MobiTV ' s Milestone

Hooray for MobiTV!!!

They announced today that they passed the two million subscriber mark. These subscribers are not necessarily just in the US, but it's impressive none the less. Most impressive is the time difference between how long it took to get to the first million and how little time it took to get the second million.

There are lots of mobile video offerings out there, but according to our research, "live" tops the list and they were first to market.

I'm not sure which is more impressive - the technology (which is pretty amazing) or that they have two million subs. paying about $10 per month - pretty close to the total carriers get on average from data services and we all know most of that is communication-oriented.

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Buying Big Macs with Mobile Phones

McDonald's and DoCoMo formed a joint venture to enable payments at McDonald's with cell phones.

I think this is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, the need to form a joint venture demonstrates the need for up front investment and cooperation among players in this payment value chain. Otherwise, it suffers from the chicken and egg problem. POS equipment is needed to interoperate with technology in the cell phones. Carriers and handset manufacturers need incentives to add cost into the cell phones. There has to be a network for it to be interesting to anyone.

Second - but not mentioned in the article - it gives both McDonald's and DoCoMo the opportunity to track consumers and their eating habits. Cash is more likely to be used in small transactions. Electronic payments will allow user behavior to be tracked and used for marketing purposes.

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Another Defeat for Mobile Spammers

Verizon won a judgement today against a wireless spammer. (See story)

This is good news for the industry broadly - advertisers, carriers, and vendors in the mobile marketing space. Only a handful of cell phone owners have received a mobile marketing message either wanted or unwanted. That said, a much higher percentage of cell phone owners are concerned about paying for unwanted messages or being bothered on their cell phone. Decisions such as these should ease consumers concerns.

See our research for more data on consumer attitudes towards mobile marketing.

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TNS Media Intelligence acquires Cymfony

The news is out - TNS has acquired Cymfony.  The new operating unit will be called TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony.

I'm not surprised - in my opinion, this was inevitable.  In the Forrester Brand Monitoring Wave,
published in September 2006, one of the clear conclusions was that
Cymfony would be a great fit with a large research firm like TNS. 

Did they sell too early?  From what I can see, mainstream attention
is just starting to turn towards brand monitoring services.  In my
conversations with vendors, everyone loves the fact that Nielsen
brought attention to the space - now TNS ratchets it up a notch - and
my Forrester wave helped validate the market as well.  But nobody wants
to sell too early - like selling the rights to the Nike logo for $35 - and thus the market has been dating around, but not making long-term commitments.

Now,
expect additional activity in the brand monitoring market.  Other conclusions from the Wave:

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Open Access on Cellular Networks?

Saw this article posted by CNET.

Skype is petitioning the FCC to demand that U.S. mobile operators loosen their controls on their networks to allow access to any service or site. I don't think anyone argues that the operators will move in this direction on their own at a controlled pace once they have the infrastructure in place to support their own business goals.

As they look to grow their subscriber base with kids six and seven years of age, they need to be able to ensure that children don't have access to inappropriate sites. Moreover, given the millions of dollars they've paid for spectrum and to build infrastructure, why should they be forced to open their networks at this point, at least, to competitive services that will cannibalize their own business? especially when they can't control the end user experience and will be fielding the customer service calls when consumers are dissatisfied?

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Boston's Recent Marketing Prank Turned Terrorist Scare

No doubt many of you are already well aware of the ad-campaign-turned-terrorist-scare that rocked us in the city of Boston on January 30.  I'm a little behind the 8-ball in writing up my thoughts about it.  But since it is still coming up -- both in our team conversations here, and out in the world at large -- I thought it would be worth talking about, even a few weeks after the fact.

The redux of what happened:

In an attempt to promote its Cartoon Network show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," Turner Broadcasting positioned LED displays of one of the show's characters around significant city structures, including bridges and i-93, Boston's central artery. (See images of the devices here).

The question we've been debating internally, is: Was this good marketing?

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Media for the iPhone (yes, Apple ' s)

When Apple first launched the iPhone, I blogged about a lot of open questions I had. See post.

We are beginning to see some of the answers. See the EA/Apple announcement.

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Mobile Video Usage Picks Up

Adoption of mobile video is on the rise as is usage. A few interesting stats have been published this week.

Versaly launched a free (will begin selling/publishing ads this spring) channel (see channel 61) called Fast Lane on Sprint in January. Folks are downloading clips at a rate of more than 50,000 per week. There hasn't been a lot of free, ad-supported video content to date so I'm anxious to see how this goes.

MTV also announced that they are streaming more than one million clips per month.

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Next Generation Personalization on Cell Phones

Early this week Time Warner's Cartoon Network announced that they will use the voices and personalities of their cartoon characters to alert mobile phone users to events - phone ringing, new message, etc.

It's not for everyone as my colleague David Card is quoted as saying in the article, but it's certainly something I can see using. It's amusing.

I've used voices before as ring tones, but only briefly. They scare me more often than not. I'm home alone and all of a sudden I'm hearing voices ... or my purse will start "talking to me." My phone as a can of beer opening as it's text alert.

I'll be writing a piece of research later this spring on next generation personalization. If you have a company with a new idea, I'd like to hear from you.

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Mediocre Mobile Marketing from My Carrier

I received the following messaging from my wireless carrier. (My contract ends this month.)

"FREE msg from [carrier]. Get up to $100 off any phone after $50 mail-in-rebate & new 2-yr agreement. Call 1-8xx-xxx-xxxx for details. 2 stop txt msgs frm [carrier], reply w/ X"

Yes, seriously. I'm a $100 per month customer who buys ring back tones and games along with using more than 100 text messages per month. This means that my monthly bill is 60 percent more than their average customer (once taxes are deducted).

They have made no other attempts to resign me as far as I know.

They do know that I text because they can see my bill so the text message is relevant.

I guess I'm old-fashioned and "uncool," but I'm still expect to be targeted in the English language, at least.

I'm also surprised that they are not making more of an effort. Arrogance?

Hard to shop for a new phone over the phone so the phone call as a "call to action" is questionable. Why not an MMS? Why not a link to a video clip with an enticing ad?

My two cents ... too big of a deal to close with a text message. It likely works or they wouldn't be using it, but it's simply not possible that it works in my segment.

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