flagr – the name says it all ..

had to happen!

Actually, I quite like the simplicity especially of the mobile section

The mobile section is quite elegant

a) Start a new Text or Picture Message and address it to:

b) x@flagr.comIn the message body, type the title, address, and a description of what you’re flagging in this format:

c) title@address…descriptionSend it. Your flag will show up on your map within seconds.

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Their FAQ section also gives the follwing information

What is a flag?

A flag is a real-world, geographic bookmark that can have a title, a description, tags, and even pictures. By default, all flags are public, and specifically delivered to the Summary pages of those who count you as a friend.

How do I add a flag online?

You can flag online by signing into your Flagr account and clicking the ‘Add a Flag’ link on your Summary page. There’s also a tab on your Flags page that will allow you to add a flag just the same.

Can I really send a text or picture message to an email address?

Yes! It‘s surprising to most people but the vast majority of mobile phones can send emails.

What is the default zipcode and when is it used?

This is what Flagr uses when you don‘t specify a city in your flags. This saves you time while flagging, especially if you tend to flag in the same city. For example, a Flagr user with a default city of San Francisco CA may enter ‘10 market’ instead of ‘10 market San Francisco CA’

Do you have any tips to enhance my flagging experience?

When entering an address (online or on your phone), you can leave out street, drive, lane or any of the abbreviations. ’10 Market Street’, 10 Market St, or 10 Market are all the same to Flagr.

Keep x@flagr.com in your mobile phone‘s address book, so you don‘t have to retype it every time you flag.

Specify a default location on your account page so you no longer need to enter your city.

source: http://www.flagr.com/

The wisdom of crowds ..

Considering my interest in extending the concept of tagging to the mobile telecoms space – see I am a tag – not a number,

Andrey Gidaspov emailed me these two articles about the social aspects of tagging by Rashmi Sinha

I found them great reading and have included the links here

A cognitive analysis of tagging (or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular)

and

A social analysis of tagging

(or how tagging transforms the solitary browsing experience into a social one)

I especially find the second article interesting since it tackles an issue we are concerned with regarding the wisdom of crowds

As per the article:

Starting with Le Bon’s analysis in 1895, psychologists have focused on the negative aspects of crowd behaviour. Recently James Suroweicki has refuted this notion. His elegant analysis of four conditions that can lead to “wisdom of crowds” seems relevant for tagging systems. The four principles are (1) diversity of opinion – each individual brings their idiosyncratic perspective to bear on the issue. (this is definitely true for tagging. There is a long tail of tags). (2) independence of members from one another (that people make independent decisions. This is why mass copying of others’ tags is not a good idea.) (3) decentralization (with tagging power does not reside in a central location, but it does seem to very influenced by the first few taggers..) (4) a good method for aggregating opinions (Tag clouds and simple lists seem to work well for this, though better methods are needed.

I am exploring these ideas along with our concept of I am a tag and not a number. In our view of extending tags on to mobile devices and telecoms

a) A search engine would take the place of a directory

b) That search engine would be ‘tag based’

c) The search engine would be dynamic since tags will provide up-to-date information

d) The search engine would provide an abstraction for communications methods i.e. would map the individual to all the known ‘numbers’ for that individual and would provide the best way to ‘reach’ that individual using one of the numbers

e) The search engine would benefit from the wisdom of crowds i.e. other people tagging about me

The question of identity and the authenticity of that identity remains .. and hence my interest in these articles. More on this soon

pod2mobile: podcasting on mobile phones

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The press release says it all

PODCASTING ON MOBILE PHONES TUNES IN WITH POD2MOB SOFTWARE

PODCAST AUDIENCE SWELLS FROM 25M TO NEARLY 700M MOBILE USERS WORLDWIDE

SOFTWARE SUPPORTS SPRINT PCS, T-MOBILE AND CINGULAR NETWORKS

LOS ANGELES (–August 22, 2005–) Cut the white cord. Pod2Mob (www.pod2mob.com) announced today the launch of its precedent-setting podcast streaming service that enables consumers to listen to their favorite podcasts on their mobile handsets. The launch of the free software, which is first to market, forms a new milestone for mobile media.

The power of wireless couples with the podcasting phenomenon to exponentially expand access to a new medium. The new Pod2Mob application transforms mobile handsets into a podcasting remote, capable of browsing and selecting new shows while listening to the audio directly from the phone.

