Next Gen Laptop (Sony) With Last Gen Cellular Technology

Sony announced a laptop PC with a built-in cellular module that allows users to bypass the purchase of a separate card if they choose to sign up for Cingular's data access service at $79.95/month. The module works with Cingular's EDGE network.

In my opinion, this does not get them to the cutting edge. It does give their customers the broadest access available nationwide, but certainly not the fastest or most cutting edge. Consumers paying $79.95 per month are not mass market. If they are paying $79.95 per month, then they will want access to the best networks available - EV-DO where it is available and eventually HSDPA for Cingular.

I understand the logic of wanting to offer a product appealing to the widest possible base, but I don't understand not putting the latest generation of technology into a product marketed as "cutting edge."


Ringbacks Beat Ring Tones? I feel like a DJ.

I've now purchased four ringback tones in comparison to two ring tones. The reason? My friends are starting to complain about hearing the same song over and over.

"That Green Day song you have is a bit of a downer ... could you assign my number to another song?"

"I'm tired of listening to that song. Could you swap it out with another one?"

Most of my friends are in their mid-thirties and have been using phones for circa 30+ years - at a minimum. They've been listening to phones ring on both ends for decades. Same ring - over and over and over. Now, after two weeks of hearing 30 seconds of one song ... it's annoying? How did we get here?

And so it goes. I now feel like a DJ at a radio station taking requests - each one at $1.99 a pop - and that's just for "renting." I haven't technically spent more on ringbacks than ring tones yes as the ring tone application was more expensive upfront, but my ring back expenditures will soon overtake those of my ring tones.


Ringbacks - My Phone Log is Longer Than Ever

My phone log is still shows folks calling three and four times. Guess I know who is and isn't reading my blog.

I'm happy to report that my mother only called four times before giving up. She's 63. My friends in their mid-thirties also called on average three to four times. My extremely sophisticated research here is showing that there is not a significant increase in number of "hang-up's" as age increases.

She finally left a message at the office and suggested that there was something wrong with my phone.

The feedback theme this week has been " ... you'll never guess what happened when I called your mobile number. I think there is something wrong with my phone." One of my colleagues suggested that I call customer service to get the problem fixed. That is my favorite so far.


Wireless Carrier Billing Clarity - In Print

A lawsuit was filed earlier this year in California on behalf/by wireless subscribers who received higher than expected charges for ring tones. Jamster has been accused of not providing transparency in their pricing policies. See these articles: Article 1, Article 2, and Article 3.

These stories didn't resonate much with me until I received written (= on paper delivered by USPS) notice from Verizon this week that I would be charged $0.99/month for my ringback service.

I'm not sure yet if this is voluntary on Verizon's part or mandated by the state of California. (I do plan to find out) In any case, I think it's a great strategy because it was not clear in my mind that I would be paying monthly charges for the service. Only piece missing was a clear opt out strategy.


Ringback Tones - Results of Julie ' s Focus Group

Feedback from my friends:
"Did you do that on purpose?"
"I thought I was caller #9 at the radio station."
"That's effing weird"
"Was that rap?"
"I called your phone and the weirdest thing happened."
"That's weird"
"I thought I was on hold."
"I thought you were in a night club."
"I wasn't sure how long it was going to last."
(i.e., easier to count five or six rings)

And, I have to admit, many of my friends simply hung up without leaving a message.

My phone log:

Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:21 pm
Fri Apr 22 Ina 7:21 pm
(no message left)
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:40 pm
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:40 pm
Fri Apr 22 Belis 7:41 pm
(left a short, confused message)
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:20 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:21 pm
Fri Apr 22 Richard 9:22 pm
(no message)
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:30 pm
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:31 pm
Sat Apr 23 Barnhart 2:32 pm
Sat Apr 23 Maricel 4:30 pm
Sat Apr 23 Maricel 4:31 pm
(no message)
Mon Apr 25 Alissa 10:42 am
Mon Apr 25 Alissa 10:43 am

You get the idea.

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Mobile Video - Getting Closer to " Live "

I attended iHollywood's Mobile Video conference in Las Vegas this past week. While Las Vegas itself doesn't excite me so much, being back in EV-DO territory does. We're still waiting here in San Francisco.

