 2008—uLocate Communications, the world’s leading developer of location enabled applications, announces an agreement with Garmin to add friend-finding capabilities to select current and future Garmin GPS devices. The partnership leverages APIs on uLocate’s WHERE™ platform to enable Garmin users to easily find and connect with friends nearby through the leading friend finding network, Buddy Beacon.

“The team over at uLocate continues to drive innovation with their open WHERE platform, enabling the broadest set of location based applications across the largest distribution network in wireless,” said Jeff Rath, vice president, global head of technology research of Canaccord Adams. “This represents a powerful combination – the largest PND manufacturer and the dominant platform in the market bringing together the universe of location enabled connected devices.”

With access to WHERE’s Buddy Beacon network, Garmin customers will be able to connect with their friends, share their location and update their status across a variety of online social networking sites including Facebook. Unlike other friend-finding applications, WHERE’s Buddy Beacon operates seamlessly across multiple networks, making it possible to connect with friends regardless of phone or carrier.

“We are delighted to team up with Garmin and through our WHERE platform, provide their users with access to Buddy Beacon,” said Walt Doyle, CEO of uLocate Communications. “The partnership connects two leaders in their industries that are committed to offering customers new and exciting interfaces."

Expect other companies in the LBS scene to come out with further announcements in the coming months, as new distribution and monetization models come to the fore.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Killer Apps in Mobile Social Networking

I will be contributing to a speaker panel on the Next Killer Application in Mobile Social Networking at the Mobile Web Europe conference in London in September and am gathering some thoughts on the subject.

So far, I have identified 4 potential candidates for what this next Killer App could be:

1. Mobile Dating applications
2. Mobile Social Network Aggregators
3. Virtual World or Second Life type applications that incorporate Instant Messaging
4. the Phone Address Book

I will be discussing the first 2 candidates in this post, while the remainder will be the object of a subsequent post:

1. Mobile dating applications are currently limited in their use of technology and frankly, have not made their case powerfully enough compared to web-based dating sites. Meetmoi, a $1.5m-backed mobile dating service launched last year still relies on SMS texting and requires the user to update his location manually-hardly revolutionary in the light of advances in location technology.

However, rumour has it that Microsoft is developing a mobile dating service that relies on Image-based face search in order to match prospective dates…a step in the right direction in terms of killer applications.

2.Mobile Social Network Aggregators (such as Spokeo) have attracted increasing levels of interest this year, in part due to the proliferation of mobile social networks and the tiresome task of keeping up with 4-5 different profiles and passwords. Different strategies are being deployed, with some aggregators going for Identity consolidation, others for message consolidation and others still for friend tracking.

Only a few days ago, news emerged that SonyEricsson was planning to release soon its own version of a social network aggregator, 3GLifestore.The game is hotting up…though would I pay €29/year to join Spokeo? Maybe not… be continued

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Online Social Network Rules

One of my readers from Youth Radio highlighted this video about young people's attitudes towards web-based social networks and privacy.

It gives a quick snapshot of current opinion but offers further proof that web users are wisening up to the risks of over-exposure via the web and adopting their own set of rules for using their favourite social networks sites.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mobile Internet Blog reaches 3000 Readers (or thereabouts)

BARCELONA-I launched this blog in January this year to be able to share my passion about all things mobile with the large (and growing) mobile community out there.

Now, with the blog's global readership about to reach 3000, it is a good time to say thank you to all of you out there for reading, commenting on, bookmarking and sharing my blog -your support makes it all worthwhile!

In the first 7 months of this year, I have been privileged to participate in a number of mobile events, from the Mobile World Congress to the Mobile 2.0 Europe event, and have enjoyed sharing the latest news and buzz from these events with you (it has been great to share with readers from all corners of the world, from New Zealand, to Trinidad, Hawaii, UAE and India).

If you like the blog, please remember to subscribe to the RSS Feed so as not to miss out and also join the blog community on MyBlogLog. Above all, keep those comments flowing! soon?

With the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing scheduled to kick-off on Friday 8th August, speculation is mounting as to whether or not the often gossiped about flagship site for the city,, will finally be unveiled.

The mTLD or consortium has, since its inception, focussed heavily on developing city mobile sites, with following the initial development.

One of the touted strategies of the consortium is to synchronise launches with prominent events, and the 2008 Olympics could not offer a better platform for this, given the substantial amount of publicity (both postive and negative) that the games have attracted this year. Much of this media frenzy will peak this month, offering a great opportunity for mTLD to achieve a truly global launch for the site.

It would also help to stave off critics and sceptics alike, who have pointed out how the domain still remains predominant in North America.It would also give the whole movement a shot in the arm at a time when its main shareholders (the mobile operators and equipment manufacturers) are increasingly coming head-to-head with each other in their attempt to retain (or attain) control over the mobile subscriber.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I love Mobile Web Awards

I will be on a speaker panel at Informa's Mobile Web Europe event on the 22-24 September in London to discuss the next killer ap in mobile social networking (what do YOU think it is?) -the mix of topics on the conference programme is probably the most comprehensive available for this area, and so there are bound to be interesting learning points and clues to the future shape of things to come.

One of the side events is the I love Mobile Web Awards sponsored by the dotmobi consortium, aimed at recognising the best designed and developed mobile internet site.

Enter one of six exciting categories for free before 22 August 2008, and you can have your work featured online at for the industry to view.The judging panel includes Michael o'Farrell, Chairman of the dotmobi advisory group.This is a unique opportunity to have your innovative ideas showcased to a highly qualified audience, so if you are in the .mobi site space, don't miss out!