HTC Magic Google Android Phone – in Australia?

If you have been following me on Twitter, you can probably tell that I’m very excited about the next release of Google’s Android Phone. It’s called the G2 and will be exclusively distributed by Vodaphone. 

Check out this video. It shows off the qwerty keyboard with predictive text and corrective text. 

The release date is 1 May 2009  for the UK and they are accepting orders for it now. There’s been a lot of chatter about it on blogs, tech and gadget websites, and video demo’s are popping up everywhere on youtube, vidder, etc…

Why am I excited about the Android? Because the platform is opensource so it opens up to the possibility of more applications. And you know developers can come up with some crazy apps! It will be superior to the iphone. 

At the moment, the release date is set for the following countries and this is what they are getting:

UK – White version

Germany – black version

Italy – black and white version (why?!!!)

Spain – white version

HTC Magic - Google Android phone

HTC Magic - Google Android phone

The obvious question is – when will it be released in Australia?  There are no plans at the moment. I couldn’t find anything on the internet. Why am I not suprised? I checked the vodaphone website in Australia, they don’t even list HTC phones on there!! Optus is still flogging off the G1 (first version) aka the HTC Dream. According to ZDNeT:

“As with the Dream, HTC will be announcing the Magic for different countries only after it has secured operator partnerships. Vodafone will be selling it in Europe but there have been no announcements for Australia yet.”

#vodaphoneaustraliafail

I’m out like the G1, 

Matt Ho

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MC Yammer: Can’t Touch This

At work, I’ve been given a new responsibility – Yammer Evangelist. Yes, I know you are thinking, what is Yammer? And what the heck is an evangelist.

In short, Yammer is a text messaging application similar to Twitter or Facebook status updates. I’ve spoken about Yammer previously on this blog. It is geared more towards organisations / corporates because it allows for closed networks. Whereas Twitter is open to the world.

Much like Twitter, it allows you to write a short message and have a profile page. But the advantages of Yammer is that it is a closed group only open to those you invite or on your company’s email domain. For example, our Yammer is only open to Sydney employees of Next Digital. The advantage of Yammer is that you can broadcast to the group and get responses immediately. You can obviously do this over email as well but often there are too many emails flying around and some people are included and some are not. Also, its hard to keep track of conversations. Yammer groups the conversations together, and you can see the replies in a threaded view.

You can call me MC Yammer

You can call me MC Yammer

Yammer kicks ass because it reduces email clutter. It enables conversations to develop and it keeps responses short (KISS principle in full effect). While twitter only allows for 140 characters, Yammer has no limitation. You can also add attachments to Yammer posts, using browse function or you can drag and drop.

Other cool advantages of Yammer:

  • Ability to create subgroups: We have a group for basketball team, and this is where the real action happens. We discuss practice discussions, admin, jerseys, who’s playing, etc..It allows for collaboration and dynamic discussion.
  • Follow and unfollow people: Yammer actually will suggest to you who you should follow. You don’t have to follow everyone in your company’s network. By following certain people, those conversations will be prominent and reduces all the clutter/  spam out there in the Yammesphere. The suggestions from Yammer will get smarter over time, but they are supposedly based on the organisational hierarchy and reporting relationships, and who your colleagues are following.
  • Create a profile: similar to a company intranet, you can fill out your bio like education, career history, who you report to and who you work with. Not many people in my company have filled it out, but hopefully that will change.
  • Desktop app: Yammer is web service (like Twitter or facebook you can login). But those cool cats out there like myself have downloaded the desktop app and I keep it open all day. I guess its similar to Tweetdeck for Twitter or MSN browser. It uses Adobe Air, which is very slick.
  • The conversations are searchable and taggable. If you use a hashtag before a word e.g. #basketball , it will recognise that as a keyword and will tag that conversation. I can choose to follow all conversations that have #basketball. This is quite useful if you have a bunch of people talking about a specific client or an activity. Conversations are easily searchable using Yammer’s search engine.
  • Sync it with google chat in gmail. So if I’m using gmail, and I want to post something, I open the Yammer chat box and post from there.
  • Send posts & recieve posts via SMS – I have set it up but I don’t want to pay for it and I’m not sure if I want work stuff sent to my phone. But the option is there.
  • Creating a more open and collaborative culture within the workplace. People are posting one to many conversation points, and getting more opinions. I think its less inhibiting than sending out a group email. A lot of times, if I’m sending out an email to the whole office, I ‘ll look at it several times, edit and think will this be ok? Whereas a post on Yammer is a microblogging service, 140 characters is not going to kill me. I’m going to get a lot more useful suggestions asking an office of 30 people in the open then a small select group of people.
The Yammer Formula

