Archive for January, 2008

Google Mobile search improves

In July 2007, we wrote about Google preparing a mobile search engine. The latest version of this mobile search service has several large improvements compared to earlier versions. While the first version only allowed to search within one category separately (eg.: ‘web’, ‘images’ or ‘news’), the search for a keyword is now done for all categories at the same time. Whether the search engine first shows the text results, the image results or the results in another search category, depends on the kind of search keyword. The name of a politician will likely first result in news results, while the search on a photo model will start by generating image results.

Another improvement is that Google Mobile remembers local settings. When you have searched on the keyword ‘Brussels’, a following search will show you local results for the region Brussels. Also, when a search is geography-related, you have the option to visualise a Google Map.

Google Mobile

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YouTube Mobile

What better impulse could mobile video get than having YouTube investing in a mobile service. The popular internet video giant is launching its new service ‘YouTube Mobile’, which allows to stream the entire YouTube catalog of over 200 million videos on a mobile device. Users can not only watch videos on their cell phone but also upload videos themselves. For the moment, the service will be available will be available to all Sprint and AT&T customers with 3G phones and a data plan.
YouTube for Mobile (m.youtube.com) is available in the following countries:
United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, New Zealand, Germany and Russia.

Read the full press release here.

Youtube Mobile

15 years of SMS: a remarkable growth story

On December 3rd, 1992 a young engineer at Airwide Solutions named Neil Papworth sent the first commercial text message to Vodafone manager Richard Jarvis. Both sender and receiver were present on a recent anniversary party of that first SMS in London. At the time, they couldn’t have imagined the gigantic impact SMS would have on daily life 15 years later.

The phenomenal growth of SMS doesn’t seem to stop: in 2007 an estimated 5 billion SMS messages were sent in Belgium, which is a bit more than 500 messages per person. On New Year’s Eve 2008, 59 billion SMS were sent in Belgium alone; an increase of 25% compared to the year before. UK residents send out more text messages a day than there are worldwide searches on Google that same day.

Let’s be honest: nobody could have predicted or explained the success of SMS beforehand. Each marketer, analyst or product developer in 1992 saw mostly the limitations and barriers of this new service. First of all it’s pretty difficult to type text messages with only 12 buttons. Moreover, the messages are extremely short: which message could one possibly communicate within 160 characters? And finally, sending a SMS is not exactly cheap: counting cost per sent bit, SMS is the most expensive way of communicating in the world. When I received my first SMS on New Year’s Eve 1999, I couldn’t imagine the present commercial success of SMS either.

a remarkable growth story

Yet SMS became a success story in the short term. Which factors explain this success?

  1. Each mobile phone allows SMS: SMS is by default present on each GSM, and there is no need for a separate activation or special configuration.
  2. Accessibility ‘any time, any where’: many people prefer not to be disturbed op their phone; SMS is a practical way to nonetheless contact them fast, no matter where they are.
  3. No technical complexity: although entering a SMS message is not that simple, the sending of it is really easy. SMS works independently of the operator or the device of the recipient.
  4. Limited cost: Sending a SMS is cheaper than making a phone call or sending a letter.

What does the future of SMS look like? This question was recently asked at the Web Goes Mobile Seminar to keynote speaker Tom Weiss, ex-Vice President of T-Mobile. His reply was clear: at least 20 years. Every recent research shows that SMS still continues to grow. Recently, we also see more and more companies using SMS as communication tool. In the sector of recruiting for example, the Flemish VDAB has started early 2008 to inform young job hunters by SMS about new relevant job offers.

Language teachers probably won’t like the sound of it, but SMS is here to stay. And those selling SMS dictionaries will continue to live happy days.

Mobile Marketing revenue to hit $24 billion in 2013

Mobile marketing, which was born in countries such as Japan and South Korea, has taken off in Western Europe and is beginning to grow in North America. As consumers move to flat-rate data plans and adopt mobile messaging, and as new platforms for advertising-supported mobile search, video and gaming content services arrive, mobile marketing is expected to grow to over $24 billion worldwide in 2013, jumping from just $1.8 billion in 2007.

A recent survey by ABI Research found that while consumers are initially leery of mobile marketing, their perspective largely depends on whether they see some advantage for themselves. While 54% of survey respondents indicated they were totally opposed to mobile marketing messages, 70% of those same respondents said that an incentive such as a ringtone or a free song might make them receptive to mobile marketing.

Read more…

New Year’s Eve sms record broken

The SMS storm on New Year’s Eve has broken all records. In Belgium, a massive total of 59 million sms messages with Best Wishes were sent out. That is a lot more than the expectations, which had counted on 46 to 50 million.

The operators were well prepared for the texting night. Proximus activated a fifth SMS server to allow a send-out of 66.000 messages per minute. In total, the operator served 28,3 million messages (including 7,6 million delivery receipts though) compared to 23 million last year.
The other two operators also handled the sms mass without a problem. Mobistar counted 18,1 million SMS, which is a quarter more than in 2006. Base had the biggest rise: 46% more messages, counting up to 12,9 million SMS.

The texting tradition on the verge of a new year sees quite some differences between countries. Switserland is the most eager to sms friends and family with greetings, sending nearly seven times as many messages at New Year than on an average day, with over 75 million SMS estimated to be sent. Greeks send up to five times as many as normal. The French on the other hand seem to prefer more traditional ways to greet their close ones, as they don’t send any more sms messages than on a normal day.