Month: January 2012 (Page 1 of 2)

MoMo Manchester @ the BBC

If you are in the North-West of England and have nothing to do or, rather, nothing really, really important to do, you may want to drop in for our latest Mobile Monday Manchester edition, which takes place tonight starting at 6pm at the BBC in the brand-spanking new MediaCityUK.

The topic of the night will be “Second Screen” and we will have people from all corners of that: speakers from the Beep itself, companies providing infrastructure and service as well as creative agencies that deliver on these screens.

More info here. To join us, please sign up here (there is only standing room left though…).

Conference season: Where I will be…

Yes, conference season is firmly upon us and, before I descend into the mayhem that tends to come with it, let me tell you where you can find me over the next couple of weeks.

This week sees London at the centre of a lot of things gaming: the Mobile Games Forum opens its doors on Wednesday in the Hilton Tower Bridge in SW1, which combines with the Social Games Forum. I will be speaking on a panel on “How to engage cross-promotion for social game discovery”.

There is also ICE in town but not the freezing variety but the big gaming (as in proper gaming for money and such) expo over at Earl’s Court, which rolls a variety of gaming-related tracks into this. I will be speaking on a panel on their mobile gaming track with the concise title “Incorporate Social and Mobile to create the Ultimate Modern Gaming Experience”.

Only a little later, on 7/8 February, we will be in Amsterdam for BlackBerry DevCon Europe. It is well worth coming to this to get a glimpse of the “new” BlackBerry and our plans there [disclosure: I work for BlackBerry]. Sign up here and hit me if you are a developer; I have a few discount codes left. I will lead a breakout session on Social Gaming with Scoreloop there.

Onwards to my old stomping grounds in Hamburg from there for the annual European edition of Casual Connect where I will deliver a talk on how BlackBerry will deliver on gaming (yes, you read that right!).

After that, there is a two week (conference) break before heading to Barcelona for the monster that is Mobile World Congress. I’ll be there all week!

Barely a weekend’s rest and the Game Developers Conference (or GDC) opens its doors at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Again, it’ll be a full week for me there.

I hope I will meet you at one of those. Sorry that Asia isn’t featuring in this tour de force this time but, hey, it’s still early in the year, huh? 😉

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Carnival of the Mobilists # 257 (#COTM)

This week’s Carnival of the Mobilists comes to you from Kansas, more specifically from Steven Hoober, and here’s what he has in stock for you:

  • Will larger screens lead to poorer mobile web sites?
  • Do apps beat browsing?
  • What will be the best mobile advertising networks 2012?
  • Do QR codes work? Someone had a look at TfL’s (better known as the operator of the London Tube) numbers.
  • What can advertisers expect from the Kindle Fire?
  • Would you close your business for two days per week? A look at retailers and the benefits of mobile-optimized websites.
  • Will Windows Phone 7 be cutting it?
  • Android and Apple have not won the smartphone war.
  • Have you ever heard of a “wearable computing equation”? Check it out!
  • What is the spectrum/bandwith crunch in Boise, Idaho?
  • My little piece on the revolutionary (well, perhaps, “only” disruptive) French operator Free.
  • Image processing in Generation M

The carnival is live here. Go read! 🙂

Sweden’s Mobile Wallet

Funny old world this. I haven’t written about operators for a while until last week. And here I am again. They seem to be coming in pairs…

Anyway, there were reports today on an initiative of the four Swedish mobile network operators, namely Telia, Tele2, Telenor and 3. They formed a joint venture (with the witty name 4T), which will deliver (not directly but via PayEx and Accumulate) a unified mobile wallet to at least 97% of all Swedish subscribers on launch.

Older services such as Gallerie in France and Payforit in the UK never really hit it, as ME points out, arguably because of the use of WAP (*shiver*), which was the only available carrier for such services at the time. This time around, it will all be different, we hear, with all handsets from 2006 onwards being supported. The one thing that is not so clear is the technology used… The system is apparently ready for NFC (which I find uber-exciting).

What will be more exciting to users than some tech stats is the fact that the system will be able to handle online, peer-to-peer and man-to-machine transactions (presumably also for women). So rather than with cash or cards, you will be able to pay with your mobile (something predicted by Forbes’ #1 mobile influencer, Tomi Ahonen, for years of course).

The service will also have the same look-and-feel (and the same name!) irrespective of the carrier, which will do a lot to instill consumer trust (as well as avoiding to erect any unnecessary barriers to switch carriers).

All in all, very exciting and indeed commendable!

Be Free! How an ickle player changes an industry

In the UK, there used to be attempts to make mobile calls free to users (Blyk tried to refinance this over permission-based advertising). It failed. In France, Free charges its users but is a) successful and popular with users and b) commercially viable. Oh, and c) it might just disrupt the mobile operator landscape in the long term.

I have been following Free’s endeavours for a while: they started disrupting the market with set-top boxes and subsequent offers around ISP services. They have just extended that to mobile and it has rocked the boat of many people significantly (for an in-depth review see Om Malik’s story on Free; this was followed by a flurry of reporting all over the place). In short, it is about the vision and balls of Xavier Niel. He founded Free on the back of gobbling up – through Free’s holding company Iliad – a lot of dark fibre networks in France (which he could afford last but not least because he sold his ISP pre-bubble rather profitably). Free built out the first triple-play service in France (with broadband, telephone and TV all over IP) and came out with a very competitive price, which it could afford because its parent owned the network.

