Archive for April, 2009

American duo sends record breaking 217.000 SMS

And you thought that you send too many SMS in a month?
(replace ‘you’ by ‘your teenage kids’ if you’re over 40)

Two friends from Pennsylvania have send a stunning amount of 217.000 messages to each other during the month of March.  That’s 7.000 SMS per day, in case you’re wondering.

Nick (29) and Doug (30) were in for the record, which was previously held Deepak Sharma in India, who sent 182.000 messages in 2005.  The duo set up their mobile to send multiple messages, most of which contained just short texts, such as ‘LOL’ and ‘Hello’. 

Both had relied on their unlimited text messaging plans, so quite the surprise when Nick received a bill of $ 26,000.  After complaints, mobile operator T Mobile has credited his account and is investigating the charges. 

The Guinness Book of Records hasn’t yet responded whether the record will be certified.

Mobile phone with hand

SMS Parking: Schaarbeek in, Gent out

Paying your parking ticket by SMS; it’s one of the most successful examples of SMS payment in Belgium.
Especially in Antwerp, where it was first introduced, it’s been a success.

Ghent followed soon after, but the service there has now stopped, after experiencing technical problems since February.   NCS Crandy, the company behind the service in Ghent, has given up and has removed all stickers from parking automats.  Apparently, the service hasn’t been available since March 17 already.  The complicated system caused the service to be a lot less successful than in other cities.

But good news: Schaarbeek is now the first community in the Brussels area to start offering the SMS parking service.   Proximus clients will be charged for their parking ticket directly on their mobile invoice or deducted from their call credit.  Mobistar and Base subscribers will receive a separate invoice.

Among other cities that offer parking by SMS are Hasselt, Bruges and Tienen.
Many other cities are introducing the service in the coming months, such as Leuven (May) and Heusden-Zolder (July).


Police angry at Touring Mobilis commercials

Looks like not everybody is happy with the new radio commercials of our SMS Flits service for Touring Mobilis.

Het Nieuwsblad: Politie woest op nieuwe ‘bespottelijke’ reclamespot van Touring Mobilis

Het Belang van Limburg: Nooit meer geflitst…

MobileWeb builds SMS Flits service for Touring Mobilis

Touring Mobilis introduces the Flits Alarm, a new mobile service allowing consumers to receive the location of traffic radars by SMS. After sending a SMS with the keyword FLITS and his postal code to the shortcode 9180, the user receives a message back, containing all traffic radars in a 50 kilometer radius. It’s also possible to subscribe to the FLITSINFO service, which automatically sends new flits information in your region.

Touring Mobilis, service by and for the road user
Touring Mobilis keeps an eye on the current status of all Belgian roads. A broad network of correspondents ensures an up-to-date overview of all accidents, traffic jams, road blocks and radars. “It was already possible for road users to inform us by SMS when they noticed a radar. The logical next step is that we inform them about radars, specific for their region.” explains Geert Michiels, CTO at Touring Mobilis., provider of innovative mobile solutions is a Belgian provider of innovative Mobile Internet, Mobile Marketing and SMS solutions. Several applications have been awarded at the Mobistar Innovation Awards.
Danny Lein, Managing Director of “Ever more large companies are realizing that SMS communication is not only efficient and cost effective, but is also a powerful tool for interaction with the client. To inform people on the road in real time, SMS is the perfect channel. Combining the extensive database of Touring Mobilis with our infrastructure has resulted in this interesting application, that will make life easier for many people.”

For more details on the Flits Alarm service, visit

Stop your stolen car by SMS

A month ago, we were driving our car with an iPhone, so why not stop a car by SMS?

Students engineering at the University of Saskatchewan , Canada have worked out a system that can be very useful if your car got stolen.  Basically, you send a SMS to the board computer of your car and tells the system that the car is over-heated, after which the vehicle will be immobilized.
To avoid accidents, the car won’t stop immediately, but it will be limited to 30 km/h.  When the thief stops the car, he won’t be able to start it again.  To complete the magic, the system will send a SMS message back with the GPS coordinates of the car’s current location.


