When I travel abroad and I know roaming charges are going to be high, I revert to using my trusty Nokia N95 to minimise data costs. I’ve been using an Android phone for the last couple of years and it is at least a year since I last used my N95. But when I picked it up again last week, it felt like going home when it came to using the keypad. It was totally pleasurable. And fast. Much faster than on a touchscreen. It made me feel good whilst I was doing it. It felt like home. The combination of flicking up the screen to reveal the keypad and then using the keypad was a delight in a way my touchscreen phone has never been. And I use that *a lot*.
So what’s going on here? It seems that I have ‘muscle memory’ for the keypad but it hasn’t developed for my touchscreen use in the same way. Muscle memory is not a memory actually stored in your muscles, but they are memories stored in your brain and they are a bit like a cache of frequently enacted tasks for your muscles. I touch type, that’s another muscle memory. My ability to communicate is directly linked to my access to a good keyboard and I literally think through my fingers. Riding a bike would be an example of another. Or playing a musical instrument.
I do have some muscle memory with my touchscreen phone, but it’s linked to browsing or playing games not typing and it’s not a positive thing. The swipe up/down/left/right is now a natural instinct, but it doesn’t bring me joy or satisfaction in nearly the same way, and if anything, I think I have negative emotions associated with it. I’ve tried the haptic screen too and that did nothing for me.
I wonder, do people who have only used a touchscreen have muscle memory for that or is it linked to something that needs a bit more physical exertion like pressing a key? Anyone have any insight into this area and care to comment?
Suffice to say, bring back keyboards and keypads for mobile devices. I want my keypad back!
Time to clear down some of my favourites, bookmarks and browser tabs so I can get on with the day job.
AA / Warc’s forecasts for the next eight quarters show UK ad spend continuing to grow, reaching a 5% growth rate in 2014 which is well ahead of inflation. You’ll see from the table that a lot of this is digital but it’s still not following the speed of change in eyeballs. I hope this doesn’t mean media owners become complacent and think this digital thing isn’t happening as fast as it is. More here: http://www.newsworks.org.uk/News-and-Opinion/aa-warcn
The Association of Online Publishers Announces Premium Mobile Advertising Initiative. In short, they’re going to do some research in conjunction with Mindshare, mobile ad provider Celtra, the IAB, MMA and ComScore to prove mobile advertising’s worth. The research is limited to specifically demonstrate the value of the 320x50 expandable rich media ad-format. Hmm. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and see what comes out of the research. I fear that the impact will be limited simply because I don’t believe the future of mobile advertising can hinge on a single format, no matter how rich it is. Good on them for doing the research though. We need more initiatives like these. More info here http://www.ukaop.org.uk/news/mobileadvertisinginitiative4105.html
I’ve been telling people that Tesco is the elephant in the room when it comes to mobile and media. They have a mobile network proposition, they have oodles of data about us via Tesco Clubcard and our actual transactions, they sell online, on mobile, in apps and have been investing heavily in digital media propositions like Blinkbox (video), We7 (music), Mobcast (books) as well as having their own media channels via their in-store magazine, in-store media and direct mail. Definitely one to watch closely. More about them, their investments and what’s coming next, including ClubCard TV http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/2013-05-07/tesco-blinkbox-digital-ads
And finally, some thoughts on what’s wrong with B2B publishing and a plea for innovation. http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/2013-05-06/whats-wrong-with-b2b-publishing-need-real-innovation?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
The report takes a look at the current state of online consumer publishing and the opportunities that are or could be available for brand advertisers. 100 leading consumer titles from the US, UK and Germany were audited to see what their current digital offerings were for readers and advertisers. And it’s an interesting read.
It probably comes as no surprise that almost all magazines lacked a full cross-platform experience. The few titles audited who were doing a good job here include Vogue UK, Maxim UK and US, CountryLiving and a good selection of Hearst’s US titles.The picture gets a little more complicated when it comes to ad formats as there was little consistency in what publishers offered advertisers, despite standards already existing for desktop and mobile. And of course, we don’t know the ROI here – the report is just looking at what’s on offer. Insight into the audience, how they spend their money as well as knowing the types of advertisers, their spend and what’s working may change the picture and explain the rationale behind the strategic decisions made by the publishers. Still, it’s plain to see from the tables in the report that it’s not easy for an advertiser to plan, buy or measure their advertising across channels and across a range of titles.
We know that eyeballs have already migrated en masse to mobile channels and we can see that the advertising dollar will follow that – albeit at a slower pace than consumers to change but publishers don’t appear to be keeping up as well as they might.
The report suggests that HTML5 may be the answer which brings us back to the old web vs apps debate. I don’t think that one size necessarily fits all and much as I’m a strong supporter of web on mobile devices rather than apps, it doesn’t always suit the business or its customers to do that. Consumer insight is key to making those decisions as well as balancing resources and finance to do that.
We still have a long way to go when it comes to working out the future of digital advertising. It’s an emotive subject. At the Heroes of Mobile Session a couple of weeks ago (read about it and listen to the podcast here), Amanda Singleton from Qustodian was passionate about her hatred for Facebook advertising yet I find the sponsored pages interesting in many cases and seem to fit my profile pretty well. These have led me to discover things I would never have found out about otherwise. And this stuff has to be paid for somehow.
I also lament the fact that I can’t save an ad. In a magazine, I will often flick back to see an advert or something I may have missed once I’ve finished the article I’m on. I cannot do that in a digital environment. And if I’ve clicked forwards to read something and then go back, the ad that was there is long gone with no way of retrieving it.I think we’re missing a trick here by not fully understanding what worked in print advertising to work out how that behaviour might be translated to the digital environment. Instead, we’ve become reliant on the quick hit – the banner ad, the immediate call to action, the buy now, call now, direct response scenario. But as any brand marketer will tell you, that’s only one type of advertising with the primary goal of sales. not all brands are looking for that all of the time. Of course ROI is important, but I know from my own clicking habits, that it takes more than one click for me to take action and that it’s just part of the journey to finding out about new brands or services and eventually buying from them.
