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17 posts from October 2007

October 31, 2007

Sources: Google In Talks With Verizon

The Google-Phone-Mobile-Etc. Rumor Mill Keeps Churning:

Google Inc is in active talks with number-two U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Wireless about putting Google applications on phones it offers, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.

"There are good useful talks going on and they could result in a deal," one of the sources said.

So far talks between the Web search leader and Verizon Wireless, owned by Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group Plc, revolve around technology and potential business models such as advertising-sponsored services, one of the people said.

And following up on the story earlier in the month--Details Emerge About The GPhone. It's Not A Phone:

The [Wall Street] Journal reported that Google was expected in two weeks to announce advanced software and services, enabling handset makers to sell Google-powered phones by mid-2008, citing people familiar with the matter. Google declined to comment.

Read the entire article @ Reuters.

October 30, 2007

American Magazine Conference: Mags Must Embrace Mobile

Today's edition of MediaDailyNews features coverage of a recent Magazine Publishing trade conference. The message from a number of speakers was clear:

MAGAZINES HAVE BEEN slow to launch mobile content initiatives. They must shift into high gear--or risk missing out on a new wave of digital commerce that will rival the emergence of the Internet as an economic engine in the 1990s, according to mobile media and measurement executives speaking at the American Magazine Conference on Monday.

Read the  entire article @ MediaDailyNews.

October 29, 2007

AOL Ramps Up Mobile Efforts

AOL recently unveiled a new mobile portal, hoping to compete with Yahoo and Google, who have both made progress this year in the mobile space:

The upgrades include more mobile-friendly incarnations of AOL Search, Mail, MapQuest, and AOL Instant Messenger, among other features from AOL's home page. The new mobile search, for instance, will offer results that are more tailored to users on the go, such as driving directions and click-to-call options linked to services like MapQuest and Moviefone.

A mobilized myAOL service will enable users to personalize the AOL mobile site by selecting news headlines, pictures, and RSS feeds to their liking. Separately, AOL plans to launch AOL MyMobile, a new application similar to Yahoo's Go service, by year's end.

It will allow Mobile Windows users to download a range of AOL services such as Mail, Cityguide and Search, and will remember recent requests to help speed searches on the fly. Recently acquired mobile ad platform Third Screen Media will supply targeted advertising to AOL MyMobile.

A new mobile widget for GPS-enabled phones will also allow AIM users to locate each other, marking a step by AOL into the mobile social networking area pioneered by companies like Dodgeball and Zingku.

As part of the new mobile push, AOL is also formally launching Winamp Remote, letting people access and listen to music stored on their computers from on their cell phones.

If these services work as promised, they should be fairly successful, as they extend current properties, which already have large, loyal subscriber counts. Read the entire article @ Online Media Daily.

October 25, 2007

M:Metrics Study: 92.5 Million Active SMS Users Make Short Code-Based Mobile Marketing the Most Effective Platform for Mobile Advertisers

A new study by M:Metrics affirms what we've believed since we started texting:

NeuStar, Inc. announced today that Common Short Code (CSC)-based messaging campaigns have been cited as an "unprecedented platform for marketing" in a recent report published by mobile media research firm M:Metrics. The M:Metrics report, which can be downloaded for free at the U.S. Common Short Codes website (www.USshortcodes.com), states that CSCs are an effective way to engage and drive consumer response across various media channels.

Accessible to more than 95 percent of mobile users, CSCs are short five- and six-digit numbers with which mobile phone users can send and receive text and multimedia messages using the capabilities that come standard with virtually every handset made. Among the many advantages CSCs provide to advertisers today are the greatest reach to mobile users (versus all other mobile marketing methods); user-generated opt-in; ease of use; very low cost; ease of channel integration; and demonstrated impact across a host of campaign types and objectives.

"In the United States, CSCs represent the only universal way for brands to connect with almost all mobile users," said Evan Neufeld, vice president and senior analyst at M:Metrics. "In August 2007, 92.5 million, or 43 percent, of mobile subscribers actively engaged in text messaging. Of these 92.5 million mobile subscribers, 41 million send text messages almost every day. Not only is this number impressive as a stand-alone figure, but it is exponentially higher than the potential reach of the next available mobile advertising method."

