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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mobile phone content vs Internet content

What I have found during my time in Japan, which I admit does have slightly differing phone usage culture patterns to the west, is that there is a distinct difference between the way mobile content and PC based content are used. This is something important to consider because, as you are aware Japan is a market leader in terms of number of accesses to content-based services on the mobile phone ( thanks to DoCoMo's i-mode ) and so might be taken as indicative as to how the market will progress in the west.

When delivering to the mobile phone content has to be trimmed down not only in terms of images and other decorative paraphernalia but also in terms of the length and depth of sentences used to convey its messages. Mobile sites are used, in the whole, for short term, quick-fix surfing whilst on the go, the other main usages are for downloading multimedia content to the phone ( mp3, ring tones and wallpapers ) and access to 'utility sites' such as timetables and directory services. Again the length and depth of these types of content has to be cut down from the normal output to a browser for the site to be a success on the mobile phone.

This is due to the natural, physical limitation imposed by the size of the screen, the keypad and the by the mobile, 'access from anywhere, anytime' usage philosophy of phone browsing - you do not want to be wading through reams of text when you are only on-line for two minutes whilst waiting for a train.

Other considerations such as image sizes, and by this I mean file size in KB, and pixel resolution of images have to be considered as well. It is no good providing the same rich content that you would display on your website for the current generation of phones available. Images still take time to download, time which mobile users are not prepared to wait for, and large, high resolution graphics, especially when containing text, become hard to read when rendered on the small screen.

My point is this : There is a definate need for seperate content for PC and Mobile sites and people should start considering these requirements when planning their mobile campaigns.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Latest mobile phone in japan SH901is

I had a play with the SH901 today and decided I don't want to maintain two areas on this blog so I will write about it here.

To tell the truth I was really disappointed when I got my hands on this phone, the colour we received was surprisingly disgusting and the phone actually looks quite old fashioned and badly styled.

The navigation feels like an old Atari system, the text, graphics and choice of colours really do seem like something out of an old 80's arcade game. Maybe this is to some peoples taste but after trying to work my way around the phone I got pretty sick of it.

The phone, like all the latest handsets I've been seeing is really big and chunky, it definitely takes up a lot of space in your pocket.

The one redeeming feature about this spanking new handset from Sharp??

That would be the camera. Excellent quality and features all round.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

geo location meets RSS on the mobile phone

Here's a cool idea, you combine RSS datafeeds with GPS position tags and create a location based browsing experience.

Not too dissimilar from recent ponderings about geo-tagged photos this idea comes with a twist.

Think about how RSS feeds when viewed in your reader give you streams of information from different sources all ordered by time and date, now imagine a portable reader with streams of information sorted by location. It would be so cool, you leave your mobile phone switched on and tuned into the application as you walk around town. You check it occasionally to see what people have posted from or about where you currently are.

The information could be mindless junk from surfers with too many gadgets or it could be corporate messages commanding your attention to a sale at a nearby store, the possibilities are huge.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Japanese Mobile Phone Culture

Today I saw a prime example of the proliferation of the mobile phone into Japanese society.

I was riding the Metro home after work, finishing tonight at 9pm, which is early for me, and as I was being packed into an already overcrowded carriage I saw something that made me want to laugh.

Sitting down in front of me, looking as stern as anything, was a businessman who must have been in his fifties. He had his briefcase up on his lap and was holding his umbrella like a cane and in his hands was his mobile phone, this guy obviously meant business.

The intense look on his face couldn't give it away but the reflection in the mirror did.

He was deeply engrossed, trying to jump his way to safety, in a game of SuperMarioLand.

I'm sure there is no-where else in the world where you would see such a site. I only wish I had the guts and audacity to have taken a photograph of him to post here. Unfortunately I am too polite - I guess that comes from living in Japan too long.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Peer-to-peer geo location

Digging a bit further into this idea I was pointed in the direction of an article on engadget discussing a similar application available from Nokia which connects people over Bluetooth.

The users can setup a home page with some descriptive text and a photo and then let their phone poll other users, displaying their home pages. When the user finds someone interesting they can then send them a message.

The Bluetooth connectivity is limited to a radius of about 30m so it is really only good for localized usage.

Nokia are marketing this as a fun system for clubbing and dating but with the right application of the technology perhaps this could be the first steps towards the all-pervasive system I am envisaging.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Thought for the day +

I was just reading and interesting article from this blog about an SMS promotion run by Virgin in the UK. It was an interesting concept were people at a festival were sent a word via SMS and had to find someone else at the festival who had received the same word. If two people managed to find each other they could present themselves to Virgin and win a flight each.

Sounds like a great application of social networking through the mobile phone, I'm now wondering how this could fit in with real peer-to-peer connectivity. I guess the simple answer would be to provide a similar challenge but on a much larger scale you would be able to win a substantial prize if you found another user, online with the same word or code as you and managed to meet up with that person.

By keeping you online and keeping you looking to find the other user this promotion would be a great way to launch a peer-to-peer networking service or give coverage to other advertising.

Thought for the day

It seems that there is a growing trend in the corporate world to get into peer-to-peer technology. Take 'Skype' for example, created by the founders of the file sharing program 'Kazaa', this software allows you to make long distance phone calls over the internet for next to no cost.

How do you apply the peer-to-peer mentality to mobile phone applications ? I've been thinking about this and am getting quite excited by the possibilities of peer-to-peer apps on phones. If you merge in Geo-position information then and you could create a useful service that alerts people when someone interesting is in their vicinity.

By creating a profile, users would be able to advertise who they are to the world and receive alerts when someone else who matches their search criteria is in the nearby area. This could lead to interesting networking opportunities for salesmen for instance, or for people who share obscure interests. On a more practical level you could advertise that you are looking for a builder to patch up your roof - the service would alert you when someone with the right qualifications passes you.

The idea of online-directories for finding services is not new, but take it to the next level with real-time, real-world integration and you have the beginnings of a datamap which you can overlay on your everyday life.

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