Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mobeam: What's it mean?

This week Mobeam,, announced a deal with P&G to provide the light beam transmissions from smartphones that can be read on the standard point of sale barcode laser scanners. This technology will allow for multiple coupons to be read at the point of sales instantaneously; allowing for control of coupon redemption; and the ability to know individual users, and the time and place of purchase. The coupons can come from scanned QR codes, mobile and internet web sites, or emails and other electronic messages. P&G can integrate this with their web site and allow people to redeem coupons with their phones. It certainly puts more power back in the hands of brands and could potentially do this for retailers, or newspapers who want to offer coupon wallets on mobile phones.

According to Mobeam all of the major handset manufacturers are installing the Mobeam software into their phones as a way to make the phone more valuable to the consumer. They are doing this on all new smartphones starting in 2012 so the use of this capability will take a coupon of years to become a mainstream behavior.

Right now the company is focusing on low hanging fruit. According to the Mobeam press release the coupon market is a $3.7 Billion annual market with 300 million coupons scanned each year in North America.

The other interesting aspect of this technology is that it can be used for ticket entrance into sports arenas and also be used for payments. This brings up the point of what will be the primary point of sale payment method for mobile phones. Will it be NFC, light transmission, magnetic strip readers (like Square), photo credit card scanners (like Jumio) or mobile web purchasing (like Paypal)? It is really going to depend on:

• Ease of use
• Security
• The existing cost to upgrade existing equipment

Clearly the technology which gets a strong foothold in the market will have a momentum advantage.

My prediction is that we will see a variety of these different technologies in handsets and working on different applications depending on: the payment, redemption or access situation; the need for secure access; and the need to upgrade existing POS or access equipment

There are many different air interface technologies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee. Each has some overlap, but serves different applications and devices better. This is likely to the case for payment, access and redemption capabilities on a handset. However, the gating factor in adoption will be how easy it is for consumers to use.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Social Mobile Media

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Social Media Plus conference in Philadelphia. It was an excellent conference which covered a lot of material from Facebook to search engine optimization, how businesses can utilize social media, and it had a number of case studies which highlighted business applications. Some of the ways social media is being used by businesses include:

Brand Marketing: The social media channels are where the eyeballs are, especially young eyeballs. Facebook is the leader with 800 million Facebook users and Twitter has over 250 million messages per day. Social media is where brands are both displayed and talked about. For some companies the Facebook page is like another web page.

Public Relations: Social media is used to highlight the benefits of brands and companies as well as protect brand and company image. The speed at which information flows over social media makes it a requirement to spread positive news and to react quickly and accurately to negative news.

Customer Interaction: Social Media is a two- way street where customer expect to interact with companies to deal with product issues, and to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of products. People use social media to follow and share the content they care about. Companies can use this interaction to build support from users who will be advocates of the company via social media or word of month. In addition, companies can use social media to broadcast solutions for product issues as well as learn about how people are using or want to use products.

Drive Leads and Sales: This is often a more subtle art and science proposition than interacting with customers and it requires planning, monitoring and execution. It is going to require understanding the people the company is advertising to on social media, creating a community of trusted people who are ready to accept your message, understanding the social media is interactive multichannel forum that needs to be measured; and moving people through a purchase funnel with social media, search and a good landing page.

Employment Acquisition and Dismissal: Many companies, by some counts 80% of large companies, use LinkedIn to find prospective workers. Other companies monitor social media sites when deciding who to hire. Companies will also fire employees for what they say on social media so an employee social media policy needs to be in place.

What does this mean for mobile?

There are a large number of mobile users with smartphone who access all types of social media. It is estimated that 350 million people use Facebook on their mobile device. Mobile search traffic is generally much smaller that PC traffic so it may not be a strong candidate for search engine optimization, but this will depend on the business. However, mobile traffic is growing and it has a number of implications:

Mobile Increases Reach: Mobile allows more people in developing countries and in lower economic demographics of society to have access to social networking. Mobile is also the Internet device of choice for younger demographics. This can have and already has an effect on the political process and how candidates are viewed. It is not inconceivable that someday people can vote via their Facebook page just like they click a like button. In addition, brands and companies can reach out to more people that they have not had communications with before.

Mobile Blurs the Line Between On and Off Work: Often people act more impulsively when they communicate with a mobile phone or forget they are representing the company when they are away from work. Often the way people communicate when they are away from work is with a mobile phone. Companies need to be careful to inform employees that the Internet on the mobile phone is the same Internet on the PC.