"CSCs create a level of interaction that is unparalleled in any other medium,"
said Diane Strahan, vice president of mobile at NeuStar. "The M:Metrics study offers detailed proof of what mobile marketing-savvy organizations across many industry verticals have speculated: that CSCs provide brands with the broadest and the most targeted way to reach today's mobile consumer. As texting continues to increase in popularity, advertising agencies and marketers are focusing more and more on CSCs as a preferred mobile medium of choice. These firms are embracing CSCs not only to reach today's on-the-go consumer directly, but also to transform traditional print, broadcast and outdoor advertising into truly interactive touchpoints -- thus building significant loyalty among key audiences."

Read the story @ CNN Money or download the report @ www.USshortcodes.com

October 24, 2007

BYU Joins the 'Texting' Craze with New Club Texting Powered Program

BYUSA will take advantage of the texting fad by sending out mass text messages to students informing them of upcoming campus events.

Students can receive text messages about BYUSA events by texting BYUSA to 25827.

"The texting service that we provide is a way for students to find out about campus events," said Devon Glassman, BYUSA vice president. " I know I am really attached to my phone, I get texts all the time and I always look at a text message. I don't always look at a poster that I walk by."

Students who sign up for this service will receive a maximum of six text messages a month.

"The main goal is to advertise better to students and to get in touch with students the way it's easiest to get in touch with them and help students stay connected to campus," Glassman said.

The first text message students will receive will be a reminder about fall preference.

"Text messaging has become a very mainstream form of communication." Glassman said. "It's really popular and really convenient and cheap."

Students who subscribe to this service will have no additional charge to their normal text messaging charges, according to their plan.

Dan Mortensen, a freshman from Orem majoring in manufacturing engineering technology, said he would use the service because he rarely knows what is happening on campus and always checks his text messages

"I really feel in the dark sometimes about what is going on despite all the banners and ads they have up," Mortensen said.

Read the entire press release @ BYU's website.

October 22, 2007

SMS Text Messages Replace Mail At UK Council

Following up on our previous post about innovative and surprising uses of SMS, we found this interesting bit of Text-Government in action:

Late council tax payers won't be able to use the UK postal strike as an excuse for non-payment any more, thanks to the local council's deployment of a text messaging system from Avanquest.

Barbergh District Council in Suffolk is using Avanquest's SMS solution, Text Message Server, to improve internal and external communications. Rather than sending out printed reminders for council tax or booking building inspection appointments, council staff will contact people using SMS messages.

"The potential for numerous worker hours saved is enormous, coupled with money savings - the cost of a second class stamp is 24p, a text charge is 6p," said Bob Southgate, Babergh's head of customer services.

But that's not all:

Barbergh plans to expand SMS usage for emergency planning processes and also for people to report fly-tipping or grafitti to the relevant departments.

Read More @ Computer Business Review.

October 19, 2007

The Most Innovative, Bizarre, Or Surprising Uses Of SMS Text Messaging

Every year, the citizens of this planet send over a trillion text messages. That adds up to over $100 Billion Dollars in texting revenues. Talking about numbers as big as these two, it's not surprising that enterprising people, companies, and organizations have found some pretty amazing (good and bad) uses for text messaging. We've scoured the web to round up 20 of the most interesting examples (again, good and bad) that we could find. Some of these you may have heard of (depending on where you live), while others will make you wonder why you hadn't thought of that, and still others will just make you scratch your head.

War - British Launch Text Message Blitz Against The Taliban
TALIBAN fighters in Afghanistan are being bombarded by a devastating new British weapon ? the text message.

Intelligence chiefs find out the numbers of the enemy’s mobile phones then send them waves of messages to confuse them and destroy morale, The Sun can reveal.

Texts range from simple abuse such as “We know who you are, give up” or “Go home, you’ll never beat us”. Others are disguised as messages from comrades to spread duff information.

The text attacks are carried out by the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group, based at the Intelligence Corps’ HQ in Chicksands, Beds.

A military source in Afghanistan said: “If they know their fight is pointless, they are quite likely to give up.”

Government - Swiss Town Votes On Local Speed Limits Via An SMS Election
Residents of the Swiss town of Bulach are using SMS (short message service) to cast votes on a local measure regarding road speed limits. The SMS voting project will be reviewed by the Swiss government which could decide to roll out the capability across the country.

