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Mobile Advertising at crossroads January 31, 2008

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Via GigaOM

CBS Mobile chief Cyriac Roeding speaking at a conference in New York lamented about the utter complexity of the mobile ecosystem and the problems facing mobile advertising. His quotes are just money: “How do we expect anyone to take this seriously as an advertising device… So let’s make it simpler–let’s talk about usability, let’s not talk about the next 15 menu items, and let’s not try to copy another medium … If you are trying to make this the next online page, you will fail…because this is a new medium in its own right.”


Crucial day for Auction 73

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Olga Kharif of BW opines on a crucial day coming tomorrow for C block bidders. We will see if the drama ends tomorrow or continues into Feb.

Mobile Advertising Book Tour January 30, 2008

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We have received interest from various people about the book tour to other cities esp on East coast. If there is sufficient interest, we would look into it. Please let me know if you would like to help arrange for a book presentation in your city.

700 MHz Auction and WiMAX

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

It is round 12 in the auction and the price of the C block has reached $3.78 B, still a bit below FCC’s target minimum of $4.6B. We are likely to see the dance continue this week or the next .. but overall, it doesn’t seem to be going according to FCC’s plan.

Regarding WiMAX and Open Access, I had said repeatedly that the most likely scenario is Clearwire and Sprint making up and asking Google, Motorola and others to fund it .. WSJ has a report that this move is underway. If the players can pull this, it will a win-win for all parties involved and inject some interesting dynamics in the US Wireless Market.

Mobile Advertising Book: Stanford Event January 29, 2008

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Details of the event are here.

Seating is limited so if you are interested in attending, please RSVP. It is going to be a great event.

AdInfuse, Admob, and Rhythm New Media are sponsoring the event and we will have their CEOs on the panel.

Mobile Advertising Book: Website Up

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The book website is up. Will be posting content from the book in the next 2-3 weeks.

Mobile Advertising Book: Testimonials

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Here are the final set of testimonials before the book gets out. Then, will be looking to your feedback 🙂

“This necessary book is the kind of roadmap we all wish we had back in 2001. It will guide you to success in mobile advertising, hopefully helping you to cross the chasm from unproven to proven success for your brand. It will help technologist think about what they can bring to the table, and investors think about where to invest.”

From the Foreword, Greg Stuart, Former CEO, IAB, Coauthor, What Sticks?

“If you believe the future is wireless, then this book is a guide to that future. Simple, fact filled and astute.”

Om Malik, Founder GigaOM

“The authors provide unique insights into the emerging world of mobile advertising in light of the distinct features – and challenges – of mobile media, and their perspectives will help operators and marketers grow mobile advertising and ensure the delivery of benefits to users, providers, and advertisers alike.”

Dr. Robert Roche, VP, CTIA – The Wireless Association

Mobile Advertising Book: Seattle Mobile Monday Feb 18th January 28, 2008

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Topic: Mobile Advertising

In February Joe Herzog, Victor Melfi, and Chetan Sharma will be speaking about mobile advertising and discussing research from their upcoming book

Mobile Advertising: Supercharge your brand in the exploding wireless market (John Wiley).

There will be beer and soda as usual.

Also this month’s meeting we”l be having Zeke’s Pizza, provided by the good people at Zumobi.

Presenters: Joe Herzog – Senior Director Search Products, Infospace

Victor Melfi – Chief Strategy Office and Senior Vice President, VoiceBox Technologies

Chetan Sharma – President, Chetan Sharma Consulting

When: Monday February 18th, 2008 6:30 – 9:30 p.m

Where: TheHarborsteps

1221 First Avenue

Terrace Room


Sponsored by:




Mobile Advertising Book: Foreword by Greg Stuart

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Greg Stuart who led Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) during its heydays earlier this decade kindly consented to write the Foreword for our book. I will have the foreword available for public consumption in the next 2-3 weeks.

Greg Stuart

Greg is the former CEO & President of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the leading association for the interactive advertising and marketing industry. Member companies include AOL, CNET Networks, Google, Forbes.com, MSN, Walt Disney Internet Group, and Yahoo, among other interactive giants.

While with IAB, Greg led an international consortium developing the world’s first Global Online Ad Measurement and Audit Guidelines which are affecting the way all media is measured.

More recently Greg has written the thought-provoking book, What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds released in 2006. What Sticks is based on pivotal research against $1 billion in advertising spending and reveals just where advertising goes wrong and what the biggest advertisers don’t know.

Save the date: Seattle and Stanford January 25, 2008

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We are putting together two really exciting events on Mobile Advertising to launch our book.