The Yammer Formula

I believe that Yammer has taken Twitter’s model and corporatised it. It could be one of the few Twitter type services that actually can make money. I don’t see how Twitter itself can make money off the service it provides. But Yammer charges for customisation, secure domain access using https (hypertext transfer protocol over secure socket layer) thus encrypting it like a bank website, full admin access, etc…. It charges something like $1 per user, but larger groups are offered as a discount.

I think Yammer will work effectively in our office because its not that big. We have roughly 25-30 employees and only a 1/3 are active users. Once more people start getting more active, it will be even better. It will be interesting to see how it run in a much larger environment like say our Melbourne office which as 150 people. In general, experiments like this work better on a smaller scale and there is inherently less clutter to begin with and you know everyone on the network relatively well.

The role of the Yammer Evangelist

I’m still yet to get a really good definition of an evangelist that sticks in my mind. But I believe the purpose as described to me, is to encourage adoption of Yammer, become the guru/troubleshooter and answer people’s question, and lead in it use. I also have started sending out posts on how to optimise its use as well and to stay up to date with what’s happening by reading the blog/website/other sources and participating in external discussions.

Bringing the balloon pants into fashion

Bringing the balloon pants into fashion

I’ve actually read everything on the Yammer website as well as all the blog posts, so that part shouldn’t be hard. I’ve also commented on TechCrunch’s article on Yammer’s $5m capital raising as well as an article in the NY Times blog. You get a lot of interesting feedback from other users in external companies. For example, someone said you should encourage staff to post 2-3 times a day, and its a good way to see what everyone is up to. I might see someone working on a particular project which I read about last week, and then if I have a question I will shoot them a yammer post or IM (instant message them).

I’ll post another update in a month or so and discuss further developments.

I’m out like email clutter,

Matthew Ho.

p.s. Yammer also won TechCrunch top prize in 2008

Camera phones record fatal shooting of Oscar Grant

The availability of camera phones has made everyone a photographer and a movie producer. Now, we have a device that is with us 24/7, that can record just about anything. Sometimes, they record things we wish we couldn’t see with our own eyes.

On New Year’s eve in Oakland, 4 men were arrested by BART transit officers. BART officers are basically like CityRail officers in Sydney, Australia. Oscar Grant was one of the men that was put up against a wall and was sitting down. He has his hands up and is then forced to the ground, face first. One of the officers puts a knee against his head. Another officer jumps on top, pulls out his gun and then shoots him in the back.

Check out the footage below, in its raw form (there’s a long comment at 0.11 seconds).

That is just incredible footage of a man who was wrongly shot. He was not struggling, he was co-operating with the police and then he was shot for no apparent reason. There’s also another angle which has emerged from another girl who also shot it with her camera phone. I have no words to describe this, other than shocking. if you watch the officer he actually put his hands on his head as if thinking “What have I done?”.

The family is now suing for wrongful death and the BART officer in question has resigned.

I came across this incident via Flickr. I subscribe to the Flickr blog which highlights interesting photos. In the aftermath of the shooting, there was a memorial service and a protest against police brutality (sidenote: BART officers are not police officers). The protest then turned into a riot ala the Rodney King beatings which happened like 2 decades ago, and this was captured by a Flickr user who has uploaded the photos.

