Tuesday, September 25, 2007

News Corp's Fox to launch free MySpace mobile

From Yahoo! News -

NEW YORK (Reuters) Mon Sep 24, 8:54 AM ET - Fox Interactive Media said on Monday it plans to launch ad-supported versions of MySpace and other properties for free on cell phones.

MySpace will let its users send and receive messages, comment on pictures, post bulletins, update blogs, find friends and update their mood status on cell phones.

MySpace, which attracts some 80 million unique visitors per month in the US alone, will offer a free version of its mobile application. A more fully featured version is available to paying customers of AT&T Helio.

Millennial Media will provide the mobile advertising technology to support the new products.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Facebook for the Few

From The New York Times -

Erik Wachtmeister, the Web site’s founder, in Stockholm.

If more proof were needed that the rich are different, it could be found on, an invitation-only social networking site.

“I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September,” a member wrote recently on the Forum, aSmallWorld’s popular nucleus. “The cars should be: Maserati — Ferrari — Lamborghini — Aston Martin ONLY!”

Another announced: “If anyone is looking for a private island, I now have one available for purchase in Fiji.”

Founded four years ago, the site, promoted as a Facebook for the social elite, has grown from about 500 members to about 150,000 registered users.

The site functions much like an inscrutable co-op board: its members, who pay no fee, induct newcomers on the basis of education, profession and most important, their network of personal contacts. Users are mostly young — 32 on average. Many have graduate degrees and a taste for living extravagantly on more than one continent. Sixty-five percent are from Europe, 20 percent from the U.S. and the rest scattered around the globe.

Advertisers were scarce at first. But in the last six months, luxury brands have come on board after a push from investors, including the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

The site drew a flurry of media attention last year, when Mr. Weinstein purchased a minority stake through the Weinstein Company, projecting that aSmallWorld’s membership could grow to a million within a year or two. SmallWorld is his sole investment in an Internet property.

The draw is “direct access to some of the world’s most influential tastemakers,” a community of early adopters and a natural market for Weinstein's films, books and fashions.

“We’re dealing with a group of people that moves in social migration around the planet,” said Joe Robinson, the new chief executive. “From the point of view of a Mercedes-Benz or a Piaget, that makes this an enormous marketing opportunity.”

The Weinstein Company introduced Mr. Robinson, a former advertising executive with Fox Interactive Media, the owner of MySpace, to court advertisers like Lufthansa, Land Rover, Credit Suisse, Moët & Chandon and Burberry. Olivier Stip, the vice president of marketing for Cartier North America, said that an advertisement placed in June generated lively traffic for the jeweler’s Love collection.

Advertising rates are competitive with those of and On average, clients spend $20,000 to $50,000 a month. The company also arranges dinners and tastings where members can sample advertisers’ products. For one recent gathering, Rémy Martin supplied 4,000 bottles of its premium Cognac, valued at $200 each.

But the presence of advertisers raises questions about just whom they are reaching and whether this business model works. Mr. Robinson said 35 percent of aSmallWorld members log in every day. But Andrew Lipsman, a senior analyst at comScore Network, a company that rates online usage, said that it is hard to track the number of unique visitors because the site is relatively small. “If there are a couple of hundred thousand registered users,” he said, “probably only a fraction are visiting the site regularly.” Compare that with Facebook, which in July had 30.6 million unique visitors, a number that has doubled since last year, Mr. Lipsman said.

Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research in Foster City, Calif., said that for advertisers trying to concentrate on a group of influential people, a special-interest publication makes sense. “I liken advertising on aSmallWorld to advertising in the Harvard Business School alumni report,” she said. “For luxury advertisers, the online options are fairly limited.”

Skeptics are not sure just who is getting the message. “For truly wealthy consumers, time is the ultimate luxury,” said Pam Danziger of Unity Marketing, which researches luxury brands. “These people are not going to waste it hanging about on a social networking site.”

The company does not publish members’ income or net worth, so their actual spending power is difficult to gauge. Hollywood strivers, fashion models, financiers and minor European royalty have been admitted inside its virtual velvet rope. But users also include publicists and party promoters who use the site as a personal database. In theory, they are just a few clicks away from Mr. Weinstein, a member, or boldface names like Naomi Campbell, Quentin Tarantino and Frédéric Fekkai.