First one is going to be in Seattle four days before the book launch on Feb 18th 6pm.

The second one is going to be at Stanford University Campus on March 19th 5:30pm. In addition to the discussion about the book, I am very happy to announce that we have three dynamic CEOs in the mobile advertising space as panelists to discuss the state of the mobile advertising industry. The panel discussion will take place right after the book presentation.

So, mark your calendars and hope some of you can make it.

GigaOM Column: What can wireless operators learn from politics?

Posted by chetan in : BRIC,Carriers,European Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment

My piece “What Can Wireless Operators Learn From Politics?” appears on GigaOM today. I am a numbers guy. The current primary tussle in the US inspired the article.

U.S. politics has entered the frenzied season of election primaries, complete with polls, debates, punches, counterpunches, analysis, paralysis, and so on. Each round brings with it an inordinate amount of data over which to pour, and makes number junkies like us draw conclusions that can be applied elsewhere. In fact, there are a number of lessons that wireless service providers — especially operators — can draw from successful political campaigns, specifically around microsegmentation, messaging and engagement.

Microsegmentation: In close contests, the campaigns that best understand the microdemographics almost always have an edge. The time spent building databases and gathering voter profile information that give insights into populace dynamics yields a significant tactical advantage as Election Day nears. The single biggest lesson for operators (and consumer businesses, for that matter) is end-user microsegmentation.

For the better part of the last decade, most operators primarily had two user segments — postpaid and prepaid. As Tomi Ahonen outlined in his book, “3G Marketing,” operators over the last few years have used common segmentation models to guide service offerings and marketing campaigns, such as those based on size (i.e. large corporations, SME, SOHO, residential customers), technology (i.e. 3G, EDGE, WAP, SMS, etc.) and billing. But such methods are woefully inadequate in our subscriber-saturated world, especially as services are increasingly personalized. We need to move from these handful of segments that are comprised of millions of subscribers to hundreds of segments whose number of subscribers range from 100 to 1000, and that help you model the preferences and behavior of the various population segments.

Each subgroup, or segment, has different characteristics — including demographics, lifestyles, work habits, social networks, preferences, product requirements and consumption habits — that could benefit from different product features or marketing approaches. Ultimately, these differences suggest that, rather than putting the soccer moms, Internet marrieds, impressionable elites, aspiring snipers and cricket fanatics in the same bucket, the greatest profitability may be achieved by developing multiple strategies to address the unique characteristics of each individual customer segment. The networked world allows one to focus on narrowly defined targets — often many at the same time. As Ian Ayers says in his book “Super Crunchers,” “Thinking-by-numbers is the new way to be smart.”

Messaging: Each provider has its own mass-market message: flat-out brand awareness ( “Can you hear me now?” – Verizon; “Don’t call it a phone” – Helio), emotional connection via communication (friendship – AIS, Thailand), broadband and network capability (3G – Maxis, Sprint, KDDI), application services (QR Code – NTT DoCoMo), phones (iPhone – AT&T), new plans (lifetime free – Reliance), or competitive advantage (Quad-play – Virgin Media; network coverage and quality – Telstra). As operators roll out new pricing plans or devices or applications, the messages are adapted to these initiatives, but they’re typically not targeted towards any particular segment of the demographics.

The goal is to reach the broadest market possible. However, messaging should go beyond that by adapting to microsegments of the subscriber base. Once segments have been identified and there’s a grasp of potential voters, good campaigns try to figure out how to best communicate their conversion message –- direct mail, phone call, neighbors, or a call from the candidate themselves — whatever will most quickly and effectively close the sale. Similarly, operators would do well to align their product offerings with demographics and adapt their message in a way that will make the biggest impact. Much of i-mode’s success, for example, can be traced to the fact that the service was initially targeted at teenage girls, who helped spread it virally.

Engagement: Once the message has been delivered, good political campaigns engage supporters and voters to stay the distance until the final votes are counted. It is as much about attracting new voters as it is about keeping the current ones happy and engaged. But unlike political contests, in which the loser goes home to fight another day, the fight for subscribers is ongoing.

A friend of mine was a loyal customer of the leading operator for over 10 years. Over time, he noticed a drop in customer service and network quality. When his contract was over, he switched to the competitor. He didn’t hear from his old operator until six months later, at which point the chance of getting him to switch back was literally zero. Operators shouldn’t take customers for granted. Instead of just focusing on acquiring customers or upping the ARPU (average revenue per user), they should focus on LTV (lifetime value) and APPU (average profit per user).

Unlike political campaigns that can’t connect “what voters say” (surveys) to “what voters do” (votes), operators can connect the dots using the tremendous amount of user data already available — and their understanding can be continuously refined with each user interaction.