A colleague of mine suggested using the search engine Mahalo, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It gives you blended search results with a mixture of wikipedia style facts, video, and results from google, yahoo, live, flickr and youtube. One of the video’s I came across was a personal account of the riots, which show how dangerous it was and also the frustration of the youths at the end.

The availability of camera phones, the internet, the various platforms from flickr, youtube, and google, have made news so much more viral. It also allows us to see things from a different perspective. Without camera phones, we would not have visual evidence of what happened, other than the oral accounts of eye witnesses. User generated content now plays an important role in the dissemination of news items and to provide greater depth, angles, and storylines which we previously never had.

The camera phone recordings will also be crucial in the legal proceedings in finding justice for the family and perhaps to prevent incidents like this occurring in the future.

I’m out like the riots in Oakland,

Matthew Ho.

http://www.inspiredworlds.wordpress.com

The Future of Digital 2009 – AIMIA

Today, I went to the AIMIA conference on “The Future of Digital 2009”. It was pretty interesting.  My company, Next Digital was the main sponsor and my general manager Stephen Lord was one of the key speakers.

There were a lot of companies represented like Microsoft, BBC, Communicator, News Ltd, ABC etc…. I figured if I was going to make it in this industry, I had to attend events like this, meet people and hear what people had to say.

John Butterworth, the CEO of AIMIA (Australian Interactive Media Industry Association for you noobs) gave a quick overview of the digital future. In 2008,  digital spend was $17.9 BILLION (yes BILLION!) and  25% of business revenue was generated through digital. After that, he said “Look around you at the 100 faces here in this room – this is the future of digital”.  It was exciting and also a bit scary at the same time! And hey, I was a part of the 100!!


The Agency – Stephen Lord, Next Digital

The next speaker was Stephen, who spoke about the agency perspective. He gave a brief overview of the major digital events that happened in 2008 such as:

  • the iphone and the apps store (converging mobile and web)
  • online viewing overtaking tv spend for the first time
  • twitter coming of age and how the events of Mumbai were microblogged. At work we use yammer and its great! Its like a corporate twitter
  • political parties using digital channels  – Obama’s heavy use of digital (YES WE CAN!!!!!)
  • cloud computing  – one of my favourite topics

twitter

If 2008 was the year that digital spend increased, then 2009 will be about measurement and ROI. It’s true.  People are spending an increasing amount of time online and in front of the computer.  In fact people even do two of the activities simultaneously –  engaging in multiple media channels. Look at me now – I’m blogging as I watch House in the background! Digital spend will only increase as marketers direct more of their budget into digital as it is more accountable that TV, radio, print, etc… (did someone mention a recession?). But most importantly, this is where the audience is, hence marketing dollars will follow.

Digital will reach a tipping point – a point where more dollars spent won’t equal more results. Hence the search for accountabiliy and better measures. What are we measuring now as digital marketers, bloggers and media planners? Page views, bounce rates, CTR’s (click through rates)? Puh-lease!!!!!! That is so old school. None of these really tell you anything. So what if your page achieved 1,000 unique views, CTR of 18%. It doesn’t mean jack. We have to find new measures to determine engagement, influence, involvement, and stickiness. The metrics we use have not kept up pace with a constantly evolving digital world.

The thing about digital is that every user leaves a digital footprint. It is a captive and active audience and we need to understand how to better measure that. In the past, we were hunters / seekers of information (early to mid 90’s). Then we become do-ers, and now we are in a stage of feedback 3.0, where people are having true conversation in the digital sphere.

The Evangelist – Michael Jordahi, Microsoft

The next speaker was Delic8 Genius, aka Michael Jordahi, a developer Evangelist for Microsoft. So what exactly is an evangelist? I had a discussion with Peter about this on the way down since he knows a few. In fact, I met another Microsoft one from the UK, a pretty cool guy. An evangelist is someone that encourages people to adopt new technology, that engages with people about it, explains how it works, gets people to sign up for licenses and so on.