Interestingly, Hearst reports just now that they've appointed a President of Digital.
Have a read of the report and see what you think. It’s one of a series of useful quarterly reports available free to BrandPerfect members.
This podcast is from the recent Hanging on the Telephone panel session in London I ran a coup[le of weeks ago. If you were there, then remind yourselves of what was discussed and if you weren’t there, this is your chance to catch up. And since most of my readers are interested in mobile marketing, I thought it was worth cross-posting from the Heroes of Mobile site.
Mobile Marketing Magazine did a bit of coverage of the event. Evens in Berlin next week and then London at the end of May and early June. Subscribe to the Heroes of Mobile newsletter to keep up to date.
You can download or stream the podcast at your leisure. Feel free to share with friends and colleagues.
Session Moderator: Helen Keegan, Heroes of Mobile
Panellists: Rube Huljev, Infobip; Stephen Jenkins, Millennial Media; James Cooper, Soko Media; Amanda Singleton, Qustodian;
Swedish Beers parties galore klaxon alert!
It’s fair to say, I’m a bit busy at the moment but it makes for exciting times and I’m thrilled to bits at the prospect of meeting and hanging with some interesting people. Lots of events coming up, including not one, not two, but three Swedish Beers parties and a mini-Heroes and a client event. And more to come…
Well, they say you can have too much of a good thing, but I’m not so sure when it comes to Swedish Beers! We have Swedish Beers coming to three cities near you in the next few weeks so come on down and join the fun, hang with other people with a passing interest in mobile and enjoy a relaxing evening chewing the fat and putting the mobile world to rights.
First up, it’s a last-minute jaunt to the Big Apple. Helen will be there on Thursday 2 May with Lubna, Grace, Becky and Petra lending a hand to ensure you have a good time. Antony and Jerome from Ribot will be sponsoring the first few beers but there’s room for another sponsor if you’re up for it. It’s free to attend and we’d love to see you.
More info and RSVP here http://mobileheroes.net/events/event/swedish-beers-hits-the-big-apple/
While I’m in New York, I’ll be chairing a session for BrandPerfect looking at seamless brand advertising (an impossible dream? we’ll see.) It’s free to attend and includes a lovely tour of the Pencil to Pixel exhibition which I highly recommend having experienced it in London before Christmas. http://brandperfect.org/index.php/events/details?id=8
Next we’re off to Berlin to take in the culture, enjoy a panel discussion, check out some new mobile start-ups and then finish the day with some cheer from Swedish Beers and our friends at Adeven. Again, we’d love to see another sponsor or two benefit from getting involved (get in touch here) but in the meantime, do join Helen, Russell and Kristina for some Swedish, (well probably German), Beers.
More info and RSVP here http://mobileheroes.net/events/event/swedish-beers-on-tour-in-berlin/
While I’m in Berlin, I’m also organising a half-day of Heroes of Mobile discussions and demos also on 15 May at Betahaus. Details coming for that very soon. Keep your eyes peeled.
And it wouldn’t be the Summer if we didn’t have a Swedish Beers bash in our home city of London Town. All we’ve done is reserve the date at our favourite London watering hole, The Nordic Bar, and we’re ready and waiting to get sponsors on board. Helen’s talking to a few already but get in touch if you’d like to join the fun. We just wanted to make sure you had the date saved so we can have a blowout party….
More info and RSVP here: http://mobileheroes.net/events/event/swedish-beers-is-it-summer-yet-party/
There will be further Heroes of Mobile discussion events in London in May and June as well. Watch this space as they say!
Sponsorship and time permitting, I’ll be visiting more cities from Leeds to San Francisco. If you’d like to see Swedish Beers and/or Heroes of Mobile happening in your city and can help make that happen, then let Helen know.
If you’re coming to one of the Swedish Beers parties, please bring a business card with you to get your first beer token. Sponsors will have the rest of the tokens so you’ll need to get chatting with them to get your hands on more. There should be enough to go around!
So spread the word, and come on down for a fun evening with friends old and new. You don’t have to be a mobile expert to join us. All welcome with a passing interest in mobile technology and a cheery disposition!
Harvester is a chain of family-friendly restaurants with 200 outlets across the UK. They’re open seven days a week and offer grills, sauces and sides, as well as a brunch menu and vegetarian options at very competitive prices. I haven’t been to Harvester restaurant in almost 30 years, so I can’t comment on the quality of the food but I have friends who enjoy it.
To attract new customers and to build repeat business, they rely on regular offers and you’ll see their website shows the latest offers and the latest menus. When the Apple Passbook arrived on the scene, mobile advertising firm, Millennial Media, teamed up with mobile couponing firm, Eagle Eye, to create a campaign to drive customers to store.
According to Gavin Stirrat, MD EMEA for Millennial Media, they served display adverts to iPhone 5 users and those who had upgraded to iOS 6, with a skew towards families. When you clicked the banner, you reached a landing page communicating the offer - £5 off when you spend £30 or more - and the call-to-action to add this to your Passbook. Eagle Eye then pushed the individually coded coupon to their smartphone. No additional customer details were required making the process as seamless as possible.
Once the voucher was loaded into Passbook, you could redeem the voucher in the restaurant via the restaurant’s existing Chip & Pin terminal. In this way, it was possible to measure redemption rates and ROI. The campaign ran for two weeks and in that time, 16,000 vouchers were issued and around 700 were redeemed offering a 4.4% redemption rate. As the offer was for a minimum spend of £30, it drove at least £21,000 in revenue. And remember, this was just marketed to a subset of iOS customers who had iPhone 5 or iOS 6 so they had the improved Passbook functionality.
It seems that even iPhone 5 customers like a bargain…
Further reading on how digital can drive customer engagement, footfall and loyalty in the High Street from Eagle Eye’s Andy Smith in British Retail Consortium’s Winter 2012 publication. (It’s one of those magazine reader thingies so it won’t work on a tiny mobile screen).
I spent the first 10 years of my working life in fashion retail on the shop floor, managing various fashion outlets in the Midlands and London’s West End. That was back in the day when the ordinary customer used a landline, didn’t have a computer at home, watched a TV programme at the same time as everyone else, got your films at the local video shop and we carried copies of the A to Z London in our handbags or pockets to work out our way around London. It’s not actually that long ago.