By aligning the efforts of segmentation, messaging and engagement, marketing efforts will be more focused and yield better results. Once the segmentation and understanding of the user is fine tuned, such gathered knowledge can be applied continuously, enhancing the experience of users by providing recommendations based on what they might be most interested in. These segments can then be studied in conjunction with other strategic models, such as profitability, potential, client credit risk and client vulnerability, and applied to the carrier’s objectives: retaining profitable customers, growing customers with potential, managing and controlling customers with higher credit risk profiles, and optimizing the costs of less profitable customers. Wireless operators can then identify real opportunities in the market where they can make a difference.

Full disclosure: Some of the companies mentioned in this article are clients of the author.

Nokia crosses 40% market share January 24, 2008

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Nokia blew the 4Q by shipping over 133M handsets. Stunning.

iPhone is paying off for AT&T

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , 3 comments

AT&T’s net income jumped 62% in the fourth quarter, helped by record wireless gains and the acquisition of BellSouth.

The company posted net income of $3.14 billion, or 51 cents a share, from $1.94 billion, or 50 cents a share, a year earlier. AT&T, the exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone in the U.S., said its wireless unit added 2.68 million subscribers in the quarter, which the company called the largest-ever quarterly increase by any U.S. wireless company. About 2.3 million people bought an iPhone in the final three months of the year, Apple said Tuesday.


Wireless Data Revenues touched $2 billion. 3G penetration exceeded 13%, 12% smartphones. iPhone has clearly turned things around for AT&T which was losing the battle to Verizon before its introduction.

BusinessWeek article: A Warm Welcome for Android January 23, 2008

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Olga Kharif of Business Week quoted our year-end survey results in this article.

BusinessWeek logo 

A Warm Welcome for Android

The mobile software platform was late to market but has won a strong developer following, thanks to its flexibility and Google’s financial might

by Olga Kharif

Nikita Ivanov and his 14 employees are working on an application that would harness the processing power within millions of cell phones to create one big supercomputer. The idea is to enable companies and government agencies to exploit all the idle computing power in their employees’ mobile phones and perhaps even handsets belonging to non-employees who have agreed to lease that spare capacity.

To create this “grid” computing application, Ivanov’s startup firm has chosen a mobile software platform that doesn’t yet run on a single commercially available phone. Rather than Windows Mobile or the Symbian operating system, GridGain is using Android, a platform spearheaded by Google (GOOG) that has drawn scores of software developers with its promise of flexibility to create unusual applications.

GridGain is one of thousands of Android-based projects in the works. Another would enable users to record and share audio tours of museums or galleries. One is a music player that can connect a cell-phone user with people who have similar musical tastes and happen to be nearby. All underscore the ways that developers hope to use Android to take phones in new directions with greater ease than today’s prominent wireless platforms. To succeed, though, they, along with Google and its partners, will need to work some kinks out of the system.

No Support for Bluetooth

It’s telling that Android, first unveiled by the Google-led Open Handset Alliance in November, is spurring all this interest among developers even though no wireless carriers have definitively agreed to allow such handsets on their networks. Or that Android is still missing many key capabilities such as support for Bluetooth wireless connections to headsets and other devices.

Nearly 200 industry movers and shakers recently surveyed by Chetan Sharma Consulting said they believe Android-based mobiles won’t make even a small dent during 2008 in the smartphone market, which is dominated by the Nokia-controlled (NOK) Symbian platform, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile, and Research In Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry.

But Android’s late arrival on the market doesn’t seem to be weighing heavily on many developers, thanks in no small measure to the reassurance that comes from Google’s financial might. In the first two months, programmers downloaded the software development kit for Android more than 250,000 times, according to Google. While only a tiny fraction of such downloads typically result in an actual application being written, the display of interest is striking. By contrast, developers downloaded the Symbian OS Getting Started guide some 70,000 times in the 12 months ended in September.

Obstacles for Wi-Fi Army

It’s not just small software firms that are showing interest. Motorola (MOT) is trying to fill 21 openings for engineers familiar with Android. Most large software companies are playing with Android in their labs.

Still, the success of Android hinges on Google’s ability to get the platform in better working order. One developer who really needs help is Peter Wojtowicz. He and several collaborators are using Android to build a cell-phone game called Wi-Fi Army, where competing teams would hunt each other using Google Maps and location data from the Wi-Fi hotspots nearest the rival camp’s cell phones. Upon finding an enemy, a player uses the phone’s camera as a rifle scope to shoot.