He actually was a really good speaker, like he had drank 3 redbulls before he got up. Pretty funny guy, and very passionate about Microsoft Surface, bordering on a sales pitch. I didn’t mind, because of the energy he brought and I really like the concept of Microsoft surface. FYI When you go to a lot of marketing presentations/industry events they tend to end up like sales pitches.

microsoftmilan

He gave us an overview of how we had from old school user interface (UI) to GUI to NUI (natural user interface). He compared them to reading a book vs watching a movie vs playing an interactive computer game.

He had a lot of interesting stuff to say, such as how we are no longer restricted to computers, keyboards, and mouses. Examples like Microsoft surface, Toncidot – this little cube you can move around to replicate real world movement, this sphere type device, holograms, etc… He even brought out October’s Esquire magazine cover which had a digital cover.  His view of the future was technolgy and social interaction (real not like facebook or myspace) becoming one.  His opinion was the natural surface and augmented reality was the future (I actually have no idea what he meant by augmented reality) but half the crowd was nodding.

The client – Paula Bray, Powerhouse Museum

I can’t believe she got up and held a deck full of powerpoint slides in one hand and navigated the actual preso with the other slides. I just thought it was going be dead boring and she did didnt do anything to prove me wrong. She was representing the Powerhouse Museum and started going through their website, some of their interactive display thingys. I rolled my eyes (and I suspect half the audience did too). HOWEVER, the next part of the presentation started to get real interesting.

She spoke about how the Musuem developed glassplate negatives of historic shots of Tyrrell. I don’t think anyone actually understood what Tyrrell was about but that wasn’t the point. They had all these old historic shots and so did the National Library. So they put them on FLICKR, the photo sharing website.  They were generating some pretty impressive stats re number of views. Then they decided to put their collection on the creative commons license, which allows anyone to use the image and it kinda of exploded. They let go their collection and people were helping them out by providing meta tagging, geo tagging (locating them on google maps), people started to mashup the pics with Google street view and so on. The craziest thing was that they started to upload pics of how Sydney looked in the past and how it looked now. Then it snowballed because people started contributing their current pics, and even going to the trouble of finding the exact same shot.

tyrrell

In fact, the best thing was when they were searching for Mosman Water falls and wanted to find out exactly where this thing was. They posted a query on FLICKR, and someone answered the query in 30 mins and directed them to a real estate website.  Paula, went out to the property, discovered the waterfalls in someone’s backyard and took pics to compare and share. It was pretty amazing, the find and the altrustic of this John Doe contributor on FLICKR. So they got in contact with him and tried to find out more about him, got him to come to the musuem (he hadn’t been in a decade), so now he takes his family regularly there and writes about the musuem on his blog.

To think that a government institution, a public musuem was prepared to do that was pretty amazing. The philosophy was to create a musuem without walls. They let their collection go out on a commons license (IP lawyers hide yourself!).

The futurist – Jen Wilson, Lean Forward

Let’s just say she was interesting. Every speaker had an agenda, and her’s was mobile. If I could describe her in a few words it would be “mobile evangelist”. Accordingly, the future for her was “mobile”. Not phone, but mobile, a point she distinguished.  About a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought so either. She gave a view of the world as everything going mobile – your camera, your car, your kitchen sink, etc…

iphone_inhand1

In fact, she was probably the most interesting speaker because she really was talking about the future and was saying things I hadn’t really heard before. Of how mobile was breaking down the digital divide. For example, fishermen in Kerala using mobiles to arbitrage in the local fish market by calling into the port and finding out which fish markets were low and then supplying those markets.

I think she could have spoken all day and night about mobile.  Then she had a little rant about the “evil empires” ala how Google and Microsoft want to control everything…..Oh and did I mention that during the entire conference she was texting on her iphone? I only discovered later when I googled the conference and her twitter account came up, she was updating her twitter account every few mins!!!

That’s been one long recap of the AIMIA conference.

I’m out like the future of digital,

Matt Ho.

