Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Mobile Monday Austin hosts Helio’s David Howard

May 15, 2007

mobile monday
Great Mobile Monday today at Omni Downtown.


First up was David Gill of Telephia, who gave a nice overview of mobile data usage.


Mobile video is seeing a nice growth curve quarter to quarter. David sees this as a trend that will continue. This is in comparison to, for example, ringtones which is flat and games which is flat especially a few months after a new phone is purchased. (I.E. the games vertical doesn’t see repeat buying behavior.)

Myspace is currently something of a “killer app” for mobile data usage.

MMS is still lagging. Interoperability still a problem. (btw, I think MMS is currently a wasted opportunity. To me “voice MMS” is a great messaging app that isn’t getting enough attention.)

Sprint is sticking out as an anomoly from the major carriers as offering the most choice when it comes to data packages and is seeing the benefit.

Even though the 18-24 yr old market is seeing the greatest penetration, the older markets are seeing better adoption growth. Cost is an issue. Older demographic has more money to spend on premium services.

I was surprised to hear that overall US mobile data penetration is still around 40% and discounting SMS only, it’s more like 20%. I thought we were trending a little better than that.


Second up was the keynote, Helio’s David Howard (senior director of platform engineering)

David was a breath of fresh air in terms of evangelizing mobile and seeing results. Helio is a partnership between Earthlink and SK Telecom (South Korean mobile leader).

Highlights of Helio:
Very user experience oriented.
Clever adaptation of web and mobile experiences.
Low total number of handsets. Currently 5. Handsets are built for the Helio experience.
Helio Ocean recently introduced (See Youtube ad here)
Heavy use of “mashups” in mobile internet experience
GPS is a highlighted feature
Server side processing assists in creating the overall experience
“Walled gardens” of carriers is still a buzz kill
Carriers don’t think like Internet companies. David emphasized Earthlink’s heritage is evident in difference.
For the Ocean, they demanded complete control from OEM to develop product. Example of functionality that device manufacturers don’t like to give access to: the address book.

helio ocean

I got to play with the Ocean a little bit and was impressed. It uses the Sprint EVDO network so it is snappy. The UI is pretty nice. I was a little stumped with some of the UI (particularly where and how to use the soft keys) but overall very nice. The software UI is very good, particularly in Web. They have a nice tab structure that integrates the big players — Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Yelp (I’m missing a couple). David’s comment was these are the big players that are offering the API’s. Makes perfect sense.

I liked how he downplayed the music player. “It’s there, but…let’s look at these cooler features” I think the real implication, whether he meant it or not is a music player on a phone like this is a commodity.

The UI of the Ocean handles both landscape and portrait display….and seems to do so well.

If my brief experience with the Ocean and David’s presentation are any indication, Helio is really working hard to provide a solid offering. They seem to really get where the “mobile lifestyle” is heading.

Not to be forgotten, last up was Professor Sanjay Shakkottai of UT who gave a brief presentation on some social network research. For a view of some of his research, check out Sanjay’s research.


format, format, format

April 19, 2007

The theme du jour is format. Google’s Eric Schmidt was quoted saying “mobile is the next dvd” — meaning that mobile format is not going to be some side show, but more like the main act.

Then there’s all the format – content separation buzz regarding Web 2.0. It appears that this is a very significant, if not the significant, technological evolution that has allowed for the next generation, 2.0 moniker to have any real meaning.

I’ve been listening to some audio clips of Bootstrap presenters done by’s Brian Massey. These make me think about format, too, because he does a good job inserting a nice music/voiceover intro in the beginning, and just working to smooth out the kinks of the audio production, instead of the lack of attention to detail in the usual podcast.

I also recently watched a webinar (yet another format!) with tips for professional presenting–whether in front of a large audience, board room, or a computer giving a webinar. Again, most of the talk centered on format, organization and packaging.

And then of course, with the upfronts coming up in TV (bulk buying of advertising for Fall and Winter top programming), there’s all kinds of talk on format. TV versus Internet. TiVO’s new format for advertising at the end of a show.

All very Marshall McLuhan: “The Medium is the Message”-esque.

A few ideas:

1. Format decision. There is so much out there in terms of options. Survey the landscape. Make sure you pick the right ones. This holds true whatever you’re producing.

2. Format polish. Format is not lipstick on a pig, but lipstick is involved. Details matter because they can stick out and their impact on perception is unpredictable.

3. Format unlocked. 1 and 2 were about executing on specific format(s). This is about keeping as much as you can flexible. And open, where possible. Format and content (or other substance*) take turns evolving. Nirvana is being able to substitute content in your existing format, and change format while maintaining content with equal ease.

*I couldn’t think of a better word than substance. I’m not just talking about text, or even media in general. I drive a Toyota Highlander. This SUV is in fact built on a Toyota Camry frame. This frame is also used in the Lexus RX 300…and probably others.

Mobile TV coming soon to a phone near you

April 18, 2007

Last Thursday I saw a great demo at AT&T labs here in Austin. They were actually broadcasting an IPTV variant (sorry, not a techie, so I don’t recall the technical specs) and had phones receiving the signal. This is different from the mobile TV offerings you have today, which are piped through mobile phone data networks. This is broadcast on actual spectrum.

Their setup is broadcasting in a several mile radius and the results are quite good. The Nokia demo phones were manufacturer-modified phones specific to the test, but they were modified from production phones available today in Europe. Seems like things will come together relatively quickly.

I’ve read quite a bit about mobile TV coming, but it was nice to see a lab demo of the coming of a truly commercial deployment.