All posts by Wouter

Get creative with your phone camera

Phone camera’s already "outsell" regular digital camera’s, but mobile operators notice hardly any difference in their mobile data ARPU. How come? A lot of research has been published already about the root causes: complexity of the service, user interface, costs of a MMS, lack of a killer application etc. Seems that users actually have become quite creative in using their mobile phone camera for day-to-day applications that do not require any network connection:

  • Remember where you parked your car
  • Record the opening hours of that new store
  • Document your favorite haircut
  • …and many more household applications can be found here at 43 Folders

With all those new applications and tariffs for mobile data coming down, there must be hope for the telco’ s of this world that at some point in time people will want to share that offline creativity with their remote friends and family. Slow adoption from a mobile operator’s perspective, but compare the progress made since those good old days of the first black-and-white camera’s!

Google and Yahoo in mobile race

There’s growing speculation in the Valley about the next move(s) of Google. Although it’s a "public" company since the IPO, its business directions are still very secretive. So people are turning towards cold war behaviour, when we used to analyze the Kremlin’s (lack of) actions in great detail as it was the only information available. Here’s what some Google watchers are saying and concluding about where the company seems to be going:

  • While dominating PC based search, Google also wants to become the mobile search czar for the 2 billion mobile phone users.
  • BusinessWeek discovered that the company quietly acquired Android Inc., the 22-month old start-up ran by people coming from mobile device maker Danger, known for the SideKick smartphone (made famous by Paris Hilton when she lost it…)
  • Buying dark fiber to connect antenna’s to support a WiFi or cellular network?
    New Gmail accounts are now tied to US cell phone numbers if you want to use the new GoogleTalk instant messenger client
  • SilliconBeat reports that Google appears to have acquired a company called ZipDash which offers maps and traffic info for your mobile phone
  • Raising $ 4 Bln. to make an acquisition of a mobile or wireless company, according to SilliconValleyWatcher because mobile phones tell your location and location is "everything" for advertisers, Google’s biggest customers
  • Using the $ 4 Bln. to put up a nationwide (USA) WiFi network, GoogleNet, according to Om Malik

While it’s not yet entirely clear what Google’s plans are, there are a few others interested in this mass market, including Microsoft with its Windows Mobile phone platform and not to forget Yahoo!.  Yahoo’s COO Dan Rosensweig said: "the mobile Internet industry is at a "tipping point." As mobile use continues to grow, more customers will want access to their Yahoo! services." Rosenweig also claimed, "The Internet has become essential. The industry is ready, and mobile usage is exploding". Earlier this month Yahoo head-hunted Nokia’s Christian Lindholm, known as the godfather of the Series 60 platform user interfaces, to head up the Global Mobile Products division at Yahoo.

So what are Google and Yahoo up to? Introducing a WiFi based mobile phone and network? Applications that run on a Linux mobile phone and pull you towards their portal or search engine? A Skype kind of solution for low cost calls based on VoIP? Interesting times for consumers, mobile phone companies and Google watchers!

Ease of doing business in 2006

It’s more difficult in one country than another to do business. That’s the idea behind a study published last week by the World Bank, ranking 155 countries on a set of criteria including Starting a business, Hiring and firing, Getting credit, Protecting investors, Paying taxes and Trading across borders.
For 2006, the top 3 countries in terms of "ease of doing business" are New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. The only two European countries who made it to the Top 10 are Denmark (8) and the UK (9). The Netherlands is showing up at an embarrassing 24th place. Any politicians around looking for ammunition to make some business friendly, sweeping changes?

More castles

Reading just this blog, you almost would think we’re on a castle tour. After visiting Chateau Coulon Laurensac near Bordeaux in July, we visited today Kasteel Sterkenburg in Driebergen, the Netherlands. It has recently become the property of friends who are now making efforts to return some of its original glory. Which does not come easy…. We spent a sunny day at the castle as part of our quarterly get-together with longtime friends Jelle & Claudine -hosting us at their premises- and Hans & Angela from Delft. The kids of our three families were around as well and enjoyed discovering the castle and surroundings. When asked to help clean a chimney, the boys found an egg from a crow’s nest. A wonderful day at a piece of cultural heritage that deserves to be taken care of.

Going South (4)

What does the picture below tell you? It’s a 9 year old boy waiting with his father just outside a fashion shop until his mother and two teenage sisters have finished shopping. Sometimes, that’s what visiting a city during holidays seems to come down to. The shops are apparently irresistible compared to culture and street life attractions. This picture was taken (with my Treo of course) in Santander, capital of Cantabria in north-western Spain. Like Oviedo, capital of Asturias, these are nice cities to wander around – and do some shopping… (Koen and I ended op crossing the street waiting on a bench for about 30 minutes until this single shop was conquered by the ladies, meanwhile sending SMSs to daughter Merel about how long it was going to take!).

Going South (3)

Well, actually we were going North on August 6 again, after two very enjoyable weeks. We were explicitly warned for the 400,000 people coming to watch the annual Arriondas-Ribadesella kayak race, as they normally create chaos with tents all over the place, excessive alcohol etc. So we avoided the shortest route and drove further south before entering the highway. If not I was running out of gas and the single nearest gas station was in the centre of Ribadesella! It was tight with the gas left, but we made it and got a preview of the race…not every family member in the car enjoyed the adventure…After visiting Riba, we moved further north for Bilbao. I did not want to miss the opportunity to admire the great architecture of the Guggenhein museum. It’s designed by architect Frank Gehry and entirely made out of titanium. Seeing it in reality is even more impressive than the pictures of course. I took some pictures with my Treo 650 and bought a book about the museum.

Going South (2)

The next day after our one-night-stop we went 500 kms. more South, on to Asturias, one of the north-western so-called autonomies of Spain. TomTom was getting us there by car perfectly, if not there were two Miyares villages in the TomTom directory and I picked the wrong one… It caused a delay of about 1.5 hour, but we actually passed a Pico with great view from the top. Asturias is about a quarter in size of the Netherlands and has just 1 million people. And, what a beautiful place it is! Gorgeous beaches in small bays, impressive panorama’s, quality of life as we can’t remember anymore more in northern Europe, no tourists and a cost of living half what we are used to in the Netherlands! We lived for two weeks among the Spanish, with the Spanish actually, enjoying hospitality of my brother in law German Gullon, his wife Heilette and three sons – adjusting to the Spanish rhythm. In-house staff becomes affordable at € 5 per hour and so Begogna each day took care of a typical local meal, thereby providing also our wives a great holiday. We wouldn’t mind coming back!

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons