maandag 29 november 2004

Who is Eccky?

I'm speaking at a conference tomorrow and the organizers sent out a press release on how Eccky is the future of social networking and entertainment. Eccky is what I'll be talking about for the first time in public. This press release was picked up by some weblogs and in no time they had collected everything publicly (= via Google) available on Eccky. My team dinners, important meetings, a few qoutes here and there, etc... Within hours I had several interviews as well with traditional press publications that wanted to know more about Eccky after they read something about it in the 'blogosphere' (their words). Reminds me of something I posted on last week. By the way, why don't bloggers ask questions like most journalists do?

So who is Eccky? More on that after tomorrow, but here's a highlight as it was found by others as well: "..., but basically Eccky is the name of a game where two parents can make, name and raise a virtual child using the MSN Messenger and their mobile phone. See mine to the right..;-)"

zondag 28 november 2004

Jabberwocky Plus

I love the term 'familiar strangers' as it was used for Intel's Jabberwocky project. Now MIT has something similar, and it logs a bit more than just the Bluetooth phones that happen to come close to me. Can't wait for some data...

"Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed the system, which logs the ID code of every Bluetooth chip the phone passes, the location of every phone mast it contacts, every person phoned or texted and when applications are used. Data is then stored on a server which uses software to recognise any patterns in behaviour and predict what may happen next."

Blogs and marketing

Can blogs work as a marketing tool for any company, product or service? It would not surprise me, and I think most people do not yet understand the value blogs can bring in building a real relationship with your customers. Microsoft is a leading the way...

"His blog communicates that Microsoft isn't some faceless giant who doesn't give a fuck about its customers. It's a company full of people who are passionate about trying to make better products and cool services for customers they respect. They pay Scoble less than $100,000 a year (he's blogged about that) and he does a day job too. If you had a $100,000 total marketing budget, you couldn't even get an advertising agency to buy you lunch, let alone work with you."

Living in virtual worlds

The fact that gaming is a huge business (opportunity) is sometimes a surprise to people that have no first hand experience with it. And meanwhile millions and millions of people are spending a good part of their 'free' time playing these games, increasingly together in so called Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). This post on Terra Nova, and the extensive discussion following it, gives some nice insight into this emerging entertainment segment.

Trusted sharing

Things like threedegrees, Waste and Grokster Radio allow closed user groups to share everything digital. I feel these services will be even more destructive to the dominant entertainment business models than something like KaZaa...

"A Grokster-like file sharing functionality figures into my vision of a low key, IM-like, desktop ‘peeps presence panel’ that allows me to click on a friend, family, or business cohort’s name to access their photos, prose, ponderings, priorities, presentations, patterns, projects, etc. all in a pull-down menu with permissions, privacy, and protection."

User led innovation

Since devices are becoming more open and programmable everyday, more innovation will happen. But operators and handset manufacturers do have a choice of speeding things up or slowing them down. Glad to see Nokia is trying to understand the successes of the past in order to facilitate the ones of the future.

"The industry would do well to reflect on these trends. If Ahtisaari is right -- and I think he is -- then the best way for the mobile industry to lift itself to the next level would be to encourage and foster a hacking culture around mobile technology and, moreover, to welcome it when it arises inadvertently."

Software-defined radio

Software-defined radio (or SDR) is making progress and that's a good thing for sure.

"The real trick will be if the software-defined radio in a device can not only handle multiple radio flavors, but support them all at the same time -- if, for instance, it can maintain a cellular call and transmit that to a Bluetooth headset while a user looks up the Web over a Wi-Fi connection."

Shop Offline/Buy Online (SOBO)

Am I a free rider when I compare different TV sets in a physical retail store, but buy the one I want online? Or should this be seen as a symptom of a business model under pressure? I'd argue the latter.

"This is a reality of the marketplace, and bricks & mortar shops need to learn to adjust to keep up with the times. Claiming it's unethical won't do anything, and most people don't see it as such. Coming up with a better business model will help things."

The mobile TV debate

Just because Koreans are able to watch TV on their mobile phone doesn't mean it's going to be an instant succes the world over. Let alone that operators will profit from it like some think they will.

"Techdirt believes that broadcast of TV to mobile phones is a lame duck, and hardly likely to be a big money earner. Delivery of custom, mobile-centric, short, affordable, video content (music videos, news and sports clips, very short films, animations...) has a chance of success in the short term, but this is very different than "TV". In 2 to 5 years, with increased storage abilities in handsets and home PVR use, some form of mobile PVR link will emerge, and that will be the key to bringing a winning TV-type product to mobile phones."

3D video telephony

Some are saying that 3G video telephony spells the end for blind dating, but some guys in Japan have gone a step further though...

"'We can see the 3-D image as if it's inside the cylinder,' said Susumu Tachi, a Tokyo University professor of computer science and physics, in a demonstration Wednesday for The Associated Press. With the device, 'we can have a family gathering or conference at a remote place.'"

Mass personalization

Not all personalization fails, Business Week is running a story on what you might call 'mass personalization'. I like the remake of My Twinn best. Having doubts whether I should order one... Update: won't order one, doesn't really look like me at 11 years old...

"This new era of personalization is fueled by two main tech developments. New software on the back end has made it possible to make customization more profitable. And on the front end, new technology makes all the options easier to present to consumers."

The power of marketing

Well, that's what I believe....

"Gallup Poll: Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory. Only about a third of Americans believe that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is a scientific theory that has been well supported by the evidence, while just as many say that it is just one of many theories and has not been supported by the evidence. The rest say they don't know enough to say. Forty-five percent of Americans also believe that God created human beings pretty much in their present form about 10,000 years ago. A third of Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word."