Vodaphone Mobile Advertising Breakfast – mmmm free food

I went to the Vodaphone Mobile Advertising breakfast last Wednesday. It was sponsored by B&T, and was mostly about Vodaphone’s offerings in the mobile advertising world. So the seminar was more about educating the market about the advertising opportunities available through Vodaphone. The market in Australia is immature, as it has only been around for like 12 months, whereas overseas they have been doing mobile advertising for 2years at least.

Most of the people in attendance were from ad agencies, experiential advertising agencies and people in the mobile field. They spoke about opportunies to advertise through the Vodaphone Live portal (which can be accessed through most phones on the Voda network). I believe it is similar to the Optus Zoo online portal.

Different options available to advertisers include:

– banner advertising through the portal which take up 20% of the screen.
– MMS / SMS sends (2million phones can recieve MMS and all phones on network can recieve SMS). Incidentally 70% of phones are bluetooth enabled across all networks.
– advertising in voda booklets found in mobile stores
– LBS: Location Based Sends

They also went through some case studies of clients that have advertised through them like 20th Century Fox and the new reformulated disgusting Wolfmother drink.

The majority of Voda’s customer base is young (50% + under 35 years old), so it suits certain products better like energy drinks or movies. You can actually send up to 15 seconds worth of movie footage via MMS.

Typical advertising packages cost about $35ks which include 4 templates, mockups. They also have a package for SME’s at 10K, which is pretty good value. Much like email marketing, marketer’s need to bring their own databaes to send out to.  

Although, the seminar as a whole was a bit cheesy and the breakfast wasn’t that great (wafer like bacon), it was still beneficial for me to get out and meet people in the industry, and to learn more about the world of mobiles. I actually asked the second question during Q&A time about QR codes (Quick response) codes, to which the presenter was a bit hesistant to answer .

QR codes are essentially bar codes which contain a lot of information like website details, numbers, or whatever you would like to put on them. They have become popularised by the japanese who now use them for advertising as phones can now decode these barcodes. They are used to bring 2D objects into the online realm by directing people to websites or to gain further information. Recently Telstra has brought them into the market place and I asked whether Vodaphone was going to look at them too. The answer was yes, but a bit of a convoluted, confusing answer.

I’m out like wafer bacon,

Matt Ho.

Dialing into the future with Xummi and Google Android

Mobile Mondays

Mobile Mondays

MoMo – Mobile Mondays

I turned up to my first Mobile Monday event tonite in Sydney. Mobile Mondays are chapters or societies in different cities dedicated to learning more about mobiles, mobile marketing and for networking opportunites for those in the mobile industry.

The event began by talking about general industry trends relating to mobile and internet. The most interesting fact was that China has now overtaken the US as the greatest number of internet users. Which is suprising given that the U.S has 70% penetration of its population using internet, while China only has a fraction at 19%. Kinda scary numbers as the internet hasn’t been fully adopted in China yet.

Xumii – Mobile Social Networking

The warmup act was Xumii, which is a company from San Francisco. It is developing a platform to use across existing social networking applications for mobiles. It’s great little application where you can chat to all your friends across different instant messenger platforms like MSN, AIM, googletalk, etc.., check the status of your friends, have RSS sent to your mobile, access facebook, myspace, etc… Consider it like a friendfeed for mobiles. It doesn’t really create anything new, it just lets your social networking applications talk to your mobile.

Friendfeed is brilliant in this way, and Xumii‘s use is quite similar. It allows you to keep track of your social applications and gives you a single access point from your mobile. They have worked together with Facebook, youtube, etc.. to use their existing features and security log ins.

You can drag all your contacts from online to your mobile and it lets you have private conversations with different groups of people. Instead of sending an SMS to all your friends to find out where they are, consider this scenario: check the status of your friends to see whether they are on the computer or on their mobile Xumii’s. Message the group of people that’s out and about telling them where to go and also upload a gif image of a map to direct them.

For me, what we are seeing, is a mobile being used as a greater social tool to organise and keep in contact with your friends. We don’t have to talk to them to know what they are up to. That is the beauty of facebook, its allows you to voyueristically see what your friends are up to by looking at their status, what’s going on in their lives by checking the messages on their walls and perusing their photos. Xumii brings that mindset and capability to the mobile.