The Mobile Phone is a Camera with Instant Upload: The phone can be used to take pictures that can put a company in a bad light and these can be quickly uploaded to social media where they can move very quickly across the Internet. This requires companies to monitor and have a plan in place to deal with negative issues that arise from broadcasting on social media.

Mobile is a Local Search Channel: 20% of Google searches are local and 40% of those are on a mobile phone. People use the mobile phone to find business locations, look up ratings, see what their friends liked or recommended. It is important that brands review various social sites to judge ratings and make adjustments or comments. In addition, companies need to make an evaluation to determine if social shopping sites like Foursquare can help them. Lastly and probably most important companies need to have a mobile landing page that is easy to use and gives customers the information and communication channel they need.

Mobile is used for instantaneous information retrieval and communication or when a PC or Tablet is not available: The phone is often used in place of a PC if a small amount of information is required or if a PC is not available especially in a search context. People also use a mobile phone for quick communications like that on Twitter and SMS. It is important that companies have a good search engine optimization and a mobile landing page so they can effectively funnel traffic into a sale.

Both social media and mobile are fast becoming fabrics of our interactions and daily lives. Companies need to understand and use social media and mobile to create the best selling and communication environments for their customers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mobile Payment Requirements

As ISIS stumbles to find its way in terms of bringing NFC chips to market and how it can derive revenues in the mobile payment space, as Google has an uphill battle installing NFC chips in phones and in getting merchants to adopt NFC point of sale terminals. A number of alternatives for in store payments have come to market or are being tested. They include:

• PayPal’s X.Commerce solution where a customer can pay in the store with a PayPal account.

• Square’s “say your name” to complete your purchase on an iPhone.

• Mobeam’s ( light based communication (LBC) which allows barcode readers to read many coupon stored on the phone. This is currently being proposed for coupon reading, but could be used for mobile payments.

• Modivmedia's ( easy pass payment solution used in Stop & Shop stores.

NFC has lots of competition. The ability to pay with a mobile device is a nice to have and not a need to have. If it were a need to have Mastercard’s PayPass would be used by more people. It is not the payment solution that makes or breaks payments on a mobile phone. It is the mobile phone shopping solution that brings increased value to the merchants and the shopper.

A successful mobile payment solution will be one that allows shoppers:

• To feel secure using
• To get through the stores aisles and purchasing line more quickly
• To get discounts on desired items
• To easily use

A successful mobile payment solution will be one that allows merchants:

• To gain an uplift in brick and mortar sales
• To bring more customers into the store
• The ability to let customers shop as they want (Online,in store or both)
• To create a better customer experience and brand affinity
• To save on labor costs
• To reduce fraud
• To maintain control of purchasing and customer information
• To gain analytics on Internet and in store purchasing

There are many players who have entered the mobile payments ecosystem. All have some of the categories listed in the requirements for a successful mobile payments solution. As mobile payment solutions try to jockey for merchants’ and shoppers’ hearts, minds and wallets it is important to provide a solution that fulfills these requirements. Because at the end of the day, most customers have a credit card, debit card or cash they can use to make a purchase.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

CTIA Fall 2011: Enterprise Transformation

CTIA Fall 2011 was about how consumer applications, devices and services are meeting up with the enterprise and how the enterprise should plan and react. This can be seen from a number of different viewpoints. Consumer devices flowing into the enterprise and needing to be managed based on enterprise criteria. Enterprises reaching out and interacting with customers via their mobile phones and devices in a B to C arrangement. The mobile revolution that Steve Jobs created with the iPhone has now reached important levels inside enterprises. Decisions need to be made and solutions created that will allow enterprises to work in this environment and also be able to communicate and transact with customers effectively whether they by other businesses or consumers.

Enterprises adapting to the multi device environment

Vendors provided solutions for security and device management and capabilities for smartphones to improve productivity.

The EMF (Enterprise Mobility Foundation) ( had a boot camp which laid out the basics and the primary issues of the enterprise mobility as well as gave real world examples of how that transition actually takes place. Much of this revolved around keeping data secure so that employees could take advantage of mobility on smartphones and tablets.

Device Management

Nukona ( discussed an apps based security system that in effect puts wrappers around applications so that they work in conjunction with enterprise policy. This in effect makes that communications between the device and behind the firewall secure and allows for employees to have personal applications on the phone. It also allows enterprises to adopt any smartphone, to manage the data on the phones effectively and deal with other issues like personal data, and lost and stolen phones or tablets. ( also showed its MobiControl device management case study with American Airlines and the capability of the system to handle a wide variety of devices.

