Archive for April, 2006

Kid tracking not the answer for LBS blues

April 30, 2006

I've been a little late on the recent carrier announcements by Sprint & Disney (via MocoNews & Techdirt Wireless, respectively) for kid tracking services.

The MocoNews post referenced this Reuters article that quoted Yankee analyst Marina Amoroso as estimating that "about 2 percent of U.S. subscribers are interested in people-locating services" [such as kid tracking]. Whoa! Two percent is beyond low.

Am I surprised? No! Ask anybody if they'd like to use a leash-type tracking service and I'd be surprised if you even got 1% interest. It just sounds creepy and too much like "Big Brother". I know it's targeted to parents who are worried about their kids, but most kids won't think it'd be cool to be spied upon by their parents (it'd take the fun out of being a kid!).

The right type of consumer LBS service has got to give the user the power to opt-in / disclose their location when it's advantageous for them. People are not going to want to have their every step tracked by someone else (outside of e911 or similar emergency apps)…Give them value for disclosing their location, like making it easier meet up with friends or helping them acquire social capital for being at cool places. Those types of social services are going to ultimately drive LBS, not things like kid tracking…


Still waiting for mobile video

April 25, 2006

Not surprising to see the results of an NPD Group report suggesting that only 1% of cell phone users are watching mobile video (via NY Times). As I suggested here, mobile video has got a long way to go before it comes close to matching all the hype about it.

Instead of heaping so much attention on mobile video, mobile music and mobile games, I think the mobile community should focus more on apps / services that hold true to the mobile phone's primary purpose: helping people communicate & connect with other people more easily. After all, the mobile phone is a communications device.

CNET article on mobile social

April 5, 2006

After all the attention people have been giving to mobile video, it looks like mobile social might be gaining some currency. People may finally be realizing that the cell phone is so ubiquitous b/c it lets people communicate & connect with others. That's why I think mobile social communities (and not something like mobile video) will be the next big thing in mobile: the most popular apps / services have historically been those that enable people to communicate & connect with others (ex. email, IM, VOIP, social networking sites) and mobile social has the potential to enable new types of social interactions.

CNET has a good article that frames why mobile social may be ready to take off: improved mobile infrastructure that can support more robust data services (3G), cell phones are ubiquitous, and same people who "socially network" are also the heaviest users of text & picture messaging. My favorite part of the article is the end: despite the potential, mobile Internet apps still don't work well across different carrier networks / handsets and a prominent research analyst voices doubts about the cell phone when compared to the PC.

Stay tuned to see how this script plays out…

Pew: How Americans use cell phones

April 3, 2006

Pew released a good report on how Americans use cell phones. There were some pretty interesting findings in the reports. But, of course, I guess it always depends on your vantage point. For example, I was a little surprised to see all the excerpts from the report highlighting how everybody seems to want mobile maps; here's a graph taken from AOL Mobile's announcement of the report:

Since AOL owns MapQuest, I guess it was in their best interest to hype the findings on mobile mapping. What was "hidden" in the actual report, though, was that only 4% of adults are using mobile maps today – compared to 35% of adults using text messaging today or 28% of adults taking camera phone pictures today. So while AOL hypes it as an opportunity, I think it's probably a bigger indicator that it's kinda tough to use current map services on your cell phones. Here's hoping that MapQuest's new service hits the mark.