But Wi-Fi Army faces a more significant hurdle than enemy bullets: Android doesn’t yet support Wi-Fi wireless technology. And the lack of support for Bluetooth means that Wojtowicz and his co-developers can’t get going on a feature that would enable team members to strategize their moves using wireless headsets. Writing the game application “is not easy,” Wojtowicz says. “But we are looking at it in the long run. Google has a lot of money to burn.”

Attracting Young, Hip Developers

Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms at Google, says the company is trying to release a new iteration of the software each month, a breakneck pace in the industry where major versions of Windows Mobile come out once every two years. Google is also redoubling its efforts to be more responsive to developers. On Jan. 23, the company is hosting a developers shindig at its Googleplex headquarters. There are also plans for an online feedback system to allow developers to report bugs and request changes by Google’s engineers.

The excitement around Android also highlights a generational split in the mobile developer community. For Jason Aaron, the decision to use Android and Apple’s iPhone platform to develop his mobile application was a no brainer. Young, hip programmers he’d hired simply weren’t interested in the mainstream wireless software platforms to write the code for What’sOpen, an application that tells people whether local businesses are open or closed. People coding for Symbian or Windows Mobile are “older, accountant-type developers,” Aaron says. “IPhone and Android developers are cool. It’s a youthful, social crowd that goes the other way. Are you going to be with Microsoft or the hip, cool Google and Apple (AAPL) crowd?”

Microsoft says it’s not seeing mass developer defections. “I have not seen a difference” in developer interest in Windows Mobile, says Daniel Bouie, senior product manager for Microsoft’s mobile communications business. “If you are looking to make money off of your software, the number of devices in the market and the strength of developer tools [that we offer] are going to be your No. 1 consideration.” Indeed, Windows Mobile shipped on some 11 million devices last year, while Symbian shipped on 55 million through just the first nine months of 2007.

Tapping Idle Power

To beat those odds, Android programmers are trying to conceive of capabilities that have never been seen on mobile devices before. As Baris Karadogan, a venture capitalist with $1.5 billion Velocity Interactive Group, explains it, Apple took years to develop the iPhone, which took the wireless industry by storm in 2007 with novel features such as finger swiping. “Android (BusinessWeek.com, 11/5/07) enables people to quickly create new iPhones,” Karadogan says.

Many of these new applications could be revolutionary, in part because Android may be adapted for more than cell phones. Google’s Rubin points out that Android is “generic enough, it can be used with different screens and with wired and wireless devices.” Once Android-based phones start hitting the market, Google may start putting out additional code that would allow developers to use Android on other consumer electronics with computing power that might lay idle for long stretches at a time, from TVs and set-top boxes to gaming consoles and media players and even sensor networks.

With that sort of flexibility, GridGain’s distributed computing concept could one day be used by the military to provide quick computing power in battlefield conditions. Searching for a missing comrade, a soldier might take a series of photos across the battlefield. The combined computing power of all the soldiers’ radios in the vicinity could then be used to analyze those shots against a database containing the missing soldier’s photo. But such applications are still a long ways off, as Android is still a very early work in progress. “Nothing is ideal in version one,” GridGain’s Ivanov says.

Kharif is a senior writer for BusinessWeek.com in Portland, Ore.

EU: IP addresses are personal data January 22, 2008

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By saying that IP addresses are private data, EU has raised the stakes in the privacy battle with the online giants. This will have implications how data is stored, mined, and used.

Recap of Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit

Posted by chetan in : 3G,AORTA,ARPU,Carriers,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Intellectual Property,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Search,Speaking Engagements,Strategy,US Wireless Market,Wi-Fi,WiMax,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , add a comment


Beautiful Vancouver, BC hosted the first Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit 16-17. I got up early at 4 and by 4:30 (yes in the morning) was on my way up north. A nice 3 hr drive into the city.

On 16th the conference hosted the leadership summit of prominent folks in the wireless industry from Northwest. I was invited but couldn’t make it. 17th was the main conference while 18th was devoted for investment related discussions. There were keynote presentations spread throughout the day from experienced professionals to young entrepreneurs, a pretty good mix of apps, services, and infrastructure discussion. Some of the most interesting ones were given by Peter Howley, Chairman of Success Generation Systems and Fred Ghahramani, cofounder, AirG.

Conference was divided into the technology track and the business track. I participated mostly on the business track so missed out the technology discussion. The day started with a small presentation I gave on Mobile Advertising which was the first time I was sharing some of the research from our upcoming Mobile Advertising book.

Then, Olivier Vincent of Canpages discussed the role of local content in advertising. Following the two presentations we went straight into the exciting panel discussion. Alfredo Tan, Sr. Director at Yahoo! Mobile and Matt Snyder who recently was very active Nokia Mobile Advertising efforts (and now runs his consulting company) joined in with moderator Michael Bidu.