Now it came out with a mobile offering on top of that. And it starts at €2 per month. Yes, you read that right. For the discerning digital afficionado (which you probably are when you are reading blogs like this one), there is a €19.99/month offer for unlimited voice calls (domestic and to 40+ countries), unlimited texts (and MMS if you are so inclined) and unlimited data. And, yes, you read that right, too. Check it here. The one thing I haven’t checked is international roaming rates but that only bothers a minority, I suppose (and, hey, perhaps they are as competitive).

Now, the really cool thing (or “disruptive” thing if you want to stick to present-day analyst lingo) is how they are doing this (and it is the very thing that makes traditional mobile operators feel so relatively uncomfortable). Since Iliad owns those masses of fibre networks, they can efficiently operate this. Now, they apparently start equipping their set-top boxes with femtocels and reserve a sliver of each of the bandwidth of those for their mobile network. This will greatly reduce their backhaul costs and allows users to enjoy higher bandwidth more often (at less cost to Free, too).

The “disruptive” thinking is, then, “only” applying the Skype model to the world at large, i.e. using the cheap(er) data networks to deliver a service so far associated with minute charges and the like. For Free, not metering, not data is important but the service. IP-driven business model vs old-school per-minute business model. I like this! After all, we are fast moving into a space where data is ubiquitous and merely a means to access services. So you pay for this access. Period.

The interesting thing is that all incumbent operators have swiftly announced that they would match the price. So have they been taking the mickey for all those years? Well… My guess is that they will not be operating with the same margins as Free does; they have been enjoying their place in the limelight for too long. So it will be thrilling to see if they will be able to turn things around quickly enough.

Carnival of the Mobilists # 256

A new year, a new carnival (which will returned to weekly editions now, too). This week’s edition is hosted by Mark Bridges over at, and he includes posts, such as:

  • Lots of reminiscing on the past year (on mobile marketing, the greater scope of the mobile landscape and – albeit in Spanish – a reminder of a joke from all the way back in 2004 when someone suggested in April Fools’ fashion that Apple – hold your breath – might launch a phone bypassing traditional network operators).
  • Of course some predictions (general ones as well as a look on where mobile development specifically might go) and Tomi Ahonen’s latest on why all roads lead to Mobile (as in tech, not as in Alabama).
  • A couple of posts on what might or might not happen to WebOS following HP’s open-sourcing announcement (comparisons to Symbian’s fate included).
  • More on dying platforms with a piece on mobile flash.
  • Ad performance benchmarking (Admob vs mobfox).
  • A call to prepare for the (presumed) ascent of the Kindle Fire.
  • And, finally, a nod to my two posts on Angry Birds and my take on the dubious assertion that “social lost its sizzle“.

The carnival is here! Go, read it! 🙂 And if you’re a blogger wanting to participate, head over to the Carnival’s revamped homepage where you will find everything you need to know about submitting entries and even hosting one on your own blog if you are so inclined.

Angry Birds fly ever higher…

A fresh new year and it is time for the latest numbers of the Angry Birds phenomenon, and they are impressive indeed!

Most mobile game developers would be quite happy if their game would clock more than 5m downloads. Hell, they would probably throw a massive office party for that! Well, Rovio made more than that in a day (OK, it was Christmas Day): 6.5m copies of the various Angry Birds games (paid and free) were downloaded on 25 December 2011 alone. Woah!

The formidable Stuart Dredge treats us to some more background on Angry Birds. To cut it short: by December 2011, Angry Birds had more than 600m downloads. That is more downloads than people living in all of North America – all the way from Alaska down to Panama! About 1/3 of those are monthly active, 1/8 daily.

Given that they also make money (seemingly nearing $100m in revenues) and not only from games but from selling 1m toys and 1m t-shirts per month, too, it is perhaps understandable that they are said to have rejected a $2.25bn acquisition offer by Nasdaq newbies Zynga. I can understand that they may not have been too thrilled to work under the hard-charging (according to some, too hard-charging) “CityVille-ains” but I still wonder if that would not have been a worthwhile cash-in (though it would arguably have been a share deal and Pincus only knows what on which valuation of Zynga that would have been based!).

Rovio has great plans, they are hiring senior entertainment talent (Dave Maisel of Marvel fame for instance), they are diversifying quickly, they execute with adorable flawlessness. But they have not yet shown that they are capable of repeating the creative spark with equal vigour and verve. On the one hand, they are a very, very talented bunch (I published games by them previously: great content and lots of polish). And they have some serious reach now, which gets them a lot of promotional punch. They have also been great in getting out on as many platforms as possible to make sure to fuel the brand as a true mass market proposition rather than contentedly sitting on iOS only and being happy with that niche (bear in mind that J2ME is still many times larger than iOS in terms of reach; for brand awareness of a consumer brand, this is a crucial factor).

However, it is a hit business, isn’t it? And I doubt there is a recipe (or that Rovio has it): Anecdotally, Chillingo, the publisher of the original Angry Birds on iOS (subsequently acquired by EA), uses its Chillingo label for the “premium” games and their Clickgamer for the rest. Angry Birds was published under the Clickgamer label. So did anyone know? I don’t think so.

I would love to see them thrive because they deserve it: they are a hard-working and lovely bunch. So go, my good folks, mighty Eagles, Albatrosses and the whole swarm!

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