At the time, we couldn’t have imagined how the retail landscape would change. I remember when I was part of the launch team at Episode’s flagship store in Knightsbridge, our tills were actually laptops with printers built in and these were hidden neatly by custom made cash desks. We just kept the cash in a drawer with a lock. Those laptops were the height of modernity in the fashion retail sector. I’d never seen anything like it at the time (we’re talking 1993/4). I’d been used to the tills that you still see in the likes of House of Fraser. I’d never seen a laptop so small or one with a built-in printer in my life! It was kind of a big deal for us. I was used to filling in forms in triplicate to keep tabs on sales, targets and stock.
But times, they have changed. Albeit the retail future is very unevenly distributed. This cartoon from marketoonist sums up the current retail landscape as many of us can relate to.
Except, most customers aren’t always online or obsessing about their phones. At least, not yet. And therein lies a big challenge. How does a retailer cater for the customers who operate in the old way – i.e. don’t tend to shop online, have a basic distrust of the likes of eBay and haven’t yet tried Amazon – and cater for customers, like me, who operate in the new way – checking prices, avidly ebaying, have been using Amazon for years and for whom shopping online is completely normal?
And not only that, but there are differences geographically. Go to Worcester, Winchester, Warwick or Wigan, and you won’t find people glued to their phones in the same way they seem to be in London. This might be down to lack of connectivity (mobile signal in Worcester, even in the city centre, is woeful) so they don’t even bother exploring the world of the web when out and about and don’t miss it. Or it might be that they just don’t see a need to constantly check Facebook and twitter to see what their friends are doing as they’ll be seeing them later, or the chances are, they’ll bump into them on the way home.
Nevertheless, retailers do have to face this challenge – independent stores and big chains alike. The future may not be here in Worcester, but retailers are feeling the pain and we’re struggling to keep our High Streets alive with more and more shops closing. I noticed another shop boarded up in my local neighbourhood this week. They say we’re a nation of shopkeepers. Can we hack it as shopkeepers in this digital age?
Further links and reading:
Discussion on my Facebook page about ‘showrooming’
Discussion on my Facebook page about online shopping, price comparison, High Streets and value
Discussion about mobile data usage based on location, type of job etc.. Highlights a potential digital divide and lots of differing opinions and anecdotes about usage and connectivity.
I’ve been in this mobile world now for 13 years almost and I’ve seen many changes in the industry. Everyone talks about how fast it’s moving, how everything changes so quickly and the technology moves on apace. Others complain that they simply can’t keep up. Others simply don’t want to keep up – this new stuff is just too much for them and they’re hanging on to the old ways of doing things.
I do get asked pretty frequently what changes I’ve noticed over the years and I’m not sure that the changes are as profound as sometimes we think they are. I’m still having the same conversations with potential clients about the power of mobile marketing that I had 10 years ago with very similar objections that I encountered when I first started working on ZagMe back in 2000.
I’ve also just spent the last few weeks in my hometown of Worcester (that’s the one in England for my US readers). My neighbour’s wi-fi aside keeping me sane, this appears to be the land that the internet forgot. Everything pretty much happens the same way that it happened when I was living here 25 years ago. I don’t see people glued to their mobile screens in the same way I do in London. Wi-fi is available, but not readily. Although lots of businesses promote themselves on Facebook, it’s done half-heartedly and they don’t have many followers – but when you walk past the businesses, they’re busy. Local restaurant websites don’t have their opening hours listed, have menus on their sites from three years ago and don’t seem to see the need or benefit from keeping this stuff updated.
People also still read newspapers here – the printed kind. Ones that you might pay for as well as the freebies (which just seem to be property listings). And there appears to be a thriving market for glossy, local magazines too which I was surprised to see. I’ve picked up at least three in the last week in local cafes and another one arrived through the door this morning.
There is also barely any networking here. Well, not what I would recognise as networking at least. I think it’s related to the local populace being connected in real life rather than virtual life perhaps and it’s probably also linked to the fact that mobile signal is absolutely appalling in the city (no really, my signal routinely drops out here *for hours* at a time.) The networking you’ll see here are the generalist networking breakfasts and meet-ups that are organised by the likes of the local Chamber of Commerce but not a lot else. I could be wrong here and all this stuff is organised outside of Google’s ability to index it in a way I can find it and connect with it to meet new people and interact with the local community, since I will be spending more time in Worcester in the coming months.
So it got me thinking about the speed of change, and the difference between what was then and what is now and the differences between locations in, even a small country, like the UK? The future most definitely is not evenly distributed.
Whilst I was pondering this, I discovered that Cybersalon has been resurrected. This was one of the very early meet-ups looking at our digital world. They’ve been on hiatus for some years now, but they’re back with a series of really interesting events. The web world has been pretty notorious for not embracing mobile early and rubbishing the idea that the web viewed on mobile will be bigger than the web viewed on desktop or laptops. But that has indeed happened. So I was curious to find that Cybersalon had published a Mobile Manifesto back in 2000. It makes for a very interesting read. And going back to my first point about what has changed, it appears to me that what they were talking about 13 years ago is still very relevant to our mobile world today. Have a read and let me know what you think.
Some of you may know I’m working on this little thing called the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival which is happening at the end of this month. We have a load of events already listed from an energising yoga session to mobile marketing to innovation and the infamous Swedish Beers party and we are not done yet. There are many more to come so do keep an eye on the site and sign up to receive the newsletter too. Oh and you can check us out on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud (for our podcast series) and, since just yesterday, LinkedIn.
As part of the fringe festival, I’ve managed to negotiate some exclusive fringe benefits. One of them is your chance to win a ticket to the sold-out and hugely popular MEF Connects MWC13 Party (free to enter here) and the other is the fan-dabi-dozi business card offer detailed below from the marvellous MOO.com and our new pals at MOB Barcelona. So if you’re heading to Barcelona, or even if you’re not, why not order a batch of cards? You just pay small handling fee and Bob’s your uncle.
