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Something for the weekend…

I’m going to highlight several user experience stories which have been making the news ahead of next week’s MEX conference, all of which relate in some way to the discussions we’ll be having at our two day strategy forum.

Award-winning usability

On Wednesday of this week Mike Grenville of 160Characters.org handed out his 2006 Global Messaging Awards at a ceremony in London. Mike asked me to sit on the judging panel this year and I found it an extremely interesting process for getting a sense of what’s happening in the messaging space. You can read the full list of winners here, but I wanted to focus on one category in particular – ‘Most effective device or software for data input’.

This was won by Zi Corporation’s Decuma predictive handwriting system. Decuma, which is based on technology Zi acquired from the Swedish company of the same name, combines a predictive text engine with handwriting input. Rather than tapping keys to auto-complete a word, Decuma suggests possible answers as you write letters on the screen.

I find myself increasingly interested in the potential for pen input, both for handwriting recognition and other tasks such as navigation, data manipulation and media creation. I discussed some of these ideas in a previous artice ‘Maybe Palm got it right‘.

There was a discussion around the table at the awards dinner about the future growth of mobile messaging revenue. Analysts have recently been predicting revenues from messaging will plateau in 2009 as markets reach saturation and competition among operators reduces ‘per message’ prices. However, the view shared by most at the table was the industry’s efforts to attract a greater proportion of the user base to send messages was working. This is being achieved through a variety of means – I believe one of the most important is enhancing input methods, through technologies such as Decuma.

Zi Corp’s Director of Product Management, Jacques LaPointe, will speak on the panel entitled ‘Interacting with the real world‘ at 09:00 on 1st June at the MEX conference.

Mobile advertising landscape evolving

In the last newsletter we focused on the ‘Mobile Advertising: Mission or Exploration?‘ debate, concluding the market is characterised by uncertaintity and experimentation at this early stage. However, there have been developments even in the last couple of days which highlight the rapid progress being made in some areas.

MobiMate, developer of one of the most popular smartphone applications – a world clock and travel assistance program named WorldMate – has said it is working with Amobee to embed advertising in the product. In this was it will be able to make WorldMate available free of charge, instead of the commercial download model it currently relies on.

“The mobile content industry needs a better business model,” said Nadav Gur, MobiMate’s CEO. “The Internet has taught end users to expect most content for free – courtesy of advertisers. By adopting similar business models we will be able to increase the reach and use of mobile services. Amobee provides us with the technology and eco-system that facilitate this. In the next 18 months, WorldMate is expected to reach over 10 million users, most of them business professionals. This provides advertisers with an extremely valuable medium for their messages.”

In other news, Microsoft is rumoured to be looking at acquisition targets in the mobile advertising business as it prepares for what is expected to be a fiercely competed space. The original report surfaced in the Wall Street Journal, but this VNU article has more details.

We have an exceptional panel of industry leaders assembling to debate this topic at 14:30 on 1st June at the MEX conference.

Operator vision

Network operators are often the focus of negative sentiment because of their perceived user experience failings. There are many instances in which this criticism is justified, not least because major operators are currently trying to dominate so many parts of the value chain – they have a great deal more customer touchpoints where there is potential for problems to emerge.

However, an announcement from MobileOne in Singapore provides an example of how an operator can adopt a truly customer-focused approach. It is working with a variety of partners, including Microsoft and O2, to provide free corporate email access to any customers equipped with a Windows Mobile handset. First-time customers without a data subscription are automatically provided with 2 Mb of free data transfer to make use of the service.

MobileOne is working with O2 to obtain the operator’s XDA handsets, presumably because it feels they offer the best user experience. This is despite MobileOne’s existing partnership with Vodafone. It is always refreshing to see a company which is able to look beyond the corporate policy of strategic alliances to find the best solution for their customers.

Live from MEX

Next week our event reporter Simon Judge will be returning to provide live coverage of the MEX conference. There are still a few places available if you’d like to register and join us in person, otherwise click on to www.mobileuserexperience.com to see highlights of the debates.

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About the author
Marek Pawlowski Marek Pawlowski is the founder of MEX. Since 1995, he has focused the MEX business on helping digital industries to develop better, more profitable products through improved understanding of user behaviour with mobile devices and wireless networks. MEX is best known for its events, research and consulting, which balance commercial, technical and user insights to define the future of mobile user experience. Web http://www.pmn.co.uk/mex/ | Email mp@pmn.co.uk
Posted on
26 May 2006
Categories
Opinions, ideas and new thinking