TV central

"The TV will become the central screen in the home," says Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research. "It becomes the portal for all digital content...linking back to every device where [data] is stored."

I think the TV has been the central screen for 40 years already... And at the moment it's more challenged than ever, specifically by PC monitors. But I'm sure Michael Gartenberg knows that as well. However, I would like to know more about his definition of a TV. It's easy to make a prediction like this without being more specific.

zaterdag 27 november 2004

Waving hello, from a distance

It's the kind of quote that makes you realize things are changing.

"She went bearing a U.S.B. Web camera, sophisticated teleconferencing software and an Internet-inspired vision that will allow her to continue visiting even after she returns home. "I want him to be able to see me, to hear my voice," she said of her 3-week-old grandson, Joseph Sinclair Lewis. "I want to be able to read stories to him and share some of his firsts."

WiMax hype, 802.11 reality

Anyone who thinks that within a year or two we will have mobile broadband internet access using WiMax should definitely read this article. It doesn't say there won't be mobile broadband internet access at all, but may be in a different way than some expect.

"WiMax hype will sputter out to reality of a niche backhaul and rural marketplace, Wi-Fi/802.11 will evolve and grow into many more realms and dominate the Local Area Network (LAN) / Neighborhood Area Network (NAN) / Metro Area Network (MAN)."

SMS, IM, etc.

Apparently a study in Spain shows that young people use SMS more frequently than they use the web. Also this week, a Dutch study showed that IM is preferred over SMS by 13-15 year olds. Anyway, as Mike from Techdirt points out, some industries (and the government of North Korea) might better start thinking about how to reconfigure their business. Again...

"A study of young people in Spain shows that they use SMS messaging more often than they use the web, which has some wondering if newspapers targeting young people on the web are looking in the wrong place. Considering recent stories about how much more important spreading the news is compared to just reading the news, it would appear that newspapers would do well to look at better ways to help young people spread news stories via SMS."

Innovation and strong brands

Emerce, a leading Dutch magazine on marketing & technology, published a column (Dutch) written by me on innovation and branding.

vrijdag 26 november 2004

woensdag 24 november 2004

Narrowing the search

Nice CNET article that discusses the impossibility of personalized search. Some of the arguments are also true for personalizaton in general. I still can't believe how much money is being wasted in that area.

"Which approach is best? The best personalization is done by individuals themselves. Software or even other people can only guess--usually poorly--a person's interest. The next advances in search technology will acknowledge this limitation and make it easy for people to act on their interests of the moment--which only they can recognize. "

zondag 21 november 2004


The news that Media Republic (disclosure: I work for this company) launched a 'mobile TV station' in cooperation with Vodafone did not attract a lot of attention outside of The Netherlands. The Dutch press however has been talking a lot about 2GOTV, especially since many famous stars are involved and because it's being positioned as a TV station (with programming) rather than a mobile video service. Now I don't think Vodafone will sell more UMTS handsets because people are dying to see these clips on their handset while waiting for the bus, but I do feel the massive PR accompanying 2GOTV will build awareness around the special features of UMTS handsets in general. That might speed up adoption just a little bit, now let's see whether we can develop some usable services that will make these feautures relevant as well...

"Media Republic and Vodafone Netherlands have started a mobile television station. 2GOTV broadcasts on a 24 hours, seven days per week over Vodafone live! UMTS and the 2GOTV website Shows are presented by well known Dutch TV personalities. The user pays EUR 0.25 for 10 minutes. "

From utility to medium

Not as if anyone reading this weblog had any doubts, but here's the proof that the internet is an increasingly important medium and that entertainment is a primary driver behind its growth.

"'The study is based on the hypothesis that the use of the Internet is increasingly changing from one of utility to one of a medium, said Michael Zimbalist, president of the New York-based organization. 'People are treating the Internet more and more like traditional media, through which they consume movies, music, and news. Long-term trends continue to indicate that content will be the dominant source of people's time online.' "


"This potential conflict again raises the possibility that some operators will become 'carriers' carriers', building their business around supplying a network to MVNOs, rather than serving end users themselves. It makes some sense -- having virtual operators target niche markets, and competing with each other rather than their network provider -- and looks like a smart way for companies to make a 3G play. When you look at the losses Hutchison's 3G operations have racked up, then wonder what it has with its network that Virgin won't, it doesn't seem like much, particularly enough to justify its buildout expenses."

Yes, it makes a lot of sense for today's operators to rethink their business model along these lines.


I've recently completed a project, SCALEX, which is very similar in scope to what IBM has done for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. Although this implementation looks to be pretty amazing, SCALEX will probably be more cost efficient and flexible since it is not tailor-made for a specific museum. And at the same time it allows for a lot of out-of-the-box functionality without needing IBM to install it....

"It's a new thing. A couple of museums are doing pilots with the guides. One thing we've focused on is a story-building application that sits back on the servers and allows curators to quickly build tours themselves. They don't have to go to an outside producer to get the program done."

The 'Tech-Support Generation'

I finally feel part of a 'generation'....;-)

"'Newsweek technology columnist Brad Stone is looking forward to the Thanksgiving dinner with his family next week, spending time in candle-lit rooms, preparing holiday shopping lists and... let's admit it - fixing the folks' computer. 'We are the Tech-Support Generation. Our job is to troubleshoot the complex but imperfect technology that befuddle mom and dad, veterans of the rotary phone, the record player and the black-and-white cabinet television set."

Give me UMTS, data only

The only business of telco operators should be providing connectivity to customers. The certainly don't have to worry about content, but they even don't have to worry about voice. Just data.

