Design for Mobile conference – by Barbara Ballard/Little springs design – Kansas 22-24 Sep


Barbara Ballard is everyone’s favourite Mobile design guru and Barbara sent me this message about a new conference they are running . This should be a great event and with speakers like Enrique and Luca .. lots to learn. One of these days, I will finally meet Barbara as well since I have quoted her extensively in the definition of Mobile Web 2.0 !

As per Barbara’s message ..


We at Little Springs Design got impatient with the lack of North American conferences with more than three sessions on mobile design. It was all either “intro to mobility” for designers or “intro to design” for mobilists.

So we are building our own conference, Design For Mobile,22-24 September, in Lawrence, Kansas, USA. Speakers include C. Enrique Ortiz, Morten Hjerde, Luca Passani, Gabriel White, and many more. I’ve asked each to teach me something new, and I’ve been focusing on mobile for ten years now.

And since we’re not paying UK prices, you can sign up for now the early bird price of USD $945.

Design For Mobile conference


Why mobile social networks are a unique and a powerful medium for advertisers ..


I have blogged about itsmy before and Antonio Vince Stabyl, a co-founder or was a great speaker at our recent forumoxford emerging technologies conference.

The base numbers for itsmy are very impressive.

To recap, from Vince’s presentation

1 Mio+ reg. mobile users

16 Million Mobile Internet Downloads

5,761,000 Items User Generated Pictures Videos etc.

4.5 Million Wap sites

500 Million Pages/monthtraffic

However, there is an interesting insight which I will present in this blog. I got it in my talks with Vince on the way to Oxford before the conference.

In retrospect, it is obvious .. but it is an important point worth thinking about ..

Although we are facing a new medium(in mobile), the money comes from the same advertisers.

Advertiers are most familiar with TV as a medium which they understand best

Advertisers are still new to the mobile medium. In fact, they are still new to forms of advertising like on YouTube which involve user generated content

However, UGC as a medium for advertising is very powerful because the alternative is a legal minefield(the equivalant of Google posting ads against videos from movies on YouTube – the revenue so availed may need to be shared with the video rights owner)

Even on YouTube, advertisements are best placed against user generated content assuming – permission has been obtained and the content is moderated.

These two factors make Mobile (especially mobile social networks) a very powerful phenomenon because – for most part, they are free but also the reputed ones are moderated.

Consequently, if the medium(mobile social network) is designed to

a) Capture content in return for a free service and

b) That content is moderated and also

c) Presented in the form of channels(which can be a simple collection of the best cars on the site etc)

Then it is very appealing to advertisers assuming the base criteria are also met(critical mass, reach, personalization)

These factors play out even more on mobile devices since Mobile content is driven at the point of inspiration and the mobile device lends itsllf well to the capture of user generated content.

The above makes mobile social networks a unique and a powerful medium for adverisers

Thoughts welcome

The power of SMS in India and beyond .. and the implications for MMS


I had the pleasure of meeting Rajesh Jain , one of India’s foremost Internet/Mobile entrepreneurs(Rajesh set up Indiaworld. IndiaWorld was acquired in November 1999 by Sify in one of Asia’s largest Internet deals for $115 million.). Its flattering to know that Rajesh(and V C Bothra one of India’s top bloggers and Netcore’s strategist and communities practise head) follow my thinking through my books and blog.

His new company netcore launched a service called mytoday which won the runner up award in the GSMA true mobile startup category.

As with anything in India, the numbers are impressive .. more so with a simple service which has a large, mass market uptake.This simple service has 1% of India’s SMS traffic!

Here’s what I mean .. mytoday has

• 2.5 million users

•1% of India’s SMS traffic

•400K new users each month

•8 million SMS sent daily

•2% of India’s SMS Traffic

•2 billion SMS sent so far (15 mos.)

•25+ content channels: Dailies

•10,000 user-created groups: Mobs

•100+ enterprise channels: BizBond

•Mobile Portal:

But what about the future? The future according to Rajesh(both in India and beyond) lies with richer media such as MMS. This is interesting since I have been discussing the same trend recently with Russell Buckley. The mobile web is clearly showing resurgence but a second candidate is MMS. MMS has had many a false dawn but it may finally be getting some traction as a mass market medium – both in emerging markets and mature markets.

For example – This post from Mobile point of view China’s news media is in full blossom of mobile adaptability is an indicator and this is fuelled by MMS.

China’s rapid economic development and per capita GDP growth has driven vigorous development of the media industry with a growth rate of 11.9% in 2005, two percentage points beyond that of China’s GDP. In 2006, the growth rate exceeded 12%. Sub-channel growth percolates along, with the Internet, digital television, new media (mobile) and advertising all growing rapidly and especially those industries/companies related to digital TV which are expected to be the core center of investment in 2007. This is all drawn from an interesting Chinese government “blue paper” report released last month by China’s MII.