I’m very happy to announce a new Heroes of Mobile partnership with our friends at MOO.com. If you’ve met me before, then you’ve probably had one of my business cards and I always use MOO and use my own photos for them. I love the card quality and the fact that you can have a different design for each card. It always makes for an interesting conversation point at a networking event.
So what’s the deal here then?
Well, you can order a pack of 50 standard size business cards or 100 mini size business cards FREE*. How about that? You can even pick up your cards in Barcelona, if you’d like to, at Makers of Barcelona (MOB) on Sunday 24th February or Monday 25th February 2013.
You’ll notice there’s a teeny Mobile Hero logo on the card so the person you give the card too will remember that you met at Heroes of the Mobile Fringe in Barcelona. And hey, you are a mobile hero, right? That’s why you’re involved in the festival. Neat, huh?
You need to hurry though! If you order by 11.59pm (GMT) on Sunday 17 February (20 February if you pay a rush fee), you’ll be in time for the pick up in Barcelona. That doesn’t give you very long, so you’d better get on to it!
Click here to order a pack of 50 full-size Heroes of Mobile business cards.
Click here to order a pack of 100 Heroes of Mobile MiniCards.
You’re probably wondering what the mobile angle is here and why MOO.com is involved with us. Well, it’s all linked with their upcoming NFC card launch. These are business cards that link to your digital world that gives you the full capability to rewrite the information stored on the chip any time you like. That’s an exciting use of NFC and we’re keen to see how these work when we see some in the flesh. And it's especially appealing to mobilists. More info here and don’t forget to sign up to keep updated so you can be one of the first to try them.
*Only one pack of business cards (either size) per person. Excludes Euro 3 processing fee.
I just had an email newsletter pop into my inbox from John Strand. If you don’t know him already, he's a long-serving mobilist with many years experience of consulting for various organisations on the subject of mobile telecoms.
I’ve often wondered myself why my phone varies in performance. I get that different networks will have an impact, but I hadn’t really thought what the other issues might be. John explains it in his recent newsletter which I’ve copied below for you (with permission). I’m interested to know what you think. How much do these factors affect performance and are there other things that can affect it? I welcome your thoughts and comments.
“Various reports from around the world over the last three years note that have consumers increasingly experience poor coverage with their smartphones. The challenge for mobile operators is that the perceived coverage rarely reflects the quality of the network that the operators build and run, but rather the quality of the smartphones that people use. As a new ground-breaking study shows, the quality of the smartphone combined with how it is used and configured is more to blame that the mobile network.
Here are the 10 main reasons why you get a bad signal on you phone:
1. The wrong phone. There is a big difference in the quality of antennas in phones. As for the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, the previous versions of these phones performed better in a major study of phone quality performed by Professor Gert Froelund Pedersen from Aalborg University, one of the world’s leading institutes for the study on antennas in phones.
2. Too many apps. The more apps you install, the less coverage you may experience. Apps create unwanted signal noise.
3. Free apps. Free games such as Angry Birds don’t not cost a penny, but they are filled with advertisements that eat your bandwidth and can contribute to poor coverage on your phone.
4. Open apps. It is a good idea to close them when not in use. Even if you are not using an app, it will still send and receive signals to the network.
5. Too many friends on Facebook or a few really active friends. If you have a lot of friends who ping and update you all the time from Facebook, this can also affect your experience negatively.
6. Your operating system. Even if you make sure you version is up to date, you run the risk that the new version is actually worse than the old. Plus you have to be sure to install all the proper updates. Android is also available in a multitude of versions, but each phone manufacturers adapts them differently.
7. A Samsung Galaxy S3 is not a Samsung Galaxy S3. Mobile phones are produced in a vast global manufacturing network and supply chain. The same phone may be made with different components from alternate suppliers. The model can vary both by country and within country. There are at least 10 variants of the same Samsung Galaxy S3. Your variant may not be optimal with your network.
8. Rush hour. During times of peak traffic, the same mobile mast must serve more users, so the quality per user may degrade. It's like getting into a packed train during rush hour.
9. Train travel. The metal tubing around windows in trains and related materials can be killers of mobile signals. When the train moves quickly, it can be difficult for your phone to switch connection between masts.
10. Telecom service provider. There is no such thing as the best network. The network that is best for you depends on which has coverage where you are when you use your phone.
The next time you experience poor coverage, take a look at your phone. Remember there are many things that can impact your experience beyond the network itself.
In the report “How to reduce the cost of mobile masts and improve regulation”, Strand Consult describes the challenges that operators face as they build and run mobile networks. In addition to Strand Consult reports, a number of institutions have recognized the role that smartphones play in the quality of coverage. If you want to know more about the report or about Strand Consult's experience in this field, click here..
I was having a sort out of a box of cards the other day and I found this one that a friend had sent me. It’s such a beautiful photo and a pertinent quote that I thought it worth sharing.
If you’re reading this on a device that doesn’t show pictures or you’re unable to see very well and are using a screen reader, it’s an image of an alley way, or ginnel (as you’d say up North), lit at ground level by many very bright lamps which illuminate the whole path.
The quote on the card is from Ben Sweetland, an American author, and says: ‘We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own’.
Have a happy weekend.
Service design consultancy, Fjord, has presented its annual trends prediction. It’s in a lovely slideshare format (see below) with some thoughts on the rationale, impact and what you can do about each trend. Some of the trends resonate more with me than others. And for those who are reading this on a mobile device and, perhaps, cannot access the slideshare content, here are the key trends.
1. People are ruining everything… for traditional business. This is a big one! The technology users are doing it for themselves when it comes to crowdfunding, content creation and more. And it has never been easier. There’s no point fighting this one either. Embrace or die.
2. I belong to me. The personal data battlefield. Ah yes, the ‘Big Data’ chestnut coupled with users growing understanding of what it means to them personally, and how some of them raging against the big data machine and are demanding control of their own information.