"It is of course possible to port Skype to PocketPC or Palm devices and use it with Wifi. Although being very useful, this still limits the usage to Wifi covered areas. Additionally, the number of PDA users is relatively low compared to mobile phone users, and decreasing. What would be really useful is a mobile phone with Skype integrated. Unlimited data plans for a fixed fee have started to appear in the US and some countries in Europe. Current GPRS technologies, with their high latencies, would probably not make VoIP applications possible, but with 3G networks it’s a different story."

Dowloading games

So, what does the downloading distribution model mean for console gaming which requires discs? This is so much better. Not only for users, but also for small developers without big publishing contracts.

"Instead, I paid to download the game from the internet, directly from the servers of developer Valve, specifically from its service called Steam. The experience was nearly flawless. I have seen the boxless, CD-less future of game distribution, and I'm lovin' it."

How news travels on the internet

I've posted this story back in March as well, but given the fact that I have discussions on this topic almost everyday I thought this graphic is very interesting. It came to my attention again because Joi Ito was looking for it...

News as a converation

A very good way of making news websites more dynamic and 'alive' is being applied by Memorandum. Somebody should tell the 5 Cs...

"Blog-aggregation site Memeorandum, which is worth a look for its model of taking a news story off the Web and attaching to it links to several blogs that have commented on the story. The site isn't new, but I hadn't paid it much attention before now."

Should mobile operators be media mavens?

So true...

"There are just a few problems. First, mobile operators know very little about being in the media business -- and it's not as simple as it may seem. As long-standing media companies have been discovering over the past five years, technology is creating a fundamental shift in the way people experience content -- whether by making it much more interactive or by figuring out ways around paying. However, the mobile operators who are betting on content seem to assume that the same factors won't apply in the mobile world, and that it can be kept in a pre-Internet mentality. That doesn't work because the very customers they're targeting are quite used to an Internet world where the rules concerning content are changing very rapidly."

The online ad surge

Business Week is running a special report on the surge of internet advertising. They hint that advertisers are starting to see and use its potential. However, I feel most advertisers are drawn into this space because it can now offer reach, which makes it comparable to TV advertising and that's something they're familiar with. Not surprsingly they are talking about things like how online video ads are the hottest thing today. Although I believe this indeed can be more effective than on TV, advertisers should at the same try to understand there are more and better possibilities for 'brand building' using the web...

"But something is decidedly different this time. Since the bust, the industry has pieced together the technology -- from video delivery to customer tracking -- to make good on the shining predictions of the boom. The Net is winning over mainstream advertisers with its computational precision. It delivers hard, quantifiable results measured in clicks and sales -- down to the penny. In the process, it's turning advertising from an art into a science."

Really simple mobile surfing

Further to my earlier post on getting people to use mobile data services, offering a mobile RSS reader might be a very smart way as well. Although there have been several mobile RSS readers around, they were never geared towards users that do not know what RSS is. And most of the websites that provided RSS feeds in the first place were weblogs. But this is all changing.

"It lets content be preloaded, taking out the waiting time inherent in browsing on many of today's 2G networks. Content providers could throw nearly anything into an RSS feed, and users could have it stored locally on their handset. Not just news or blog updates, but things like movie listings or sports scores, and even group messaging. It's also great because as much as the content can be self-contained, it can also be a jumping-off point for a browsing session. Say a user opens up the movie listings, and finds something they want to see. They click a link in the showtime entry, and they're taken to the ticketing provider so they can buy a seat. Click a link in a score update, and they're taken to a content provider's page with live play-by-play."

And let's not forget about the additional opportunities a mobile RSS readers offers...:

"Things don't have to be limited to just text, either -- RSS already supports images, and other enclosures, like audio and video, currently giving rise to the podcasting phenomenon. RSS could deliver video content across 3G networks, and even on slower ones by pre-loading content in the background or during off hours."

Expensive VoIP and last-mile competition

VoIP providers might have to pay telco operators, that own the last-mile to the home, to ensure quailty of service for their customers. I believe such a thing will not happen in places where there's enough competition on the last-mile, it would definitely make me switch to another provider... Many have feared something like this, but SBC in the US appears to be the first to actually make a move in the wrong direction.

"Sounds like the first step towards degrading VoIP calls. What SBC could do is assign VoIP calls that don't pay for TipTop a low priority, degrading the quality, but they would ensure QoS for TipTop. This might force quality VoIP companies to pay in for the 'voluntary' service. The volunteer is anyone who doesn't take one step backwards"

Using mobile data services

"A new study of mobile phone users finds that, while many of them have phones that can handle data, most identify themselves as 'too dumb' to figure out how to use data services."

This indeed is the major hurdle towards increasing data usage. I still find it unbelievable that carriers and content providers are primarily thinking about how useful their service is if people use it, but meanwhile keep forgettig the most important part, how to get users use the service in the first place! Just having a link to your content in an i-mode or Vodafone Live! portal is clearly not enough. At the moment, I think WAP-Push is a very compelling mechanism to trigger usage. And triggering usage is so important when you want users to understand the value of what you have to offer. Therefore I disagree with what Mike Masnick from Techdirt is saying:

"The fact that many aren't bothering with wireless data suggests they don't see enough value to make it worth it to learn. Simplifying the interface brings down the hurdle, but doesn't necessarily make anyone feel any more compelled to jump over it."

Most of the time people will only understand the value of a service after they've first used it, or somebody showed it to them, and this is definitely the case with mobile content and services.

zaterdag 20 november 2004

Different currencies

The entertainment industry needs a new business model, and it won't be DRM helping them out... It's great to see an artist write down his perspective (via Creative Commons) on the matter, it's one that many should learn from.