So, my impression is – if MMS can achieve even a fraction of the reach of SMS, then publishers(including futuretext) can gain considerably from it – along with the uptake of the Mobile Web.

Seek thoughts and feedback.

Is MMS maturing in emerging markets?

Will we see the same trends in mature markets?

What holds MMS back?

Is it a medium for publishers?

What is the cost structure of MMS in mature and emerging markets?

I must admit it’s been a while since I followed MMS but the traction gained by companies such as netcore with a service like Mytoday is impressive.

Qs is: Are we seeing a trend here?

Carnival of the mobilists No 120 at the skydeck blog ..

Posting late since travelling. Carnival of the mobilists No 120 at the skydeck blog. Great read as usual.

Book review: Trust, Complexity and Control: Confidence in a Convergent By Piotr Cofta


Book review

I bought Trust, Complexity and Control: Confidence in a Convergent

World (Hardcover) By Piotr Cofta at Barcelona (Mobile World Congress) and have been reading it extensively since.

Here are my thoughts about this book which I highly recommend if you are interested in Identity, Reputation, Trust and other related topics.

As Chief researcher, Identity and trust BT UK, the author is an expert in his field. So, in addition to the author’s expertise which comes across in this book, here are some more thoughts

The book takes a stand/proposition in postulating a confidence model which the author explains in detail and uses throughout the book. This is a good thing in my view i.e. the comprehensive / expert viewpoint is better than too many divergent viewpoints which can be confusing

from a learning perspective. However, the confidence model is contrasted against other models such as McNight, Lee and Egger (Comparative analysis of the model of confidence Ch 4) – so we get a balanced view after gaining a detailed understanding of one model.

Wearing my PhD / research hat on – if you are involved in reputation or Identity etc you will have to build your own reputation model (or extend an existing reputation model). In that context, it’s very useful to read about a reputation model in a book (as opposed to a

paper) and then build on it/contrast it etc.

Section one explains the Confidence model including trust and control; Measurement of confidence; a relative comparison of trust and control and also the ‘dark side’

Section two takes a technology approach and covers security, taxonomy of threats, trust enhancing technologies and other areas

Section three takes a convergence approach and covers Ebusiness, Authentication, Privacy, Sim, Trust management (a set of instruments that are used to replicate in the technical domain the relationship that exists between agents in the humans domain)

Pros and Cons of this book


a) Very readable – inspite of the nature and the complexity of the topic

b) Great depth

c) Research led(draws on research papers)

d) Independent viewpoint(the Confidence model)

e) Considers both technology and the social aspects which is essential

considering the topic

f) In depth coverage of technology

g) Holistic coverage of reputation (ebusiness etc etc)

Cons ..

The only improvement I may suggest is – the Index could be enhanced considering the detail the book covers i.e. it’s a relatively small index for a book with so much content

Overall recommendation – Highly recommended.

Report – Identity and reputation systems in telecoms networks covering IMS, SIM and security ..

We are working on a new report / book based on Identity and reputation systems in telecoms networks. This will be a comprehensive and a strategic insight based on interviews (with Operators, SIM manufacturers, handset vendors etc) and covering various elements of the stack (IMS, SIM etc). I will also add insights from my PhD which is based on Identity and Reputation (so research papers will be a source of insights). We will also look to cover elements of the ‘dark side’ of Identity and Reputation.

If you would like to know more, please email me at ajit.jaokar at

Bjarne Stroustrup on phones ..

Bjarne Stroustrup creator of C++ says ..

I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone!!

Web 2.0 set for enterprise spending boom?

Web 2.0 set for enterprise spending boom .. Too bullish even for me .. but the BBC seems to think so! I agree with the Enterprise focus to some extent but tempered by the econmonic downturn .. i.e. with a slowing down of the economy, will companies see Enterprise 2.0 as mainstream?

I think there are clearly some value propositions .. but merely wikis and blogs wont do it. Prior to entering the mobile data industry, I used to work for PeopleSoft/Oracle Corporation – and selling anything to corporate is always a different value proposition from the Web 2.0 model i.e. essentially we are selling a license model/SAAS model. So, while tools (blogs and wikis) may be sold in this way, its another thing to sell the value proposition .. I think thats missing and to do that we need to tie back the service to cost reduction, product design etc. I have blogged about this idea a while ago in Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0 and mobility. And obviously I believe that mobility will have an important role to lay in Enterprise 2.0 as well(Dont think of just phones – think HSDPA and other applications) as well as developments like Cloud computing

More on this soon

My impressions about the forumoxord future technologies conference ..

Firstly, many thanks about the kind words about me, Tomi and Peter at many places in blogosphere.

