Monday, December 14, 2009

Marissa Mayer @ Le Web 09 Paris: Google Goggles & The Future of Search

PARIS -Marissa Mayer gave another closely followed fireside interview at LeWeb 09 in Paris this year, with Michael Arrington attempting (but failing) to get her to reveal more about the new Google-branded mobile phone (set to hit the market next year).

Marissa made it very clear that Google understands that search is evolving and particularly that mobile devices are becoming the key channel for accessing search. This ties in nicely with the launch of Google Goggles, a mobile software through which anyone can take a photo with the device and let Google automatically figure out what they are looking at.

Here is a short part of the video interview:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Le Web '09 Paris-Review and Recommendations from an Official Blogger

PARIS-Wowee! What an action- and news-packed 2 days here in Paris!Loic Le Meur (& team) pulled all the stops to gather some of the most influential web entrepreneurs and thinkers in Paris at this year's show.

From Jack Dorsey of Twitter, to Chad Hurley of YouTube, Niklas Zennstrom of Skype and Marc Simoncini of Meetic, LeWeb this year truly elevated itself to being one of the leading web events worldwide. So influential was the gathering, that #leweb trended as a top topic on Twitter for 2 days running, an impressive feat on its own.Both the BBC and CNN covered the conference.

So, as official blogger of LeWeb'09 (and someone who attended the '08 edition) how can this amazing 2-day event be summed up? What were the salient points? What lessons can be learnt to make next year's event even better (not easy!)?And for those who weren't there, what did it feel like to join the world's web elite?


First, the good bits -the LeWeb team really did listen to the feedback from last year's edition. The Wifi network worked a treat and no-one died from hypothermia this year. The food was plentiful and the Nespresso coffee flowed freely like a mountain spring.

The speakers at this year's edition were undoubtedly top notch, and covered all the main angles , plus getting Jack Dorsey to premiere his Square payment device was a real scoop. One had a feeling that speakers were as proud to be part of LeWeb as much as Loic was proud to have them present.

The Start-up contest was great -I would say almost an event in its own right, with a great selection of startups. I was particularly impressed by Hyperwords but saw many other cool concepts.I would have liked to have seen more, but ,like many people, would have required a clone to be able to attend all the simultaneous LeWeb sessions I was interested in!


Now, for the improvement opportunities...there are not many, but in the spirit of continous improvement, some are worth pointing out...the one that stands out like a sore thumb is the registration process managed by Amiando, which, frankly, was a shambles. Unlike last year, I had registered early to avoid showing up and being told my badge wasn't ready (this happened last year). So, when I saw that there was a separate, shorter queue for 'Press/Bloggers', my heart swelled. But, sadly, it was not to be. I was told that even though the sign said 'Press/Bloggers', really what they meant was 'Press'.

So, I was instructed to queue at the right 'D-F' surname section. After 30 minutes of queueing, it was my turn. 'Sorry, your badge isn't printed' was the reply when I showed my accreditation.So, back to the Helpdesk (manned by only 3 people with one printer at a conference with over 2000 attendees!!) and another 20 minutes of queueing and listening to some French swearing from other people in the queue. NOT the best way to start the day or the conference, especially when you've skipped breakfast to be at the conference venue early.

Next, the blogging process...As Official Blogger, I greatly appreciated having a dedicated space on the lower ground floor with (almost enough) power sockets and tables- many other conferences can learn a lot from this.It was fantastic!Minor points though -the process for getting bloggers' posts on the leweb main website was a little shambolic. Each blogger had to submit a link or RSS from their own blog page in order to get their post online -a much better way would have been to get their feeds from all the blogger sites in advance and link it up automatically to the main event website.

Finally, the official party at the VIPRoom was a lame duck affair, with drinks shockingly priced at €20 a pop and a venue lacking in atmosphere or entertainment value. I understand there was no sponsor -but that is no excuse. If having no sponsor means that no effort is made, then it would have been better to pull the plug on the event. Plus, I heard from attendees of earlier LeWeb editions that these parties used to be great-let's bring the old days back!


There were many great things about the event, so it is difficult to focus on one or two of them as best memories of the conference, but if I had to choose, I would say the salient point was the speech by Queen Rania of Jordan -impactful, up-to-date and elegant. (a queen who personally checks out her tweets-how cool is that!) A real case-study in how a public figure can change the world.

Next best, Gary Vaynerchuk shook things up nicely on stage in the second day of LeWeb with his freewheeling style and sometimes coarse language -it was good to see someone challenging the status quo and sharing contrarian views freely with the audience.