Video Conferencing and Distribution

Polycom ( made a big demonstration of its HD quality video conferencing solution, RealPresence. It works on several tablets including iPad2, Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Enterprises also are using video more in a mobile environment with smartphones and tablets. QUMU which was recently acquired by Rimage Corporation demonstrated its enterprise video optimization, security and distribution system.

Enterprises Interacting with its Customers

There were a number of solutions providers that used the various capabilities of the smartphone and tablet to increase business efficiency or promote products.


The camera of the smartphone is becoming an important business tool. Mitek Systems ( is using the camera to allow customers to deposit checks with their cellphone, and pay their bills by taking a picture of the bill. In addition, it is allowing insurance companies the ability to give quotes by taking a picture of a driver's license and an insurance bill. All of these solutions are saving people and companies time and money.

Jumio Netswipe Mobile is allowing the smartphone to be a secure credit card reader allowing for additional security via card in possession authentication. This allows for transfer of funds without an external device attachment like Square has.

Scan Buy ( is using the camera to scan bar codes which can then be sent to Facebook pages and Twitter messages to distribute content or coupons. The company has seen a 1,600% growth since 2010 in the amount of barcodes scanned by phones. The beauty of the Scan Buy solution is that is able to track the devices, carriers, movement of the barcode to twitter and Facebook, and redemption of coupons or activation of content which originated from a barcode. The analytics captured by smartphones are going to become increasingly important as more phones are used to make purchases. This is also evident in Neustar’s ( purchase of TARGUSinfo. Neustar’s product lines include short code/barcode management services


Geo-fencing is not only being used to find people’s location it is being used to bring people together with products they enjoy. Hipcricket (, recently purchased by Augme ( a mobile site development company, has a geofencing solution that allows customers to who like Blue Moon Beer to know where in an airport they can get Blue Moon on draft.

Call Intercept and Data Capability

Nuance ( offers a call intercept solution that allows carriers and enterprises to change a phone call into an online experience, allowing customers to find information to commonly asked questions like account balances, or recent purchases, and to text or message customer service people. It is a lot more pleasing that dealing with an IVR system and the enterprise can save on IVR costs.


Mogreet ( took care of the messaging for the CTIA show but also talked about its solutions that allow radio broadcasters and other new media to extend their reach to a mobile phone. This included offering breaking news and multimedia content, song delivery, multimedia video advertising, contests and sweepstakes, daily deals and coupons and important analytics to track these activities.


Physical payments with a phone at a retail environment are still waiting to become mainstream and most of M-Commerce is on mobile web sites which make these sites vitally important. There were also examples of using iPod touches to speed registration at sporting events by Active Network ( Next iterations will include doing this self service style on a smartphone. Active Networks also demonstrated a good solution for information and organization of events via a smartphone for very large events like Cisco Live to smaller chaotic events like swim meets.

Gemalto ( showed with a rail pass demo that NFC is not going to be just about payments but about permission with a transit train demonstration. The standardization of NFC will help bring down the costs of implementing entry permission systems as well as give better customer service like alerting companies if there is a problem or giving advice to transit card holders about train and bus arrivals, and delays.

Pay with cell phone also got some traction from PaymentOne ( and Charge Anywhere ( PaymentOne charges payment for digital products to the carrier cell phone bill and introduced the ability for customer to view their purchase history. Charge Anywhere offers a Square like payment system that allows smaller merchants to use the cellphone and a card reader to take payments. Both of these products use the cell phone to facilitate commerce.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

iPhone 4S, Keeping the iPhone Relevant

The iPhone 4S wasn’t so much of an evolution as an improvement in select features. The timing was not right to introduce technology features such as LTE and NFC. The LTE technology had to be more mature in terms of longer battery life and lower price per chip to be incorporated in the iPhone. For NFC, Apple had not garnered enough merchant support around a payments solution to create a fulfilling customer experience. Both of these technologies are likely to be in the iPhone 5, which will be more of an evolution to the iPhone product.

Still, the iPhone 4S made some good improvements. The better camera will certainly be appreciated by iPhone users. For many iPhone users the iPhone is their de-facto camera. The Cards iOS application is also a good feature and combined with the new camera features will provide value to the customer. There is something special about receiving a beautiful card in the mail. USPS had been offering this service on its web site for over a year. This is another example of Apple genius, taking an existing service and making it more user friendly and relevant.

