Bulk SMS Ban in India (to end today)


Written on Thursday, September 30, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

I'm sure many of you have already heard about the ongoing bulk SMS ban in India. For those of you that haven't, next paragraph contains the key facts. 

To oversimplify it, the issue which triggered the ban on Bulk SMS and rallies, is about ownership of a piece of land. And though this might seem like a trivial reason at first, it's not. It turns out the piece of land in question hides a whole religious, ongoing, dispute between Muslims and Hindus in India. BusinessWeek reports:
Muslims claim the site based on the existence of the mosque since 1528, while Hindu groups argued the Babri Masjid was built on the site of an earlier temple.

At a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, the High Court in Uttar Pradesh state had been expected to award the disputed land in the town of Ayodhya, site of the 16th-century Babri Masjid and where Hindus believe their god Ram was born, to representatives of one of the religious communities.
It had been a while since the Indian government had used such drastic measures (there was a print ban in 1978 during a national emergency), but there is a lot of concern around this case, and the consequenses it might have. The demolishment of the muslim mosque that had been built on the site in 1992, led to approximately 2000 people being killed. In addition, there seems to be a lot of concern from the Prime Minister himself, as well as most political analysts:
“Any violence will speak of instability and people don’t like to invest in countries like that,” said Prem Shankar Jha, an independent political analyst based in New Delhi before the top court’s judgment. Serious trouble will create a climate for investors that “we cannot afford,” he said.

The BJP now says it still wants to build consensus before constructing a temple to Ram at the site in Ayodhya.
“The way the country handles this -- the aftermath -- will have a profound impact on the evolution of our country,” Prime Minister Singh told a meeting of editors at this official residence this month, the Hindu newspaper reported, referring to India’s most contentious and intractable religious dispute.

India’s gross domestic product has grown nearly six times since 1991, when Singh, then finance minister, introduced free- market measures that cut red tape, removed state-enforced capacity caps on steel and cement makers, and allowed overseas companies including Ford Motor Co. to set up operations.

About the Bulk SMS Ban

So, with this background in mind, the government chose to ban bulk SMS as a medium that could be used by ill-thinkers to provoke mass panic.

I am certainly not for red-tape, nor do I encourage such bans. I believe people should be free to express themselves. Still, on the other side, when you have to make decisions that can result in thousands of people being killed, I understand that it justifies some extreme measures. 

I'm just not sure how far banning Bulk SMS goes in preventing this. There are so many technological ways to overcome the specific ban they have placed, (ok, granted, they come with a higher cost) and most of you reading this, and come from a mobile marketing background, know what I mean. 

I can only send my sympathies to the mobile marketing professionals that have been affected by this.  It must be pretty hard suddenly not being able to address your share of the 1.2bn Indian population... Hang in there guys... 
Notably, the ban started as a 72-hour ban last week , but has since been extended, affecting other mobile services in the wake of it, such as mobile and internet banking. The government did ask network ops to exempt such traffic, but this, quite understandably, was not feasible as such traffic is usually sold in bulk to sms aggregators abroad.

The ban is set to end today, but we'll just have to wait and see... It has been extended twice in the past.

To close on a positive note, however, not everyone was upset by this ban. Greeting card outlets found a new source of income - albeit a temporary one.

What is Hyperlocal: LBS 2.0 ?


Written on Thursday, September 16, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

Going through my rss reader I came across a couple of pretty interesting posts for two 'Hyperlocal' Mobile Applications.

Now, 'Hyperlocal' is a buzzword really. There's no real definition out there and that's why it brings a 'wow-that seems interesting' effect that makes you read on. I'll take a stab at a definition from my point of view...

Hyperlocal as you'll read on  the Mobile Marketing Watch,  
... by definition means that a product or service offers unique value, and is relevant, to the consumer.
But there's also obviously the 'local' element in the word which goes to show how much it is bound to the user location and locality.
So, isn't Hyperlocal a descendant of the location-based services/marketing/advertising/... term? Hyperlocal services offer the mobile user information related to their location, yes, like location-based services (LBS). Isn't it the same thing? What's the catch? ...Is there one?
It's simple. To me, Hyperlocal is basically version 2.0 of LBS, with a hint of 'we need a new term cause LBS has been around for so long it's become boring'. 

Location-based services have improved dramatically over the last couple of years with some really interesting services in the market today. New business deals for aggregation between different parties in the LBS chain have made more information available to the end user, better quality information, and led to new business opportunities, with great potential. 

LBS, through 'Hyperlocality', seems reborn. All sorts of apps now know where you are with laser precision, and have valuable information to offer you, relevant to you, and timely. 

It just seems Hyperlocal is LBS finally done right... Take a look at the following Hyperlocal examples that illustrate the point:

Poynt, an LBS platform for local businesses. Seems very interesting but not yet available in the EU (or greek, at least) App Store for my iPhone, so I couldn't try it out.

Layar, the mobile augmented reality browser, which now comes with enhanced position tracking capabilities.

