Thursday, December 21, 2006

Creating Casual Games, Content and Applications for the (Mobile) long tail

Not sure if anyone reads this blog except me anyway :), but I thought I'd share this link (click on on the title of the post) -originally referenced on Tom Hume's blog. The author of this presentation is the mobile company Yiibu

It is one of the more refreshing presentations I've seen in ages that sums up discovering and using mobile content.

There is an additional presentation here from Scott and Amy Jo Kim which also has some nuggets on mobile gaming content and what makes mobile content sticky.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Google phone

There's me thinking I really need to post an update to my blog and an interesting piece of mobile news comes along ....

Inevitable really isnt' it ? From the mobile network / access / device / content layers - Google were playing in all of the fields except the device area... and they're now entering that market too.

Google have stated in previous 2006 analyst announcements that they see mobile as a key part of their future. An interesting quote from the FT by CEO Eric Schmidt back in May this year...

"Mobile phones are cheaper than PCs, there are three times more of them, growing at twice the speed, and they increasingly have internet access. What is more, the World Bank estimates that more than two-thirds of the world's population lives within range of a mobile phone network. Mobile is going to be the next big internet phenomenon. It holds the key to greater access to everyone - with all the benefits that entails."

We've seen the aggressive push to incorporate mobile Google Search with existing International operators for on-deck and off-deck search (and of course mobile advertising) as well as mobilising some of their other services such as Google Maps,Gmail, Google Talk (IM), Blogger, Personalized homepage widgets. (Next: mobile Google video and/or YouTube).

They're buying mobile specialist/content companies (eg Android, Dodgeball, ReqWireless) and are experimenting with their own networks for mobility access. Ex T-Mobile board member Arora also has a good understanding of the current complexities of the mobile industry from an end-to-end perspective.

Microsoft have had a head start of course and been pursuing Mobile for years with large investments... there are signs they are finally getting somewhere

What's next for Google Mobile ?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Week roundup

Couple of interesting things this week. If you're into Flash Lite check out David's blog ( - he really is a flash-lite guru and is posting a web browsing test for the FlashLite plugin for the latest Nokia OSS mobile browser version (available on the N95) from his site. I happen to have flash 6 on my old web page and it works in the new OSS browser without too much stutter.

Flickr announced Mobile flickr .... point your mobile web browser to (better even than viewing the full-blown flickr website through a decent mobile web browser).

More tinkering with the N95, particularly using the camera... Nokia have speeded up the picture taking. When you press the camera button now - it does not take 2-3 seconds to take the picture (like the N73), the picture is taken within a second - much better. Also to start the camera app - you open the shutter. The ergonomics are nice, there is a definate click which snaps the shutter open so you know it's ready...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nokia N95

Playing around with a proto N95 today. When you're not browsing via W-Lan, on HSDPA networks its pretty damn quick. I like the new media menu a lot and as a nod to S/E, they've added an option of animating menu items and changing display properties(grid/list/horseshoe/carousel)... there seems to be a lot of personalisation options in this phone and you can see which menu items have recently been accessed... not sure which ones will make it into the production models.

Two of the most immediate things noticeable are it's lightness (it does not weigh much at all) and the big 2.6" screen display. I've not tried the camera yet, but I'm told the image processing software has improved (for better artifact reduction)...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Story / Vignette #1

Last week I went along to the Symbian Talking Heads event on the South Bank, London and very interesting it was too. However rather than write up my thoughts on it ... I thought I'd write a short story on how I used my current phone in travelling to and from the event as well as how I was using it at the event itself. Whenever leaving for anywhere the usual applies :

Money. Keys. Phone.(although increasingly I'm finding I don't actually need the keys if I know someone will be in when I get back) and because I was on business, my Blackberry too.

So first off I leave home glancing at the idle screen of my phone to see the Symbian event listed as a calendar entry. Plenty of time. Fire up the mobile music player and plug in the proprietary headphones (for the love of Pete go with standard 3.5mm jacks Nokia!) and listen to a playlist of songs I created and put onto a 1GB memory card whilst in front of my PC.

Get to the station and train pulls in... it's the Guildford to Waterloo 14:48. Finding train times on a mobile is too difficult and slow, despite the multiple websites and wapsites out there that offer this information - even bookmarking the right page in my mobile browser still takes too long to get the actual information by firing up the mobile browser (maybe not with HSDPA), typing in the info, waiting for page reload etc... (I'm very impatient when it comes to mobile data)....I just need the times and destinations from my local station - now.

