Results tagged “mobile”

James has a great new post on the management of innovation in business and the obsession with the new. He calls it Shiny Shiny Syndrome

Companies and brands who in the morning were waterboarding their above-the-line media agencies in a vat of latte to drive their TV spots harder, spent the afternoon launching an application into the AppStore, ignoring the fact that none of their customers own, or maybe have even heard of, an iPhone.

I'll keep that in mind next time someone asks me when we launch our iPhone app...

Is this an April Fool's day thing?

Talk about what makes a great customer experience... My O2 iPhone has been down for four days now and no amount of calls to the 'support' line and emails to the help-desk seem to make any difference. If I can find the energy I'll log each step in the exchange as right from buying the phone it's been one UX downer after another...

As a last ditch effort, I've just sent the following to support (mark of a quality customer experience: somebody steps up to the plate and takes responsibility. So far O2 0/10 on that front):

Dear O2 'support'

This is the fourth day I have not had an active working number on my iPhone.

I purchased this iPhone from you 2 years ago. This iPhone is:

IMEI = 01 161400 578383 7
With ICCID = 8944 1100 6422 5894 959
Number = +44 7515 661 655

This phone has not been working since the 29th of March 2010.

I note that because you are not supplying the services I pay you for, your service may be deemed "substantially not as described" under British law and therefore, this voids the contract between us.

If my phone is not working by GMT18:00 today I shall consider our contracts (I have 2 contracts with O2) void and cease payments to you.

All the best,

Oh, and by the way, Ofcom are on Twitter I wonder if that account is really run by an Ofcom representative?

Why would you want to work at the beeb?

Look around your office, now imagine being a part of this massive redesign

We set out to broaden our ambitions; to create a design philosophy and world-class design standards that all designers across the business could adhere to. We wanted to find the soul of the BBC. We wanted something distinctive and recognisable; we wanted drama. We knew whatever we created needed to be truly cross-platform and that we needed to simplify our user journeys.

Together, over the last four months, we've spent countless hours and created countless iterations of designs, components, mastheads, footers, polar maps, word documents, pdfs and grids... and whilst it's still a work in progress, I'd like to share with you where we're at with both the design philosophy and the latest version of our global visual language styleguide.

Oh to have a license-payer's fee eh? Oh, to have a thinking space with a wall big enough to share and iterate over the big picture...

I'm glad Neville Brody is keeping busy and lovely stuff and top marks all around to the BBC but I'm reminded of a talk I just attended where Christian Crumlish made an interesting point:

Pattern libraries are more useful, more engaging and have a greater longevity in the enterprise than design guidelines.

I think his point is that most styleguides start becoming obsolete the moment you complete them. Clearly a large and complex design resource needs guidelines, but I think Christian felt that giving a team a system of patterns and the understanding of the user needs they satisfy was a bit like teaching a man to fish instead of handing him a tuna steak.

Hillary Clinton on internet freedom

Love these comments from Hilary Clinton as they rekindle my belief that micro-markets, micro-credit and micro-insurance supported by converged, federated and mobile networks will have an increasingly large role to play both in the first-world and elsewhere.

By providing people with access to knowledge and potential markets, networks can create opportunity where none exists. Over the last year, I've seen this first hand. In Kenya, where farmers have seen their income grow by as much as 30% since they started using mobile banking technology. In Bangladesh, where more than 300,000 people have signed up to learn English on their mobile phones. And in sub-Saharan Africa, where women entrepreneurs use the internet to get access to microcredit loans and connect to global markets.

I'm beginning to think there must be vast untapped resources to be found in the gaps between traditional financial instruments and institutions and the new micro-finance markets. I reckon there's a serious business opportunity for a team with experience in mobile social and transactional spaces...

(via Lynettr)

This latest example takes the biscuit. I have read several documents produced by a number people inside and outside of the mobile industry that clearly describe the service or one just like it. Also, Nokia, Craigslist and others are already doing this.

One of my colleagues described it as the "ubiquitous flea market" an online system to match-make and alert participants on the basis of shared location data mashed up with the matching of stated haves and needs.

What irks me is that this is just the natural progression of a good quality mobile network enriched by the advent of smart mobile computing on top of the internet. In case anyone forgets, the network effects we're all benefiting from come from us (the subscriber) and are built with our money, financed by all those 24-month contracts we've been signing up to. In a sense, this is just best practice and should be available everywhere. If this patent goes through, the service will be closed, difficult or impossible to federate, you'll have to wait forever for the business to create a client for your phone and in the end the service may not even be that good...

A much better scenario is for all of us to try and build the service (and a rich ecosystem of client apps and widgets) and let the users decide which market experience they want to invest their time in.

To get an idea of how potentially ridiculous software patents are, take a look at some previously approved patents for the European Union I love the one about selling using ecommerce.

Sigh... I guess big IP marches on...

I forget who said the that the best way to have great ideas is to have many ideas but I can tell you, I'm not particularly stupid but I can remember most of the great ideas I've had--they just don't come knocking that often:-)

So yeah, had a really good one on the ride into work today and thought I'd share my energised status but ooops, it's failwhale time again over at twitter so I thought I'd be a bit retro and blog it instead...