Finally, I claimed my 5 seconds of fame at LeWeb this year!At the end of the event, Loic announced some statistics on the conference (see photo above) about #no. of connected devices, #of iPhones and network usage. Low and behold, I had managed to become the data upload king of leweb, with 15.64 GB of data!!Quite an achievement at an event with 2300 expert web users all competing for bandwidth!


Overall, a big well done and thank you to Loic, Geraldine and the team for LeWeb 09 for delivering such an informative and enjoyable event. Thanks to LeWeb, Europe becomes the centre of the wired world for two days every year, an outstanding achievement by any measure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Queen Rania Al Abdullah @ LeWeb '09 Paris

PARIS -Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan delivered a passionate, inspiring and thought-provoking keynote speech at LeWeb Day 2 in Paris just before lunch. She told the audience that Real Time Web can bring real change to the humanity and asked the audience to support her 1Goal chairty in order to help children who are locked out of school.

In a well-delivered line, she noted how Twitter and other real-time applications can do what has never been done before since 'it is hard to connect with people when you are a queen'.

Queen Rania told LeWeb that the web is more human than ever before and that everyone now has the power to change things. You can find more info on how to support her charity at this link.

Tim Ferriss @ Le Web Paris 09

PARIS - Tim Ferriss started his talk here in Paris a few minutes ago saying that his original title for his bestselling book was rejected by the publisher.

He then decided to use Google to bid for varying book titles and see which one would be more popular -'The Four work week' came out trumps.

Tim says that there are 3 tipping points for attracting mass attention in the media and that you should PPC: Phenomenize, Polarize and 'Communitize'. Tim opted to pitch his book at people looking to change their lifestyle in non-traditional ways.

He also stored media-grabbing stunts (like his experiment to gain 17kg in a short space) for just prior to the book publishing date in order to obtain links to his blog or book site.

His credo is that you should market test everything before deciding on everything from the book title to the content, especially where the publisher has no initial marketing budget (like in his case).' Whatever people think is right is probably wrong', he stated.

You can try to test ideas, he said.

Videos are a great way to attract views: e.g. "how to 'peel' hard boiled eggs without peeling" or "how to be Jason Bourne".

Here is Tim's presentation:

Ferriss - Le Web 2

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Le Web'09 Paris Start-up Contestant Video Interview

PARIS -Liqpay positions itself as a simple, but effective way to carry out financial (and other) transactions on web and mobile platforms. With a growing global customer base, this startup from Ukraine is looking to grab the headlines at LeWeb's Startup Contest.

Vitalij Kharitonskij, Liqpay developer and Kristina Chaiykovskaya, Business Developer, ran me through the main features of their service. You can see my video interview in this post later today (internet connection permitting).

If you are at Le Web, Liqpay will be presenting at 1500 in the Startup Contest area.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Le Web Paris ’09 Start-up Contest –16 companies jockey for #1 webpreneurship spot

PARIS- Le Web 09 edition has lined up an exciting array of 16 companies at the seed and start-up stage to promote their wares in front of its highly influential jury and public. 135 companies originally applied for the competition back in October, so only the ‘crème de la crème’ have made it through to the finals.

If you look at the full list of selected companies that will present in Paris (found here), you realise that this is a varied bunch indeed, covering areas such as cloud computing (c’est très chic right now) to social network aggregation and semantic web-style solutions.

The theme at Le Web this year is real-time web, so unsurprisingly a number of the chosen start-ups fit into this area. Notably, Sokoz, a web-based shopping portal that resembles an ebay on speed, offers item sales lasting 10 minutes with just 30-seconds for shoppers to decide whether to buy or pass up on the deal. Buyers are the ones deciding the price of each item, with the first one to click being awarded the lowest price.

Tanguy Lesselin, founder of Sokoz, says his site is all about playing while shopping, while saving time and money. With Christmas round the corner, the timing for Sokoz’s pitch is impeccable.

There are too many companies to carry out an extensive review here (and quite a few are still in private beta, so I have not been able to check them out fully) but each brings something original to the table. CloudSplit allows companies to track their cloud computing spend, FitnessKeeper lets you monitor your daily exercise routine on your iPhone, Siteheart lets you pay for items with your mobile phone, Superfeeder takes RSS feeds to the next level and lets you manage your tasks better in an ‘all-in-one’ interface.

Mendeley will be a formidable adversary for other start-ups (and my tip for ‘one to watch’) after having convincingly won the Plugg Start-up Contest in Brussels in March (click here for my blog post on this). Backed by lastfm’s initial investor (and some of their recommendation technology magic), Mendeley allows researchers to discover, share and organize academic papers.