“Pod2Mob turns every mobile phone into an iPod,” said Brad Zutaut, co-founder. “Until now, Podcasting has been a fun, new medium with a limited audience, but Pod2Mob has just expanded that audience beyond the elite to the mainstream.”

Built-in Audience

A marketing and cultural phenomenon, Apple’s iPod has been purchased by approximately 15M consumers while around 10M own MP3 players thus establishing the existing podcast audience estimated at 25M. The advent of Pod2Mob, however, immediately explodes the potential audience to an estimated 700M, all capable of using Pod2Mob on their mobile phones.

The world’s most popular consumer electronics device, the mobile phone, perfectly extends the explosive podcast movement beyond a single device to hundreds of models of wireless handsets.

According to Gartner Research, sales of mobile phones are set to reach one billion annually by 2009, when nearly 40 percent of the world’s population will own a mobile handset. Gartner’s findings bolster the mobile phone’s status as the world’s most popular electronic device.

Ease of Use

The Pod2Mob application downloads updated podcasts on the go and streams them to an applet on the users mobile phone. Through a thumb-friendly interface, the Pod2Mob applet puts users in full control of remote podcasting. Content can be refreshed as often as desired, but usually once a day since most podcasts are produced daily. Programs are rated by listeners for quality and popularity, and an easily accessible favorites list makes it easy to get your daily fix.

Radio alternative

Alienated by the corporate seizure of traditional broadcast radio, podcasting attracts a younger, more affluent demographic and offers the ability to listen to whatever they want, whenever they want, whether it be on the metro or on the back porch. All age groups are increasingly dissatisfied with the diversity of programming in radio. Podcasting offers a compelling alternative as it represents an interactive pull medium rather than the passive push medium of traditional radio, implying the user has genuine interest in the selected program.

Time shifting

TiVo has clearly established that consumers prefer to have their media time shifted. Pod2Mob represents the ultimate in time –and place — shifting allowing the user to listen to what they want whenever they want and wherever they want. While TiVo provided a hardware solution, Pod2Mob is quick software download that empowers hundreds of millions of people to transform the mobile phones they already have into an enormous broadcasting network overnight.

Zutaut added, “Your phone is always with you, even when you forget your iPod. We built Pod2Mob so that people with the most basic handsets could start listening to the podcast shows they are hearing so much about. If you have a phone, you don’t have to wait to sync, you can get the latest podcasts on the fly. The ability to listen to radio shows on demand increases their value significantly.”

Select Pod2Mob features:

Open directory where users can add their podcast feeds and the system automatically tracks updates

Stream any podcast to the phone

Rate any podcast from the phone

Favorites: ability for users to store a list of their favorite podcasts

About Pod2Mob

Based in Los Angeles, California, Pod2Mob is a software publisher dedicated to the expansion of personal portable media. The founders of the company are a balance of promising prodigies and well weathered pioneers of the digital revolution. Pod2Mob aims to offer audiences easier access to media while expanding the vision of the market for content producers and publishers. For more information, please visit: http://www.pod2mobile.com

Source: http://www.pod2mob.com/main/pr1

mobilicio.us – Mobilicio.us : Del.icio.us for the Mobile Phone

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Cool idea and the ultimate in cooperation – A mashup of a yahoo API(del.icio.us ) and google’s search tool

As per searchenginejournal

Mobilicio.us is a “mashup” that combines the del.icio.us online bookmarking service with Google’s Mobile Search tool. This allows you to browse through “mobilized” versions of your del.icio.us bookmarks from your phone browser or other limited-display browsers.”

Image: searchenginejournal

ft.com is free for a week ..

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well worth it if you are interested in some quality content.

The url is ft.com freeweek

The resurgence of browsing applications

Not sure if I blogged about this before.

I have been speaking of a resurgance of browsing applications led by Ajax. Its nice to see this link from Russell Beattie which talks of the resurgance of browsing in general(independent of Ajax). And it seems Open Gardens as well!

he says:

> The key takeaway for me was that browsing is

> the number one (by far) mobile application

> that uses data, and interestingly, carrier

> decks only account for 50% of the traffic. >

The red cockatoo ..