Just like for any election in Switzerland, the residents received their voting material in the mail but this time they also received a user ID and PIN (personal identification number) for voting via SMS. The letters were sent Oct. 10 and residents can use a variety of methods including SMS to cast their vote before Oct. 30.

Government - New Zealand Substitutes Text Message Reminders For Immigration Raids
Visa overstayers who might once have been targeted in dawn raids by immigration officials may in future receive kinder, gentler, texts and email reminders.

The Department of Labour – which incorporates the Immigration Service – has started sending personalised texts and emails to customers to provide "immigration information" such as permit expiry reminders, policy and fee change notifications, notices for immigration agents and information about jobs.

Government - SMS service to keep rickshaw drivers in check
The Delhi Traffic Police has launched an SMS service to lodge complaints against erring autorickshaw drivers, including those who overcharge, misbehave or harass commuters, reports Delhi Newsline.

"Complainants can now send their messages to 6767. For a complaint regarding refusal to ply, the complainant should type in ‘REF' followed by the registration number of the autorickshaw, and send it to the number.

For overcharging, type ‘OVC', for misbehaviour ‘MIB' and for harassment ‘HAR' and send it to 6767. At the end of the day, officials said, all the complaints would be downloaded through the Net and action would be taken against the drivers."

??? - Super-mousetrap Texts You When The Pests Are Dead
We've seen some relatively mouse-friendly attempts at a better mousetrap, but Rentokil's RADAR trap drops all the touchy-feely stuff and brings the pain action-movie-style: with infrared beams, a trick floor, and poison-gas dispensers. Mice who foolishly wander into the Rodent Activated Detection And Riddance unit, where infrared beams and pressure sensors in the bottom of the box trigger the release of a "measured dose" of carbon dioxide, which Rentokil says is a "quick and humane" way of dealing with little Mickey. Once the deed is done, the trap fires off a text message to let you know that the rodent resistance is being dealt with, and prepares to strike again.

Insurance - Metropolitan Life and Clickatell introduce the world's first insurance by mobile phone in South Africa
South African insurance company Metropolitan Life has introduced a new service called Cover2go that makes innovative use of mobile phone technology from Clickatell to offer insurance cover to those on lower incomes in South Africa. The service costs around R10 (approx *1), which is deducted from the phone's airtime and provides instant life insurance for six days, paying out R60,000 (approx *6,300) in the case of accidental death. Cover2go has already been offered to the public at taxi ranks in Gauteng, South Africa, in a pilot campaign.

The customer purchases the policy by sending their name and identity number to a premium-rate number. The system, powered by Clickatell, replies with a confirmation and policy number, requests the name of a beneficiary, and reminds the policyholder to inform an associate about the life insurance. One policy is permitted per person and a renewal notification is sent on expiry.

Charity - When Disaster Strikes, Text 2HELP
In the event of a major disaster (such as Hurricanes Katrina or Wilma) the American Red Cross will collaborate with the CTIA to activate the Text 2HELP initiative. At that time, subscribers of participating wireless carriers can send a text message to "2HELP" (24357) containing the word "HELP." A $5 tax-deductible donation will be made to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts. Donations will appear on customers' monthly bills or be debited from prepaid account balances.

Hoaxes - SMS Prank On AIDS Melons Spreads Scare In Qatar
Panic gripped the public as mobile text messages flew thick warning massive flooding of Aids virus-injected watermelons in the market.

The message from unidentified quarters said that over one million melons, injected with Aids virus, have been smuggled into Qatar through Al Shamal road.

The Ministry of Interior swung into action. Their investigations with various agencies proved the rumours baseless. After confirming the message was the handiwork of either an individual or a group of miscreants, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement to allay the fears of the public.

Justice - Kobe Bryant's Attorney's Filed Motions To Access Accusers SMS Records
At issue-- text messages, which are saved on a phone company computer. Bryant's defense wants messages sent by the accuser released-- suggesting those messages could help Bryant's case.

With text messaging, there is distinct information tapped in by the caller. According to producers of Celebrity Justice, Kobe Bryant's attorneys are filing a motion to access all the data.

Legal Analyst Shawn Chapman says depending on the content, expect arguments on the messages authenticity".

Nature - Texting To Save Kenyan Elephants
Elephants might be huge, but scientists in Kenya are finding it hard to track them, so they're using text messages to keep tabs on the tuskers.

They're fitting the jumbo beasts with special collars that text in their exact location every hour.

That means the experts can discover where elephants roam, and use that information to protect them.

They hope the technology will also be able to warn farmers if elephants are about to trample their crops in future.

SMS Enabled Interactive Street Performance Art
TXTUal Healing is an interactive public theater piece. It looks at the cell phone as a device not just to remove oneself from a physical space, but to interact with and explore  it.

Using 'always on' technology, cell phones with SMS allow an audience to interact with public space through projections on the structures that surround us, like the facade of a building for instance.

Some cool examples:

Education - Catching SMS Cheaters In The Classroom
British Schools are installing detection systems in classrooms, exam halls and changing rooms to combat pupils’ pervasive use – and misuse – of mobile phones.

When Tendring technology college in Essex installed two detectors in its exam halls in January, supervisors discovered about 20 phones among 100 pupils.

“It is illegal to block mobile phone activity,” said Mr Lee. “That is why we’ve gone for a system that doesn’t interfere with the signal.

“By adapting the software, we could collect the mobile phone number that has been detected and send an automatic text message telling them [the owner] to switch it off. But even that might be a civil liberties issue, and we’re not going there at this stage."

Religion - Send A Prayer To The Western Wall By SMS
It a very old tradition to place a note with a prayer or request in the Western Wall and for years, several Web sites have offered Jews from around the world the option to send their prayers by e-mail to a rabbi who then prints them out and places them for them in Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Now SMS2Wall is offering a text message version of this same service,  enabling people who can't make it to Jerusalem, to have their intimate messages placed in the Western Wall, from their mobile phones.

Love & Marriage - Dubai's Grand Mufti Accredits Divorce Through SMS
Muslim authorities in Dubai, acknowledging the synergy of technology and tadition, Thursday confirmed that a Muslim divorce can be carried out via a mobile phone text message or SMS.

The country's Grand Mufti, Ahmed al-Haddad, who issued a fatwa on the subject, noted: 'Islamic clerics disagreed over the way divorce can be written.'

'While some said writing a divorce is equivalent to verbally announcing it, others believe a divorce must be documented by writing and can only be applied when there is intention and when it is read aloud.'

Al-Haddad said he believed an Islamic judge or 'mufti' is able judge a divorce case filed via a mobile phone SMS, based on any of the two opinions by choosing what is most applicable to the couple's circumstances.

Sex - Text-Sex With Artificial Intelligence Powered Chat-bots
In early 2002, wireless technology company, Link77, specializing in the development and operation of innovative mobile services, launched an SMS Chatterbot* called NataChata, a sophisticated text chat application for adults, based on Artificial Intelligence, enabling users to engage in provocative and sex texting... with a bot.

Labor - 'U R Sacked' - 2,500 People Fired Via Text Message
How's This For Efficiency: 2,500 Workers at the British Amulet Group received a message on their mobiles phones telling them they were out of work.

The message said, in part, "you are being made redundant with immediate effect".

Politics - 2008 Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Text Messaging
If Sen. Barack Obama is your guy, dial 62262 -- which spells "Obama" -- on your cellphone and text "Go." For supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, punch in 77007 and text "Join." Text "Today" to 30644 if you're a fan of former senator John Edwards.

A small but growing list of presidential candidates, all Democrats, are jumping on the text-messaging bandwagon. With more than three-quarters of Americans estimated to own cellphones -- and more than 15 billion text messages sent within the country each month -- campaigns believe it's a technology they can't afford not to exploit.

Literature - Novels Via SMS Popular In Japan
Engadget report on a fabulous success story of a Japanes author who has been sending installments of his best selling novel by text messaging.

"The author of best selling novel Deep Love, who calls himself Yoshi, created a website providing content for mobile phones in May 2000.

"Using a promotional campaign that consisted of passing out business cards to about 2,000 high-school girls in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station (the center of Tokyo youth culture), Yoshi released The Story of Ayu, the first installment in the longer novel. News of the novel spread by word of mouth, and within three years the site had received a total of 20 million hits".