Personally, I am looking forward to an incroyable series of presentations next week- stay tuned for real-time updates from Paris.

(Photo credit:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Future of QR Codes-Japan's Colour Code Technologies

TOKYO -Colour Code Technologies showcased their patent-pending QR code innovation at the Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong last week.

Their innovative Colour Construct Code (CCC) is capable of storing more than x100 the amount of data of more conventional barcodes by using pixellated colours. Through their technology, QR codes can be used to encode any type of digital data without requiring an internet connection to import information.

Chris Carey, Director at Colour Code, showed me some examples of the kind of content they are converting into QR codes. One of these was the latest single by Japanese rock group, The Tenka (see photo above). By scanning the QR code on the leaflet, the software installed on a mobile phone is capable of converting the data into a song almost instantaneously.

Another advantage is that the Colour Codes can be printed on paper and stickers with inkjet printers, so reducing distribution costs and extending mass market opportunities.

Colour Code is in talks with various Japanese government agencies to use their codes for public services, for example for storing and accessing patient records in hospitals.

QR codes are extremely common in Japan and part of daily life whether you are a visitor at the airport (used at passport control) or a shopper in retail stores (commonly used for promotions).

Colour Code Technologies is therefore well positioned in its home market to deliver the necessary data storage upgrade to QR codes to allow them to meet the data hungry needs of increasingly rich media.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

iPhone experiences of the Japanese kind

TOKYO-23rd November 2009

Before making my trip to Tokyo, I dutifully researched whether my (unlocked) iPhone would work normally in the land of the rising sun. I read internet blogs, asked friends who lived in Japan and read various on- and off-line guides.

The result was a set of conflicting viewpoints: no, it wouldn’t work at all; yes, it might work if I had the 3G or 3GS model, but only for data (not voice); and maybe it would, but on no accounts would I be able to slot in a Japanese SIM card.

So, when I landed in Japan, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was, however, able to ascertain immediately what didn’t work. A SIM card I had bought earlier in Hong Kong (and had provided commendable service over there) did not work at all.

Fighting jetlag, I decided to make it over to the nearest cellphone operator shop I could find in Tokyo. Having listened the day earlier to Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son address the Mobile Asia Congress, my autopilot navigated me to the Softbank store.

Inside, my lack of Japanese immediately led to a total inability to conduct any meaningful conversation with the customer service clerk. But, she did call a number from her phone and she connected me to an English-speaking Japanese call centre clerk.

“We are not sure if your European iPhone will work in Japan” was the answer, followed by “If you buy our SIM card, we cannot guarantee it will work”. Not the confidence-inspiring answer I was expecting.

With already 1 million iPhone users in Japan according to Fortune magazine, it is perhaps surprising that the only Japanese cellphone operator to offer the iPhone isn’t sure about network’s SIM compatibility with foreign iPhones. But then again, I mulled as I observed sushi-shaped USB sticks in the neighbouring shop window, things are a little different in Japan.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my iPhone worked just fine in Japan with my European SIM card –not the cheapest option, but better than paying €50 to rent a Japanese cellphone for 3 days.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Google Acquires AdMob-what say you, mobile?

AdMob announced today in a mailing to its customers that it was being acquired by Google for $750m.

"After our deal closes, AdMob will work with Google to accelerate the pace of innovation in mobile and do an even better job for you. We believe this deal will benefit our developer and publisher partners by:

Building even more powerful technology and tools to monetize mobile traffic.

Increasing the effectiveness of display advertising on mobile devices by leveraging Google sales team, infrastructure and relationships.

Improving the already high level of service and support we deliver to our publishers."

said Omar Hamoui, from AdMob in his email earlier today.

But what does this mean for mobile advertising?

Google's logic for making the deal is to ramp up its position in mobile advertising, seeing that growth in this ad market is likely to be higher than in traditional Pc-based web. It also can be interpreted as a sign that its own AdSense product for mobile was not sufficient in itself to give Google the edge in this market.

Where Google can really innovate is in the area of location based advertising on mobile, by stepping in the gap being left wide open by all the big mobile ad networks (who have capability to deploy LBS ads but lack the commitment from other members of the mobile ecosystem). It is no secret that Google has the best generic mapping product in the market (which was also skilfully deployed on mobile).

