Thursday, 19 May 2011

10 000 euros the Go: how my carrier made me go to VOIP on my mobile phone

When you don't pay your parking fee, you may be fined with an amount of 5 to 50 times the normal fee. When you don't pay your train ticket, it is about the same. When you are travelling abroad and you dare using your data connection on your mobile phone, despite all the warnings of your phone and your operator, you are "fined' with an amount of 1 000 times the inland fee: you may pay 10 000 € for 1 Go, instead of 10 €. What’s the hell? Have you done something wrong? No, you have just been using the Roaming service of your Operator.
Based on this fact, I would like to tell you a little tale...
I am a business man, I use mobile phone for work, and my company is paying for that: I have some unlimited plan, and I am not really price sensitive (and my carrier has well understood that). I am on business trip, and I make some calls, at a very expensive price, but I have to… It is for work, isn’t it… 30 - 50 € calls for my business trip, it is OK, anyway I have no choice...
Then, I check my e-mails. I have carefully bought a traveller internet pass… so I am safe. 1, 2 e-mail… Hum, I need a Chinese phrase book to take the taxi, I will find it on the app store… and by the way, where is my next meeting? let’s check on Gmaps… oh, I have already burnt my data credit…
Well, I will try on my computer, I have a 3G card with unlimited data plan after all. Oh no! Windows is starting downloading an update… oh, my connection is blocked… ah, yes, I have already burnt my data credit allowance (35€)… seriously, I cannot come home with 200€ fee. I have heard of a colleague having a 1075€ bill… it made some noise…
Well, what can I do? I cannot live without internet in a business trip. Ah, I will go in my hotel lobby, there is Wifi. Oh, in the nearest café also, that is great! And it is 10 € the unlimited pass in my room, well, finally it is cheap. Good, I have entered this @&#@!!! code in my laptop and smartphone, and I am now connected. Good to be citizen of Internet again… Ah, ah, now that the effort is done, why not to try one of these service I have heard of... How is it called? Skype, Viber, GTalk??? Ah, I have to create an ID. Well, for 1000 €, I could try...
Oh, but it is not so complicated in fact, and it imports my address book; I will buy 10€ credit. And I will even make my next call conference with it, let’s try. 60c an hour. Not bad. And the line was good. Finally, I was wrong, I had a choice… And I can call my family from the end of the world on their fix line for 60c an hour again, great. I have also video call for free… Maybe I should try back home...
And that’s it, the job is done. I have discovered a service I would never have made the effort to try if the roaming fee had been acceptable. Now I have an ID, I know how it works, I have bought a credit, I find the quality good... I use it for work and for personal use. It has changed my life.
It reminds me something called i*****, oh sorry! Well, you will understand yourself, don’t you?

Disclaimer: all these events are fictional, and any link to real facts is a pure coincidence.
PS: But maybe I should try to get some figures to make nice business cases from this…

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Did you say user friendly?

Did you say user friendly?

Last week end, I made a small thing that changed my life.
After six years, I have dismounted the child safety that makes the opening of a cupboard door or drawer so complex.
These small pieces of plastic have been very useful to protect my children, but are very painful in the everyday life.

But, after 6 years, you get used to it and it seems natural. That's why I was eventually surprised when my wife told me it has been a great improvement to dismount them... It took me some days to learn how to open the door without it…

One day after, I had another interesting experience. I went in a hotel with a very smart system of infrared detection which automatically calls the lift when you are in front of the door. Smart isn’t it? When you have your case in the hands, or a breakfast tray… The only problem is that all my colleagues were looking for the button and unanimously found the system “not natural at all”.
But what is the link with mobile, then?
Well, it just that you get used to everything and your judgment is heavily biased by your habits. When you are a heavy Blackberry user, you find that everything different is not user friendly.
When you are used to an old clumsy OS that have been done by engineers who apparently didn’t talk to each other, the first acceptable OS seems wonderful...
User friendly? An evidence? It is not so easy, it remains relative…

Saturday, 14 May 2011

M-commerce: the real shops strike back

Instead of Bringing goods to customer, how to bring customers to goods?