Accessibility - Real-time Text Messaging For The Deaf
Thanks to Text4Deaf, users can send and receive messages to individuals and groups. The Website also enables recipients to respond directly to the originating PC, Mac, PDA or mobile phone and to group member mobile phones. Users can send Web texts from any web-enabled device worldwide to any U.S. or Canadian mobile phone.

Commercial Fishing - Indian Fishers Negotiate Prices Via Text Message
"During a recent trip to India I saw fishermen in Kerala use SMS and voice for negotiating the price of their fresh catch. This was like share trading at the stock exchange. I could foresee they could well exploit IM with mobile positioning and presence functionality."

Many of these stories were found at the excellent blog, Textually.

Read a story about an interesting use of text messaging we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments.

October 18, 2007

iPhone Opens Up - SDK Coming In February

Since it's launch there has been one persistent criticism of the iPhone and that has been its closed platform:

Apple made it very clear from the start that AT&T was going to be the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, and two weeks before the iPhone went on sale, CEO Steve Jobs let everyone know that because of security and reliability concerns, native third-party applications weren't in the cards for iPhone 1.0.

"We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of the iPhone by letting developers write great apps for it, yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure," Jobs told developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. That solution was Web-based applications, which is sort of like being told that you can't buy a DVD because HBO shows that movie every month or so, and it was met with tepid applause by Apple's developers.

If you live in New York City (and especially if you ride the subway), you probably know that Nokia even launched an advertising campaign promoting the 'openness' of its phones, taking a jab at Apple.

Well, the walls are coming down:

Steve Jobs made it official Wednesday morning: third-party applications are coming to the iPhone.

Apple's CEO posted another of his open letters to the world Wednesday on Apple's Hot News section of its Web site, confirming reports that a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone will be released to developers next year. It's coming in Februrary, rather than January as reported, but application developers and iPhone owners will probably be able to wait the extra month.

Why the change of heart?

It always made sense for Apple to go down this road, since it was never going to win a hacking war and users clearly want third-party applications on their iPhones and iPod Touches, which will also be opened up by the SDK, Jobs confirmed.

Head over to C|Net for more information about the SDK, including Apple's response to Nokia.

October 17, 2007

Text Messaging Coordinates New Year's Eve Ticket Sales Staff

JoonBug Productions is a leading organizer of New Year's Eve Parties, with celebrations in Times Square, Downtown, Midtown, and on Cruise Ships. As a small, growing New York City-based company, JoonBug hires additional salespeople every fall to help sell New Years Eve tickets. In a city where space comes at a premium, it is essential for JoonBug to efficiently coordinate their sales staff. This means assuring that there are always just enough salespeople per phone in the office at any given time. In the past JoonBug has relied upon email and phone calls, which never worked perfectly during the harried fall sales season. So last year they decided to do something different. They decided to implement a Club Texting-powered text messaging solution.

In October, as they hired their seasonal staff, they collected cellular phone numbers and entered them into their Club Texting account's database. With this data in hand, JoonBug found new and innovative ways to communicate with their sales team. Sick team members were asked to text in. As soon as the information was received text blasts went out offering everyone else the opportunity to pick up a shift. When office schedules changed, as they often did, everyone could be notified instantly (at times at the last minute). In short, at their busiest time of the year, JoonBug Productions was able to radically simplify a tiresome, unorganized process that is nonetheless essential to their business.

On The Web:
JoonBug Productions - New Year's Eve Parties
Club Texting Case Studies

Verizon Wireless launches AAA Mobile

FierceMobileContent picked up on an interesting press release from Verizon and AAA:

Verizon Wireless announced a partnership with motoring and leisure travel organization AAA to launch AAA Mobile, a tool enabling travelers to find AAA-rated points of interest and access roadside assistance services via GPS-enabled handsets. AAA Mobile delivers visual and audible directions to any travel destination in the U.S., including locate AAA Approved sites like Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants--subscribers may review detailed AAA descriptions, receive maps and bookmark favorite locations. The service also offers single-click access to roadside assistance. AAA Mobile is now available for $9.99 per month.

At FierceMobileContent.