EveryBlock, "a news feed for your block", that provides its users with a unique news stream specifically for their neighborhood.
Again, seems interesting, but it only works in the U.S. -- visit their homepage for a list of supported cities.

If you have any comments, contributions to the Hyperlocal term, or other views on the Hyperlocal definition, etc. feel free to post a comment, or drop me an email.

Press Release: App turns iPhone Camera into Ticket Scanner


Written on Monday, September 13, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

Integrated Web Service Validates Print and Mobile Barcodes in Real-Time
Boston, MA – Skycore LLC today announced the release of its iOS 4-compliant codeREADr app enabling the iPhone camera to be used as a barcode scanner for secure, real-time validation of print and mobile tickets. Skycore is promoting the app and web services platform (http://codereadr.com) to ticketing companies, venues and event holders as a way to track attendance, extend ticket selling deadlines and reduce ticket fraud without the high capital expense typically associated with commercial access control scanners and systems. 
According to company, event holders can scan and validate data embedded in a ticket’s barcode and track the results for each event using the platform’s integrated web services.  Since the data and validation results are transmitted wirelessly in real-time, event holders don’t have to stop ticket sales prior to the event. Instead, they can sell tickets simultaneously with the event and virtually eliminate fraud, claims Skycore.  
“The platform is ideal for small and mid-size events, including those at nightclubs, conferences, corporate meetings and exhibitions.  What makes the codeREADr platform unique among smart phone scanning applications is its focus on speed, real-time transactions and security,” stated Richard Eicher, CEO and founder of Skycore LLC. 
The company asserts the iPhone 4 and 3Gs app for iOS 4 can scan a 2D barcode, read the embedded data, transmit it to codeREADr servers and receive back validation results in as little as 1-2 seconds. App users simply hold the phone’s camera over the barcode to initiate the scan.  Although it reads 1D barcodes (UPC-A, UPC-E, EAN8/13, Code 39 and Code 128) as well as open standard 2D barcodes, including QR Codes and Data Matrix codes, the firm highly recommends the use of QR codes for the fastest scan.   
The app requires the input of user credentials for security purposes and authenticates by device ID.  For speed and security, encrypted data are sent to and from the servers over 3G or Wi-Fi networks without opening a browser.
Developers can use codeREADr’s APIs for managing users, devices, databases and data flow. Third-party ticket providers are actively integrating codeREADr into their services, including such industry veterans as Steve LeVine Entertainment of Scottsdale, AZ and startups like MyTicketUSA of Miami, FL.
“The scanning worked great,” said Ryan Schroeder, IT Director of Steve LeVine Entertainment. “We had lots of comments from people saying how cool it was and how cutting edge, especially because it was on the iPhone 4’s.”
After a 30-day free trial period, plans start at $9.99 per month per active iPhone. Volume discounts are available for event organizers, ticketing companies and service resellers.   

“Later this year our roadmap includes apps for the BlackBerry, Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems. In fact, the BlackBerry app is already in its trial phase,” added Eicher.
“Over time we envision universal, cross platform ‘readers’ and secure, real-time web services for reading and processing virtually any type of digital object - whether barcodes, images, RFID or NFC and representing anything from payments, coupons and loyalty rewards to tickets and virtual currency. Skycore and our partners are investing in that vision.”
For further information please email bizdev-at-codereadr-dot-com.
About Skycore LLC
Skycore LLC (Boston, MA) has been at the cutting edge of multimedia messaging (MMS) and multimedia content delivery since 2003. Their Cellyspace and codeREADr platforms help small businesses, marketers, brands, retailers and enterprises create, deliver, read and process the data embedded in 1D/2D barcodes for fast and convenient transactions. Contact: info-at-skycore-dot-com.

Press Release: Adfonic builds momentum with new hires and investment


Written on Friday, September 10, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

London, 9th September 2010: Reflecting the continued growth in mobile advertising, Adfonic, the only European-based global mobile advertising marketplace, today announced a further round of investment, along with senior appointments in the UK and US and a move to new London offices in Mayfair. Having launched just over a year ago, Adfonic already has over 2,000 publishers within its network generating earnings from a pool of 3,000 live ad campaigns including major advertiser brands such as Yell.com, Peugeot and Sky. The number of ad impressions served through its network is set to reach two billion per month over the next quarter.

Recent London based appointments include Toni Davison who joins from AOL as Head of Ad Operations and Nicola Reed, previously with TradeDoubler, who joins as Head of Marketing. Over in the US, Jim McNamara joins Adfonic as Head of New Business Development, North America to spearhead Adfonic’s US operations.

These latest additions to Adfonic’s experienced management team are part of an ongoing expansion strategy which has received a further boost with recent multi-million dollar second round funding. The new cash injection from a private investor will fund the next stages of development of Adfonic’s market leading mobile advertising technology as well the recruitment of more key positions within ad sales, business development and engineering.