"I'm sure there are people out there who have every song I've ever released on their hard drives, who really like the music, and haven't paid me any cash for it. You could argue that these people have 'stolen' from me, but have they really? What if they tell ten friends how much they like it? What if they bring those ten people to my next show? What if they buy my next CD as a result of liking my first one?"

Human Pacman

So BMW is doing some nice things with 'head-up displays', but over in Singapore they're going one step further. Try not to focus too much on the fact it is a game because there are lots of other applications possible with this kind of technology. Very interesting.

"'So when we do this we can augment the real world with the virtual world, so the Pacman world becomes part of the real world. I can see cookies in front of me and I can collect them by walking through them.'"

Filipinos are getting the message

For years people in the Philippines have been leading the way when it comes to using SMS in their everyday lives. Others have built services on top of that, and sometimes I just do not understand why we don't see similar services throughout Europe and the US. Payment by SMS for instance is a service I once saw working at a major Dutch bank, but unfortunately it has never seen a market introduction. If they can do it in the Philippines, why not here?

"The two operators have prospered in part by introducing services that make money transfers by text easier. Customers of both Smart and Globe can load up their phones with electronic funds they can use for both phoning and shopping. When they shop in a store, they pay by sending a text message that transfers the credit to a retailer's account."

Opening up the academic world

I truly hope this new Google Scholar service will increase the rate by which scientific results will be become more easily, and cheaper, availaible to the general public that funds it in the first place. One other, but related, inevitable consequence of these developments is a changing business (and revenue) model for the tradional publishers....

"Google Scholar is another reflection of changing habits in the academic world, said Mr. Sack of HighWire Press. In the past decade, students and researchers have begun to go to online search engines first."

Something borrowed

Very interesting read on copyright and plagarism in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favorite authors. It demonstrates the importance of understanding the subtleties involved in these areas. As a society we have to be careful not to kill creativity and innovation in the name of.... A fear I've had for a while now.

"Or suppose that you invented a cure for breast cancer in your basement lab. Any patent you received would protect your intellectual property for twenty years, but after that anyone could take your invention. You get an initial monopoly on your creation because we want to provide economic incentives for people to invent things like cancer drugs. But everyone gets to steal your breast-cancer cure—after a decent interval—because it is also in society’s interest to let as many people as possible copy your invention; only then can others learn from it, and build on it, and come up with better and cheaper alternatives."

A Wi-Fi cellphone

Ever since Wi-Fi access points started popping up, many have been saying it would be great if there were cellphones that operate over Wi-Fi for free if within range, and otherwise on the regular cell-phone networks. Now, I do at least 50% of my cellphone calls within Wi-Fi coverage, so this could clearly bring down my phone bills if I would have a phone that supported it. NTT DoCoMo just released the NEC N900iL in Japan. Phones like these will definitely impact the voice revenues of operators. Sooner than they realize.

"The phone can operate in three different modes: cell phone only, Wi-Fi phone/PDA only or dual. The handset is designed to stay in dual mode whenever possible, with all calls delivered in the Wi-Fi mode, but the call will be switched to the FOMA network if a caller walks out of the building."

More on the blogging revenue model

Last week I said I believe there's more than one way (advertising) to make money with blogging. Russel from the The Mobile Technology Weblog has similar experiences to the ones I've had when it it comes to monetizing blogging efforts.

"I met Christian through this blog and I've been doing some consulting projects for the agency since. You see - blogging does pay the bills, albeit indirectly :-)"

Little voice

Text-to-speech already is an important technology, especially from a functional perspective. The moment people find more creative uses for it like this one also signals a trend towards new valuable services that had not been envisioned when the technology was created.

"Go to that site and type in a sentence you want to hear read aloud, and the web site will reproduce it -- with each word sung by a different pop star, the audio stripped out of an actual pop song."

You see, DRM won't work

Again some proof that DRM simply will not work, no matter how hard the industry tries. It's such a waste of time and resources to keep trying. Why not try to innovate in terms of business and revenue models instead?

"WM Recorder sounds like a pretty cool new product that lets you capture streaming windows media to a file. Seems like they'll be on shaky legal ground as many pay-only audio and video services use the windows media format solely to get around people doing this."

vrijdag 19 november 2004

The future of digital media

There are people with grey hair that very well understand the future directions of media, and there are those that are starting to get it.

"Whenever citizens can exercise control, they will. Today they are challenging and changing media -- where bloggers now fact-check Dan Rather's ass -- but tomorrow they will challenge and change politics, government, marketing, and education as well. This isn't just a media revolution, though that's where we are seeing the impact first. This is a chain-reaction of revolutions. It has just begun."

donderdag 18 november 2004

Vodafone pricing and strategy

Last week Vodafone announed their pricing strategy for Vodafine Live!. Their 'browse-for-free' walled garden approach is interesting and very much like Orange's flat rate strategy that sharply increased the usage of data-services. Although I feel very strongly against the walled garden approach in general, I do think this might work for the mainstream user in the short and mid term. But that very much depends on the content and services available in the portal. And here I feel i-mode has done a better job so far, even in Europe, since they make it easier voor small and creative service providers to access the i-mode user base. Again, I think it is the long tail that will generate the revenues, but there has to be one in the first place...

"As an example, if you're a Vodafone user and you'd like some current event news or sports results or on your 3G phone, you can get it free on the Vodafone portal or for a fee outside the portal. So not only do you have to go through the rather clumsy off-portal navigation, you have to pay for the privilege."

Amazon as architecture

Amazon and others are laying a foundation for web enabled business. It is important to realize this as well as how they are doing it. Competitive advantages in in truest sense of the word...