Siri, the new voice recognition service is an interesting improvement. Voice recognition has always been a holy grail for mobile phones because of the size of the keyboard, and the perceived ease of use it would bring. But it has never reached its full potential, due to limited applications, and the mini keyboard being the preferred way to communicate. Here comes Apple, the company that changed the model for digital music, the smartphone and effectively created a market for the consumer tablet, with its implementation of voice recognition. Apple’s specialty is making technology come to life. From what I have read, it is fun, which is always popular with iPhone users and smartphone users in general. Many smartphone users consider their smartphone to be a close companion, and look to their smartphone to be entertained.

Apple also emphasized the iCloud service, which is an important evolution in the multi-device world. People need access to their information on various devices and they need reliable storage for devices like the smartphone and tablet because they are being used so much and are an important part of our personal and business lives.

“Find my Friends” iOS application that Apple plans to introduce will be a nice service but limited because it only works with iPhones and iPads. This highlights Apple’s somewhat myopic vision on interoperability. “If you are not an Apple user who cares” is not recipe for success in the communications world where interoperability rules.

Lastly, the introduction will help Sprint get their customers excited about buying an iPhone. Because at the end of the day, for Apple it is about providing an excellent customer experience and selling devices.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Greetings From 4G Americas

Included are some to the finding at 4G Americas, a show of GSM/HSPA/LTE service providers, device manufacturers, and infrastructure providers. Some of these finding we already know as one off results, others hit you in the face and say wow! that is impactful.

Spectrum continues to be a main issue:

The US has 1.5 MHz per subscriber. This ranges from 3 to 6 times less than many other countries. Yet data traffic in the US is growing very fast. We will need additional spectrum to keep up with data demand. The growth of data traffic is growing 10 times faster than voice traffic today. The 2010 total global mobile data traffic is 3 times the size of all global Internet traffic in 2000.

At T-Mobile: 4G (HSPA+) users average over a 1 GB/Month, compared with about 300 MB/Month with 3G. Video represents about 45% of data traffic on phones, Audio another 15%. This traffic pattern shift is causing the increased data usage.

Wi-Fi is becoming more important as a way to off load traffic:

It is not perfect especially in very crowded venues, but it allows customers to enjoy broadband data services without cost overruns on tiered data plans. In some younger demographic groups Wi-Fi data usage is over 50% of total data usage on a smartphone.

NFC is starting to solidify its position:

Part of the dilemma of NFC is getting NFC chips and the secure element into the phone. Carriers are committed through ISIS to provide the secure element, and charging a rent for it.

Connected devices are growing and future proofing is a key consideration:

The connected device market is growing quickly. AT&T has added 10 million connected devices in the past three years. Users of connected devices want to future proof their devices to avoid obsolesce or upgrade if a faster speed is needed. HSPA+ modems are only about $5 to $7 more expensive than 2G type modules.

Different spectrum frequencies for LTE prevent near term global roaming on LTE

The frequencies on which LTE runs in different countries span so many ranges that it will be hard to harmonize for LTE; HSPA+ will continue to be the global roaming standard for the foreseeable future.

Backhaul remains essential

Backhaul continues to be a large cost and bandwidth consideration. Many operators are moving over to fiber backhaul to keep up with the bandwidth requirements. Much of the data rush has taken operators in Latin America by surprise.

Latin American continues to offer opportunity especially for wireless data

Latin America has almost twice the number of subscribers as the US, but ARPU is less than a third of the US wireless spending. Data is growing quickly in Latin America, and Blackberries are still very popular. Spectrum is a key consideration for growth of data services. Many countries have not allocated spectrum for LTE.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Example of Our Move to a Cashless Society

We are living in an almost cashless society. We saw a lot of news and hype around this week around the Goggle Wallet, which is a good start but far too limiting in the amount of phones that can offer this service. The Google Wallet service also needs more merchant and brand support to make a mainstream impact.

How does functionality get imbedded into mainstream phones?

