Friday, October 27, 2006


mobileYouth podcast and networking

A quick reminder that this afternoon (14:00-16:00 BST) is our mobileYouth Habbo Hotel virtual networking event. Hopefully there will be some interesting virtual conversations on mobile and youth trends.

Also on the subject of mobileYouth, this morning I've posted up another podcast on W2F. The podcast also features my colleague, Savka and we talk about some 'on the street' research she and Nick undertook this week with the youth of London. Have a listen to find out some of the interesting insights they picked up on the way.

We also took some video footage of the interviews which we're busy editing at the moment, so stay tuned for some "mobieYouth:the movie extracts" which will be posted up on W2F in the next couple of weeks!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Mobile marketing comes to kids cartoons

Camera Search! is an interesting mobile marketing service developed by Bandai and Japanese mobile marketing agency D2C using an image recognition system developed by US based Evolution Robotics. Consumers take pictures with their cameraphone of different forms of advertising and labelling (such as pictures in magazines, CD covers, wine labels) and send them to a server using the Camera Search! application on their phone. The server then analyses the image using image recognition technology to identify the product in question, and returns information such as the url of the product’s mobile site, a link to download music or a mobile shopping site selling the product.

Since the product’s launch earlier this year, Bandai and D2C have been adding new services such as outdoor poster advertising and TV commercial recognition. This week, Bandai announced that they will start using Camera Search! with “Crayon Shin-Chan”, a popular children’s cartoon.

Fans of Crayon Shin-Chan can download a free wallpaper for their phone from the cartoon’s mobile site using Camera Search! To access the freebie, all you need to do is snap any scene in the opening credits of the show and send it to the service.

It’s not quite aggressive marketing yet, but parents may have to beware of the mobile as a new tool to enhance nag power in the future.


Can’t find a babysitter? How about a robot controlled by your phone?

How would you feel about leaving your children in the care of a mobile phone-controlled robot babysitter? It may seem like a vision of the far flung future, but the idea took a step closer to reality this week as NTT have teamed up with NEC to carry out trials of robot childminders in two childcare centres in Japan.

The robot used in the trial is NEC’s PaPeRo which I had the pleasure of meeting at NEC’s stand in this year's 3GSM. PaPeRo has been upgraded with mobile connectivity and can send video images to parents’ mobiles and a blog about their child written by the childcare centre’s staff.

As well as receiving information, parents can give commands to PaPeRo by sending an email from their phone. The command system has natural language recognition to allow parents to move PaPeRo around and parents can even make PaPeRo sing to their child.

At a press conference, Mr Kogawa from NTT said he believed society’s reluctance to acceptance robots as a part of our lives was more of a limitation than technology itself. By placing the robot as an agent and “observer”, the trial’s organisers hope people will look at robots in a different light.

Original article


DoCoMo moves to reduce underage smoking

It’s one of the regular finding of our mobileYouth report report that increased spending on mobile amongst early teens has led to a decrease in underage smoking as youth have less disposable income to spend on cigarettes. DoCoMo is looking to cut teen smoking down even further with a new system – “Taspo”.

It’s illegal to sell tobacco to under 20s in Japan. However, vending machines are everywhere, selling not only drinks but also tobacco. Vending machines provide an easy opportunity for underage smokers to get supplies without being challenged to prove their age – and this is what DoCoMo is looking to change.

“Taspo” is an IC card based system. To buy tobacco, consumers must first touch an “Taspo” IC card to confirm their age. The vending machine then connects to a server over DoCoMo’s wireless network to verify age and authorise the transaction.

Strangely, DoCoMo doesn’t mention any plans to extend the system to IC enabled wallet phones, but I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case when the system is rolled out in mid-2008.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


mobileYouth virtual networking event this Friday

To celebrate the launch of part 2 of this year's mobileYouth report, we're hosting a virtual networking event over at the popular youth hangout Habbo Hotel UK.

Anyone with an interest in mobile and youth trends is welcome to come and join us to discuss the latest news and meet the mobileYouth team - including me (that's my avatar in the banner above)!

For more information, head on over to this page at W2F.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


QR-la codes!

How can you use your mobile and a packet of koala-shaped biscuits to read your fortune?

You can if you live in Japan! Confectionary manufacturer Lotte have teamed up with marketing company Index to create a unique fortunetelling service for their popular chocolate-filled koala biscuit snack. Each biscuit is decorated with a cartoon koala and in total there are 217 designs. To have your fortune told, all you do is choose a koala, take a picture with your cameraphone and send it as an attachment from your phone’s email address. An image recognition server recognises the design and sends a return email containing the fortune reading for that particular koala (in the example below the koala represents financial good fortune!).

The email you receive also includes an invitation to join the official koala biscuit community on Gocco. Gocco is a mobile only social networking site and is the biggest in Japan with over 350,000 members.

This is one of the most unique ways of extending brand presence to the mobile that I've seen and it looks like it would be great fun to try out.

Official press release


Interesting uses of the cameraphone

Recently there have been quite a few interesting new services launched in Japan which use the cameraphone in some pretty unique ways. I wrote a little while back about the beauty site targeted at females which gives free skin consultations and the promotional app from Sega which analyses your photo to reveal which Sega character you most resemble. This week saw the launch of another two interesting camera-based services.