3. Dawn of the personal ecosystem. Connected objects start to take their place right by your side. The internet of things becomes a reality. Access to data means we can make decisions about our house, our shopping, our health and more from the comfort of the palm of our hands. This creates what Fjord calls the ‘personal ecosystem’. No question, items like fitbit and Nike’s fuelband have been a runaway success and we’ll see many more of these kinds of gizmos being used in day to day life. We’ll definitely see more of these in the coming months and years.
4. Keep it simple stupid. Good old-fashioned KISS principles make a comeback. I’m wondering if this is just wishful thinking on Fjord’s part or not? I agree, they’re great principles to stand by and I wish more businesses and developers would use them but I fear humans are not always that smart! We’ll see.
5. Revolution in Retail. The online/offline distinction disappears. We are right in the heart of the retail revolution right now. If retail doesn’t change, our High Street will continue to die. Traditional retailers have been far too slow to adapt and understand the changing customer needs. Pop-up stores, virtual stores, payments on the move – they’re all here.( At the same time, I don’t want to see the High Street die and for retail to become solely a warehouse distribution business. I hope that we see some innovation this year to make the hybrid sustainable and to find new ways of invigorating the High Street. Says the former shop assistant, so I may have some personal bias here!)
6. Access is the new ownership. What does it mean to own something in the digital age? This is a really interesting area. We’ve seen the rise of rentals and subscriptions from cars to holiday homes to music to books and more. How many subscriptions can one person manage? And what happens if you have no money and lose access to everything? Where are the swapping platforms, the digital versions of our libraries? And what else will we see going to this model? I still haven’t manage to get rid of my books, CDs, vinyl, videos or DVDs. And I could certainly use the space, but the online services aren’t quite there yet that meet my personal needs in those departments. It’s only a matter of time though.
7. Learning gets personal. How being online is transforming the way people learn. This is very exciting. And game changing. What will the future of learning look like? What will a text book become? Will we need to remember things in the same way? Does this change our attention spans for the better or worse? What about accessibility for those with visual, hearing or other impairments? We’ll be looking at this in one of the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe sessions next month.
8. You talking to me? Exploring new challenges in human-machine communication. Ah, yes. Voice. What do we do with that? How many times have I found myself typing furiously on Skype or email or Facebook to an individual when it would have been a whole lot quicker and easier to talk? I’ve just gotten out of the habit and am now forcing myself back into it because, it’s, you know, productive! I still can’t see myself talking to my phone or laptop, but hey, I never thought I’d be working in the mobile industry so anything can happen. I’m interested to see what innovations happen in this area and what it takes to succeed.
9. The mobile gap. Business plays catch-up with adoption. Fjord says it so much better than I can. ‘The speed of movement to mobile has amazed everyone. But it has not been matched by the speed with which most organisations are able to monetize it.’ There’s nothing I can really add to that although Fjord does have some good tips of starting points and things to think about in the slideshare below.
10. Think like a start-up… and act like one too. Wow. That demands massive change for most big companies. One that they’re probably able to embrace in concept only rather than actual delivery. We’re talking culture change here and that’s hard to do. It’s worth thinking about though and anything that brings down barriers in companies and aids collaboration, serendipity and innovation, I’m all for and I would definitely encourage. Not everyone is ready to be in a start-up though so you may lose people along the way…
Thanks for the food for thought, Fjord. What do you think?
Which means that us younger ones have a duty to create the digital future we want for ourselves. As we get older, our faculties inevitably decline. I have already noticed my hearing and my eyesight isn’t as good as it was and I still consider myself young. It’s just a fact of life. No-one else is going to create this future for us, or if they do, we may not like it, so we have to get on with it ourselves. And there hasn’t been a better time to do this. The barriers to entry haven’t been lower, access to technology is easier, we all have smartphones or tablets or both and they’re getting cheaper, and now, organisations like IC Tomorrow is helping fund the prototyping of some new ideas too.
They recently held a call for entries for their Digital Inclusion Innovation Contest in three specific areas – Sensory Assistance, inclusive media and accessible internet of things. The finalists have been chosen and they’ll be presenting at the final to be held on Thursday 7th February in London. Tickets are free and can be booked here. The contest is in collaboration with the Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) and the National Licensing Agency (NLA), University of York and Scope
The following companies will be presenting at the event:
Sensory Assistance – using smart phones to assist older people and people with sensory disabilities. Partner: University of York
· Georgie Last 10 Yards by Screenreader.net CIC
· Mobile-phone assisted navigation for visually impaired people by Spiral Scratch
· Tribble Doorbell Alerts by Novoda (video entry below)
Inclusive Media – creating a new digital reader and search tool for newspapers and magazines. Partners: RNIB & NLA
· Matopy, the app that makes newspapers and magazines truly interactive by Matopy
· Georgie Bookreader by Screenreader.net CIC
· NewsReader by Assistive Solutions
Accessible Internet of Things – enhancing physical home functions for disabled people. Partner: Scope
· The Smart Hub by Therapy Box
· StarInterface by National Star Foundation and College
· Assisted Independent Daily Able Platform (AIDAapps) by BioDigital Health
In addition to the £48,000 of funding the winner in each category receives, each successful participant will also retain their intellectual property and receive:
· Further exposure to a range of leading sector partners
· The opportunity to test their proposed application with leading sector partners
· The opportunity to promote their prototype solution via the IC tomorrow programme
I know I’m a bit biased here as I know some of the companies presenting. I do have my fingers crossed for Georgie and Tribble.
I’m planning to go to the event. It’s free to attend but there will be limited places so if you want to come, you’d better get your ticket booked.
Oh, and if you can find the video entries from any of the companies listed above, please add it in the comments. Thanks!
It’s bigger. Quite a lot bigger. They welcomed 67,000 visitors last year and they’re expecting that figure to go up again. It will still cover a huge variety of sectors and covers everything to do with mobile from the boxes that drive mobile telcos to the deeply technical sessions geared at mobile developers to mobile marketing and advertising to the new handsets and tablets to the start-up and entrepreneurial community and everything in between. There is a well-attended conference too but that’s really expensive to attend unless you’re speaking. And with so much going on in the exhibition halls and the fringe events in town, you won’t be able to fit everything in. The theme for this year is the ‘New Mobile Horizon’ (I’m not sure what that actually means, mind).
The event is in a new venue. Yes, that’s right. They’ve moved it up the road to an industrial zone nearer the airport. That means it’s quite a lot bigger and there’s more room for the conference so they can fit more people in. There will also be more space for exhibitors, more networking space and more food outlets onsite. The latter two are essential since there’s nothing nearby at all – not a tapas bar in sight. The nearest places you can go to enjoy off-site hospitality are the very fancy-schmancy high-rise hotels (and their prices to match), Ikea (so you can always get meatballs and a flat-pack cupboard) or a local shopping mall. That’s it. I’ve walked the whole way around the site and that’s all I could find. I took a few snaps as I walked around (see below or take a look on flickr).
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
You’ll need to allow extra time to travel to the new site as well. Your options will be a taxi, a free shuttle bus between the old site and the new one or the train. I don’t think the new Metro route will be up and running in time for this year’s show. Please do leave a comment if that’s changed. You can get an overground train at Placa Espanya. All the overground trains actually start underground and they all go through the station, Europa, which is the stop for Fira Gran Via. Then it’s a 10 minute walk to the venue. I’m not sure how often the trains run, but I think it’s probably every 10 minutes or so. So with having to change trains, navigate Placa Espanya station, get on the train and walk to the new site, it’s going to be a good half an hour at busy times. So you need to allow for that.
Rather disappointingly, once you get there, there is no historical palace for a backdrop, no gorgeous fountains and no view of the city. In fact, there’s nothing there to identify the location as Barcelona save for the odd street sign in Catalan. To get your dose of Barcelona culture, you’ll need to head back into the city as you won’t find it at Fira Gran Via. But don’t worry, I’ll be running the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe festival again and all the events will be in the city so you’ll be able to learn, network and enjoy some Catalan atmosphere there.
And as happens every year, I’m asked the same question, ‘how do I get a ticket?’. Read on for hints and tips on how to secure your free exhibition ticket. The emails have started, so I’ve updated my top tips for you. And just to be clear, I don’t have a secret stash of tickets! I don’t even have one myself yet.
Buy a ticket. A ticket that gives you access to the exhibition is 699 Euros. The price is the same as last year so that’s some consolation. Yes, I know it’s not free but thought I’d better get this one out of the way. Not such a big deal for a senior exec at a large corporate maybe, but certainly a big deal for us lesser mortals who have to watch our budgets more closely. Conference tickets are even more expensive. The good news is that with an expo pass, there are still plenty of sessions you can attend and plenty of things to do do and see.
Buy a reduced price ticket. This one is aimed at SMEs. If you sign up to the B2B Matchmaking service, they put on a speed networking service where you can meet a lot of people in a relatively short space of time. The meetings are all held on site and for the Euro 310 registration fee, that includes your exhibition ticket. So you get some meetings and you get to access the exhibition. Not a bad deal. More info on their 'how it works' page.
Apply to attend one of the App Planet days. This is where the bulk of the tickets get allocated within the developer community. Several App Planet days are scheduled and each host will have an allocation of tickets to give away to ensure attendance at their developer sessions. I know that most of the WIPJam passes have now been allocated, but the others have not yet been allocated. So press the big button on this page to ‘indicate your interest in attending Featured Programme Sessions’. These tickets should be allocated over the next three weeks or so. If you’re allocated a ticket, you’ll get a reference number and a URL and you have to go and claim your ticket. If you don’t claim in good time, your code will be allocated to someone else. So if you do get a code – use it or lose it. At the time of writing, you can apply via Nokia, the Car Connectivity Consortium, Plantronics, Samsung and WIP.
Apply to attend one of the MPowered Theatre days. This is a relatively new stream for Mobile World Congress and is geared towards brands, media owners and the agencies who look after them. Nielson and InternetQ are confirmed partners for this, with more partners tbc. Here’s more information about those sessions and you can click the big button to register your interest for them.
Get a press pass. If you have an audience or community in the 1000s, then you may qualify for a press pass. Details of how to do that are here. I have never done this so do not know what’s involved or how hard it is to get a press pass. If you do have experience of this, then please share it in the comments.
Make friends with colleagues and contacts who are exhibiting. Each exhibitor gets an allocation of exhibition passes to distribute at their discretion. This includes stands organised by trade bodies representing countries and regions. Ask, and maybe you shall receive. This one is going to be down to your existing relationships and networking skills. So check the MWC website and see who is exhibiting who you can ask. They’re expecting 1500 exhibitors this year. The site may take a little time to load for you to be able to search.
Keep an eye out on social networks. Every now and then, tickets become available and get allocated through social networks (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and/or through various mobile and developer communities such as Mobile Monday chapters globally or local developer user groups. These are either competitions (sign up to our newsletter, add your app to our app-store) or they’re fairly last minute and get allocated very quickly, so you need to be quick off the mark. The twitter hashtag for Mobile World Congress this year is #mwc13 or #mwc2013. Current competitions to win a pass include Appsfuel and InMobi.
So that’s how to score a ticket. Last year, I ran a competition to win free expo passes, but at the time of writing, I have no plans to run a competition. Obviously, if that changes, you’ll hear about it!
So what about the networking? How do I make the most of it?
Congress is huge and quickly becomes overwhelming. With 1500 exhibitors, after the first hour, every stand seems to look the same and they all merge into one. At least, that’s how it feels to me. Everyone seems to be your ‘best mobile partner’ or ‘best mobile solution’ or carrier grade technology’. Not terribly helpful when you’re trying to navigate around eight very large halls. Equally, everyone is in town and it’s the ideal opportunity to network, to build on existing relationships, to discover new things and to make things happen. However, you have to put the legwork in. So this is what I recommend…
1. Shameless plug alert! There will be a wide selection of events, meet-ups and things to do, see and get involved in at the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival. Background to last year’s festival is here and I’ll start to list events later this week over at http://mobileheroes.net. Most events will be free to attend.