Mastercard launches ATM Hunter app

American iPhone users can now find the nearest ATM cash machine, thanks to the ATM Hunter, an application by Mastercard which has become available on the Apple App Store.

The application uses the iPhone localisation technology to track the whereabouts of the user and to give him information on the ATM machines available in the neighborhood.  You can further customize your search according to your banking needs (wheelchair accessibility, 24hour access, drive through, etc.)

Mastercard says it is contacted each year by 2 million consumers asking for ATM locations by phone, e-mail and SMS.


Belgian ban on combined sales judged illegal by Europe

Might Belgium finally be getting rid of the ban on combined sales?
The European Court has judged this ban is not conform the European legislation and should be lifted.

As we’ve argued many times before, allowing combined sales would open up a lot of marketing opportunities.

The ban that exists in Belgium has come under pressure recently after the expensive introduction of the Apple iPhone.  The popular mobile device costs 525,- Euro in a Mobistar store, while in other countries it’s offered for a few euros or even for free if combined with a mobile subscription.  In Belgium this combination is not possible.

However, there were several examples of promo offerings that existed in a grey zone.  Just think of Cardoen, who recently offered a cheap car for free if you bought an expensive car. 
Total also had a campaign, offering free car trouble assistance if you bought a certain amount of petrol.  Organisation for automobile users VAB brought this campaign to European Court, argumenting it’s a form of combined sales.
Europe has now ruled that the campaign should be allowed, because the ban on combined sales is against European legislation.
This opens the door to Belgian legislation to abolish this ban, something that has not only been argued on this blog, but also by minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.  He has reacted positively after the decision of the Court and plans to ban the ban by law.

Euro Parliament approves lower SMS tariffs

Yesterday afternoon, the European Parliament has almost unanimously approved the lowering of a European maximum on international voice calls and the inrtoduction of a maximum on the price of a SMS and surfing.

As of July 2009, sending a SMS from a foreign country (within the Union) should cost maximum 11 eurocent.  Today, this is on average 28 eurocent and sometimes up to 80 eurocent!

By 2011, the maximum tariff for outgoing international calls should have diminished to 0.35 euro per minute.  Incoming calls should be charged at a maximum of 0.11 euro per minute.  This summer, we can’t profit from these limits just yet.  So when you’re calling a friend from the beach in Barcelona, remember you’ll still be charged up to 0.43 euro/minute.  When that friend calls you, your part of the bill can be a maximum of 0.19 euro/minute.

Mobile music: from ringtones to full MP3

I’ve discussed it before: the ring tone industry is no longer what it used to be.  With today’s mobile devices, we no longer have to endure those irritating polyphonic  ring tones, but we can instead download full MP3 of our favorite songs onto our mobile, use them as tones or simple use our phone as a music player when we’re on the bus.

As I recently read on Digimedia, research by Strategy Analytics has shown that the sale of (mono, polyphonic & hifi) ring tones still represents 50% of mobile music sales, while the download of singles is gaining popularity.   Another agency Informa Telecoms & Media points out that for listening to music, most people still use a separate device (such as an iPod or a pre-historical CD player).  But with hybrid mobile devices and smartphones becoming more wide spread, this trend might soon change. 

A good stimulation is the launch of new mobile music services, such as PlayNow Plus, which is automatically available with the phones from the Sony Ericsson Walkman series, and Come With Music, which Comes With the Nokia XpressMusic devices.  Both services offer free music downloads for a first period of time, after which the (optional) service is monthly charged with the mobile subscription.   Another example is of course the Apple iPhone, which syncs with the iTunes Store. 


BBC launches beta version of Mobile TV

The BBC unveiled a beta version of its Live TV streaming television service optimized for mobile handsets including the Nokia N96 and Nokia 5800.

The mobile TV trial nevertheless faces some serious limitations.  Content is broadcast at a resolution of  just 176×144 to guarantee compatibility across a wide range of handsets. Moreover, the service is currently accessible solely via WiFi-enabled devices.

Read more at IT Pro Portal.