"Got it? In all seriousness, it's important to realize that Amazon is no longer a bookseller, Google is not just a search engine and eBay is hardly just an auctioneer. All of them have a critical database and infrastructure that can, and does, create a critical mass of businesses around it."

woensdag 17 november 2004

Smart media distribution

More and more people are beginning to realize that new distribution methods are popping up all over the net. I've posted on a very interesting one at the beginning of this year. Another one that has been creating a lot of buzz is Adam Curry's Podcasting. I'm just wondering whether or not ubiquitous high-speed broadband will make this solutions obsolete one day. Although that doesn't mean they can't have any value today of course...

"Nevertheless, this could be the beginning of how on-demand content will work on the Internet: You go to a podcast directory or program guide on the Web and pick your favorite shows, and then every time a new episode is posted, your computer (or maybe your TiVo (TIVO)) automatically downloads it. There might be millions of podcasts someday, so we will need some sort of ranking system (a download count or audience vote, for instance)."

The geoweb and deep place

BMW is producing its first car, the M5, that allows a driver to see projected data on the windscreen. Primarily things like speed and fuel, but it's not hard to imagine different purposes for these kinds of 'head-up displays'. One of the bottlenecks will be relevant content however, something others have been working on for years. Some of the most interesting developments are to be found around what is called the 'geoweb'. Understanding the geoweb will help you to envision things to come...

"I think most of the others would agree that the experience was akin to walking around a deserted city, imagining what life might be like when the streets are filled with people. Until there are multitudes of tags, filtering, browsing, writing and conversing via the geoweb is a small taste of what the experience might be like."

dinsdag 16 november 2004

The 5 C's

Yesterday I attended and presented at the Assolombarda Premio Cenacolo workshop, an important media and publishing event in Milan, Italy. In the morning there was an interesting discussion between the five most powerful men in the Italian media landscape. Before they started they congratulated us with the Jong-Zuid succes story that we presented. It was somehow 'funny' to see these greying Italian aristrocats discussing things like SMS, blogs, multimedia journalists and the internet in general. The discussion very much focused on the current and future business model for pubishers and traditional TV and radio companies. They ended up defining their role within the media value chain as being an aggregator and filter of information. Although that is a nice starting point, I'm not sure there is a lot of money to be made in that corner. At least not enough to keep these '5 C's' (Enzo Campione, Innocenzo Cipolletta, Fedele Confalonieri, Maurizio Costa, Vittorio Colao, Antonio CalabrĂ²) as powerful as they are today...

maandag 15 november 2004

DoCoMo's i-mode keeps spreading

I do think there advantages of using an existing platform like i-mode if you start building your mobile data business as an local operator. It's not the technology (well, except for the handsets may be...) that has been blocking succes in other countries Japan. I've always believed that operators like KPN in The Netherlands have tried to mass-market i-mode from the start, failing to understand there would be a normal 'adoption curve' for these services. And this curve is really hard to defy with only lots of advertising.... So the result was that many people bought an i-mode phone, but nobody was using its data services. Marketing i-mode to the wrong people has cost them...

"There are, of course, plenty of reasons why i-mode is good for a carrier, but most of those lessons can be implemented without paying NTT DoCoMo a fee. Many carriers seem to think that as long as they sign a deal with DoCoMo their wireless data questions are all answered -- when reality has shown that most of these international i-modes really haven't done that well."

zaterdag 13 november 2004

Cellphone key

In Europe, companies like Philips and Nokia are experimenting with a technology called NFC (Near Field Communication) that will enable us to do similar things as the Japanese who are using NTT DoCoMo’s FeliCa. One of the benefits should be that you will not have to carry your keys anymore...

"The “kesaka service” will also let you do stuff like check to make sure that your doors are locked from your handset (or even get an email every time it’s unlocked) or issue duplicate keycards with expiration dates so your unwanted houseguests can get the message that it’s time to go home."

It just works

iChat AV, Skype and others. It won't take long before the masses will know what some of us have known for a while, but what some of the telecom operators are still stupidly ignoring. It just works. And that means revolution, not evolution.

"Meanwhile, I've been using Skype more and more often for international calls. It just works. Both save money. I can't imagine what it would cost to do a "normal" video conference between here and China. Skype even lets you connect from your computer to a land line or mobile phone, at a tiny additional cost -- far, far less than it would cost to call the old-fashioned way."

Making money with blogging

Business Week is running an article in which they try to get an answer to the question of how to make money with blogging. Their basic conclusion is that especially the ones that make the blogging tools will make money. And for the rest there's a bit advertising revenues. But what they fail to understand is that there are many more 'revenue' models for blogs than just advertising. A blog can be a marketing/PR instrument, even for an individual. Or it can be a way to interact with customers from an R&D; perspective. It can even be somthing like a 'bookshelf' where people keep all the things they found interesting to read. That's how it works for me...

"Plenty of people are part of the building process. Sifry estimates that about 12,000 new blogs pop online worldwide each day. On about 10 million blogs today, writers are posting about 400,000 new items per day. That's more than 16,000 per hour. The interest is out there. The question is: How can money be made?"

The end of blind dating?

This BBC story talks about the possibility that blind dating is over due to the increaing number of 3G video-phone users. 3 has done an experiment in the UK and it 'proved' to be so succesful they are thinking about a new online dating service using these phones. But what I don't understand is why we need a 3G phone to do this when so many people are using instant messaging with a webcam already...? What's the real advantage of being mobile here?

"'One of the problems with video phones is people don't really know what to video. It is a weird technology. We have not quite worked out what it is for. This gives it a focus and a useful one,' she told BBC News. "

Not just another medium

Glad to see that some people are getting and accepting it. Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press apparently is a thought leader in his industry, I'm curious to see how he will adapt AP to this fast changing environment.