The site has drawn enough notice to breed its share of copycats. Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute, a New York research group, plans to introduce Luxury early next year as an advertising-free, gated online community; members will pay an annual subscribers’ fee of $250. He says members will each have a net worth in the millions or tens of millions. “They are not only resilient,” he said, “they are nearly immune to a housing or stock market downturn.”

Google to Sell Web-Page Ads Visible on Mobile Phones

From New York Times -

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 17 — Google said Monday that it would begin selling ads on Web pages that are viewed on cellphones. The company said that its new product, AdSense for Mobile, would establish a cellphone advertising network in which Google would match ads with the content of mobile Web pages, much as it does online.

Other Internet giants, including Yahoo and AOLTime Warner, as well as some start-ups, have also created advertising networks tailored for mobile phones.

Dilip Venkatachari, product management director for AdSense, said the ads would provide a new source of revenue for publishers and could encourage more online sites to create mobile-focused Web sites. Like most other Google advertising systems, ad prices will be set through an auction and and advertisers will pay when a user clicks on its ad.

Mr. Venkatachari said Google had encouraged publishers to have no more than two ads per mobile page, a smaller number than typically appear on a PC’s Web browser.

Google has been testing the system with a limited number of advertisers and publishers this year. On Tuesday, it will open it to all mobile publishers in 13 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, China and India.

Last summer, Google began selling ads that appear next to search results on mobile phones through a program known as AdWords. Last week, it said that all of its online AdWords advertisers, which are said to number in the hundreds of thousands, would be eligible to have their ads appear next to search results on cellphones.

Google’s further inroads into mobile advertising have long been expected. But the market remains relatively small, and analysts do not expect the new service to contribute much soon to Google’s bottom line.

Still, advertisers and publishers appear to be growing increasingly comfortable with mobile advertising. AdMob, a start-up that runs a mobile advertising network, showed 230 million ads in January and expects to show about 1.5 billion this month, said Omar Hamoui, its founder and chief executive.

“The reason that Google and others are getting in is that the market is growing so rapidly, so people are getting very excited,” Mr. Hamoui said.

Earlier in the year, AOL acquired Third Screen Media, an AdMob competitor, while Microsoft acquired ScreenTonic, a mobile ad company based in Paris. On Monday, Nokia said it would buy Enpocket, a company in Boston that displays ads on cellphones.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pros seem to outdo cons in new phone charger standard

From CNET News, September 20, 2007, 1:05 PM PDT -

On Monday, the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)--a forum dominated by operators but including manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG--announced that its members had agreed on micro-USB as the future common connector.

Micro-USB, which is thinner than the currently ubiquitous mini-USB standard and therefore better suited to the ever-shrinking dimensions of mobile phones and other consumer electronics, was introduced to the world by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) at the start of this year. Like mini-USB, the standard also makes it possible to charge phones from PCs.

Complete story at the site.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Five Facts About Google Phone

From GigaOM -

1. Google Phone is based on a mobile variant of Linux, and is able to run Java virtual machines.

2. All applications that are supposed to run on the Google Phone are java apps. The OS has ability to run multimedia files, including video clips.

3. The UI is typical of mobile phones, and the image (with red background) floating around isn’t representative of the Google Phone UI. The entire UI is said to be done in Java and is very responsive. The UI has a “search box.”

4. There is a special browser which has pan-and-browse features that are common to modern browsers such as browsers for iPhone and Symbian phones. The entire browser is apparently written in Java and is based on the WebKit core, the same engine in Safari and in iPhone, and Google has been making optimizations to speed it up.

5. Initially there was one prototype, but over past few months Google has the mobile OS running on 3-to-5 devices, most of them likely made by HTC and all have Qwerty apps. The model that folks have seen is very similar to the T-Mobile Dash. Around 3GSM, there were rumors that Google, Orange and HTC were working together on mobile devices.

Could GPay Be Google’s Killer Phone App?

From TechCrunch -

A new patent was published August 30 that would suggest that Google is developing a mobile phone payment system.

The Text Message Payment patent details a system where by Google offers a mobile focused payments under the title of GPay.

Examples of payment scenarios given in the patent include paying for goods from a vending machine, as well as purchasing items directly from offline retailers.

While it’s certainly possible that the GPay Mobile payments system could well be platform independent, GPay could also end up as an exclusive offering of the rumored GPhone, Google's mobile phone. This will give Google the jump over other mobile operators by enabling mobile payments natively from the handset.