Celebrating a move into new offices in London’s Mayfair, CEO Victor Malachard is delighted with the company’s performance: “I’m thrilled to have secured our second round of investment. We’re already the fastest growing mobile advertising marketplace and this funding sets us well and truly on track towards achieving our ambitious growth targets. I’m also extremely pleased to welcome a wealth of new digital and mobile talent to the team. It’s a hugely exciting time for us and I’m very much looking forward to building on this momentum and driving the business forward.”

Adfonic will be exhibiting and speaking at ad:tech London, 21-22 September 2010. Stand 352 and at 1.50pm on 21 September in the Mobile Marketing and Apps Theatre.
About Adfonic
Adfonic is the fastest growing global mobile advertising marketplace serving ads across 190 countries through a 2,000 strong publisher base. Launched in July 2009 by three mobile industry veterans, Victor Malachard, Paul Childs and Wes Biggs, Adfonic is headquartered in London with operations in France and the USA. Adfonic enables advertisers to bid for display advertising space on mobile sites and applications and publishers to maximise the earning potential of their mobile traffic. To learn more, visit http://adfonic.com or blog at http://blog.adfonic.com

Mobile Marketing Statistics: Help Yourself...


Written on Thursday, September 09, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

Going through Murat's blog, Mobile Inc., (one of my favourite blogs) I came across a really useful list of articles containing statistics in and around mobile marketing.

You can find relevant stats for:
  • text message marketing
  • the mobile web,  
  • mobile apps,  
  • mobile advertising, etc.
Do check it out - you'll probably have to dig around a bit, but you're bound to find at least one relevant piece of information to what you're looking for..

These statistics would be especially useful to those of you in a mobile marketing class or course, in one of the many online marketing degree programs.

Thanks Murat, I'm sure this will come in handy!

Mobile Local Advertising: Free Online Course from Google


Written on Thursday, September 02, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

I've just finished watching a really interesting online course from Google, in the AdWords Online Classroom. It is a presentation with a lot of interesting information specific to mobile advertising in the mobile web, and contains Google's approach to this growing marketing sector.

The presentation starts with a lot of background information around the penetration of mobile, the mobile web, mobile applications, etc. 

Google then presents a range of background information around mobile search, where Google is the (surprise, surprise!) the dominating search engine, and a number of interesting statistics about how mobile search compares to traditional desktop search.

They discuss different mobile search trends and the different ways people are currently using mobile search on smartphones (they take high-end devices into consideration separately, namely the iPhone, the Android and the Palm Pre). 

Finally, there is a pretty detailed presentation on how you can set up mobile web advertising campaigns through your Google AdWords account, so as to take advantage of the mobile local advertising opportunities Google offers you. 

They round off the presentation with a range of seven tips for creating the optimum mobile advertising campaign through Google AdWords. 

To view the presentation go to the Google AdWords Online Classroom and click on the "Get started with mobile advertising" link in the "Free On-Demand Tutorials" section. I'd definitely recommend viewing this to anyone looking to open up their business to mobile web surfers.. It is targeted more towards business owners, and adwords campaign managers rather than a mobile marketer, but it certainly is recommended viewing for us lot too.

Basketball World Championship on your Mobile... What? Only Nokia?


Written on Wednesday, September 01, 2010 by Giorgos Saslis

I don't know how popular basketball is in your parts of the world, but it's the second most popular sport here in Greece, so I've been following the ongoing Basketball World Championship quite closely.

And working in the mobile marketing field you just can't help but notice, during the matches, all the advertisements from Nokia for its BBall Ovi Store app. The first feeling I had from this was that it seems like an (expensive) attempt to push Mobile Apps for Nokia, and its Ovi Store, and that's why there's so much advertisement around it.

I was pretty intrigued to see the mobile app so I took a quick look online, but only to find there's no other platform supported apart from Nokia phones. Yes, granted getting an app to work on all Nokias is kind of cross-platform, and yes, granted, it did only say Ovi store, so I don't know why I was expecting anything more than just that. 

But from the point of view of FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, wouldn't you want your mobile app to be accessible to the majority of users? 

Here's the description on the Ovi Store page:
FIBA and Nokia have teamed up to bring the world of Bball to your court. Get the latest play-by-play news as 24 teams go for gold at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey from August 28 - September 12. Access live courtside blogs, great user-generated content, action-packed videos and so much more. Chat with other Bballers across the globe and search for courts and other Bball players. Note: You need to have a Nokia account to be able to use Bball. Create one at www.ovi.com. 
Ok, so obviously Nokia are in this as a joint venture or something similar, it seems, so that they can promote their Ovi Store. But why not expand the mobile app to other platforms as well. Surely you want all fans to be able to follow the World Championship on their mobile? Even if it's not a Nokia!

I know I did. Alt+Tab, switch to iTunes, head to the App Store, search for 'basketball', quickly find an iPhone app called TR 2010, that provides me with what I needed. It does cost $1, (i.e. it's not free) but it's still cheaper than getting a Nokia...

It's a shame though becsaue FIBA could have developed this app, and achieved presence on a much broader range of smartphones (incl. iPhones) than they currently possess.