Current Events

DoCoMo Branding

DoCoMo’s new branding campaign is underway and it’s a full court press on people here in Tokyo on segmenting the market into four major archetypes.

Take a guess – which box goes with the individual featured in the photo above. Stumped? Bath yourself in the full flash experience of a very slick marketing site.

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Ultimate Cellphone Backup Service

I know nothing about the rumors swirling around Nokia launching an MVNO in Tokyo for their high-end Vertu brand but a quick poke around the gives you a sense of what (besides diamond encrusted phones) a high end cell phone service would entail.

Check out the Services layer, here’s the text for the Vertu Fortress Contacts & Calendar backup service.

From anywhere in the world, a single click backs up your data to ultra-secure severs maintained in an ex-military underground bunker in England.

Ex-military underground bunker? Sounds familiar.

P & G on Monetizing Social Media

Procter & Gamble Co.
Image via Wikipedia

Ted McConnell, General Manager of Interactive Marketing at Proctor and Gamble at a recent forum on digital media held in Cincinnati (where P&G is based) when speaking about advertising on social networks.

“I think when we call it ‘consumer-generated media,’ we’re being predatory,” he said. “Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody. So it just seems a bit arrogant. … We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

Ted really gets it. People are communicating on social networks and if you dance around the edges trying to get their attention, you’re just getting in the way.

The rest of the article in Ad Age where I found this quote is pretty good.

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Techmeme is hiring

Techmeme is hiring someone to tweak their algorithms. It’s a new kind of role but one which I think we’ll be seeing more of in the future; in newsrooms and in corporate PR departments. When it’s so easy to aggregate, the next great war will be over the filter algorithm.

From the posting on craigslist (which I discovered via Matthew Ingram)

We’re not sure what to call this position. News Technician? News Analyst? Configuring Editor? The role involves interacting with an automated news-picking computer algorithm, configuring it and prodding it to ensure balanced and comprehensive coverage of important news topic areas. It’s the kind of job that possibly has never existed until 2008 but will become increasingly important in the years ahead.

Sounds fascinating.

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The Ultimate Smartphone

What do you call a mobile phone that comes with a built-in address book, browser, camera, GPS, music & video player, projector, voice translator, razor, coffee brewer, and harmonica?

A hoax!


Business Idea – Parking Space Net

I’m in Finland this week visiting Nokia, my new employer. The Finns use SMS for everything including late-night spot loans. Last night at dinner, one of my colleagues texted a taxi service and within two minutes he got a call from a cab that was waiting outside the door. He just texted his address to a number and the entire booking took place automatically.

Texting is their command line for physical world.

This got me thinking. With flat data plans getting cheaper and cheaper, could you set up a service which used an SMS broadcasting service such as twitter to reserve parking spots in a busy downtown area?

Need a spot in North Beach on a Saturday night? Send an SMS to a parking shortcode number that goes to a dispatcher. Dispatch then sends out a tweet using the account used for North Beach ‘reservists’ who would have a little time on their hands (homeless folks? students?). If the reservist has a place, they tweet back the location of the spot and then dispatch texts back the location of the free space to the person looking for a spot. When the car gets there, standard pricing applies (i.e. $1 for a metered space, $2 for a non-metered space).

The model can be applied to pretty much any situation where you need a temporary stand-in. Looking for someone to stand in line for your AC/DC tickets? Waiting for a new passport? Text it!


Thoughts on Helsinki

As with most business trips, my first visit to Helsinki this week was abbreviated and knowingly distorted view of the city. Here are a collection of my impressions.

It’s not as cold as I thought. I wouldn’t want to work outside fixing roads or anything but for a quick stroll, a sweater and jacket was just fine. Locals tell me November is actually the worst season because the bay isn’t yet frozen so the damp air feels colder. When snow covers everything and the air dries up, it actually feels warmer.

It doesn’t get light until around 8am and it’s dark by the time I leave the office at 5pm. Nothing like the “couple hours of daylight” that people warned me about – that’s only way up North. Here’s a shot of a cloudy sky at 4pm.

The tap water here is so good, they bottle it and sell it overseas.

Everyone has a cell phone and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an iPhone or Blackberry. This is the land of Nokia which accounts for about a third of the capitalization of the Helsinki stock exchange.

People love their coffee but stay away from the energy drinks which I swear are mixed with gasoline.

Many of the streets downtown are still cobbled giving it a charming old Europe feel. The roads around the my hotel are torn up for maintenance and pallets of fresh cobblestones await their careful replacement.

The Finns love hockey. In addition to the local teams, there was quite a bit of coverage of the San Jose Sharks on the local news.

Finns take their winter gear seriously. The local department store had a dizzying array of boots and ski jackets. Everyone wears scarves here like Californians wear sunglasses – a fashion accessory.

The language is incomprehensible. To my untrained ear it sounds kind of like Russian with wonderful, vowel-filled words that plop out like big nerf balls. I love listening to the receptionist at Nokia House (as they call Nokia headquarters here) calls up the taxi cabs for visitors – it sounds like she’s directing a complex ballet routine to a cast of tired dancers.

Finns speak perfect English but sometimes mix up the metaphors in a charming way.

Finns shun ice in their soda pop. Ask for some ice with your can of cola and you’re met with a, “yes, sure, but why?” smirk.

Linus Torvalds, is from Finland.

Every hotel has a sauna which is a beautiful thing.

Geo-tagging without tears

If you have a camera that writes geo data to the photo’s EXIF header – flickr’s new Import EXIF GPS preference is the simplest way to geo-tag your data. I like the way the preference text is written too.

Thanks very much!

You need a foundation before you take out the walls

I’m a web guy. I have been working on web products and web sites for many years and have grown used to the tools and platforms available to web developers. The mobile web is different. There are so many layers of technology which are still evolving. The layers of abstraction which make web development easy don’t exist in the mobile world so it’s difficult to unify experience across devices. I’ve been trying to put my finger on an easy to way to illustrate this and today I was pointed to a post by Mike Rowehl (who runs the Silicon Valley Mobile Monday events) that hit it home for me.

If I was looking to develop for PCs and had to join Dell’s developer program to get into about developing for Dells, and then Gateway’s developer program to make my app work on Gateway, and then Toshiba to make my app work on Toshibas – and then have to worry about differences between Comcast and Savis and Internap at the network level. Nothing would ever get done.

This is the current state of the mobile web if you’re a developer. It’s too damn difficult and if you’re trying to reach a global audience, you really need to pick and choose your platforms carefully to avoid death by one thousand exceptions. Thanks to the iPhone we can see the benefits of a tightly defined ecosystem. While I don’t believe in the restrictions the iPhone places around its device and data you put onto it, I hope that Apple’s example gives everyone a taste of what’s possible so that consumer demand will drive the industry towards common APIs that will make greater cooperation and thus innovation possible.

Bathed in WiFi

Via Todd Sampson’s Delicious stream comes Walt Mossberg’s review of the Autonet WiFi router which lets you get an internet connection via it’s domestic US EV-DO cell network and bath your car and everyone within 100 feet of your car in up to 800k download speeds.

Hmm, what could you do with a mobile fast internet connection – the mind wanders.

Wire up the steering wheel to servo motors and crowdsource your cross-country drive?

A traveling campervan packed with a bunch of laptops that you hand out to bored people looking for something to do while waiting at the doctor’s office and have them complete tasks on your Amazon Mechanical Turk account. Make it a game and give out prizes to the best worker.

Park your car outside major media events, rent out a bunch of Eye-fi enabled cameras and earn top dollar from major networks for your real-time coverage from your army of amateur photographers.

Any other good ideas?