Google competitor PayPal currently offers their own mobile payments system, but it hasn’t set the world on fire; Google on the other hand would have the advantage of embedding GPay in the GPhone.



Sunday, September 2, 2007

What Your Cell Knows About You

From Time -

Cell phones have, in recent years, began emerging as an important resource for both criminal investigators and defense lawyers. Now a group of forensic code breakers is working to go beyond the obvious and familiar — the call logs and address books — and tap deeper into our phones, into a hidden gold mine of personal information. Their work is prompting kudos from crime busters while raising concern among civil libertarians.

Twenty years ago it would have taken a police agency months of shoe leather and paper hunting to assemble the kind of information that is available on a cell phone's internal memory and which can be extracted by a deep probe.

Most cell phone owners think simply removing a phone's SIM card removes personal information, but the phone's internal memory, even communication exchanged between the phone and its server, remain. Phone manuals detail how to perform multiple reset commands to erase personal information and some online recycling phone services offer command sets for specific phones, but most people never bother to go through the tedious process.

However, few U.S. law enforcement agencies have the forensic tools at hand and criminals often exploit that advantage, stymieing investigators with simple if crude methods. Typically, law enforcement agencies rely on simply "thumbing through" a cell phone to retrieve data. Another tool is "pinging" a phone to search for its location, helpful in missing-persons cases and in tracking suspects. A more complex forensic approach now available utilizes a command system that initialize modems to ask the phone specific questions about the information it may be storing.

But not all cell phones respond to modem-style commands and some cell phone developers are often loath to share their proprietary technology. Nokia phones are particularly hard to crack. In the U.S. alone there are over 2,000 models of phones — and even within one model line there may be a dozen phones using different codes for each function. The Holy Grail for the cell phone code breakers is to develop a forensics tool — a "Swiss Army knife" —that can be used easily in the field.

Stats & Research: SMS Traffic Up 50%

From 160Characters -

Global mobile data revenues from services other than SMS exceeded USD10 billion in Q1 07 according to Informa’s World Cellular Data Metrics (WCDM).

The total of USD11.3 billion compares with UD$8.1 billion in Q1 06.

The figure means that nearly one third of mobile data revenues now come from non-SMS services, suggesting operators’ investments in advanced technologies are finally reaping rewards.

But this does not mean the end of the road for SMS. Worldwide SMS traffic was up year-on-year by around 50% to more than 620 billion messages in Q1 07. SMS revenues were up 23% over the same period, helping total data revenues to reach USD34.3 billion in the quarter, the highest ever. The higher increase in SMS traffic compared to revenue reflects lower SMS tariffs and the greater availability of bundled packages.

Out of 70 operators tracked by WCDM, the proportion of data revenues coming from non-SMS ranged vastly, from just 1% (Vodafone Egypt) to over 70% (KTF, Korea).

Source: Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Data Metrics

Source: Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Data Metrics

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here

From Rediff August 24, 2007 01:53 IST

Google is believed to be a fortnight away from the worldwide launch of its much-awaited Google Phone (Gphone) and has started talks with service providers in India for an exclusive launch on one of their networks.

Talks are believed to be taking place with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar, respectively India's first and third largest mobile telephony operators, and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam.

Sources close to the development said a simultaneous launch across the US and Europe is expected, and announcements would be sent to media firms in India and other parts of the world. US regulatory approval, which is expected soon, is the only hurdle that Google is waiting to cross, they added. Google plans to invest USD7-8 billion for its global telephony foray.

In India, it is also believed to be in talks with Indian providers to offer data and content and platforms including Instant Messaging (IM) and Search functions. However, these could not be confirmed.

Reports of Google getting into handset manufacturing as an answer to Apple's iPhone has been doing rounds in cyberspace and international media for some time. These reports suggest that Google has developed a prototype that will hit the markets in a year's time. The US-based company has neither confirmed nor denied these reports. The Wall Street Journal too had reported that Google had invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" in the project and was involved in discussions with US-based T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless.

Globally, Google is likely to participate in the upcoming auction for 700 MHz spectrum for which it is prepared to spend up to $4.6 billion. The firm is also introducing ads to YouTube videos which could be replicated on mobile phones. Ironically, Google recently partnered Apple to produce services such as e-mail and maps for its iPhone handset. And Eric Schmidt, Google's chief executive, said recently that more Google services for the iPhone would be rolled out.

More at Rediff.