The first revolution of internet has been the information: for retailers, Internet 1.0 was a new, cheap and quite efficient advertising space. For consumers it was also a way to have a quick overview of the existing offer.  The internet 1.0 was an additional exposure for real shops.

Then arrived the dream of the new economy, let’s call it 1.1: retailers started to build on-line shops, relying on the existing offer of their real shops. The “click and mortar” considered internet as another market and the pure players as their only market. Discounters as well as price comparators flourished. These gave a serious competition to real shops, but everybody seemed to discover that goods are still real and that logistics is not free and obvious therefore competition was not so tough.
The Internet players who survived are those who managed to find a true added value in Internet with an additional layer of intelligence to the pure straightforward e-commerce.  Amazon has built a clever recommendation system, and “Vente Privée” introduced the thrill of time limited offer. Let’s call it internet 1.5.
Web 2.0, introducing user generated content, has brought a new value to the Internet. This new revolution has been an additional blow to real shops. First, by giving to customers the possibility to recommend stuff, sales people advice became less valuable and pertinent. As shoppers were given the opportunity to interact and express their view, the retailers loosed grasp on the visibility of their offer. In addition to that, consumer also became retailers. They were able to sell and exchange goods somehow at the expense of real shops (on e-bay and classified ad sites), with e-payment (paypal) boosting it.
That’s when internet went mobile. It is the third step of its evolution, and it is rather a revolution: mobile internet is not only internet accessed in mobility, it is a bunch of new features, among them localisation.
Real shops could get their revenge here: it is no more the demander going on internet to select its purchase, but the internet coming to the consumer to offer him content and relevant information. Instead of pushing a product to the client, Groupon and Foursquare-likes warn him about potential deals that could be around him. This is enabled by localisation based recommendation programs and deals, that would eventually be energised through NFC and the upcoming new mobile features (LTE, Cloud, …).
The roles have been reversed and the pro-activity is no more on the consumer side. While the Internet 1.x and 2.0 had provided reflection and wide scale comparison in the purchasing journey, the Internet 3.0 will push recommended goods based on customer profiling and localisation. The introduction of time limited offers increases the thrill and impulsivity of the purchasing act. Proximity, which was the first asset of street retailers, is back in the mobile e-business. Geographical proximity but also affinity proximity as social networks provides valuable info to targets customers.
Real shops can reinvest the internet, leveraging the very tool that threatened them a decade ago. The war is not over.

Morand, Maxime et Axel

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Viber arrives on Android

To be followed: new reflections on VOIP, but before, answer to the new pool.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Distimo: More free apps in Android Market than App Store

By Jason Ankeny (FierceMobileContent)

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android Market now offers more free mobile applications than Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rival App Store, according to new data published by app marketplace analytics firm Distimo. Android Market now touts over 134,000 free apps, compared to almost 122,000 free selections in the App Store. The increase of free Android apps is one facet of Android Market's overall growth: According to Distimo, at its current pace Android Market is expected to offer more total mobile  applications than any other store approximately five months from now, followed in descending order by the App Store, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone Marketplace, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry App World and Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) Ovi Store.
For now, the App Store remains in front with over 330,000 applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, with the iPad App Store offering over 75,000 tablet-optimized solutions. Android Market is next at more than 206,000 apps. From there, the decline is steep: Ovi Store checks in at almost 30,000, BlackBerry App World is close to 27,000 and Windows Phone Marketplace trails at close to 12,000. "Only moderate growth was observed in most of the application stores over the course of the past several months, however overall growth picked up again in March," Distimo notes. "The App Store for iPhone is the largest store in terms of all applications available--however, it was among the slowest growing stores in terms of relative growth [last month]."
Distimo adds that despite increasing competition from Android and BlackBerry tablets, the iPad enjoys a sizable lead in the category. Daily downloads in the Top 100 overall paid and free applications for iPad combined exceed 500,000, corresponding to daily revenues of about $400,000, excluding in-app purchases.
For more:
- download the Distimo report
Related articles:
Distimo: In-app purchases now half of iPhone developer revenues
Distimo: 60 percent of Android apps are free
Distimo: Games still dominate App Store downloads