Heroes has moved on somewhat from last year’s festival. Although the festival will be similar in flavour to last year, we’re also running events throughout the year in other cities. Next month in Barcelona, we’ll be covering a wide range of topics from start-ups to security to finance to emerging markets to mobile marketing and lots more besides. And there’ll be a whole bunch of parties to attend too. So allow yourself some time to attend some of these sessions as you will most definitely meet people there.
2. Create your own event. That’s what the fringe festival is for. Create an opportunity for like-minded people to get together, whether that’s a round-table discussion, a panel session, a lunch or dinner, or something else, then go for it. You can promote the event yourself and we can promote it on the fringe festival site too. Please get in touch. I’m very happy to discuss.
Please note, the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival is not associated with or endorsed by the GSMA or MWC in any way. I just want to make that clear. Also, all our events will be in the city centre. We will not be including anything at Fira Gran Via this year.3. Schedule meetings in with people you *can’t* see easily at home. There’s no point having a meeting with someone who is in an office down the road from you. You can do that any time the rest of the year. Make your meetings brief and to the point and at sensible times. If you’re partying into the wee hours (and some of the best networking happens then), then a 8am breakfast meeting may not be appropriate. Also allow time to get to and from meetings. At peak times of day, and the main drag is very crowded, it can take a good 20 minutes or more to get from the front entrance of La Fira to App Planet (assuming you know where you’re going). And with the new venue being even bigger, it could take even longer. Plus you won’t know the layout until you get there.
4. Be clear on who it is you want to meet there and why so that when you’re at a networking event, you can say that. The person you end up talking to may not be the right person, but they may know someone who is if they know who and what you’re looking for. Hone that elevator pitch.
5. Attend the parties. To some people, these will seem like jollies and just an excuse to get drunk as a skunk. And true enough, there is an element of that. However, the mobile industry is very sociable and the parties and meet-ups are where I have always met the most interesting people. You need to allow for serendipity at large shindigs like MWC. Hint, Swedish Beers will be on the Wednesday night as usual.
For more tips on networking at tech events, you could do worse than check out Kevin McDonagh’s post on how to attend a conference.
Let’s not forget personal safety.
My last bit of advice is about safety. Barcelona is still notorious for theft. I’ve written about this before. Please be street smart and heed the warnings. It can happen to anyone. And it is an all too frequent occurrence. There are 60,000+ gadget-geek execs in town with pockets stuffed full of devices. It’s like bees to a honeypot where thieves are concerned. Consider yourself warned.
And where to stay.
I always stay in an apartment. I’ve never stayed in a hotel the week of MWC so have no pointers there.
Please feel free to add your own top tips in the comments.
Last year’s Road to Mobile World Congress post can be found here. The comments are worth a look for more advice.
So I polled my smart friends on Facebook and asked for their recommendations. I wondered if there were viable alternatives to the Kindle. And if not, which Kindle anyway as there are several to choose from? Well, opinions were divided. There was much love for various versions of the Kindle but there were votes for the Nook and Kobo, and also for iPad and iPad mini (although, that wouldn’t work for me and how easily I get distracted). There was even a vote for the iPhone and, from a digital enthusiast, for old-fashioned paper books. I’m as confused as I was before I asked the question. With all the books on my shelves, it’s arguable as to whether I need an e-reader at all since I have several years worth of reading just a few feet from where I’m sitting right now. Hmm.
It raised some interesting questions about the future of e-readers and then I came across this article from MIT Technology Review which suggests that Amazon may well have undermined the e-reader market it created. It looks like sales of e-readers are falling in favour of general purpose tablets.
Of course, these are analyst predictions rather than actual figures for 2012 and 2013 so, we don’t actually know yet. And anecdotally, I see a lot of e-readers on the London Underground every day. And a lot of my friends are enthusiasts judging by their comments.
You may be thinking why this matters anyway? Well, as the author of the MIT article says, it matters because the future of book publishing will be influenced by what devices we use for reading. I’m convinced my reading overall is much higher because I’m online most of the time, but I am most certainly reading fewer books, magazines and newspapers as my time is taken up skimming twitter timelines, glancing at blog posts and reading the first couple of paragraphs of something and then moving on. My attention span is not like it used to be. And if I want to read anything longer than a few paragraphs and really take it in, I have to print it off and read it offline.
Even if dedicated readers become a niche hardware product, e-reading services like Amazon’s Kindle ecosystem most definitely will not be niche. Book stores are already in trouble on the High Street. It’s very hard to compete with what Amazon can offer online, even without the Kindle. But being able to pick up a book on one device, leave it and pick up the book again on another device, exactly where you left off, is almost magical and a very powerful reason for using.
So, will I be treating myself to an e-reader? Not just yet. I’m going to try and work through a few of the books on my bookshelves first.
I think what we’re seeing right now in terms of wearable tech is pretty crude. The AR glasses, the wristbands and watches and whatever else is being touted is only in an early iteration. In 10 year’s time, these things will look very different and I suspect, that by then, things will be very different in terms of what’s acceptable or not.
Having done some work in accessibility, I’ve seen some great uses of wearable tech to help people with disabilities. Make them ubiquitous enough, like the cordless kettle, and they’ll cross over to the mainstream. I think that’s the way round it is likely to work as there are very tangible benefits to a fully blind person being able to ‘see’ with AR glasses such as the one’s described in this news video.
As for being the new black for Spring 2013, I’m guessing no. And I think it will be some time before Anna Wintour decides to include this stuff in Vogue.
Mobile Web Best Practices is a great resource that helps you work out strategy, user experience, visual design and development by asking the right questions and pointing you to useful resources to aid your thinking. Well worth a look.
Hat tip to Cyberdees for sharing.
Back in 2011 when I was working on the Vodafone Foundation Smart Accessibility Awards, I didn’t have a clue about the world of accessible mobile applications. And I’m not sure that many other people had a clue either beyond a small group of enthusiasts. Much of the services I came across were ugly and institutionalised. The devices looked medical and screamed out ‘I’m disabled and helpless’. And I haven’t met anyone yet who wanted to be labelled in such a way. Not only that, but I discovered that some of our favourite household appliances, such as the cordless kettle, were first designed with disabled access in mind. That means that accessible design can appeal to and be useful to everyone.