Tomi and I chaired the forumoxford future technologies conference last week. Join forumoxford free at

As I summed up in my concluding comments, industry veterans like Jag Minhas of O2, Andrew Greenhalgh of Intel and David Wood CTO of Symbian all stayed for the whole day – and that in itself is a testament to the quality of the event.

Alex Kerr spoke of a ‘soul’ at this event and Tomi mentioned that this event has the feeling of ‘family’.

What is special about us?

I believe that the forum and the event have a unique ethos which permeates both its online and offline interaction.

As I said in my opening remarks, the ethos was the genesis for forumoxford which Tomi and I conceptualised at the Café Nero at the Dickens and Jones in Oxford Circus back in Aug 2005. To summarise that ethos was (and still is!):

Everybody wants to build social networks/communities. Few succeed.

It’s not a question of putting money into it! The philosophy matters

Technical excellence/ Knowledge of subject matter is the only currency

Be truly global

Treat people as adults – keep very few rules and regulations

Be business friendly (people can talk about their company in a thread)

Content matters

Conflicting viewpoints are OK

Understand community from a practical standpoint (allow hotmail/gmail address so people can speak freely)

Also, Tomi, Peter and I can take credit for one specific element of the day .. And that is in the selection of topics and speakers.

Unlike many conference organisers, with some humility, I can say that we do know the industry deeply .. And across many facets. Hence, we took a very granular approach.

For instance – we did not want ‘IMS’ – we wanted someone who had integrated IMS to facebook(Niklas Blum of Fraunhofer FOKUS), We did not go for an ‘Operator’ – we chose David Pollington of Vodafone Betavine for their pioneering work in device APIs for browsers. We did not choose a device manufacturer – we invited Mark Selby of Nokia to talk about Nokia’s pioneering work with Ovi. We did not want to talk about iPhone … we invited an industry veteran in Mr William Volk who developed real iPhone applications.

We did not speak of Mobile social networks – we got Antonio Vince Stabyl of who have 2.5 million ‘mobile only’ profiles. For Mobile design we got the ‘God’ of mobile user interface and design himself in Martin Lindholm!

We did not speak of ‘mcommerce’ – we got Simon Cavill of MiPay– one of the best people who I know in this space .. Who develop real life systems for emerging economies based on their immense experience. We did not get ‘Google’ – we got one of the early implementations of Google enterprise in the talk from Krzysztof Proczka from the Polish Operator Polkomtel and Matt Landeg from Google(i.e. a cooperation between Google and an Operator for Enterprise strategy) And then we had Jonathan Mc Donald from Blyk .. Who is pioneering some new directions in Mobile advertising and personalization .. and a debate between Tomi and Dean Bubley(which I had the un-enviable task of moderating!)

I could go on ..

The choice of speakers and their topics was absolutely critical and we thank all the speakers for their great contribution.

And reflecting our international audience on the forum, we also had a very international group of speakers ..

Luciana Pavan(MTV) from Brazil

Niklas Blum and Antonio Vince Stabyl from Germany

Cameron Doherty and William Volk from USA

Krzysztof from Poland

Christian from Finland

And ofcourse .. Tomi and I have three nationalities each! (For Tomi – Finnish, Hong Kong and British) and for me British, Indian and New Zealander.

So, what were my recollections of the day?

One of the most memorable images in my mind is a conversation between Simon Cavill and William Volk when Simon was presenting about funds transfer in developing companies.

William said .. ‘This is like printing money!’ To which Simon replied .. ‘It gets even better!. Think airtime! Its like having YOUR OWN currency’.(trading in airtime)

I could almost hear Mr Volk think – ‘The dollar’s down the tube .. And these Europeans are creating their own currencies .. Maybe ..I should emigrate! :)

Here are more detailed notes ..

Mark Selby –

How many people control their own wife/partner? We don’t think of it in that way because it is a relationship. In the same way, we as an industry cannot hope to ever ‘control’ a customer

Back in the 70s, Convergence was a set of three arrows pointing to a yellow cloud (IT, Media and Telecoms) and everyone expected to ‘solve’ the problem in a matter of months

DRM is an odd concept. If you threw a device into a window, can you blame the manufacturer for the damage to the window? If not, how can we hope to legislate against devices?

OVI is an open platform customers can choose which feeds they can display on OVI(for instance CNN etc etc) – not necessarily from Nokia.

Abolish the word user generated content!!

William Volk

Apple created a new ecosystem. That’s the key difference. So should others(hear hear!)

Alan Moore

Straight lines are made by man! Nature has networks

Customers connect, corporations broadcast!

Simon Cavill

Airtime could be the euro of the developing world!

Mark Landeg(Google)

Lets not talk of eating their lunch(Operator’s lunch). Lets speak of a new menu!

