Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

SoonR integration with WebEx launched

March 6, 2007

WebEx today launched a new release of it PCNow application that enables the users to connect to their PC from a PC as well as mobile. The mobile end of PCNow 3.0 application comes after WebEx signed partnership SoonR last year. With this release, the remote sessions of PCNow users will get them access to features which were available only on through a PC before- File Access, Outlook Access, Desktop Search, and Skype VoIP. Personally I am not a PCNow user but can clearly see a performance boost for those who are.

Avvenu is another company providing similar capabilities from mobile phones.

Related:
Now access your docs “AnyTime” with SoonR!
Funding: SoonR gets $6 million

Links:
PCNow with Mobile

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Nokia plans to pre-empt Google; Launches mobile advertising solution

March 6, 2007

Nokia launched a major push into the mobile advertising domain with its Nokia Ad Service. Much like the Google Adsense+Adwords combination Nokia service will target both advertisers and media publishers. Interesting part about the announcement is that it comes right around the time when more reports about GooglePhone are emerging. The Ad Service will have 2 parts- Nokia Ad Service and Nokia Advertising Gateway.

Nokia Ad Service will consist of mobile Internet publishers forming a mobile ad network where mobile ads can be delivered through the Nokia service. Nokia Ad Service will launched in Europe at ad:tech(March 6th-7th, 2007) and globally in the second half of 2007. Nokia Advertising Gateway will work as  private label service to deliver targeted ads depending on the user context. Information will be gleaned from the media content being browsed like news, video, or music. Nokia plans to work with media companies, content aggregators and such to enable them to extend their reach to mobile audience. Nokia Advertising Gateway is currently going through the pilot phase and will become commercially available in the Q3/Q4 of 2007.

Nokia is also planning to support CPA (cost per action) based Ads. Right now the role of CPA seems to be more on the buzzword side of things than anything. Even though number of companies are trying on web, we have yet to see any successful CPA solution to emerge where millions of transactions taking place everyday with good amount of user activity tracking information being collected. Comparing to that, deploying a CPA solution on mobile seems far from plausible.

Deployment of the Nokia Ad Service from the publisher standpoint will be similar to Google Adsense service. Publishers will be inserting ads tags in their content. Nokia will than deliver contextual ads in form of banners, text links and interstitials and also provide analytics around the service.

Nokia will have lot of work at hand to get the ball rolling on this particularly getting quality advertisers to feed its publishing end. On the whole, being able to attract a good chunk of advertising budgets of companies for the newer ad formats would be challenge for everyone, besides Nokia.

Currently Admob is leading the mobile ad delivery platform with over 1.4 billion ad impressions served. Google, Yahoo, Verizon, Sprint, At&t, JumpTap, MillennialMedia, Actionality, ThirdScreenMedia are just some of the companies operating in this space.

Links:
Nokia Ad Service

Google Phone: Team of 100 working on Blackberry like….?

March 5, 2007

Lets see what Google already has for mobile– Gmail for individuals and Apps, GTalk on Blackberry, Google Maps(driving directions and traffic data), Google Search, Google News, Google SMS. A pretty solid set of offerings which are very targeted to what a user would really need on an mobile. What is missing? The Google mobile OS that preloads all of these apps together giving Google a far bigger reach than possible right now. I was pretty definite this part was already under works, and today’s post by Simeon Simeonov is just another pointer in this direction. According to Simeon’s inside source, Google is working on a “Blackberry-like, slick device” with C++ core w/ OS bootstrap, some VoIP offering, and obviously the above set of services rolled-up.

All this is being developed by the team of around 100 people led by Andy Rubin who had previously founded Android, a startup acquired by Google in August 2005. Not much is know about what was being developed at Android in its 22 months of standalone existence except for few guesses indicating it was a mobile OS.

Besides this, Google had gone through a relatively unknown acquisition of another mobile software developer Skia. Skia team was supposed to be working on a vector-based presentation engine that will deliver “state-of-the-art 2D graphics on low-end devices such as mobile phones, TVs, and handhelds”.

Where does all this information leave us? Well some more speculation for sure. As some of the early reports had indicated, Google is supposed to launch its mobile OS in early 2008. That is lot of time for rumors to go around and Nokias/Apples/RIMs/WM6s of the world to get worried for the first time for real.