"We are entering a future in which 'the franchise is not the newspaper, the broadcast station, or even the website,' he said. 'The franchise is the content itself. ... Get ready for everything to be Googled, deep-linked, or Tivo-ized.'"

vrijdag 12 november 2004

DRM's got no future

DRM won't work. And because of that many will have to start looking for a new/different business model. And they will find it, although they're not sure where to look.

"The way I see it, readers and rep are what really matter to a writer. Dollars should follow from a satisfied readership, although exactly how this happens in these times of technological and economic innovation is not immediately apparent, alas. I do believe that the net has irretrievably compromised twentieth-century notions of intellectual property and that no amount of DRM shenanigans is going to turn back the copyright clock."

Cattle feed

Telco's should be very worried nowadays, not only the folks from the branding department. Branding is dead, we 'know' that, but there's more to it...

"SIP is barely more involved than SMTP and HTTP. We don’t expect to pay a service provider big bucks for access to simple protocols like this. Improved IP-based re-creations of last century’s voice products just don’t cut it any more. And your brand won’t help you on bit in changing that. Five years of arbitrage won’t sustain AT&T; through another century. Enjoy watching the last few turns of the game. Taking a few enemy pawns and bishops late in the game doesn’t matter when checkmate looms."

The "Long Tail" of the Blogosphere

Steve Rubel is applying Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory to the world of news media and concludes that blogs have a place withing this landscape. The article is a bit thin in terms of evidence, but I like his thought.

"A similar long tail effect is now forming in the media content sphere. As blogging becomes more popular, it is now easier for news consumers to find specific niche blog sites that adequately meet their information needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in knitting, gadgets, cars, sports, politics or music, there’s a blogger out there who’s covering it well who can serve as your information filter."

The ultimate cellular payphone

RSS going to the masses?

Some have said the biggest obstacle to a mass-market succes of RSS is RSS. The name at least. Fortunately there are developers out there that understand RSS needs to be very user-friendly. And therefore they have come up with a new type of user-interface. It makes sense to do things like this, let's see how it works out.

"Ageet’s Gene TrialTypeA software aims to pull in non-geek users by offering an interface that allows you to drag-and-drop feed links into it, upon which the mouselike creature called Gene (pictured right) will obligingly eat them and read you the headlines via speech bubbles or aloud."

LinkedIn looks to premium services for profit

I've discussed the fact that the future of social networking sites is in offering value added services. LinkedIn is one the services experimenting with this, and now they have announced to start looking in an obvious direction for more value add.

"For example, LinkedIn may enhance its search function to make it easier to find site members with a certain minimum number of years of experience. Recruiters should appreciate that feature, said LinkedIn co-founder Konstantin Guericke. 'They're the people who are looking for the needle in the haystack,' he said."

donderdag 11 november 2004

Cell phone cinema

Lots of discussion these days on the future of video on the mobile platform. It's good to see that some are actually focusing on the content side of things. Something the company I work for, Media Republic, is also looking at in a partnership (2GOTV) with Vodafone, supporting the latter's consumer introduction of UMTS in The Netherlands. But mobile video can only be succesful if you really understand how to cope with infrastructural limits...

"They're as funny as anything streaming on cell phones today, but just as visually crude. The current technology limits creative options. Although Sprint claims that its flagship Samsung MM-A700 phone is capable of 15 frames per second, mFlix films are encoded at a bitrate of 8 fps to compensate for packet loss, signal drops and other network issues - which, combined with high compression rates (1000 to 1) and the phone's form factor, restricts the film maker's options for creative expression even more. Meanwhile, encoding removes every other frame, so editing must be kept simple, with no dissolves or quick edits. Composition is also limited, with close-ups working a whole lot better than panoramas on such tiny screens. Backgrounds must be kept simple, lest they look like a blur. And forget about camera movements altogether."

Open Skype

Although it is a shame that Skype is not working with the existing VoIP standards, I really do like the way their business model is shaping up. First they have built a large customer base, now they let others capitalize on that while taking a piece of the action(=revenues). The way (via Om Malik on Broadband) they are enabling developers (commercial and non-commercial) to take advantage of the Skype functionality and user base, in ways that Skype themselves could never have foreseen, is perfect.

"The long rumoured SKYPE API has been announced. My gut says a cottage industry of Skype add ons will be springing up, much like what has occured around eBay. Already I hear of VoiceMail service in place (I think I signed up for a trial) and other advanced features. The key here is who makes money. Otherwise Skype can't be a free forever type of service. Someone got to make money !"

Not using what you know

A database full of information about your customers, but you do not use it? Why is it that we see so few examples of companies that are able to do something relevant with customer data? From my own experience I completely agree with a comment by the author of this article (via business2blog): "I recently decided to change where I stay when I go to Chicago -- I might not have moved had I felt my loyalty was rewarded." And so with airlines, banks, etc, etc. One important other reason why you should do something with your data is because it allows you to identify your worst customers as well, so you can get rid of them...

"Mr. Draft quickly made my midrange hotels seem even worse. His regular New York haunt, the St. Regis, checks him in and out automatically and prepares his room according to his tastes -- down to the right brand of bottled water. Perhaps, I suggested, the problem with my hotel chain is that it doesn't have a customer database. 'No,' said Mr. Draft, patiently, 'it has a database. It just doesn't know how to use it.'"

The three big Jewish brands

Not sure whether this really demonstrates the marketing power of the internet, but it's a nice comparison anyway...