It has traditionally been with attachments like a camera or a QWERTY keypad hooked into a phone. These capabilities get popular and are then embedded in the phone to increase the phone attractiveness. Well, there is another example of an attachment that is gaining popularity, the Square mobile payment attachment which is on sale at Best Buy for $9.99. It has risen in popularity among college students who primarily use credit or debit cards. They use it when they want to transfer money to share costs. They do not carry cash so they split the bill using a credit or debit card. This functionality adds value because it ensures the college student gets paid, which is very important when money is tight. Having this capability imbedded in a phone will make phones more popular among the teenagers and 20’s age group. These are a primary group of smartphone purchasers.

If it is valuable enough for one group and there is a low barrier to using the service, other groups will find a way to adopt it if there is value, like Facebook. Peer to peer transactional changes are occurring because we are moving to a cashless society, and the phone can make these transactions easier. My grocery store clerk tells me 90% of all of her grocery transactions are with a credit or debit card. The phone will win out as the primary payment device because of its flexibility in making and receiving payments, ability to record transactions and control payments, and the capability to incentivize shoppers via personalized coupons.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Google Motorola Deal, Protecting Google’s Future

Google is about advertising and influencing the purchasing process. This is where their value is and where they create their revenues. Android is and will be critical in advertising and purchasing decisions considering the smartphones increased importance in the retail environment and the growth of m-commerce. First and foremost this deal was about patent protection, protection of Android and protection of future revenues.

Google was facing pressures from Microsoft who were exacting a tax on their Android partners for Microsoft patents, charging HTC $5 per Android handset and possibly charging Samsung as much as $15 per Android handset. Google needed the patents to handle these and other patent infringement issues that have come up in Europe, as well as future patent infringement issues.

Google has to manage the Motorola relationship with a hand off approach and sell the manufacturing capabilities if it creates conflict with its other Android partners. In the end Google wants to promote overall adoption of Android to promote its position in search, advertising and purchasing.

Google wants to be a major part of the customer’s purchasing process and has all of the pieces: Google Deals, Google Places, Google + and Google Wallet. All of these are not major players in their perspective areas, but put together with support of discounts to create loyalty and a good user experience, these services can create a strong consumer pull. Google Wallet is an important component of this strategy. Having an OEM to install NFC chips and Google Wallet will give the company the distribution relationships to create momentum in the market. The Nexus handset and only one carrier’s support (Sprint) is not likely enough to create momentum. With Motorola Google can try an end run around ISIS and also gain some international acceptance of Google Wallet in countries where carriers do not have as strong a distribution position as the US.

Much of Google’s future as the center of consumer buying experience on the smartphone is riding on Android and it had to protect its position in this very competitive smartphone market.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

US EMV is a no brainer for Visa

On August 9th, 2011 Visa announced plans to accelerate the migration of EMV contact and contactless payments in the US. With this move Visa aims to be at the center of the US consumer buying experience. The solution has three main steps:

The company is expanding its Technology Innovation Program (TIP) to eliminate the merchant requirement to annually validate their compliance with the PCI Data Security Standards. To qualify merchants must have at least 75% of their Visa transactions originate from the chip-enabled terminal. The terminals must have both contact and contactless chip acceptance including mobile contactless payment. This is designed as an incentive to increase security and NFC (Near Field Communication) capability.

Visa’s U.S. acquirer processors and sub-processors service providers will be required to support merchant acceptance of chip transactions no later than April 1, 2013. This will require service providers to carry and process additional data associated with the chip transaction.

Visa intents to shift domestic and cross-border counterfeit card-present point-of-sale (POS) transactions effective October 1, 2015 and for fuel-selling merchants October 1, 2017. This is for merchants who have not adopted at minimum, contact chip terminals.

EMV will improve security by not allowing stolen cards to be used via dynamic authentication, preventing cloning of cards which can be done via magnetic stripes, and minimizing the attractiveness of hacker attacks on databases which store credit card information. Without the capability of cloning hackers will have less incentive to hack data bases for credit card information.

The other play is to increase usage of mobile payments. Visa plans to use mobile as a way to provide enhanced services and create loyalty. Visa can use the smartphone to be at the center of the customer’s payment and money transfer experience. Visa will also use smartphones to create customer specific ads and coupons to increase purchasing and card loyalty.

US EMV is a no brainer for Visa as it will:

- Reduce fraud via stolen credit cards and hackers

- Increase their customer loyalty and value via customer discounts presented on smartphones (making them more important in the customer buying cycle)

- Make it easier for U.S. cardholder to use their Visa cards overseas

- Increase efficiencies with one main POS system around the world

- Make other smartphone transactions like remittance and peer to peer payment more acceptable as customer will have experience using the smartphone to pay for goods and services