UK Tech PR » Mobile The blogging home of Hill & Knowlton's UK Technology practice. We write about technology and how to shape conversations about technology in the market. Fri, 12 Mar 2010 12:41:17 +0000 en hourly 1 Videocalls: a visible future? Thu, 04 Mar 2010 18:16:42 +0000 Chris Smith

In 1994, the Simpsons ran an episode entitled ‘Lisa’s Wedding’, set in 2010. This clip highlights their understanding of the future.

However, now we are actually in 2010, the general sentiment is that videophones are ‘so’ late 1990’s.

Given any form of conversation is all about two way interactions, it is perhaps a technological anomaly that videophones have somewhat failed to capture the world’s imagination.

Unfortunately, video calling had a couple of things working against it. Firstly, in order to remain in shot, the need to walk around with your phone held directly in front of your face is a look that for some reason, never caught on. Secondly, once the pointlessness of video calling someone without a camera  was realised and the technology was made widely available, mobile phone operators pushed video call tariffs high enough to induce a mild dose of vertigo. But thirdly (and what proved the death knell) was the fact that most people, actually, didn’t want to see who they were talking to. “That’s called real life” they said, “and we’ll keep that and telecommunications separate, thank you very much”.

The result of course, is that videocalls never really happened. As a result, in the last 18 months, handset manufacturers such as HTC have been ditching front-facing cameras e because, “Nobody uses them.”

This established landscape is now dramatically shifting. 2010, as the Simpsons predicted with Nostradamus style accuracy, is already shaping up to be the year that the world starts to get to grips with video and voice technology becoming a cohesive package.

This week, has seen a number of television manufacturers announce the integration of Skype video call technology into their sets, meaning before long, living rooms around the world will be fully equipped in high-end video conferencing technology (and you’ll get to chat to your mum in widescreen – weird).

What is even weirder however, is the number one web 2.0 explosion of 2010 so far. Foursquare? Nope. Chatroulette; the site which randomly pairs you with another webcam-enabled user whenever you click ‘next’. It provides full voice and video communication, with complete strangers. And despite being only four months old, it already draws in 500,000 unique monthly users and is growing exponentially.

Clearly, the complete lack of demand for voice and video is over. Only last month, we saw a significant backlash against the iPads lack of camera, followed by a huge ongoing rumour-mill when information became apparent that maybe it did after all. But where and when has this change in attitude come about?

That is not so clear, but perhaps one of the biggest influences is the support of young people, who are more used to the video-centric world of today, and can’t even remember the days of rotary phone dials. All in all, whilst it certainly won’t be the case that video calls will revolutionise mobile telecoms anytime soon, it is somewhat inevitable that they will perhaps now, slowly but surely, start becoming more and more important.

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Trend Number #2: LTE / 4G Rollout Thu, 11 Feb 2010 15:05:39 +0000 Zoe Lawrence The evolutionary path of 3G is so well defined, that we all consider 4G to be just around the corner. Fact is 3G is only starting to gain mainstream consumer acceptance. HSPA (or ‘3.5G’) is well-established) but the industry is focussed on the rollout of next-generation networks that will enable new services.

Analysts are warning that consumer demand will continue to outpace bandwidth and network congestion will plague operators. Anyone looking to communicate around 4G should really consider the brand and reputational impact from this pending issue and set their messaging accordingly. Our experience of supporting 3G technologies has shown us that it’s critical for the industry to avoid over-hyping 4G, before it’s off the starting blocks.

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MWC Trend #4: Smartphones Tue, 09 Feb 2010 08:58:35 +0000 Zoe Lawrence Carriers have been talking about Smartphones as a new source of data revenue for several years, but it’s been the work of Apple, RIM and Google’s Android that has made this a reality. The trend is expected to continue at MWC 2010. Handset manufacturers, including Palm and Samsung, are likely to unveil new, lower-priced models aimed at the mid-tier, which will continue to stimulate the market.

Google’s Android is still one-to-watch as it continues to promise lower-priced models with advanced features including GPS, application stores, evolving form factors and an enhanced Web-browsing experience. It’s an operating system that is set to grow in popularity as handset manufacturers roll out new models which will extend beyond phones to include set-top boxes and new form factors such as tablets, netbooks, smartbooks and more. However, this popularity could prove to be a double-edged sword – the more device-makers adopt the operating system, the more it will become fragmented.

What is true is that the promise of data revenues – whatever the platform – are starting to become a reality.

]]> 0 Mobile World Congress, the countdown is on… Mon, 08 Feb 2010 17:42:03 +0000 Zoe Lawrence We’ve got less than seven days until what has arguably turned into the most important mobile industry event in the world, Mobile World Congress – or MWC – 2010, gets underway. From 15 – 18 February the leaders of the mobile world converge on Barcelona to define the industry’s agenda for the next few years.

There have been some surprises this year in terms of the companies who have chosen not to join the event; nonetheless, the show’s stature continues to grow as mobile becomes ever more central to consumer and enterprise technology and communications.

Each day this week, we’ll be highlighting what we think are the key trends that will be capturing the attention of media, analysts and the business community at this year’s event.  But, it’s not just our view. We’ve spoken to a large number of media and analysts and drawn on the global expertise of the H&K network to bring you our view of what will be on the agenda next week.

Today’s trend to highlight is…

Trend #5: Emerging Markets:

The adoption of HSPA or WiMax in emerging markets has shown us perhaps the most definitive evidence we’ve seen in mobile of technology “leap-frogging”. The innovative applications of advanced mobile technologies in emerging markets have shown us all what can be achieved when you ignore established business models and look for alternatives. What’s more, these technologies are being used to solve, ‘basic’ problems, like getting products to market, rather than for entertainment.

There’ll be a large contingent of government bodies and mobile operators from emerging markets present at the show. Yes, they represent a new revenue stream for handset manufacturers.  But they also have something to teach us about what can be achieved when you shift the focus to “greenfield” thinking, rather than “blue sky”.

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