"There are three big brands that we have created which are well known enough to have approximately 20 million or so links on Google. They are The Bible, Jesus Christ and ICQ. The first one took 3500 years, the second one 2000 years and ICQ only 8 years as of next week. As you can see, they all spread virally."

woensdag 10 november 2004

Understanding location based services

Lots of talk on location based services the last couple of years. And always the same example of receiving a personalized coupon on your cellphone when walking past a McDonalds... But if you're really interested in understanding the potential of location based services, take a look at the how it's being used for mobile gaming. Especially the way 'augmented reality' is being implemented here can be very valuable to other industries as well.

"IN-duce:De-duce published a list for mobile phone games using GPS or cell towers signals, there's also a lists of other location based (or augmented reality) mobile games."

dinsdag 9 november 2004

Blogging as typing, not journalism

Eric Engberg, a self-acclaimed 'mainstream media ("MSM") journalist' states (via Slashdot) blogging will never replace mainstream journalism. His conslusions are based on the 2004 US elections and the many mistakes bloggers made. Two things: I don't think they will make the same mistakes again, and I don't think we should look at blogging as a replacement for mainstream journalism. Both (will) have their place, although there will be overlap, and thus, friction.

"One of the verdicts rendered by election night 2004 is that, given their lack of expertise, standards and, yes, humility, the chances of the bloggers replacing mainstream journalism are about as good as the parasite replacing the dog it fastens on."

maandag 8 november 2004

Profitable newspaper content....?

"A sizable part of its premium content offering has involved pioneering an interactive, online weight-loss program called the 'weight club,' which has generated the online newspaper millions. At the moment, Aftonbladet's major online revenue streams come from advertising, classifieds, and premium content. Jungkvist says he hopes that by 2010, 75 percent of the website's revenue will come from premium content, with online advertising making up only 25 percent."

It is my strong belief there won't be a premium on traditional newspaper content, so I'm really curious how they would define that. Will this newspaper still be a newspaper in 2010 if it makes money by exploiting 'weight clubs'?

Not so 'Fast Forward'

Fast Company's Fast Forward 2005 list is difficult to go through, usabilty as a trend is missing from the list..., and has some projections that will obviously not come true. Intel's LCOS is a great example since Intel announced a month ago they could not get it done... I guess real-time publishing is not something we can look forward to in 2005... But I'm glad to see that Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" is listed as number one. It's the first book I've bought in at least five years....

Smarter IM

Interesting service providing add-on features to your Instant Messaging client. Primarily notifications at the moment. Although MSN Messenger for example has similar possibilities through .NET alerts, you can't easily configure them if you're just a regular end-user... I wonder how the big IM networks will react on IMSmarter since it is an example of how added value is not offered, and profited from, by the networks themselves.

"IM Smarter, like a secretary, sits between you and the rest of the world and helps you manage your messages. Using IM Smarter is pretty cool; imagine having one place you can search and visualize your instant message chats with anyone you've chatted with using any of the major IM networks. Imagine being able to update your blog as easily as sending an IM, and getting an IM whenever any of your buddies update their blogs. IM Smarter keeps you in the loop with things that you told it to remember and things you told it to keep an eye out for."

Innovative marketing communication

Someone asked for some hints on innovative marketing concepts, books and visions that recently caught my attention. Here's my quick answer, I'll add more later.... Oh, and I'll be giving a presentation on this very topic in Milan (at the 'Il Premio Cenacolo Editoria e Innovazione') next week where I will show a glimpse of Eccky, an inspiration for innovative marketing.... Eccky will go 'live' next month.

Books and vision: Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin, not very surprising… Was just reading this article on the irrelevance of brands last weekend, also says a lot about how marketing will have to adjust to a different world. And Chris Anderson's vision on the Long Tail already is a classic after just a couple of weeks. Very relevant to marketers.

Case studies that triggered me in the last couple of weeks are: Motorola's Street Stories I wrote about this morning, Volvo 'Life on Board' campaign (Dutch), Microsoft's Halo 2 promotion has been very succesful, and I think marketeers can learn a lot from last week's elections in the US. Oh, and that reminds me of a Fast Company article on creating a 'buzzz'....

Any other suggestions?

Why do we (still) have copyrights and patents....?

Sometimes I think that the fundemental principles behind the copyright and patent systems are loosing the value they once had. The internet is accelerating this. I would say that we might even want to get rid of those systems altogether, and I would not be surprised if we would see a greater value creation (cultural and economical) as a result of that.

"The case is one more example of the Internet's inherent lack of respect for national borders or, from another view, the world's lack of reckoning for the international nature of the Internet, and it is also an example of the already complicated range of copyright laws. "

Mobile video consumption and creation

There is an endless discussion on whether or not people want to view video content on their mobile phones. But the answer to that question very much depends on what content will be available. And we'll probably see that it's not just TV on a small screen. But another great aspect of phones with video capabilities is that they allow for the creation of interesting content, not just consumption. Motorola is running some experiments (via The New York Times) in that area.

"For marketers who want to transform cellphones into personalized multimedia advertising machines, there is some recommended viewing at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam this year: an entry called 'Cell Stories,' sponsored by Motorola, that was shot entirely with the video camera in a new Motorola cellphone."

The value add of social networking services

I have always believed that there's a huge potential in social networking sites, although this potential is not that obvious looking at the shaky business models that services like Friendster and Orkut have used from their start. The New York Times is running an article that gives an example of the different value added services that can be build on top of social networking services. Although I really don't like the fact that companies like Overstock are creating their own social networking features instead of cooperating with existing ones. A little bit like Friendster is doing with Amazon.

"Friendster, too, has begun making money by having its members generate leads for Lisa Kopp, a spokeswoman for Friendster, said the site earlier this year enabled users to access a person's list of favorite products and buy the items from Amazon."

