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Crown Castle sold its DVB-H (mobile TV) spectrum to a private group this week, and in doing so, "pulled the plug" on its mobile video service offering. (See Moco article)
See my earlier post: "Nail in the coffin for DVB-H in the US" from 02/07. (post)
The announcement comes at an interesting time as Hiwire (Modeo's DVB-H competition in the US) just announced the launch of their trials in Las Vegas. There clearly isn't enough demand for broadcast video services on mobile devices in the US in the year 2007 to support two nationwide networks. Hiwire doesn't plan to build out their infrastructure until they have a commitment from a service provider.
My understanding was that Crown Castle didn't have the spectrum they needed for a national service depending on how you define national - most do in terms of top markets covered. If they hadn't sold their spectrum and this market were further along, I think we would have been looking at an XM/Sirius situation - and we still may be longer term.
The story has been all over the news. It looks like they will try to sell off assets between now and the end of July. Amp'd Live and Amp'd International are up for sale. Lil Bush is part of Amp'd Live - the entertainment portal. I still think it would make a good brand for a larger carrier as they begin to recognize the need that one size doesn't fit all with UI's these days.
The market they faced was tough - as I posted about a year ago. Very, very few mobile subscribers make service provider decisions based on entertainment choices alone. The team at Amp'd was visionary and had some great ideas - if the assets aren't absorbed back into the larger carriers, hopefully the team will have interest in doing so. The larger carriers could use some of the creative thinking Amp'd had. They would also have the means to implement.
Here are some other posts that I've had on MVNO's.
I blogged about the Starbucks mobile marketing campaign yesterday. I was texting in answers. Today, I tried taking photos of the answers. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when I started and wanted to test its limits. I used the LG 9000 camera phone (Verizon) for all of these submissions.
The first question asked for the name of a city. I took a photo of a photo of a major tourist attraction in this city and sent it in. My second try was going to be writing the word (i.e., name of the city) on a piece of paper. I was also sure that it would take much longer to validate than the simple text message. It didn't. I had a response in less than one minute and they gave me credit for the answer. Maybe they really did some ID of the photo? maybe they just gave me credit for sending in any photo? Still, another $5 gift card sent my way.
The second question came. I decided to test my hypothesis of "any picture will work" first. I sent in a photo of my cat. It was rejected. Impressive. I next took a photo of a "beverage" on their web site that I knew to be the correct answer (because I've been through this before with text). It worked. I was awarded another pat on the back.
I had the following exchange with the Barack campaign yesterday:
I received a text message on Wednesday:
"Obama gave a major speech today on renewing our urban centers. For more about his plan, reply URBAN to this message."
I replied "URBAN," and I received this message:
"Obama will create an anti-poverty effort to save a generation of kids in places where they were never supposed to have a chance. Reply PLAN for more."
I replied "PLAN," and I received this message:(ok, and at this point, I am only replying because I'm curious just how far this will go. Not going to judge the initial message as completely unworthy of being a text message, but it's borderline)
"He has a plan to provide families the support they need to raise their children. Reply READ for more."
I replied "READ," and I received the following message:
"Obama's plan also contains job training to help people find work and make that work pay. Text NEXT for more"
I replied "NEXT," and I received the following message:
"Barack wants to help inner-city businesses access the capital and resources they need to create a stronger business climate. Text MORE for more"
Forbes had a posting today on Verizon Wireless's initial results.
Here's an excerpt:
The company reported net customer additions of 1.6 million on the retail side. During the quarter there were 300,000 net reductions in the company's wholesale base, primarily due to one reseller, Verizon (nyse: VZ - news - people ) Wireless said.
Who is the reseller? Is it an MVNO relationship?
The AP (as well as Forbes, I believe) also posted an article on Verizon's ongoing dispute with Amp'd. Verizon seems to be looking to terminate it's relationship with Amp'd Mobile.
It raises some questions around what will happen to Amp'd customers if they do close shop - at least as a wireless operator in the States. Could make an interesting premium or entertainment-oriented brand for someone. One of my colleagues pointed me to the news about SunRocket this morning.
I just added Lil Bush to my Season Pass on my Tivo so I hope they stick around.
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Sprint announced the launch of their new friend finder service from loopt. (see Fierce posting)
I think this one will be interesting to watch. Our research shows that services like these (i.e., adding presence including location/proximity to my contact list) are popular among young adults. I've got a piece that should be posted any day now on this topic.
Hopefully they've got some product placement lined up. One can easily imagine a Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne pulling up this kind of service on their phones. It doesn't just tap into the inner desires of young adults (and older ones for that matter) to be action heroes. "Where are you" is a pretty common question asked.
I'm certain that I will not be able to talk my friends into signing up for the service (because they barely use text messaging and won't pay the $2.99/month), but I'd like to give it a try with them. I wish they would and they may when there is an application on top of this service that appeals to them. In the mean time, I think it will really appeal to young adults and teens as well as parents who may want to track their children, but haven't signed up for as dedicated service to do do.