The biggest question facing Xumii and its competitors is how to monetise this platform – because Xumii is free. The presenters mentioned having wall or profile page where advertisers could display current events coming up that the user is interested in – like local concerts, discounted offers, etc… They also mentioned revenue share with the carriers and so on. But as a business proposition, one really has to wonder how they will make money off Xumii. It is the same problem facing other social media like Facebook, Youtube, etc…

Overall, I thought it was cool application bordering on a product pitch to VC’s in Silicon Valley. My other concern besides monetisation is competition. Because of the similarities to Friendfeed, if Friendfeed developed a mobile application, would Xumii have trouble competiting? That remains to be seen, despite this, I think this is a step in the right direction for the future of mobile.

However, do people want to be contactable by their 400 friends on Facebook, so they can see what they are up to all times via their mobiles? For someone like me, who is really into web 2.0 products like RSS, social bookmarking, folksonomies, facebook, etc… I think its pretty cool. But they are times where you just dont want to be bothered by other people, I can understand if people simply switch off their phones to escape from the madness of the world.

Future of Mobile – Google Android

The main event of the night, was Google’s presenter Justin Baird on the future of mobile. He started off by presenting some interesting stats such as there being 1.3Billion people having internet access versus 3.3Billion having mobile phones. Obviously, mobile presents a wealth of untapped opportunites. there are more people sending SMS than using search engines. Everyone in the developed world has a mobile – if not one, than two!

Justin talked about a bunch of other stuff, but the only stuff which I remember was what we had all been waiting for – The Andriod – Google’s answer to the Apple Iphone. A very cool device I must say. Again, this bordered on being a product pitch, but that’s what happens when you attend a marketing event.

The Android is really different to any other phone because it an open source product, which I found rather interesting. The Apple Iphone or any other phone, is a static device because you only use the applications already found on your mobile i.e. they have already been preprogrammed on there. Being capable of open source, means that new developments and applications can be constantly added. Google is adopting a similar practice to its igoogle portal which has open source for its applications. I’ve got a igoogle portal, and I’m fascinated by the amount of widgets they have developed for it. You name it, and they’ve got it. If they dont have it, you can develop it, if you have the necessary know how. That is one of the reasons facebook is so popular, because new apps are constantly being developed by the user community.

I think we will see a lot more mashup apps involving google maps. What the phone does is triangulate your position using cell towers, giving you a fairly good idea of where you are. The thing that really blew me away was compass function using google maps. Imagine having a screen showing you where you want to go. When you move, the phone acts like a compass and adjusts the picture based on where you have moved, giving you a real picture. Very cool.

In addition, because Google is behind it, you know that search has to be incorporated somehow. the stats really surprised me. The click through rate for display ads on google typically is 0.2%. However, on mobiles, that rate is 2%. That’s a 10 fold increase. I tell you why – because the ads become even more relevant based on your location. If your current location is say Parramatta, and you search for restaurants and ads come up for that area, you are more inclined to click on those ads on your mobile. With the unleashing of True Local, we will really see the power of geographic based ads.

From the presentation and my own experience overseas, Australia is really behind globally in the mobile experience. But we are catching up. I remember friends of mine in New York, using blackberries to search for places using google maps. In the U.S they also have unlimited data ability for their phones. Phone data charges here are quite prohibitive – the carriers have to work together to find a way to somehow get to the level of unlimited data downloads. But its probably not going to happen because we can’t get enough people onto the network to make that feasible.

After this presentation, I really do think there are lot more marketing and innovative opportunites we can use with mobiles. I mean more people have mobiles than computers. A mobile is our social currency and keeps us attuned with our friends and family. It is only natural that it becomes even more extended into our lives. Once we can get full internet functionability on our phones, we will really see the true power of mobiles. And there really won’t be a distinction between online and offline. We’ll always be connected.

I’m out like dial up phones.

Matt Ho.