South West trains produce some mini-train tables (available at the station) and previously I'd picked one up and taken a photo of it with my cameraphone (one for train times into waterloo and one for train times out of waterloo). I keep these images on my phone, and they were also loaded with one click from the phone into my flickr pro account as backup using Shozu. You might ask why not just keep the train timetable in your wallet ? I could, but it's just one more bit of paper I don't need to carry round.

The zooming function in the Image Gallery viewer when looking at a photo of this timetable is perfectly adequate to be able to read the small timetable print.

Train arrives on time (nice for SW trains) and I jump on to settle down for the 50 minute journey into Waterloo. Did a spot of reading of the FT Business section on Telcos (lots of changes this week) before returning back to my phone.

This time I do fire up the Nokia Oss browser set to go straight to my bookmarks rather than open the default homepage. I keep the Bloglines bookmark at the top. I go straight into it (screenshot on left). 3g coverage in Surrey , at least where I am is pretty good so the site is brought up quickly. I'm already logged in, (using the preferences of remember username and password) so I go straight to my feeds and start reading. I do this so regularly now when I have a couple of spare minutes, it all happens (as long as there is coverage) within 15-20 seconds. I notice the FT RSS and The Register RSS have refreshed and are reflecting their views on the same Teclo stories I'd just been reading in the FT.

Decided to send a text to a work colleague on a project I'm working on to call me later, rather than email from the blackberry (easy as it is)... resume back to Bloglines. I'm viewing the web version of bloglines (not the mobile version) and it all works fine through the oss browser.

Email guilt finally succumbs and I take a look on the blackberry. They've piled up again, most I can ignore or delete but a couple I need to action. The blackberry connect client that is available on some E-series Nokia devices for Push email is great, but I'm not quite ready to move over completely and have personal and corporate mail all in one device... I like using my phone for personal email and the Blackberry for work...this may change with the next round of devices, as I've started synching my work calendar into my phone as I tend to keep both personal and work related items in my work calendar.

A dreary, rainy Surbiton, Wimbledon and Clapham go by and the train journey is very dull. In this time I'm answering work emails on the blackberry and dipping into personal emails on the phone via GMail java client or MyYahoo client to pick up these respective mails. I like the Gmail one particularly. I have also set up Yahoo as an Inbox in the Nokia Messaging client as an alternative way of accessing the mails. Yahoo seriously need to beef up the spam protection, is it just me or do you find at least 40 spam emails per day ? it's highly annoying sorting out the spam from legitimate emails..

All of this heavy data transfer is flat-rate on my tariff so i don't need to worry about any pricing issues or bill shock...

I get to Waterloo and take a taxi to the Southbank as it's raining and arrive at the Symbian event. My phone is on standby and I switch it to silent mode using the on/off key quickly to toggle the profile (learnt the hardway - as I have set my ringtone to a particular personal favoutie mp3). After the introductions, the speakers start and I take a few notes, a few camera photos (uploaded in one click) and at the end of the event decide to use the voice recorder to hear David Wood sum up. A bit of networking with some of the mobile industry personalities afterwards and then off home.

On the train home I read a couple of the BBC news headlines in my favourite mobile magazine reader, send off 1 or two texts that I had neglected to reply to earlier in the day (asynchronous communication has its advantages) and download a podcast comedy clip form the S60 podcasting application, ready to be listened to later. I sit down amongst the last of the commuters and read the evening paper for the remainder of the journey to look at some good old fashioned content.

Arriving back at my home station, where I now live at night is very dark with no street lighting, after a couple of stumbles I remembered i had an application that keeps the backlight on- 'S60spoton' so used it effectively as a torch to see the very dark path ahead for the 10 minute walk home. I'm doing all this with one hand / one thumb as I'm walking along...The screen on the N73 is big enough to act as quite a good torch although obviously it sucks up the battery quickly. Finally reached home and plugged in for recharge before heading off to bed satisfied that my phone had done a good day's work.

I could have done all of the above with various other gadgets (sometimes a lot better) and I'm not advocating convergence here. My point is that my phone has definately become more than a voice only device with my social network on it (address book).