The rise of open-source politics

Many have predicted that the 2004 elections in the US would be heavily impacted by the internet. Given the overwhelming online support for the Democrats, the impact doesn't seem to have lived up to expectations, but it's definitely true that internet has been transforming (via Slashdot) politics in general. Much the same way in which it has changed business.

"Whether you're a Democrat in mourning or a Republican in glee, the results from election day should not obscure an important shift in America's civic life. New tools and practices born on the Internet have reached critical mass, enabling ordinary people to participate in processes that used to be closed to them. It may seem like cold comfort for Kerry supporters now, but the truth is that voters don't have to rely on elected or self-appointed leaders to chart the way forward anymore. The era of top-down politics--where campaigns, institutions and journalism were cloistered communities powered by hard-to-amass capital--is over. Something wilder, more engaging and infinitely more satisfying to individual participants is arising alongside the old order."

zondag 7 november 2004

Personal XML feeds

Although web services are predominantly being used in the business world, I definitely agree with Michael Bazeley that they could (via business2blog) have a huge impact on the way individuals present themselves on the web in the broadest sense. Besides the entrepreneurial opportunities this creates (I'm working on one), it will also force relative newcomers like eBay and Monster to rethink their business model.

"An XML feed for anyone who wants one. This puts Monster in a new position. It puts eBay in the buyer insurance business, or something other than the listings themselves. It's exactly why web services exist. Taken further, the concept would allow people on both sides of the transaction (buyers and sellers, recruiters and job-seekers) to publish ads. A smart search engine would automatically notify them when it finds the right matches (think Semantic Web )."

The real reason for home networks

Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research makes a very good point on the advent of home networks. There will be lots of 'unintended consequences' so to speak.

"As a result of these ubiquitous home networks, new opportunities will be created to extend the availability of interactive services for consumers. Both hardware and media companies need to immediately begin to evaluate the functionality that is created by extended connectivity in the home and focus on providing those services. You see, it is not about the network technologies that will drive home network adoption but rather the services and applications that consumers can now gain access to and implement. Consumers with home networks have an overwhelming propensity to want to take advantage of the functionality offered by their networks."

Designing social software

With so many developments in the 'social software' area at the moment, and consquent VC investments, you would expect developers to understand the fact a different design philosophy is required. Clay Shirky does, and his writings might inspire some...

"In addtion, when software designers do regard the users of social software, it is usually in isolation. There are many sources of this habit: ubiquitous network access is relatively recent, it is conceptually simpler to treat users as isolated individuals than as social actors, and so on. The cumulative effect is to make maximizing individual flexibility a priority, even when that may produce conflict with the group goals."

Too much buzz on the blogs?

Blogs are maturing, the hard way sometimes, but still not everyone is convinced of their relevance and place in today's media landscape.

"For the last few years, journalists have maintained that the Internet is going to change everything from entertainment and telecom to stock trading, health care, education, government, etc., etc., etc. They were right. Did they really think the Internet was going to leave them alone?"

(Ir)relevant brands

Wired has published an article on 'the decline of brands'. Something we see happening everyday. It's not that brands lost their relevance, but it's getting harder to build relevant brands through simple advertising. It takes more for a brand to be worthy of a premium.

"Marketers aren't completely deceived (or being deceiving) when they argue that customers make emotional connections with brands, but those connections are increasingly tenuous. If once upon a time customers married brands - people who drove Fords drove Fords their whole lives - today they're more like serial monogamists who move on as soon as something sexier comes along. Gurus talk about building an image to create a halo over a company's products. But these days, the only sure way to keep a brand strong is to keep wheeling out products, which will in turn cast the halo."

World 'Wide' Web?

"The Internet isn't something that has just spread evenly throughout the world, either in its architecture or its social and economic impacts. To paraphrase Castells, while it has served as an instrument for overcoming distance in some respects, it hasn't eliminated the importance of place."

zaterdag 6 november 2004

Costs of obesity

A bit off topic, but these are truly amazing stats (via Retecool). Shocking to see the average weight increase in the US...

"Through the 1990s, the average weight of Americans increased by 10 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites). The extra weight caused airlines to spend $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000 just to carry the additional weight of Americans, the federal agency estimated in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine."

Google's long tail

In reference to Chris Anderson's brilliant article in Wired a couple of weeks ago Dan Gillmor made an analysis of whether he would invest in Google given its current valuation. Althoug he won't, Google sure has a long tail...

"This is true for the advertising marketplace, too. Google doesn't covet (yet) the dollars that General Motors spends advertising on television. But it cares deeply about a GM customer selling via her home-based business. She can now afford to target her advertising precisely, and at a price she can afford. This is a new world."

No need to leave your home

Looking at a mainstream thing like Sony's EyeToy and the, not yet mainstream, High Joy mentioned below, I can't help but wonder where all this might lead to. May be someday we will all live permanently in something like The Matrix.

"Amir runs High Joy - a start-up that's just completed the iVibe, a sex toy controlled via the Internet. One person plugs in on one side, while the person on the other end controls the vibrations. Vivid Video and Doc Johnson, the biggest sex toy manufacturer in the business, think the iVibe is more than just a remote controlled vibrator. They think it's the Pong of sex machines - a first step in the next generation of interactive adult entertainment."


I'm not yet sure why I think this is interesting, but somehow it feels like there are some really nice applications for VoteLinks.

"Trolling is a problem already - Google's PageRank rewards being linked to, so notoreity is valued as highly as popularity. This leads to a 'no publicity is bad publicity' approach. For relentless positivists, the 'vote-against' and 'vote-abstain' values could be taken as signals meaning 'don't index this link'. For Vote tallying, however, positive and negative responses are both valuable and clear. The possibility of a personally filtered search, which reflects your own values expressed by your own links is greatly enhanced by the ability to define negative links as well."