First is “Business Card Reader” – a mobile app which does exactly what its name suggests. The app sends photos taken of business cards to a special server which reads them using OCR software and then adds the details as an address book entry on the phone. The service costs 30 yen (around 15p) per business card or 315 yen (around £1.50) per month if you prefer an all-you-can-scan option.

The second service is a palm reading site which offers palm reading using the mobile’s camera. The site can identify and analyse the life line, heart line, head line and fate line from a photo taken of a palm and return personality and compatibility readings. The service is either billed by subscription at 315 yen per month or per reading at 210 yen (around £1) each.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Swedish Beers tonight

For anyone who is in the London area with an interest in mobile tonight is the 5th anniversary of the Swedish Beers informal mobile networking event. No presentations, no RSVPs, just the opportunity to network with an interesting bunch of people in the pleasant surroundings of the Nordic Bar. This time the sponsors are Bango.

For more info click here.

Monday, October 16, 2006


imode site for kilt enthusiasts goes live

If you are looking for proof that the imode ecosystem in Japan allows companies to reach deep into the longtail of niche consumer demand look no further than “Kilt Club”, a specialist imode site for kilt enthusiasts that went live today.

The site is run by Shizuko Kuroha, who is apparently an expert on all things kilt and offers a variety of kilt-themed content including one-point lessons on how to make a kilt, kilt wallpaper, a monthly kilt calendar and even dictionary on kilt terms. Subscription to “Kilt Club” costs ¥315 (around £1.50) per month.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006


Docomo reveal autumn/winter 06 collection

Today DoCoMo announced their new autumn/winter handset collection of 14 new handsets for the Japanese market. This follows au and SoftBank’s new collections of 12 and 13 handsets respectively. It’s obvious that all three operators are making an extra special effort this time round with mobile number portability becoming a reality in Japan from the 24th of this month.

Some highlights from DoCoMo’s new collection:

The P903i is a music phone with up to 70 hours playback between recharges. The phone comes with a “safety key” (presumably Bluetooth based) which automatically locks the handset if the owner is separated from their mobile.

The F903iX HIGH-SPEED is a HSDPA-enabled handset from Fujitsu notable for its “swing style” form factor. Consumers can set different applications to automatically load when they “swing” the handset’s screen to the left or right.

The SIMPURE N1 is a simple, compact 3G handset and is the lightest of all DoCoMo’s 3G offerings. The handset’s main target is to tempt existing 2G subscribers to upgrade to 3G contracts without pushing multimedia 3G services they don’t necessarily want.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Musings of a mobile marketer: Carnival of the Mobilists No 48

Helen Keegan of BeepMarketing aka Technokitten hosts the 48th Carnival of the Mobilists over at her blog Musings of a Mobile Marketer. The Carnival is a weekly roundup of the best mobile related blogging so it's well worth a read.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Podcast on emerging trends - contactless IC chips go mobile

To give your eyes a break from reading, I've begun to record a series of podcasts on emerging trends.

The latest podcast gives a brief overview of the use of IC chips in mobiles and brings up two interesting news stories from Japan which show how the market is continuing to evolve.

To listen to the podcast, follow this link or download directly here (it's 5 mins and around 5mb).

It would be great to hear any feedback or comments. Happy listening!

P.s. we're trying to create a directory of mobile related podcasts over at Wireless World Forum, so if there are any podcasters out there feel free to upload your contribution to our database.


Casio's mobile characters spawn a book

Casio’s Japanese mobile handsets are noted for their distinctive cartoon characters which Casio uses to decorate their menus, screensavers and wallpapers. Now for the first (and possibly last) time ever, mobile characters have spawned their own story book.

The book, “Heart Craft”, is written by one of the staff at Casio’s design centre and contains the side stories of Casio’s most popular characters such as “Mr This and That” and “The Casio Penguins”. The book will go on sale in Japan later this month at a price of around $10 and is available in 5 different colours.

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Monday, October 02, 2006


New system to deliver e-coupons over broadcast mobile TV

Today DoCoMo and Japanese broadcaster Nippon Television Network Corporation announced a system to deliver electronic coupons to mobile phones via digital terrestrial broadcast mobile TV.

The preferred mobile TV system in Japan is OneSeg – a form of digital terrestrial broadcast TV. Since it went live in April this year, operators have launched several mobile handsets which can receive the signal. As it’s digital, OneSeg offers the interesting possibility to combine data with the broadcast signal and there have been a few experimental services such as baseball programmes which offer viewers additional statistics on demand. This latest service is the first idea to really push the boundries of what broadcast mobile TV can do - offering coupons you can redeem at retailers direct from your mobile.

The coupons are delivered as Toruca e-coupons. The Toruca system uses the FeliCa contactless IC chip used by wallet phones so consumers can redeem them directly at retailers by holding their phone over an ic reader-writer touchpoint. The interesting point about this new system is that the coupons can be combined with video clips taken from the TV show to offer content-specific marketing. For example, the service provides the possibility of combining a coupon with a clip of a cooking recipe. The coupons can also be forwarded to friends through email or infrared, presenting some interesting viral marketing opportunities. The new system seems like a great opportunity for marketers to produce some integrated marketing campaigns using the mobile and a lucrative way for operators to monetize broadcast digital TV which lies outside of their billing control.

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