I now have other options that did not exist before, and this is the important bit, ** should ** I want to use them (with a little bit of prior set up and configuration). Sometimes I do want to use these features/ phone services and other times I don't but it's great having the choice.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Some random user tips for Nokia phone users

Holding down the Green "Call" button key brings up the call log on s60 devices. It's a quick way of making a call to someone who recently called you if you don't have them set up as a quick dial number.

Holding down the # key on some s60 devices will bring up the profiles list and toggle between silent and your preset profile eg. General (useful for meetings).
An alternative is to hold down the power button and the profiles list pops up (not as quick as the # key method).

When writing a text message repeatedly pressing down the "1" key will cycle through the other characters list that is brought up by the "*" key. THis is a quick way of typing things like dots, cmmas etc rather than having to hit the * key all the time and then select the character you want.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Voda shutsdown Innovation unit

Voda announced on Friday they are to shut down their recently formed New Business and Innovation unit...

Monday, October 09, 2006


So it's done. The rumours circulating for a while. Interesting that they (google) are keeping Goolge Video annd YouTube separate and branded independently.

If you can build a community in the space of 19 months around a decent service, you might get bough out for a large wad of cash by the internet giants. I'm impressed YouTube managed to scale ** so ** quickly...

We've got blogging communities, photo-sharing and video-communities, music-communities of course... what's next ?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New additions to Nokia family

Some interesting new handsets coming from Nokia announced today - N70, N73 and the N91 all get a music makeover edition in black, with the N91 getting an 8gb hard drive... plus the fabulous N95 is on it's way.

Luckily had the chance to view this device a couple of weeks ago and it seems impressive... I'm particularly interested to see if they have fixed the N73 photo software compression issues with this 5 megapixel how quick will HSDPA be in reality for functions like browsing...

There are some other announcements I'm sure Nokia will make at their annual consumer and business conference regards the latest devicesat the end of November.. watch this space.. Nokia's tagline for their announcement today was "Convergence without compromise"... can you see yourself using just one multimedia device for web browsing, music, imaging , self-locating and mapping ? If so the N95 and the Sony Ericsson P990 seem a first step towards that world...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Couple of Microsoft links

Microsoft jump on the video upload band wagon a la YouTube and VideoGoogle.

Been looking at mobile imaging recently in mobile. Imaging is such a huge area there's too much too cover in a single post... but one application I discovered on the way was Microsoft Max as their desktop imaging application equivalent to Google Picasa (presumably they will link it to Microsoft Live)... very Apple.
Microsoft Max

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Chumby is on its way

Rumours in the blogosphere about an open,hackable wifi enabled portable device for accessing that interwebby thing ? (no not the Nokia 770 :)...

More details here :

Monday, August 21, 2006

Web mashups - no programming required

A colleague of mine pointed me in the direction of , just launched, where it 's super easy to create your own web mashups, using point and click! Simple but powerful ...(also noted it was also on the homepage of Programmable Web)... Services that expose their platform API's (including mobile network enabler platforms) offer the chance for some really interesting new mobile/web mashups and tools like Dapper may make it easier than ever..

Friday, August 11, 2006

Storing your media and personal details online

I've been thinking about whether mobile consumers would be willing to store their personal details online with a "trusted provider" (what defines a trusted party is a whole other debate). From a mobile innovation perspective though all sorts of propositions and services could then be built that could be of real advantage to the user.

However I remember the total failure that was Microsoft's .net passport scheme a while back on the web... but maybe now times have moved on and the new c-generation are more willing to store personal details online across multiple "trusted" 3rd parties.

Today, Amazon has my credit card details hopefully safely locked away. Google has access to a vast amount of my e-mail and eBay is storing my reputation. All of these things are of value to me. Do I trust these companies ? I'm not 100% sure. However the benefits currently outweigh the costs of transacting through these companies to do what I want to do or get what I want to get.

If you can accept that maybe the c-gen ** will ** start storing more of their personal details online , it may not be so difficult to suggest that they also store a lot of media online (music / photots / videos) rather than in folders and filesystems on their PC. A lot of my media is now held either on my phone, desktop PC, laptop, but I'm moving more and more of it online (Google GDrive anyone?). My bookmarks are now held in del.ici.ous not my desktop browser application, my photos in flickr / picasa online and my mobile contacts with Shozu. It's only a matter of time until I'm sure I will end up storing most of music somewhere online as well.