Antonio Vince Stabyl

Do we ‘Caralize’ airlines? I.e. develop a new format based on an earlier format?

Doctors and other demographics who have never heard of online social networks, are directly adopting mobile social networks

4 seconds after an earthquake – they had the first images. That’s the power of mobile!

New mediums have new leaders

Christian ..

Key design principles .. How much can you do with one hand? What’s the largest device that can fit inside a pocket

A ‘PC’ is a swear word in Nokia!

So, that’s it!

In conclusion, I spoke to Peter Holland at the evening drinks .. And we said .. We have created an institution .. The ethos of community, the spirit of the members and technical excellence is the key driver .. And it may well outlive us all ..

On my side, I would like to thank forum members, event attendees, speakers, sponsors and specifically my three partners in crime :) Tomi Ahonen, Peter Holland and Dr Rebecca Lingwood .. without whom we would never be here today!

Join forumoxford free at

Many thanks once again!

Kind rgds


OpenGardens and the most honest (candid) man in telecoms – Cincinnati Bell’s Jack Cassidy

There is a fascinating article in the Forbes magazine this week – (the whole issue is great since it’s the Forbes richest people in the world issue – which I have always read/bought for many years now). It talks of Cincinnati Bell’s Jack Cassidy as the most honest man in Telecoms (honest in the sense of being candid and accepting what the customer wants aka the OpenGardens philosophy).

This brief article captures the essence and also the future of telecoms networks (that the network itself declines in value tending to free). But at the same time, new open mobile based business models will emerge based on services where the provider can create to gain critical mass and competitive advantage.

As I was reading it, I thought that we have to ask ourselves these two questions: Firstly, Is the future of telecoms local? I.e. can a company be profitable by defying the normal trends and ‘super serving’ a specific geography? (Note this is not the same as an MVNO which serves a customer segment and not necessarily geography). And secondly, can the experience of Cincinnati Bell be extended to Mobile data (at the moment, it applies mainly to voice and other services). If indeed, that were possible i.e. a Telecoms company can serve the local population by working closely with local communities and businesses, then it has a truly competitive advantage. An alliance of such networks would then be profitable. The difference being – the approach is ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’

Worth thinking about as you read this article.

The three memorable quotes from this article in my view are as below

“We forecast where the bottom was in long distance, and we just got there first,” he says. To which I add .. Whoever gets mass market and serves the customer will have a unique competitive advantage ..


“If the customer likes it, then it doesn’t matter what it does to your economics–it’s going to happen,”

And the classic

Is the telecom industry facing the hard truths? “No,” laughs Cassidy. “You’ve got the wheels and the tires and the carriage–and you can’t figure out the customer doesn’t want the damn horse.”

Here is a full list of quotes I like .. And it’s really refreshing to see thinking .. May Jack’s tribe prevail .. Seek thoughts and comments. Full link to article below

1) In an industry dominated by nationwide giants, Cincy Bell still serves essentially the same geographic area it was granted in 1878, a circle with downtown Cincinnati at its center. But it serves that circle well. In its region Cincinnati Bell is the most popular provider of home phone, mobile and high-speed Internet services.

2) Unlike its peers, Cassidy’s Bell has come to believe that communication lines must be open. That means not locking customers into two-year cellular contracts. “Such a silly concept,” scoffs Cassidy. It means letting customers switch to new technologies, like Wi-Fi, that are likely to cost him money. “If the customer likes it, then it doesn’t matter what it does to your economics–it’s going to happen,” he (Jack) says. Cassidy’s philosophy: anticipate the inevitable, don’t fight it. In the late 1990s, when Cincinnati Bell got into the lucrative long-distance market, Cassidy set the price of a call at 10 cents a minute, roughly half the going rate but still enough to preserve a modest margin for Cincinnati Bell. Cassidy won an 80% market share in less than six months. It still has 70%. “We forecast where the bottom was in long distance, and we just got there first,” he says.

3) Sitting in his office overlooking the Cincinnati skyline, Jack Cassidy launches into a story about the biggest business cock-up in his hometown’s history. A century ago Cincinnati was home to the Midwest’s horse-drawn carriage industry, and its leaders were very loyal to buggy power. So loyal they let Detroit drive off with the auto industry. “I’m sure the last horse-drawn carriage made in Cincinnati was the finest ever built,” says Cassidy.

4) Is the telecom industry facing the hard truths? “No,” laughs Cassidy. “You’ve got the wheels and the tires and the carriage–and you can’t figure out the customer doesn’t want the damn horse.”

From: The most honest (candid) man in telecoms – Cincinnati Bell’s Jack Cassidy

Seek thoughts and feedback .. This article is exactly what the OpenGardens blog is all about ..