We had a very engaging discussion on the state, potential, opportunities, and the risks in mobile advertising. We could have gone for hours. The key points I drew from the discussion were that we are early but things are growing fast and as long as we take care of fragmentation and privacy issues, mobile advertising has a strong future ahead.

The second session was moderated by Fred of AirG with Alfredo, Trevor Doerksen (Mobovivo), and Stephen Nykolyn (Material Insight) on the panel. Fred was very keen on the carrier being the dumb-pipe debate trying to corner the panelists into forecasting the fate of the operators in the next few years and like able politicians, no-one attempted to bite.

There was a panel on Mobile Trends and Insights which also led into the discussion of why foreign companies don’t do so well in developing markets. Lack of local presence and strategy is the main reason.

Next, I moderated a panel on Understanding Mobile Asia with panelists – Asokan Thiyagarajan, Motorola, David Dai, CellOn China, and Karl Weaver, Newport. Again, we could have gone for a long time as there is lack of understanding of the Asian markets – China, India, Japan, and Korea. We discussed stats, business models, technologies, strategies for companies to succeed in these markets.

Caroline Lewko has been the fearless leaders of the developers and her work at WIP Connector has helped numerous companies and individuals. She moderated a discussion on go-to-market strategy.

By now, it was time to head back. After managing through the city traffic, it was a smooth ride back after crossing the border.

All-in-all a great start to what I hope will be an annual event.

Mobile Advertising Book: Testimonial

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Pleased to have another testimonial for the book

This book is a must read for those trying to understand the complexities, risks and opportunities of the rapidly-evolving mobile advertising landscape.

– Jai Jaisimha, Vice President, Mobile Products and Technology Development, AOL

Here are other testimonials

4 weeks to go.

Mobile Advertising Mania January 18, 2008

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Got back last night from Vancouver (PNWS Conference) .. nice long 3 hr drive .. There was a lot of discussion, excitement, and apprehension about mobile advertising .. more on thoughts and conversations later this weekend.

We are starting to plan some book events, first one was yesterday in Vancouver where i shared some of the research from the book. Next one is going to be on Feb 18th at Mobile Monday Seattle. Stay tuned for details.

We are also planning to do one in bay area, mid-march at Stanford University Campus. If you are interested in sponsoring, please let me know.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit January 15, 2008

Posted by chetan in : 3G,4G,AORTA,ARPU,Devices,Enterprise Mobility,European Wireless Market,Indian Wireless Market,Japan Wireless Market,Location Based Services,Middleware,Mobile Advertising,Mobile Applications,Mobile Content,Mobile Ecosystem,Mobile Entertainment,Mobile Gaming,Mobile Search,Privacy,Speaking Engagements,Strategy,US Wireless Market,Wireless Value Chain,Worldwide Wireless Market , 1 comment so far

Looking forward to meeting new friends and colleagues at the upcoming PNWS conference in beautiful Vancouver, BC this Thursday.There are some really great speakers and panelists. I have the privilege to present, participate, and moderate in two of the panels.

Mobile Marketing and Advertising

I will be sharing some research from our upcoming book on Mobile Advertising and then participate in a panel discussion with Alfredo Tan, Yahoo! Mobile, Matt Snyder, ADO Strategies (formerly with Nokia), and Olivier Vincent, Canpages. The panel is moderated by Michael Bidu of WINBC.

Understand Mobile Asia

I will be moderating this panel consisting of Asokan Thiyagarajan, Motorola, David Dai, CellOn China, and Karl Weaver, Newport Technologies.

If you would like to see any specific questions answered, please let me know. I will do a conference report later this weekend.

Apart from these panels, there are other panels on Mobile Commerce, Mobile Entertainment and Social Networking, Mobile Trends, Insights, Undeserved Vertical Markets, Mobile Enterprise, Disruptive Technologies, Smart DNAs, Wireless Innovation and Accelerated Commercialization, Go-to-market strategy. CEOs and executives from prominent companies in the region are going to be there. There are keynotes throughout the day including Luni from Medio, Fred Ghahramani, AirG, and Sue Abu-Hakima, Amika Mobile.

Caroline Lewko of WIP and WINBC fame also be moderating a couple of sessions.

There will be discussion about 2010 Olympics as well.

All in all a very packed day from 8am to 9pm and then a mixer that will probably go till midnight.

Hope to see some of you there.

700 MHz Bidding List

Posted by chetan in : US Wireless Market , add a comment

Via GigaOM