An upbeat view on the year ahead from James

The world has changed. Facebook delivers shopping tips from our friends, the pocket browser is becoming the norm, your phone is developing a sense of direction and we all want one-click commerce. In short, the conditions for economic innovation look ripe.

Love the idea that the new big ideas for business will likely appear quite strange (hey, if we're nearing the end of a Krondatieff winter the cycle of regrowth is most likely going to start with the unusual--the usual having run its course) and most certainly agree they might include "buy" buttons on smartphones:-)

An implausible use of wireless bandwidth

Love this Guardian article by Cory Doctorow. It still amazes me that mobile operators spend fortunes trying to put the customer at the heart of the business but don't follow Cory's simple suggestion that giving customers self-determination would solve most of their customer engagement issues at a stroke...

What's more, streaming requires that wireless companies be at the centre of our daily cultural lives. These are the same wireless companies that presently screw us in every conceivable way: charging a premium for dialling an 0870 number; having limits on "unlimited" data plans; charging extra for "long distance" text messages. They're the same wireless companies whose hold-queues, deceptive multi-year contracts, surprise bills, and flaky network coverage have caused more bad days than any other modern industry.

IP from 2001

2001 wasn't just an interesting year in space. I just came across some stuff from the distant past that still resides in a dark and abandoned corner of the interweb. It gave me a smile as it resonates with we're trying to achieve at work today...

On prototyping

It is important to us that the advice we give about building traffic or managing communication on the internet be challenged, so we build experiments to test our theories and bench-test the assumptions of our consultancy.

These tests are performed using full-size, properly developed environments which we develop and run online. These projects generate data which we feed back into client projects, further increasing the accountability of our services.

Some experiments are so successful that they become self-sustaining. Others are interesting in the way they shine new light on existing business models. In this section of our website you will find a collection of reports, articles and features written by the project leads.

On low bandwidth email (popwml)

Email on your telephone? (posted 11 aug 2001) Wap is dead. Yes I know, all right already. For those of you in the UK market who beheld BT's 'silver surfer' last year, the whole wireless application protocol thing has been a massive disappointment. The small (tiny, even) screen, lack of colour and restricted browser experience were never going to live up to the hype.

Wireless applications are not dead, in fact they're in their infancy, and as is often the case with networked applications, the technology is less relevant than the way you use it. In other words, there are so few useful wap sites out there that the general public has largely given up on wap.

popwmlconnectingemail on your telephone

Well, Pumpernickle people use a service we created called popwml. It is essentially a wml (the markup language used by mobile phones) front end for our pop (incoming mail) server. It performs a pre-determined subset of our normal email client commands. For instance, it does not allow me to send email. That would be silly - if I'm on a train, the last thing I want is to fumble with a tiny keyboard typing a long email. Why not simply call my office (it's a telephone after all?) or send a simple text message.

The tool is designed to load a remote database with the contents of the mail server, and allow the reading and deleting of messages. Further, the listing is customised to allow the spotting of important mail. Instead of saying "you have 72 messages and listing them all in one long, hard-to-digest list, the system lists the names of the senders of those 72 messages (which makes for much smaller list).

We think this is so cool everybody should try it. If you have a dial-up connection, we can hook you up in minutes. Send us a note if you want to give it a go (this is just for fun, to give you an idea of what you can do with mobile telephone, so it's free of course).

An impermanent telephone

Love this green handset concept from greenergrass

LINC green handset concept

LINC is a typical touch screen smart phone with all the connectivity and features you come to expect. Its got a cell phone, a media player, a web browser, GPS, downloadable content, Bluetooth, wifi, the latest 3G network. But here's the catch. LINC is leased to the user as a service, not a product.

Love it. You don't own it, you live with it for a while and then it gets morphed into something else once your new LINC has arrived in the post (in its green packaging, of course).

Your api. Our infrastructure.

Mashery LogoWhat a beautifully succinct way of expressing quite a complex system :-)

Wow, and an interesting business model too... Or interesting way of expressing the business model. I can imagine how this could be the beginning of a fair split of value in a post-IP world (as long as everybody knows what everybody else is in it for that could work...)

It's also a nice, scalable way to express the fruitful partnership between state-run monopoly and tiny creative shop (imagine if Orange and Shozu had decided to divvy things up like this, some beautiful experiences might have come out of it)

From the mashery site:

An API can unlock new distribution channels for your content and services. But creating an API is only the first step. Achieving long-term success requires management tools, security controls, built-in scalability, and community support.

Current edge iconOK, I think O2 wins this donkey's current "Edge du Jour" tag.

Take a look at this wizard-style information display from the O2 self-care website. I landed here as I had just invested a chunk of my free time trying to review my invoice online having received my monthly your invoice is ready html email. Of course I failed, and I then failed to refresh my password, and sent a few paragraphs of vitriol to the support email only to be told that O2 can only be contacted using their customer contact wizard (perversly named "email us").

This wizard display suggests a reluctance to engage in dialogue

So before you even get started, what does this display suggest?

