San Francisco-based GeoVector is a company doing lots of interesting things in mobile -- most of them in Asia -- with "point and search" technology that leverages ubiquitous camera phones. The company just announced a new patent:
US Patent 7301536 better enables mobile phones or other devices to display stored digital images which are linked to real-world objects or places.
"Imagine pointing a mobile device down a city street and seeing a digital image of how that street looked a century ago, or might look a century from now. Imagine pointing at a new car billboard and seeing the car in any color you want, then downloading a video clip," explained John Ellenby, GeoVector's CEO. "GeoVector's technology enables countless possibilities for entertainment, advertising or e-commerce applications."
GeoVector currently enables mobile devices to access data on points of interest using a unique combination of GPS and a built-in compass. The new patent builds upon that capability, allowing users to interact with stored images based on their surroundings.
The company currently provides products and services which significantly simplify local searches, allowing users to point their mobile device toward objects of interest to access information about them. Users can "point and click" with their mobile phone the way a computer user navigates using a mouse.
Other companies in this segment include NeoMedia, Mobot, SnapTell and, soon, others. This next year will be one where this technology starts to make its appearance in North America. We'll see how consumers respond, but there are lots of interesting applications.
In addition, mobile phones are emerging as a way to bridge the digital and real worlds for consumers and as a tracking mechanism for advertisers.
In the informal mobile user survey posted below, almost 11% of respondents (8 out of 75) had an iPhone. Here are some interesting differences and observations about their behavior vs. the larger group:
Again, these numbers have to be taken with a heavy dose caution because the sample size is extremely small. But the iPhone sub-sample shows interesting differences with the larger population of respondents.
This CNET article argues that PC maker Dell needs to offer a new "handheld device" to regain momentum and transcend its status as slumping PC maker and become a more well-rounded consumer products company. To that end, a smartphone is one of the suggested devices Dell should/could put out.
It would be interesting if Dell, a Google partner, jumped on the Android bandwagon and created a handset.
According to Bloomberg:
T-Mobile, the wireless unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, is selling fewer Apple Inc.'s iPhones in Germany than its internal forecasts, Financial Times Deutschland reported, without citing anyone.
T-Mobile is selling fewer than 700 units of the combination handset and iPod digital music player a day, compared with as many as 10,000 mobile devices sold daily during Christmas, the German newspaper reported. T-Mobile is the exclusive distributor and operator of the iPhone in Germany.
The cost of the phone and the different dynamics and maturity of the European market may be responsible for the disappointing sales. In France the iPhone has fared better.
But here's a contradictory report that says the iPhone is a top product in the UK, France and Germany.
Today marks the introduction of banner advertising on MSN Mobile in the United States. The advertisements conform to the Mobile Marketing Associations guidelines for display advertisements. Depending on the size of a handset's screen, the ads can include a clickable banner and up to two lines of text.
Microsoft spokespeople tell us that they have taken great care to ensure that presentation of advertising does not detract from the user experience. Their mission is, first and foremost, to deliver the information that an MSN browser or searcher seeks. The clickable display ads appear at the top of the screen with great pains taken not to crowd out information. Reuters reports that Paramount Pictures, Jaguar (automobiles - not classic videogames), and Bank of America are among the first to be placed on MSN Mobile. In our experience, Microsoft is taking full advantage of the facilities to promote its own services, such as Windows Live Messenger for Mobile and maps through Live Search.
In addition to such "house ads", there's evidence that Microsoft is stepping up efforts to integrate and leverage its diverse set of Web services. A search for movie listings through MSN mobile can culminate in the purchase of tickets through its existing relationship with MovieTickets.com. Mobile subscribers will also find more seamless links between content on the Microsoft Live Portal, so a request for "more info" from the movie site in mobile, will yield information from Live Search.
Microsoft already offers mobile display advertising in five countries thanks to its acquisition of ScreenTonic last May. They are Belgium, France, Japan, Spain and the U.K.
Using the Instant Voucher Systems (IVS) from 2nDimension, British wireless carrier O2 is working with News Group, publisher of The Sun and News of the World, to roll out a service that enables local retailers to scan coupons using a mobile phone.
This marks the end of an eight month trial involving 160 retailers in Kent, involving other News Group properties, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Guardian. Retailers use Nokia E50 camera phones to scan vouchers (coupons) and query a centralized database.
In a move that has implications for local mobile commerce, the same infrastructure can be deployed in retail settings, enabling phones to scan barcodes on food packages or enabling brand advertisers to transmit coupon information directly to handsets.
MetroPCS, the number seven U.S. carrier, has joined the ranks of those seeking to bid in next month's auction. It now will be competing with Google, Cox Cable, EchoStar, Frontier Wireless, Cablevision, Leap Wireless, AT&T and Verizon in bidding for the spectrum licenses.
I caught up with NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap today and learned some interesting things about user behavior and the potential future direction of the company. First the most obvious: at some point in 2008 the company will establish a consumer shopping portal that offers a single entry point for local inventory search. Dunlap said this was a direct response to retailers who have store locations in more places than just malls and want those locations and that data reflected online.
Another thing we discussed is mobile usage among NearbyNow consumers.
Dunlap said that most of the company's mobile usage comes from in-mall signage prompts to text to short code "nearby." He said that in these texts people are either looking for very specific products or for sale information. But he also said that about "one in four" mobile NearbyNow consumers are using their mobile phones to show claim check numbers. If they reserve online for in-store pickup they get a confirmation code and can have that sent to their mobile phones (via text message). Typically 25% of those users show up in the store and show those codes to store clerks to claim their merchandise.
The rest of this post is on Screenwerk.
At the Google Local Markets Symposium yesterday, Google AdWords Product Manager Richard Holden discussed a range of changes and improvements that have been recently introduced to location targeting on AdWords. He also briefly discussed mobile. Here's a quick summary of his remarks on that subject:
The overall philosophy he articulated about AdWords was: create one campaign with multiple distribution points.
The Nielsen Company just released the result of a poll of "tweens" (defined as 8-12 year olds). The data show that only 35% of tweens own mobile phones, which I suppose "own" in this context means "possess." Like older counterparts, tweens are texters (20%) and they have personalized their phones with downloaded ringtones and wallpaper (21%). They are *not* big browsers, with only 5% claiming to access the Internet through their phones. My belief is that pricing for data plans and the clumsiness of navigational tools through inexpensive telephones are the double whammy that daunts even obstreperous youngsters from checking out what's available through mobile Web sites.