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Nothing to do with mobile …

I have long supported individuality and freedom – and this poem is so touching.

I saw this wonderful poem on the London underground yesterday

The significance is – its written more than 1300 years ago! Some things don’t change sadly

The Red Cockatoo

Sent as a present from Annam

A red cockatoo.

Coloured like the peach-tree blossom,

Speaking with the speech of men.

And they did to it what is always done

To the learned and eloquent.

They took a cage with stout bars

And shut it up inside

Po Chu : AD 772 – AD 840 Translated by Arthur Waley

Image source:

http://www.treknature.com/gallery/North_America/United_States/photo28372.htm

Mobile Strategies – Understanding Wireless Business Models, MVNOs and the growth of Mobile Content

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I am happy to announce that Tom Weiss will be publishing his book on Mobile Strategies with futuretext. The book will be called ‘Mobile Strategies – Understanding Wireless Business Models, MVNOs and the growth of Mobile Content’

Tom’s knowledge of the mobile content business is par excellence and his talk at the OpenGardens event last year was a huge hit.

The book will be available on March 30 2006 and we have a formal launch event for the book at Waterstones Piccadilly (Europe’s largest bookstore) on April 11. If you are interested in the book or the event, please email us at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

More about the book

Mobile Strategies explains the different business models and strategies available for businesses looking to enter the mobile sector. Starting off with a historical overview of the telecommunications business, the book explains how mobile has developed into the business it is today, what models have made money, and which ones haven’t.

With a straightforward, practical style, the book gives an advice on

• Starting an MVNO

• Using SMS to build revenues

• Selling handset ring-tones, wallpapers, and games

• The future of mobile media, including Mobile Music and TV

• Services for 3G and next generation networks

• Mobile marketing, advertising, and customer interactivity

• Convergence and Triple Play

In each area, clear guidance is provided on what customers are looking for, the possibilities and limitations of the technology, effective go-to-market strategies, business models, costs, risks, and an overview of the operational requirements.

All models are illustrated with case studies from companies including Virgin, NTT DoCoMo, Disney, Vodafone, Apple, ITV, Blackberry, Nextel, and Skype.

The book would appeal to anyone deciding whether their business should enter the Mobile sector, those currently operating in the sector, MBA students, and aspiring managers within the industry

About Tom

Tom Weiss was Vice President Key Service Introductions at T-Mobile until August 2005, and was responsible for the launch of T-Mobile premium services across Europe, including T-Mobile EURO2004 campaign.

Prior to T-Mobile, Tom was a key figure in the development of the Content Management industry and developed online strategies for a number of UK organisations. He is lives in London with his wife Jane. Mobile Strategies is his first book.

Positioning Skype as IM

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A fascinating article from the BBC. Full text alongwith link below

The bit I found insightful is

Yet instead of enhanced telephony Skype is focusing on enhancements like video calling which just make it more of a competitor to Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger, all of which offer voice chat as part of their portfolio.

Hanging on the internet telephone

Last month the mobile phone industry held a major conference and exhibition in Barcelona.

Handset manufacturer Nokia used the opportunity to launch the 6136, a mobile that switches seamlessly between GSM and wi-fi networks and lets you swap between your mobile operator and voice over the internet as you talk.

Around the same time Ofcom, the UK communications industries regulator, published a consultation document on Regulation of Voip Services.

This gave us until May to comment on proposals that would bring network telephony operators under the regulatory umbrella instead of treating Voip as a fledgling service that needs freedom to innovate.

It has been clear for some time that voice calls over the public internet will change the way that the telephone industry works, and these two announcements show that this awareness has filtered through to the highest levels of the industry and of government.

A few years ago it would have been unthinkable for a handset company to offer a new phone that let users make free calls without using their network provider.

Vodafone, T-Mobile and the other networks would have let them know that such a phone was not what they wanted, and the idea would have been quietly dropped.

Now there seems to be a widespread realisation that lots of voice minutes are going to be moving online anyway, so it makes sense for a network provider to keep their customers happy, take what revenue they can get from the calls made over their network and look for other revenue-generating services to offer.

Emergency issue

The Ofcom consultation highlights the growing use of Voip in the UK, and suggests that Voip providers who want to be serious providers of publicly available telephone services should have to accept the regulatory framework that applies elsewhere.