  1. O2 only gives customer service to customers who know their details. This could be a problem for new customers who may not yet have received all the cryptic bits of misorganised pseudo-information that O2 sends out in a bid to help new customers settle in. This might also be a problem for existing customers who are on holiday or away from their base (imagine being in an internet café in Belize City trying to get help with your phone).
  2. Assuming a customer has their details to hand, O2 will only engage in dialogue with users who can pass security. Now, this is a support email for crissake, what the hell kind of security do you mean? I just want to email you to complain or ask for help and you will only hear me out if I can give you secret password (which I've either forgotten or never had to begin with). This is just ridiculous
  3. O2 will only listen to queries for internet users who get through steps one and two above

This is bad on a number of levels but the most obvious one is that the experience design takes no account of context-of-use.

If you are designing a support interface you can be pretty sure that most of the users who engage with it will have negative context-of-use issues. A big part of the interface's success will be taking into account why the user might feel upset or confused. Think of issues like:

  • my phone is broken
  • there's a problem with my bill
  • I don't understand something and need help
  • I'm in unfamiliar surroundings
  • I don't have access to my own computer (with its cookies and bookmarks)

I think it's obvious from the entire interface that the O2 team took no account of these issues.

This is bad on further level. Dialog and transparency are now key elements of most sensible corporations' comms strategies. There is no point having your CSR team and your marketing folk writing about how open you are to dialog when your website clearly isn't.

Finally, the contact form has an input box which I think demonstrates the marketing team's deep understanding of the customer:

are you sure you have an iPhone?

Now I'm pretty sure most iPhone customers can't tell the difference between an N95, an iPhone and a K800i. I know i certainly struggle with that one every day;-)

More on 0870

Having just this second whinged about O2's charge for calling 0870 numbers, a comment has just come in on an old say no to 0870 post from March 2005.

Seemed like a great idea at the time but I guess the domain owner has shut the service down. I haven't got time to check it, but the whois register shows the administrative contact for is:

Customer Services,

Chelle, why not drop em a line?

DVD John cracks the iPhone

Wey hey, a sim unlock for iPhone is on it's way... DVD John has already made an activation server so network-free landscape iPods might be just around the corner...

It'll be interesting to see how mobile operators react to this. As consumers try and create increased value with the iPhone by making it work the way they want it to the trad operators could feel a little threatened. Most of them are still focusing their business on 'offers' rather than building value creation networks with their customers.

I'm still waiting for the operator that lets me build my own billing plan. Any takers?


Recently, I've been working as part of the Orange group design and usability team. It's been quite interesting as I'm involved with teams who are busy developing the offerings well into the future.

Today I'm in Paris at a their future thinking conference. Should be very interesting. Confidential, but interesting. Ever since seeing that Cory Doctorow video on the theme of self-determination I've been seeing the mobile network operators I work with in a whole different light, as custodians of some really important stuff.

Return to N70

Nokia N70Nokia N73

I 've recently switched from my shiny new Nokia N73 back to my ropey old Nokia N70.

The N70 was my second Symbian handset and to date, it is by far the best in software terms (the keypad layout on the 6600 was waaaaay better). Over the last two years or so it's experienced loads of heavy lifting use as most of the mobloggin on Donkey was done on it. It runs stacks of software I use everyday and with a bit of configuration it can really compete with the latest smartphones.

Sometimes it feels like Nokia makes a point of taking a step backward for every cool new feature they come up with.

Like everyone else I was really psyched by the N73 and bought one as soon as it became available (I even ended up getting a Vodafone contract to get my hands on one). Anyway, I ended up returning the handset. Twice. The firmware just isn't up to controlling the phone properly and even with the latest update from Nokia, the phone still remains borderline unusable.

The only thing wrong with the N70 was the lens cover. It just opened too easily exposing the lens to fluff. In the process of improving the handset, here are a few of Nokia's bigger steps forward and back.

  • The N73 has a Zeiss lens:-)
    Yippee, except the imaging software is crap. The white point default is way to close to 6500K verything comes out with a depressing blueish hue (this on all three handsets and two versions of the firmware). Unless you only shoot in tungsten lighting. The N70's lens is rubbish but the imaging software is great (or appropriately configured out of the box) so quality pix a plenty.
  • N73 has a 3 megapixel chip :-)
    But in such a small form factor, the end result is more garbage in the blue channel. Add to that, the increased file size and costlier uploads, and the 3meg chip becomes a complete waste of processor cycles (and bandwidth).

Still, I mustn't grumble, the N73 has a much better lens cover. Yes indeed it does:-)

So anyway, here are the configs I mentioned earlier:

  • Go into "tools" and find the "media key" app. Set the key association to "contacts"
  • In settings, change the right-hand soft key to your Gmail application

With the Orange home screen app, from picking up my handset to reading my address book I have three actions: scroll, click, click. With the media key configed, that reduces to just a single click (on the talknow/symbian media key key).

The Gmail soft key thing has two benefits. Firstly, with one click to Gmail who needs a Blackberry? Another benefit is you longer launch that anoying web-browser a hundred times a day when all you were trying to do was cancel an action...

Anyways, I think I'll go away and do a usability comparison of the 6600, N70 and N73 keypads now, more later...