By combining its current capabilities with its web know-how and AdMob's mobile ad network, Google is now in a great position to transform the market and can deploy quickly, thanks to its Android platform.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Le Web Paris 09-a taste of le web to come

With the French flair and panache followers of Loic Le Meur are well used to, a preview of what is to come at Le Web Paris 09 has been released. Teaming up with co-organiser and wife Geraldine, Loic describes the exciting programme for this year's event.Click here to watch the video.

Some of the great themes that will be covered this year include:

-Mobility: get it now, immediately

-The Free culture

-Building the new business models

-Buying is one click away

-The Real-Time web through the eyes of “Generation Young”

If you are grappling with these fundamental issues already, don't miss out on the debate in Paris. Contact me to obtain a special 10% discount on the ticket price for being a reader of this blog!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Motorola Droid-first mover on Android 2.0 operating system

When Eric Schmidt from Google talks about future market trends (with convenient bite-sized quotes) people sit up and listen. When he recently announced that there would be 'an explosion of Android adoption', a lot of people got very excited and his may indeed soon become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

One of the catalysts for this explosion could very well come from the sleek and feature-packed Droid, just out this week in the US. It boasts a big screen with great resolution (about double that of the iPhone 3G), pull out QWERTY keyboard and a 5MP camera with flash and zoom.

All the right bits of hardware seem to be in place but what about the software? Android 2.0 (codename 'Eclair') is definitely a step up from its predecessor and more and more apps are coming on stream in the Android Market. Sure, we are still far from the mecca of the Apple App Store, but things are moving on nicely.

As Apple and Google begin to diverge in their strategic objectives for mobile (Apple limiting releases of some Google products like Google Talk and Google pre-releasing new products on Android, such as the new Google Maps Navigation software, part of the hegemenony of Apple will clearly be challenged.

Sooner or later, I expect Apple to drop Google Maps altogether and replace it with its in-house mapping product Placebase. Boy, will that be a landmark for the iPhone! And it will also mean that consumers will more and more make their handset purchase decision based on whether their preferred software is featured or not.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Le Web 09 Paris-Get ready for Real-time web, European-style

PARIS- LeWeb09, the leading event in Europe for tech start-ups focussed on both web and (increasingly) mobile, is just round the corner, with Loic and Geraldine LeMeur preparing a packed agenda for the 2-day event.

Last year, Paulo Coelho, Dave Morin (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Google) presented their ideas about the future. This year, following the Twitter hype, founder Jack Dorsey will give a keynote, together with a power line-up of speakers including Niklas Zennstrom (Skype founder now at Atomico Ventures) and controversial figure Michael Arrington (of Techcrunch and protagonist of a heated debate at last year's event).

The event is expected to pull in over 1800 participants and be a complete sell-out, so don't miss out if you want the inside track not only of the European but also the global tech start-up scene.

I feel priviliged to have been selected as Official Blogger for the event, so will be bringing you news straight from the frontline..stay tuned for more...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tooio is to mobile what Tuenti is to web

Tooio (pronounced Two-ee-yo) has been pioneering Location-Based Mobile Social Networking since 2008, with its own twist -firstly, though maps feature within its app they are not, perhaps surprisingly, the main feature and secondly, Tooio's strategy has been to focus exclusively on Spain.

Having initially launched on Blackberry, Java-enabled phones and iPhone, Tooio is now releasing its Android version -sign of a clear commitment to product development.

The company raised $2m in November 2008 reflecting a clear show of faith in Tooio's CEO Rafa Casado's capabilities in launching new services and his pedigree as former chief of Terra Networks, a leading web operator in Spain.

But competition in Location-based social networks is tough, and models that work great on the web (such as 'Spanish Facebook' Tuenti) don't easily translate on mobile. This has meant that despite Tooio's brave efforts, it hasn't been able to gain the traction it requires to develop a critical mass of users. Reviews of its iPhone app are mixed (though the later release seems to have improved things) and its decision to limit and then reduce the number of free messages allowed between community members was heavily criticized by users.

A key success factor for Tooio will be the ability to import relevant (and original!) content and create that unique catch that will make it popular -the long tail of marketing is (very) long and a one-size-fits-all strategy is increasingly making way for unique niche-marketing.

Tooio has great potential -it has built a leading position in its geographical market and has the product development firepower to deliver- but will need to focus on offering a great all-round user experience if it is to stay ahead of rivals.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ikea Augmented Reality Concept-coming to a smartphone near you (maybe)

For those of you who missed it, last August an AR concept for IKEA was launched based on a simple premise of allowing customers to picture what a certain piece of furniture would like in their home. The concept reflects the increasing possibilities of Augmented Reality to marry the real with the digitally-enhanced world within sound commercial solutions.