This time I have two phones on loan to me - one with Verizon's Vcast service and one with SprintTV from Idetic.

Previously I had complained about the "dated" material on the Vcast service. This time I'd have to say that it was pretty current. Both services had up to date news such as the selection of the new Pope.

While I (along with the consumers we've surveyed) want "live" coverage, I wasn't ready to watch commercials. At one point I was watching a "live" stream from one of the networks and realized that three out of the first five minutes had been commercials. Given that I haven't truly watched "live" TV in more than a year since buying a Tivo, I was in shock. I didn't know what to do. I started looking for a FF button on my phone. Then I realized that I was simply "stuck." I didn't know what to do.

My next video phone has to have that functionality.


My First Ringback

I've been looking forward to purchasing a ringback tone since Verizon first announced them in limited markets earlier this year.

I sat down with the very intuitive instructions provided in the press release. (Not sure how their other customers are getting the word.)

I TXTed "RBT" to address "728"

I immediately received the terms and conditions. (More later on what I think about paying a monthly subscription for an application let alone "renting" a song (ringback tone) for a year)

I received somewhat mixed instructions. The responding TXT instructed me to reply with a "Y" while the press release told me to respond with a "List" message. This worked and I was given a list of choices.

They are as follows:

007 Alicia Keys/Karma
008 Los Lonely Boys/Heaven
009 Sublime/Wrong Way
010 Pitbull/Culo

Needless to say, at my age, I don't know Sublime and Pitbull. I do know Alicia Keys and Los Lonely Boys - have seen them at wireless conferences. I went back to check the press release which stated that there were 500 tones available including Soundtracks, 80's, Classic Rock, Pop/Rock, etc. So, off to the Internet to find something reasonable.

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The Fun of Cell Phone Ubiquity

It's 4:17pm here on the west coast. My friends in NYC are already in their favorite sushi bar and have had a few drinks.

They just sent me the message "Ree Rove Roo." It could be mistaken for a play on the Japanese' inability to pronounce some letters, but not in this case.

You just have to love that these devices (Blackberry in this case)is small enough to fit into a purse. They give you 24x7 access to your email. You can email your friends from the bar. You can email or call your friends any time of the day or night - whether you should be or not. Your friends can always know what you are up to.

No pictures on the Blackberry, but still a form of mobile blogging.


Mobile Video - " Live " on our site

Our first mobile video report posted on our site this afternoon.

We asked consumers about:
- their interest in watching video on a cell phone
- their willingness to pay
- what content interests them
- what length of video interests
- and more ....

I'll be presenting the results of this research next Tuesday in Las Vegas as iHollywood's Mobile Video event at NAB. I'll also be in Las Vegas the following week at IQPC's Mobile Video Revenue Strategies on April 26th and 27th.

I recently got a demo phone from Idetic so that I could try MobiTV. Sprint network. Samsung multimedia phone. The technology is absolutely impressive, and the experience is pretty good. Buffering doesn't take long. The clips are fairly current though I couldn't find - the Sheffield incident during the Red Sox game yesterday - at least in the clips section. Found it on the CNN "live" portion, but just his press conference - not the incident. Likely wouldn't have shown well on a small screen anyway.

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Currency of iTunes and Apple

I haven't yet blogged about Apple or iTunes so here it goes ...

Have you recently counted the number of times per week or per day that someone is offering you iTunes? or the chance to win an iPod device?

Today alone, a friend sent me two codes from Mountain Dew bottle caps. Even my friends who don't have an iPod recognize the value and are sending them my way.

By giving Avaya my name and email address (which they obviously already had), I earned 10 iTunes even though I told them I won't be buying any corporate telecom equipment. If I were willing to spend an hour with their sales team, they would give me a Shuffle out right. By filling out a feedback form for a magazine that I once subscribed to, I was offered the chance to win one of five iPods - same offer for filling out a feedback form for a conference that I attended last month. These were just the offers presented to me TODAY.

I think that iTunes has emerged as the premier non-cash give-away. I feel as though I can estimate the value of my feedback by the number of iTunes they give me.

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