Izimi p2web; Obopay with Citibank; adManager bait

February 28, 2007

Izimi: is another peer-to-web application in making. Right now in private beta and launching early next month, Izimi will enable users to serve files, photos, videos right from their PC. The UK based startup is supposed to have raised a small amount of funding totaling £150k from Star Capital just under $3million. Earlier I had written about Boxcloud and PurpleNova operating in the same space.

Citibank+Obopay: The mobile payment startup has finally hit gold. Obopay is running a pilot program with Citibank to enable its credit and debit card customers to instantly send and receive money via any mobile phone. Besides this customers will be able to remotely track and manage their mobile payment accounts by checking balances, viewing payment histories, and adding funds directly from their mobile phone. Last time I had written about Obopay, the startup had raised $10 million in funding. Since than Obopay has acquired BillMonk and undergone major management additions.

Microsoft adManager: The software giant is throwing out a bait for existing and new Microsoft Office Live subscribers to get them hitched onto the Microsoft adManager. As part of a new offer all those users who activate Microsoft Office Live adManager beta between February 20, 2007 and July 31, 2007 will get a $50 Microsoft adCenter credit. As I have said before, I am completely lost in this Microsoft+Office+Live mumbo jumbo. I mean what has a word like “Office” got to do with a word like “adManager”? Does anyone ever listen over there? Anyway these offers fall far short of what Google has been doing to promote Adwords and Checkout.

Mabber relaunches; How about interacting with users now?

February 28, 2007

Yesterday Mabber launched a new release of its mobile and web based instant messaging platform. New features include a widget that you can place on your blog and enable people to connect with you while you are on Mabber web or mobile. Nothing new about this feature since it is already offered by few other startups including Wambo, and Meebo. Besides this Mabber has added support for getting alerts for RSS feeds through instant messages and also upgraded its mobile client. I am not sure what new the mobile client upgrade really offers since there are very few details on the site. Even this area is not without major competition that now includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Fring, Nimbuzz, Jargong, and few more.

Earlier on I had tried creating an account at Mabber which failed ’cause of some dumb database reason. Emailed Mabber team, since I was not able to post that on their forum which in the first place requires a Mabber Id. Mabber team never cared to reply, but did get the signup part working. Checking now, besides other things I think RSS alerts feature needs some work as it totally lacks notification support of what it is doing when you try adding a new feed. Even otherwise Mabber site gives a feel of ghost town, with almost no real interaction between the product team and the users either on the blog or in the support forums. Would need much than a working product to get users to hop on.

Update: As it seems right now from Nico’s comment below that he did reply to my email, which I never got. Email charge dropped for now 🙂

Links:
Mabber

Key UMA innovator Kineto raises more funds

February 28, 2007

Fixed mobile convergence rally continues to gain momentum even when we have yet to come across large scale successful deployment stories. Yesterday Milpitas, CA based Kineto Wireless announced that it has raised $10 million in Series C round of funding. The funding round was led by  InterDigital with an investment of $5 million, and also participated by Kineto’s existing investors including Sutter Hill Ventures, Venrock Associates, 3i, Oak Investment Partners, SeaPoint Ventures and Storm Ventures. Kineto is one of the key innovators of UMA(Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology that enables call handover between WiFi and wireless operator network on a dual-mode handset.

We also have Seattle-based Sotto Wireless looking to take FMG over to SMBs. Selling any new technology to SMBs is tough ’cause of the obvious lack of resources for implementing and maintaining new systems. Anyway, Sotto will be providing both hardware and software piece to enable the VoIP part. Right now they are testing out their product on Nokia’s dual-mode handset E61 and also looking into some Linksys options. Biggest part that will hold back Sotto uptake is that it has yet to implement hand-off of voice calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Still Sotto is proceeding ahead with implementing its plan while also working towards round 2 of venture funding. Sotto had earlier raised $8 million in funding from venture capital firms Ignition Partners and Vantage Point Venture Partners.

