Today Verizon Wireless launched a slightly redesigned version of its Mobile Web 2.0 portal (aka WAP deck). Unfortunately I can't take a screenshot of it (old version pictured at left) but here are a summary of the changes:
Overall these are subtle changes but create an aesthetic improvement and from a business perspective increases the ad inventory that they can monetize.
I'd had a Motorola v710 from Verizon for over 2 years and then last week I turned it on and the screen just kept flickering and eventually faded out. I used the phone only occasionally, primarily to test mobile websites and applications. I took the phone to Verizon and they said the battery was fried. Apparently my charging the battery overnight - which I have done with nearly every cell phone I have ever used - was what killed the battery. Verizon store reps are now regularly telling customers not to charge their phones overnight.
Four reasons not to charge your cell phone overnight:
1. Reduces your phone battery's ability to keep a charge
2. May ultimately kill your phone's battery
3. Wastes electricity - bad for your bank account
4. Wastes electricity - bad for the environment
I read about Palm's solicitation for beta testers on mytreo.net this morning as it was covered on a number of PDA enthusiast sites this week. I then went through the fairly lengthy web forms to sign up to be considered for the beta test program. Most of the blogs seem to assume that the product to be tested is a Treo device. But the post on TreoCentral from someone at Centercode who is involved with the beta does not imply that it is necessarily a Treo device that is being tested. It simply says a Treo 680 or newer device is required along with data service. This sounds to me like the requirements to test a Palm Foleo. The timing makes sense as well. The beta test is supposed to run through August 17th or so and the rumors are that the Foleo is set to come out August 22nd. Maybe that's too close together? My money's on the Foleo.
I've been focused on building the forthcoming mobile website for ZAGAT and so have been spending a lot of time thinking about and using other mobile websites. Here are my current favorites and why I like them so much.
1. NY Times
From a design perspective it's such a great transfer of the aesthetic of the full website. But I think it's mostly the accessibility of so much great content that's what does it for me. Always provides me
with a ton of great reading for my commute.
Only started using this in the last month or so but it's a little addictive. I love that every time I load it up I've got my updated feed of my friends' status and the ability to update my own. Which
makes me wonder if you're a Facebook user why Twitter when you can update your status from Facebook mobile and not have to recreate your network in Twitter? Again the aesthetic matches the main site well but they just really nailed the UI. Extremely easy to navigate - great use of dynamic menus and jump keys. They also brought through a lot of functionality but still kept a lot out that is either unnecessary or too cumbersome for mobile (e.g. editing your profile).
I just love that it's fully synchronized with what I read on my desktop. I've tried downloadable apps but they just don't make sense to me if you're using something else to read blogs on your PC.
Formatting for mobile is solid (though sometimes it seems to take me to the full version). Incorporating Skweezer for outbound links was a huge plus.
4. Bank of America
Obviously irrelevant to you if you're not a customer but I am and I'm a hardcore online banker. The site itself is fairly plain but the fact that you can easily check balances (pending vs. cleared
transactions), pay bills and transfer balances is just awesome.
Let me know your favorites in the comments!
What a week for personal press! I was interviewed by both MediaPost and Forrester Research a few months ago about the mobile advertising work I've been doing for ZAGAT TO GO (marketing a mobile product in the mobile medium makes sense, right?) and they were both published this week.
Forrester's publication is actually a 2-page case study entitled "Zagat Tests The Right Mobile Advertising Options" by Christine Spivey Overby and costs $279 to purchase a la carte. This case study is one of three being published with "Best Practices: US Mobile Marketing," the second document in their "The Rise of US Mobile Marketing" series. Here's the executive summary of our case study:
Zagat Survey needed to reach mobile power users — a relatively small group — to market ZAGAT TO GO, a mobile product featuring its restaurant and nightspot reviews. To do so, it explored several mobile marketing mechanisms to home in on the ideal mobile marketing campaign. Why? Mobile marketing is still relatively uncharted waters, and Zagat sought to develop a knowledge base of each type.
Ironically I was also interviewed by Gartner today on the same subject. To me it's a sign 2007 will be a huge year for mobile advertising.
The original consumer contactless payment system which has been around for years is Exxon/Mobil's Speedpass. If you sign up for an account they send you a little fob for your keychain that when you hold it up to the Speedpass sign at the gas pump it bills the credit or debit card you have on file - slightly less work and faster than swiping a debit or credit card because there's no signing or PIN.
In the last year or so MasterCard has begun to roll out its system for contactless payments called PayPass. Special debit/credit card readers have been installed at participating merchants such as Duane Reade, McDonald's and CVS among others. MasterCard issues special credit cards with RFID chips in them or you can get a special fob for your keychain if you already have a MasterCard and don't want a new credit card (like me).
Now MasterCard is working on embedding the technology into mobile phones, as has been done in Japan for some time. I read about the official press release detailing the joint plans of MasterCard, Citigroup, Cingular and Nokia to test this out in NYC. I was already aware of the project, though not in the full details, as we have been talking with some of the parties about participating in the content downloads to mobile phones. One piece of info that I didn't see mentioned on any of the blogs covering the story is that the phone being used for the trial is the Nokia 6126. This is essentially the same phone as the Nokia 6133 sold by T-Mobile except that it has the NFC (near-field communication) technology.
Today HopStop.com issued a press release officially announcing its site for PDAs and other web-enabled mobile devices. I'm happy to say that ZAGAT TO GO is the official launch sponsor of HopStop's mobile site. HopStop.com is an extremely useful as well as innovative web site (have you seen the 360° panoramas so you know which way to go when you get out of the subway?) I'm very glad we had the opportunity to support the launch of their mobile site and at the same time have such a relevant and targeted platform for marketing ZAGAT TO GO. So far the press has been favorable: Wap Review, PalmAddicts.
Last month Sprint announced that they were enabling their wireless customers to send text messages to landlines. How is this possible? They are converting the text messages to speech so when the person on the landline receives the message it is read aloud in a computerized voice. I tried it out and it's pretty cool.
When you receive the message this is what you hear:
"Sprint customer ###-###-#### has sent you a text to landline message. To hear this message press 1. [read message]. "
When the message has been read a text message is sent back to the sender confirming that the message was successfully delivered to a person. The voice message is still delivered to a voicemail or answering machine and the text message back to the sender will indicate this as well (I don't know how it figures this out).
I often get calls that I can't take because I'm already on the phone from friends or family calling from a landline and I don't have a way to let them know I see them calling but can't pick up. This is great for that.
Furthermore, this will make the Palm Treo's "Ignore with Text" feature even better because now Sprint users will be able to deliver these text messages to mobile calls they don't pick up to landlines.
This is a great example of Sprint's innovation in the mobile data space. Best of all they are not charging their customers any more for this feature.
On Tuesday USA TODAY ran a feature on the top 100 US hotel restaurants based on data provided to them by Zagat Survey (my employer). Given that we already make our content available for many mobile devices I thought we'd experiment and take this content and create a mini-guide for iPods using the iPod Notes feature.
This Zagat mini-guide for iPod contains the address, phone number and ratings and reviews of the top 100 U.S. hotel restaurants and can be downloaded for free here:
You can read the USA TODAY article here: