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.