There is an advantage of storing stuff online, in that you can have easy access to it pretty much anywhere / anytime without being tied to your PC... and that inlcudes access then via the mobile phone. Companies like Orb and Phling allow remote access to your PC via your mobile today ... whilst Yahoo with their mobile client (and I'm sure Google are working on one too) want you to store your media with them so it can easily be accessed from the mobile...also we are seeing phones with dedicated "MySpace" links or keys, where again the c-gen populate their profiles and web pages with lots of their personalised media.

I wonder if the c-gen will store ALL their media and personal details online...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Nokia N73

I've been using the Nokia N73 for a few months now and gotta say I think it's a great phone. It goes on release today alongside the N93.I've been playing with the imaging and camera functions for some work related stuff and they are generally stable and an improvement over S60 v2.0 equivalent the N70.

Plus there's dedicated hard keys for quick access to the image gallery and camera (as well as opening the slider)...

Whilst the screen resolution is not as high as the Nokia N80 (released a few months ago) if you can live without the W-Lan client, and like candybar phones with big screens then get down to your local mobile shop and take a look or check out various reviews on the web ...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mobile Internet vs. Internet

Do you browse the web on your phone, (that is the real web) ? Why do people browse in the first place ? Are they browsing real web sites, filtered web sites for mobile, or just going to their web mail through the mobile browser - in which case it is it really web browsing ?
This is a debate I have regularly with my colleagues at one of the large UK mobile operators... The usual issues of screen size, battery life and poor input method, no address bar or navigation buttons at the top of mobile browsers, lack of plugin support such as active-x controls etc.. all not being present tend towards the mobile internet support argument (where mobile internet sites are tailored for mobile devices ... usually phones). However in each of these cases the issues are being addressed **slowly..**.

.mobi domains has brought these issues up as flavour of the month again.

Having used the Nokia OSS browser for the last 6 months on the E60, N80 and N73 I have noted my own behaviour .... I regularly "graze" - that is I am using the mobile browser to visit websites I normally would visit as if I were at my laptop to get information snack bites (these are real websites n ot mobile variants)'s more information gathering from my pre-selected websites than browsing. For example, if I have a few spare minutes at the airport I might catch up on some of my favourite Blog posters new entries .... or go to my Gmail / Hotmail/ Yahoo mail account via the mobile browser (there are much quicker easier ways to get your webmail on the phone - but I still find the web browser method acceptable). There seems to me at least a utility function of browsing in this way - I am after some specific ** persoanlised ** information , I know where and how to get it and the user experience is not great but it's ok and outweighs the "wait until I'm at my PC" issue... (ie. more importantly I can get it whenever I want and wherever I am)...

The scenario above is "Pull" based - I am actively going to get information via the mobile phone browser, pulling the information I'm hoping to get when I have some idle time (unless you are using some kind of Alerting via email service on the web eg. Google Alerts), then we get to "Push" -based services which opens up a whole other debate !... snacksize bits of personalised content being pushed to your phone seems to be one way in the interim to address some of the aforementioned mobile phone browsing issues ...

However, just as I like to know that I carry around ** my total support and social network ** (in my contacts/address book)... that it's with me at all times (until the battery runs out ;)..... I like the idea of having access to the **total web** (not just the mobile web) in my pocket as well...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Web/ mobile client evoultion continues

Motorola have done a deal to include preinstalled Yahoo Client on their handsets ...

So it's true ...

Apple talks of iPhone at last

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tezaa - wisdom of many website

Interesting website based on "No-one knows as much as Everbody" concept (re: Wisdom of Crowds book) and finding out what the crowds opinion is....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Interesting link posted on a friend's blog today about Widsets - a supereasy way of creating and transfering widgets to your mobile phone. Impressive (more so in my opinion than Opera's widget platform).... I particualrly like how simple it is to sycnh new stuff to the the mobile. Took me less than a minute to create an Atom feed widget for this blog and put it on an N70.

Friday, June 16, 2006

First Post

Books I am reading currently are :

The Wisdom of Crowds - James Surowiecki
A very interesting book that has multiple documented examples of why group think/decision making is often more powerful than singular thinking...

The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman
Great book for understanding how technology is impacting the world generally at a faster and faster rate and how boundaries / borders are falling to create new opportunities and businesses.

The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture - John Battelle
How Google evolved and marches onwards

The Wealth of Networks -
Yochai Benkler
To be started !