Month: April 2007 (Page 1 of 4)

NFC finally to arrive on mobiles?

This could finally be the call for true M-Commerce: an impressive list of the silverback gorillas in mobile have apparently agreed to cooperate on NFC (near field communication). Nokia, Samsung and LG from the OEM side, Mastercard on the payment side and a whole raft of large carrier groups, including China Mobile, Vodafone, Cingular, Orange, Telefonica, O2, SFR, SKT, KPN, and WIND signed up. Since the chips are being provided by NXP (formerly Philips Semiconductors) and Sony, it may be expected that Sony Ericsson will also sign up.

This group could finally have enough muscle to push this technology into the market and solve the chicken-and-egg problem: only when a critical mass of handsets is equipped with the technology will it be attractive for vendors and service providers to equip their retail outlets, etc with the respective technology. The three handset makers now committed together represent nearly half of the entire market, which should give this a good push.

So, besides catching the London Tube and buying a Coke, you might also be able to download the latest games, applications and tunes to your phone, always paying by coolly waving your phone and quickly entering a PIN. Bright future…

Vodafone loses brand value

Vodafone has lost 12% of its brand’s value, which is now “only” worth some $21 bn, says brand experts MillwardBrown. It’s brand value is dwarfed by China Mobile with a cool $41 bn, which makes it #1 amongst telecoms and #5 amongst all brands.

Who holds #1? Google (tempted to say “of course”) – the brand is valued at $66 bn and it recorded the highest value rise over the last year with 77%.

In telecoms, a notable mention must be Cingular, a brand that is being eliminated, which added 39% (the third highest climb overall) in value in 2006 and slots in as the 6th most valuable telecoms brand with AT&T, the brand that will replace it, nowhere in sight…

It is NOT (only) the kids playing mobile games

Here‘s some always again interesting finds on mobile game demographics re-confirmed :

29% of all 25-34 year-old US-Americans downloaded mobile games in 2006, and 27% of the 18-24 year-olds but only 15% of 13-17 year-olds. The older folks also play more: 50% of the two older age groups vs 41% of the teens play mobile games on a daily basis.

The picture is naturally somewhat distorted as proportionately more adults own mobile phones than teens (although the latter catch up quickly).

However, considering that, in the UK, the average credit kids have on their pre-paid phones (which most of them have) is a meagre £5, which leaves little to no wiggling space when compared to game prices of £3-5 per pop: they simply don’t have the dough to buy more.

Another re-confirmed suspicion highlights the distribution challenge: 29 million US-Americans play mobile games, only 7 million download them, and that means 22 million play whatever is on their handset – whether it is a good or a bad one. 22 million gamers that do not access all the great games that are out there show that there is a severe disconnect regarding a) discovery and b) marketing and distribution in general. Whilst these will not be the only factors, they are significant.

Apple's iPhone with 10-30% market share? I don't think so

Another survey with interesting numbers: according to this one, 9% of all US consumers are “very” or “somewhat” likely to buy Apple’s iPhone. Funny that: The iPhone is initially only available on Cingular/AT+T (cf here), which has a market share of 28%, so just about 1/3 of all Cingular subscribers (or c. 19 million) would have to be interested in buying an iPhone.

Folks, buy Apple stock now. But then (screeech): Apple said they were only targeting 1% of the market, which makes it 1m devices, and AT+T’s COO says they have already 1m inquiries … this would lead 18 million willing Cingular subs + everyone outside the US without the sleek and coveted thing. Not so good…

Isn’t all this somewhat weird? The phone costs $499 and $599 respectively (at least according to this), and 1/3 of a carrier’s subscribers going for one of the top-priced options would be contrary to everything we’ve seen so far. Rather unlikely, I’d say. So: if the price was dropped to below $300, an additional 10% would buy the 4GB model and a staggering 20% the 8GB model. Make that 30% market share then – with one device. Woah.

The blurb concludes that Apple should exceed its sales goals for, wait a minute, 2008 (sic!) and then closes with the beautiful caveat “provided the device lives up to consumer expectations”. Amen!

If Apple gets it right (which I hope as I like them), then 1m devices in 2007 would not be a bad start (considering it is one carrier and one country), in particular as high-priced as they are. Assuming that they could in fact open the pipeline for higher demand, we could well be seeing one of the top handsets in the market place (so-called blockbuster handsets regularly are between 2-3.5% share of all handsets on a carrier). That would be impressive enough.

Then they would only have to add 3G, I suppose…

Mercedes Markets Mobile

It is another one of these examples where PR speak dilutes the message till no one knows what it actually is but here goes: Mercedes has instructed an agency to increase its use of mobile phones for marketing purposes, and the good folks from the PR agency do not forget to mention that “no other automotive manufacturer in the UK has implemented and maintained such a large mobile presence” So: what does that mean?

They want to “encourage active response from traditional advertising such as poster, print, TV, and DM, via mobile text calls to action, driving users to Mercedes-Benz mobile sites.” But how, with what, what for? I don’t know and they don’t say. Now, mobiles and mobility – there surely is a common theme here somewhere. But will they do more than inform customers via SMS and try this Bluetooth trial? I would really wish they’d be somewhat more aggressive in communicating initiatives.

Cellcom does Mobile Advertising…

Israel’s largest mobile operator Cellcom has launched an advertising-funded games service, reports The game titles (no word on which ones these are) are free to subscribers and the network has apparently enlisted some of the heavyweights as advertisers: Disney, Nokia, McDonalds, Diadora, Adidas and Samsung are all listed to have “already signed up”. Campaigns are apparently being designed by Saatchi & Saatchi, BBDO and McCann, so on that front all ingredients should be there.

Unfortunately, the press release remains a bit foggy on how it is actually done. It talks of “ads appear[ing] as product placement in the game and within different areas of a games environment” and they say that “[t]he digital coupons and product placement methods used in the trial have proven themselves with high conversion rates among [their] clients” but no numbers or more insight is being offered.

With the limited information provided, the question unfortunately remains if this is only a PR coup on the flavour of the month or if it is indeed commercially viable. Next time?

Update: Some results of the trial can now be found here.

NOM is in Europe

One of the best game ever to have been created for mobile phones is finally, finally coming to Europe. I would have loved for us having been the ones to do it but, hey, you cannot always win. In any event, in spite (or because?) of an oddly early 70’s design feel and simple graphics, it is a great game that beautifully shows what mobile gaming can do (a view shared by many reviews, such as the ones, here, here and here).

The story of NOM is – for a mobile game at least – very long. The game had been released as early as 2002 by Korean developer Gamevil and has recorded more than 1 million downloads in Korea alone. You could consider it the mother of all 1-button-games, a category considered by many as being the perfect entry point to mobile games (here’s a feature on Nom and some other of Gamevil’s gems).

So, good folks of Disney’s Living Mobile (the lucky ones who got their hands onto it for Europe), good luck with it!

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