Text Messages from My Washing Machine?

Remote controlled laundry machine? Whirlpool and Microsoft, among others, are testing the addition of a washing machine and dryer to your home network. It will send you alerts via IM, email or SMS. I suppose there must be a web interface to set all of this up. I imagine adding TV, washing machine, toaster, etc. to my "home appliance buddy list." However, since I'm a wireless analyst, I won't imagine it further. What I do imagine though is an overwhelming number of text messages to my cell phone (that I'm paying for) that have a bunch of information that I neither want nor need. I like the idea of triggering home automation with something as simple as a text message though I think it's more of an alert system.

It's an interesting idea. Keys to success will include delivering REAL value to consumers and not simply information. Real value to me would be letting me know if it's flooding. Also, there has to be an easy way to control information flow such that folks are not overwhelmed with messages. Lastly, how do I know if the machine is online? and can find an IP address? and isn't connected to my neighbor's AP? and how do I connect to my own that has security enabled? The washing machine experiment is not unique in highlighting some of the challenges of connected (wirelessly) homes.

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Starbucks Corporate Citizenship

I blogged about Starbucks' mobile marketing campaign yesterday. I answered the 6th clue correctly today. They suggested that I go donate a book to a library. Interesting that they've mixed in their corporate philosophy of doing good for the world into this campaign.

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MVNO Math (ESPN Mobile and other MVNO ' s)

I can not resist joining in on the conversation around ESPN Mobile. To be contrarian though, I'm going to assume that they are neither arrogant nor unsavvy about this market. There has been market research around since the beginning of time that says that consumers choose wireless carriers based on coverage at home/work, low cost or reasonably priced handsets, and cost of service. They do not choose wireless carriers for their entertainment options. We did a poll recently on our site - one percent view their cell phone as an entertainment device. We had similar data when asking consumers about their priorities when selecting a provider. I'm going to assume that ESPN Mobile knew all of these things before launching their service, and that they were not arrogant in thinking that they knew more than a hundred wireless analysts collectively.

The Math (Back of the Envelope):

- 1 percent of mobile subscribers would choose a provider based on entertainment options offered

- For simplicity, we'll assume 200 million mobile subscribers in the US (yes, there are more than this, but this number is easy)

- That means that about two million would choose a carrier based on entertainment options

- Not all of them will be able to switch in any given year because they are locked into one and two year contracts

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SMBs Rely On Word-of-Mouth: What Should B2B Marketers Do?

Last week, I met with the (small) business solutions division of a large consumer technology/services provider to talk about gearing up their B2B marketing. We talked about whether the same tactics that work for their consumer audiences might also work with small business prospects (typically less than 100 employees.) TV and radio came up in the discussion because they were getting ready to launch local market tests.

So here’s the thing:


  • Few (about 20%) of the over 500 B2B marketers who we surveyed recently say they use TV and radio, compared with about 90% who use tradeshows and PR – real die-hard B2B tactics. However, those who can afford TV say it’s off the charts for building brand awareness.

In contrast…

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Starbucks Summer ' s Perfect Storm

Starbucks is running a mobile marketing program this summer. (I think that I first read about it in Moco or Fierce to be fair, but I can't find the link to their story right now.)Anyway. Here is the link for the information on the contest.

I love the campaign. Components include:

(For me the consumer)
- Short code to sign up (easy) - text "Summer" to 66268
- Trivia questions delivered via SMS - it amuses me
- I won a $5 gift card (ok, real value here) on my first right answer
- Won a drink coupon 5 correct answers later
- Entry into bigger sweepstakes

(For Starbuck's)
- Online registration
- Online opt-in for future promotions
- Trivia questions/answers tied into their products
- (Will eventually drive foot traffic)

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Ad-Supported Mobile Video

Saw a piece on Moco's newsletter earlier today about GoTV's ad-subsidized video series. We did quite a bit of research on this topic this spring - there is definitely an appetite for ad-sponsored video especially among younger consumers. The open question will be whether or not they'll pay the $6.99 for a single channel with a limited number of episodes. Today's consumers are less price sensitive, but mass market will not be.

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802.11n products - Where ' s the demand?

I saw Glenn Fleiscman's article today. I would have to agree. What is the hurry? A consumer would have to be streaming high quality video (not sure YouTube qualifies) today to need this kind of bandwidth. To get full bandwidth advertised, you'd have to have the same chips on the "other" side. We do have a handful of consumers streaming video from a PC to a TV ... if it's not on both sides (i.e., TV), what is the point? Also curious that it looks to be embedded.

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Wi-FI Conspiracy Theory

I have a new theory (ok, maybe someone else has said this already, but since I'm frustrated by my Wi-Fi experience this afternoon, I'm going to toss it out there anyway) about Wi-Fi vendors and security threats. Everyone in the industry wants consumers to turn WEP/WPA, etc. on. They've scared us to death with warnings of identity and bandwidth theft. I think they just want everyone to have their own AP and eventually upgrade to WiMax service to get roaming services.

I'm working from a friend's place in Menlo Park, CA this evening. I can see about 16 networks from her flat - probably 12 have the security turned on. She gave me her password so I could use her network. I typed it in to the little pop-up screen when prompted.

It's July 2006 and I get this error message:

"The network password needs to be 40 bits or 104 bits depending on your network configuration. This can be entered as 5 or 13 ASCII characters or 10 or 26 hexadecimal digits."

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Helio Offers Lower Entry Price Points

I just saw a press release that Helio is offering service at some lower price points than were available at launch. Lowest price point for service at launch was $85 if I remember, and now it is $60. They are also now offering an opportunity to add lines. They haven't been public with how registrations are going, but both moves make sense either way. $85 is a high buy-in price even if it does compare favorably to packages with similar features at national carriers. Also, our data show that a majority of teens are on their parents plan - even quite a few young adults (at least 18 years of age). Marketing to a youthful audience also means selling their parents on value. I think it's interesting that the changes/additions come so close to their launch as a lot of people criticized and challenged these exact points prior to their launch. Price of handset and especially service are very important purchase criteria for mobile subscribers. Hopefully this helps them to add subscribers - they are doing a lot of interesting things and pushing the envelope on data services.

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Reinventing The Marketing Organization

Today was definitely a milestone in my career as a Forrester analyst - a piece of research was published that consumed most of my attention for the past four months.  It's a Big Idea piece called Reinventing The Marketing Organization.

What's a Big Idea?  In the words of Forrester's Head of NA Research Chris Mines, "Forrester Big Ideas bring clarity and shape to future markets, business
practices, and business models that are forged in the cauldron of
technology change."

The executive summary:

Today's marketing organizations are broken. Three out of four marketing
departments have reorganized in the past two years. Almost 80% of
marketers don't influence a critical customer interaction like customer
service, and 85% don't even own the "four Ps" of marketing anymore. To
regain effectiveness, marketers must transition to a Customer-Centric
Marketing Organization. Doing so requires: 1) redesigning P&Ls and
metrics; 2) shifting culture away from marketing communications; 3)
investing in a customer relationship infrastructure; and 4) rethinking
agency relationships.

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