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The 411 on the 2006 CTIA Wireless Show

Thu Apr 13, 2006 - 12:52 PM EDT - By Annie Latham

Make Money Money Money

The cell phone has become the new "Wild, Wild, West." The new "Next Big Thing."
And to show that they have learned lessons from the Dotcom/Dot-bomb past, companies are studying various business models to see how they can make money in this market.

MSNBC�s announcement regarding a Beta news service that uses a business advertising model got a lot of attention. They joined forces with the mobile application platform company, Action Engine, to launch Mobile�a service that gives consumers access to news, videos, and pictures using their wireless device, free of charge. The content will be paid for by video and banner advertisements. During this Beta period, Microsoft�s Windows Mobile and Embedded Devices Division is the exclusive advertising sponsor. One of the things the companies are trying to determine is the impact of shifting mobile costs from consumers to advertisers, and the potential scenarios for mobile advertising. It should be interesting to see what kinds of conclusions they�ll draw from this experiment.

Speaking of experiments, this sounds very similar to what the Walt Disney Corporation just announced. They are planning to stream four television shows, including "Alias" and "Commander in Chief," for free on the Internet, allowing viewers to tune in anytime, anywhere. They are doing a two-month test, where ABC will post the shows on its Web site,, the day after they air on television. The shows will wrap in commercials and interactive advertisements from Procter & Gamble, Toyota and others.

ABC said the television shows would be supported by commercials within each episode that cannot be skipped (no surprise there). Viewers, however, will be able to pause, rewind and fast forward through "chapters" in the show. If successful, ABC could use the test to drum up additional ads as it lines up advertisers for the fall season next month.

So it�s clear that we�ve entered a period where the tolerance for advertising is being tested.

Give 'em What They Want

It�s pretty normal in a technology-based business cycle to have the early adopters "wowed" by cool "Gee whiz!" features. As evidenced by the numbers mentioned by Steve Largent (see above), the cell phone market is well past the early adopter stage� and very much into what Geoffrey Moore referred to as "Crossing the Chasm."

That means that companies playing in this market really need to understand what the users really want.

In AOL�s CTIA announcement there were some interesting stats. According to a new survey that AOL conducted with the Associated Press and Pew Research Center, 52 percent of adults keep their cell phone turned on all day, everyday. More than 30 percent of adults want to search and browse the Web from their cell phone and 47 percent said that mobile maps and driving directions are a "must have" on the next phone they buy. While content is king, you have to cover the basics. As for wireless providers, it�ll be important to provide voice and data plans that are affordable.

Of Course, I Totally Want That!

Sometimes consumers don�t know what they want until they actually see it. How often have you used that little camera that came with your cell phone? Have you found any uses besides adding pictures to your contacts list? Why aren�t you using it more? Chances are, it�s because you haven�t quite figured out how to get those photos out� how to share them. Well, Kodak, a company who is in the process of reinventing itself in the world of "film-less" photo made an announcement about this very subject.

Kodak took on the problem of how to get the 25 billion mobile images that are captured annually on 300 million handsets "unlocked." They launched a new service called Kodak Mobile that provides consumers around the globe with an easy way to view, share and store their camera phone pictures � responding to the industry's need for mobile photo innovations, and encouraging personalization.

KODAK MOBILE is focused on creating exciting new picture sharing experiences for users that includes:
  • KODAK Mobile Movie -- a new kind of sharing experience where you can send an animated slideshow movie with background music and cool transitions to anyone with an email address, directly from your mobile phone.
  • KODAK Mobile Postcard -- an application that allows you to send personalized photo postcards right from your camera phone and have a 4'x 6' card with a personalized message and real KODAK photo mailed directly to your friends and family members back home, straight to their (physical address) mailbox.
Though these are not yet Treo compatible, stay tuned.

Another company out to free your photos from your cell phone is Parrot, a world innovator in Bluetooth technology. At CTIA, they announced their Parrot PHOTO VIEWER that lets you transfer photos "instantly, easily and wirelessly" to a digital photo frame. How simple is it? All you need to do is select the Parrot PHOTO VIEWER in the list of Bluetooth devices on your phone and then select the picture you want to display. The photo is sent to the frame via Bluetooth and instantly converted to the size of the screen. The frame also intelligently selects either portrait or landscape format depending on its position. Sounds pretty cool.

Another announcement that caught my eye was from a company called BeVocal, the leading provider of hosted customer self-service solutions for communications service providers. They were inviting people to their booth at CTIA to test the BeVocal Ringtone Voice Search application that enables subscribers to use their voice to search for, get this: 1.2 million ringtones over the phone. If BeVocal's application did not recognize the tone, then the user was entered in a drawing to win an iPod Nano or a prepaid phone. Makes me wonder how many drawing entrants they ended up having.

And on the topic of voice recognition, SpinVox, the world�s first voicemail-to-text service for cell phones and landlines, showcased its patented speech-to-text technology at CTIA. The Company is exploring expansion into the North American market, following its successes in Europe, where it is recognized as the key innovator in voice services.

Last but not least, how about a solution that will let you print from your Treo?
Premiere Global Services, a global outsource provider of business process solutions, introduced PrintAnywhere that enables printing of e-mails and attachments from a mobile device to any FAX machine, anywhere in the world. Printing is as easy as selecting the attachment and entering the number of any FAX machine. Whether working from a hotel, airport, client site or other location, mobile professionals can now easily read and print documents without opening the attachment.

Final Note (pun intended) � This Concert will be Mobi-Casted

At CTIA, MTV Mobile announced its first made-for-mobile concert, which streams select performances by four Warner Music Group artists�Sean Paul, T.I., The Veronicas and Lupe Fiasco - to wireless subscribers. All performances were taped during a joint event that MTV Networks Music Group co-presented with Warner Music Group during the CTIA conference.

That�s a wrap!

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