I’m pleased to see that, a year or so on, things have improved somewhat from my first foray into the sector. Today, I stumbled across a couple of entries to this year’s Innovate UK’s digital inclusion contest and I really liked both of them so I’m sharing them with you.
First up is Novoda’s Tribble. It’s a prototype for a doorbell connected to your smartphone. Initially aimed at people with hearing impairments, but it’s clear from the concept that it’s useful for anyone and in other situations. Have a watch of the video (with subtitles).
Next up is Acuity Design’s concept for PaperRound. This is a news navigation system for those with visual impairments. Again, it’s a neat idea and one that isn’t restricted to those with visual impairments. Other people would find it useful too. The concept and design is explained in some detail in this blog post. If you’ve ever tried to use the internet the way a blind person has to, you’d find it pretty demoralising. PaperRound is one way to make the experience much more enjoyable.
Both these examples show that accessibility doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to scream out at you ‘I’m disabled and needy’. Best of luck to both companies in the contest. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other entries and to see who wins funding.
I’m going to keep this one brief. I’m bored of writing about this old chestnut. I expect you’re bored of reading about it, but the whole issue of the lack of representation of women at tech conferences has reared its ugly head again. I guess I’m partly responsible so that’s one of the reasons for writing about it, yet again.
I happened to mention on my Facebook page that I liked the look of the upcoming Edge conference but was disappointed to see no female speakers listed at all at the time of posting. Not an unreasonable comment – especially given my history in talking about the subject for many years and being a seasoned event organiser. That generated some debate, some interesting links and some feedback and comments from friends and friends of friends. You can read it here https://www.facebook.com/helenkeegan/posts/314598241984232?comment_id=1594410
Following being name-checked in a few tweets, I read a stern criticism of the Edge Conference speaker line-up here where the (male) writer considers it inexcusable that there are no female speakers listed and the unwillingness of the producer to comment on the process. I think the term ‘inexcusable’ is strong. I doubt it was deliberate, but getting more women involved just wasn’t a priority for the organiser. It usually isn’t. In fact, they’ve often not thought about it at all. That’s part of the problem.
Meanwhile, I’m reminded that CES is happening in Las Vegas and I watch this telling video from the BBC on the topic of scantily clad booth babes from the 2012 event and ponder if anything much will have changed. I feel it’s unlikely and shared my thoughts here. And it seems from this year’s Voco campaign to drive traffic to its stand, nothing much has changed at all. You can read about the campaign to boycott Voco here. Their campaign just makes me feel queasy.
I also read about The Atlantic’s idea about boycotting all male panels ‘Men: You can fix this. Refuse to participate unless there are women on stage with you.’ And a friend points me to this useful infographic explaining how women contribute to the entrepreneurial scene.
And finally, I stumble across this blog post and words fail me.
So why am I bothered about all of this?
Technology is a huge part of all of our futures and I want to make sure that female voices are heard so that we play a part in building that future, so that we have a stake in it. So that we can make the future a better place.
Mixed gender teams do better. That’s what the research tells us, over and over. You’re better off with an average ability mixed gender team than a high ability single sex team if you want to be more profitable, more productive, happier. My conclusion is that mixed panels and mixed line-ups will mean a better conference, a more productive networking event and more knowledge sharing. And more women in tech will mean we’ll have created a better future for ourselves.
And my hunch is that if we can get more women to participate, then we’ll get more of everybody to participate. This will make it better for everyone.
Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m idealistic. But I don’t think this is too much to ask. It also isn’t down to one group of people to fix this. We all have a part to play.
There are three simple things that, I believe, will help make the situation better. (I’ve talked about them on Facebook as well)
1. Conference and event organisers need to be more mindful about getting more female speakers involved and make a concerted effort on this. Different people need to be approached in different ways. Try new ways to get more women involved.
2. Women need to step up and get involved. Be counted. The more you do this, the easier it gets. Get on with it. [Need some tips on how to be a good speaker? There’s some great advice here.]
3. Men need to defer to their female colleagues once in a while. When you're asked to speak, why not suggest a female colleague instead so they can get the experience and exposure? Your company still gets the kudos. The knowledge is still shared.
In doing these three things, there will be a knock-on effect that more people will get involved from all aspects of our society and from all backgrounds. This is a good thing and I don't think it's too much to ask.
And finally. I know that getting more women into tech needs to be tackled in our schools as well. I fully support that. The two are not mutually exclusive. Every little action counts.
I sincerely hope, that this is the first and last time I feel compelled to blog about this in 2013. But it’s not up to me. It’s up to all of you out there to do your bit too. Are you in?
13 Things to remember for 2013 is a lovely post from Documentally. It’s a reminder of the things in our life that really matter and what he’s going to do about it. Well worth a look to inspire you to think about how you want to live your 2013. I know it gave me food for thought and I will be returning to it during the year. http://documentally.com/2012/12/30/13-things-to-remember-for-2013/
Why the past always seems happier than the present http://www.huffingtonpost.com/art-markman-phd/past-less-intense-than-present_b_987726.html?ref=tw I’ve had plenty experiences where I’ve not necessarily enjoyed them that much while they were actually happening, but I have enjoyed them a lot in retrospect. A bit weird that one, but maybe dining out on a story is sometimes more fulfilling?
Note to self: Productivity is about constraints and concentration. http://blog.teamtreehouse.com/productivity-is-about-constraints-and-concentration
The Anti-Social Era – Lessons learned from Vimeo’s founder http://pandodaily.com/2012/11/23/the-anti-social-era-lessons-learned-from-vimeo-founder-jake-lodwick/ There’s some good advice in this post. Worth a look.
Amazon is not a commerce company http://techcrunch.com/2012/12/30/amazon-is-not-a-commerce-company/ The author explains how Amazon is innovating and is a Big Data company and that businesses should be following its strategic path. Big Data seems to have appeared in a whole bunch of 2013 trends posts and when it comes to data crunching, Amazon probably has a head start.