Since every incumbent telephone service provider sees Voip as part of its offering, this creates a problem for pure internet players like Skype and Vonage.

There is a lot more to voice than just making phone calls, and at the moment Skype is at the bottom end of the curve for these advanced uses

One issue that is particularly important to Ofcom is access to emergency services through a 999 number, something that is technically tricky for Voip providers who are not also conventional phone companies.

Back in May 2005 Skype cut its links to the Norwegian telephone network for a time after the regulator there insisted that Voip providers should offer standard emergency calls. Instead of complying, Skype now accepts that it is not a telephony replacement service and hopes to escape regulation for a while.

However, Skype faces a much bigger issue than how it deals with requests for a 999 service. It may well have proven that the market is ready for internet calling but its architecture and the way it integrates with other Voip services mean that it is likely to be bypassed when network telephony goes mainstream.

Skype is a peer-to-peer network, with no centralised server to run or pay for. Even its directory is distributed over the network.

It manages this through a technical architecture and set of protocols that it has developed itself, outside the standards bodies which have been working on voice over internet for many years.

The dominant standards in this area are SIP, or the session initiation protocol, and H.323, originally developed for doing multimedia over local area networks. Both are widely used by voice providers, but not by Skype, which instead has its own proprietary standards for its peer-to-peer offering.

Skype certainly works, providing a service that is generally reliable, offers good voice quality and seems scalable to millions of users. But that may not be enough.

There is a lot more to voice than just making phone calls, and at the moment Skype is at the bottom end of the curve for these advanced uses.

Voice competitors

A lot of work is going on to create network-based analogues of switchboards which closely integrate voice services will all the other ways we like to use our computers, and attention has focused on the open source Asterix project.

As Cambridge computing entrepreneur Quentin Stafford-Fraser points out on his weblog, one such service, an open source application called Gizmo, lets him “have UK phone numbers which will forward to my Gizmo session here in California. For free. I can use Gizmo to call up my Asterisk server and listen to MP3 files and podcasts stored on my hard disk. For free. I can connect directly to Google Talk, or to dedicated Voip phones.”

Supermarket giant Tesco recently launched a Voip service

Closed services that are just replacements for conventional phones, whether they are provided by Skype or by the existing telephone companies, don’t do this.

Yet instead of enhanced telephony Skype is focusing on enhancements like video calling which just make it more of a competitor to Google Talk, AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger, all of which offer voice chat as part of their portfolio.

That is not telephony and it is not a way to make money: there is a reason why Google, AOL and Microsoft appear so prominently in the names of their services and it is not that IM generates lots of cash.

And although Skype gets revenue from SkypeIn and SkypeOut, offering links to the phone network, it will be harder to persuade users to install a completely separate client and pay yet another intermediary for phone calls once these networks offer enhanced, standards-based voice services of their own.

Last September eBay paid $2.6bn for Skype in a move that many found hard to understand and which it may already be regretting.

Given the speed with which the existing phone companies have moved in on the Voip market there would seem to be two options for the new owners.

The first is to rebrand it as eBay Messaging, a voice-based instant messenger service with added phone integration.

The second would be to list this well-loved but proprietary Voip service on the world’s biggest second-hand marketplace.

I am sure someone at eBay knows how to do that.

Source: BBC

AJAX applications v.s. conventional applications

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I saw this distinction between conventional and AJAX applications at the ferris research web site. Its quite simple and good. I have reformatted it for this blog. The original author is Richi Jennings

Conventional: Display intelligence runs in the web server, which generates HTML pages to be displayed in the browser

AJAX: Display intelligence runs in the browser, which exchanges the underlying data in XML

Conventional: Page-based user interface paradigm, unlike most desktop applications; each change requires a complete new page to be transferred and displayed

AJAX: User interface design can be much more familiar — similar to desktop applications; changes can simply modify an existing object on the page and usually do not require a server transaction

Conventional: Mouse interactions are limited to clicks, which take considerable time to transfer to the server and be acted upon

AJAX: Interactions can be far richer, including dragging

Conventional: Users must wait for each interaction to complete

AJAX: Data transfers can be scheduled in the background, meaning that users don’t need to wait; data can be pre-fetched in anticipation

Conventional:Must be online to use

AJAX: Could work offline

Source: Ferris research web site