Last month I had written about Mountain View based Nuvoiz showcasing its enterprise targeted softphone at DEMO. Simens and DiVitas Networks are couple of other companies competing in this space. All said and done, one of the biggest challenge each of these service providers will face is as they go alone is that nothing stops major wireless carriers from implementing these solutions. With Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T-Mobile, BT, Orange already offering consumer facing WiFi-wireless call switching plans, I am not about the strategy for these upstarts. Basic idea of going for the lower price path would again be a loosers game for everyone. However working as technology partners for carriers, just like Kineto, beyond US should prove to be more effective.

Verizon Mobile TV from March 1

February 27, 2007

Come March 1st and Verizon will finally go live with its mobile TV service. This news comes after Qualcomm’s announcement earlier this month that top wireless carriers in US including Cingular and Verizon will be using its MediaFLO mobile TV network to deliver mobile TV capabilities to its users. The service from Verizon will be branded as “Vcast Mobile TV”, and will be available on 2 handsets – SCH-u620 from Samsung and the VX9400 from LG. Verizon had announced last month that it would offer shows from CBS, Comedy Central, Fox, MTV, NBC News, NBC Entertainment and Nickelodeon as part of the mobile TV service.

Not much details are available in terms of coverage area, which is supposed to be patchy to start with. Also no details about pricing have been released, which I think will play a significant role in uptake of the service besides the overall quality and limitations imposed by the service.

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Carl Icahn pumps $50 million in Motricity

February 27, 2007

Corporate raider Carl Icahn has invested $50 million in equity funding in Motricity. Till date the 4 year old company had raised $150 million in venture funding from investors including NEA, Technology Crossover Ventures, Noro-Moseley Partners, Intel Capital and Advanced Equities. As part of the financing deal, Carl Icahn’s son Brett Icahn will join Motricity’s board of directors. Motricity’s carrier-grade platform enables content providers to deliver mobile content including ringtones, games and graphics downloads. Motricity’s current customers include six of the top 10 carriers in North America which includes Cingular, Alltel, Sprint. On the content side, Motricity works with MTV, BET, NBC, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Turner, more. Last year Motricity had acquired GoldPocket Wireless that has given the company a solid footing in the mobile marketing domain.

Links:
Motricity

Skype on mobile enabler iSkoot raises another $7 million

February 23, 2007

Breaking

iSkoot has raised another $7 million dollars for its Skype calling from mobile venture. This was series B round of funding for the Cambridge, MA, based startup, which was led by Charles River Ventures and includes previous investors Khosla Ventures, ZG Ventures and Jesselson Capital. It was only near the end of last year that iSkoot had raised $6.2 million in its series A round of funding. As part of the investment Charles River Ventures general partner,  Izhar Armony, will join iSkoot’s board of directors.

iSkoot had made big news last year when it hooked up with UK mobile carrier 3 to provide Skype based calling plan for its X-Series handsets. As part of the subscription plan, X-Series customers will be able to make unlimited Skype calls(finer print: 5,000 minutes each month. Anything above- account gets suspended) from their Nokia N73. From technology perspective, iSkoot is not really doing the funky voice over data network stuff like Fring. Instead data network aids in browsing part, while calls still go through voice network. Also N73 is not a WiFi enabled device, which might make the plan not so favorable among consumers really looking for cheaper calling options.

Links:
iSkoot 

BBC on Youtube; SimulScribe Voice-to-SMS; Sportsvite new look

February 21, 2007

BBC talks with Google: While talks with CBS and Viacom have fallen apart in the last couple of days, Youtube teams continues with the deal making process. According to news reports, BBC is talking with Google to make available its content on Youtube. No details have emerged in regards which content will be made available.

SimulScribe: I don’t think converting voicemail to text market is big enough to support another startup. Nevertheless SimulScribe is planning to take on reQall, Jott, and Spinvox, with its new service that converts voicemail to text and sends it out as SMS your mobile. SimulScribe is pretty much decided about its monetization plans. The service comes free for 7 days, and thereafter costs $9.99/month for 40 messages. Feels pricey to me. 

Sportsvite: The sports social networking startup, which had raised $2 million last week, has gone live with major upgrades to the site. Changes seem to be related more to the UI brush-up side of things, and less on adding new core features. I am unimpressed.