The application, of which you can see some screenshots below, allows users to view an overlaid picture of the desired piece of furniture and place it within the intented position in a room by viewing the room through the mobile device's videocamera.

The user can also save the picture and send it via MMS if they wish to do so.

While it may be some time before these types of applications become mainstream, the current prediction for smartphone sales suggests this will be sooner than you think. Smartphone sales that support AR apps account for less than 20% of the overall global market but are growing fast and are predicted to reach 50% of the mobile market within the next five years.

Monday, September 28, 2009

LG $10,000 Chocolate Mystery-deadline set for midnight on 30.09.09

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Following the interest my earlier blog post arose over the mysterious $10,000 reward offered by LG for returning one of 5 LG Chocolate phones manufactured with serial numbers:

· 802KPAE821224

· 803KPBF578597

· 803KPXV578330

· 803KPVH578503

· 803KPJP923836

...I am publishing a short update here.

The good people at the PR agency managing the LG Chocolate Reward have told me that the phones in question were produced between February and March 2008. This date is found in the identifier label as shown in the picture with this post. The next numbers in the label indicate the factory, so you can see that the 5 handsets were made in the same factory of PyungTaek in Korea.

So if you have one of the lucky phones, you need to be sharpish in contacting LG by mailing them The deadline for returning them ends at midnight on the 30th September 2009. $10,000 plus a brand new BL40 phone could be yours!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Facebook and Nielsen launch joint ad effectiveness product

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook new COO, more recently VP of Global Ad Sales at Google, talked today to the press about the launch of the joint Nielsen/Facebook product to measure the effectivess of ad campaigns on Facebook web and mobile platforms.

Dubbed Nielsen Brand Lift, the new service is designed to help Facebook demonstrate that online ads on their social network are Facebook is expected to turnover more than $500m in the latest reporting year (most of which from ad sales), it is essential that they convince advertisers that this ad spend pays off. Ad sales for Facebook increased more than 70% this year compared to last year thanks to its growing user base, now exceeding 300m globally.

After their acquisition of Friendfeed earlier in the year, Facebook steps on the gas again to maintain its social networking supremacy and introduce a tool that will undoubtedly help justify ad spend. This is even more important as more and more of their users move to the mobile platform in order to educate advertisers of the high impact and effectiveness of this medium.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

uLocate and NAVTEQ's team up on iPhone

BOSTON's uLocate has been steadily building up its WHERE LBS platform to be able to deliver a wide range of applications and services across the major carriers in the US. Its strategy is paying off, as it sets to deploy yet another useful service, this time on the iPhone by teaming up with NAVTEQ owned

Below is an extract from uLocate's press release of the 14th of September: is the largest provider of traffic related data in the U.S. with coverage in 124 major metropolitan areas, providing fastest and shortest routes to commuters based on real-time traffic and incident data and traffic patterns. Joining’s comprehensive data with uLocate’s expertise in location-enabled mobile application development and award-winning WHERE® platform provides commuters with a traffic service that will help them reduce time spent driving.

“ is the #1 traffic-only website in the U.S., helping commuters save time and frustration in their daily lives” said Jeff Mize, Executive Vice President of Sales from NAVTEQ. “We are delighted that uLocate will leverage the brand by enabling the services on across mobile with their proven WHERE platform.”

The application’s advanced features and functionality includes:
• MyTraffic™ personalized drives that are synced with the website to allow users to create customized routes.
• Unique JamFactor™ calculations to quickly inform drivers of the severity of traffic delays using real-time data as well as historical speed flow.
• Real-time, color-coded traffic flow moving maps that can be panned or zoomed to quickly view area traffic congestion or set to GPS mode to move along with commuters built on the NAVTEQ MapTP platform.
• Comprehensive incident data that includes accidents, construction, events, weather and congestion.
• The ability to save favorite roads and road segments for quick access through the traffic dashboard.
• Top traffic hotspots by city or selected roads.
• Mass transit data from local transportation departments.
• Location-enabled discount offers from relevant and trusted merchants enabled through NAVTEQ’s LocationPoint advertising platform.’s data comes from GPS probe devices, commercial and government partners, center staff members, and a proprietary network of 1,000 digital traffic sensors, creating the most comprehensive traffic data available. Sensor networks update real time speed and volume information every few minutes and incident information is updated continuously throughout the day by local traffic operations staff.

Expect an Android, Palm and Blackberry version soon.