Weekly Wrap: Hitting the Right Notes
By Carlo Longino, Fri Mar 04 08:15:00 GMT 2005

Mobile music keeps on playing, search screens up for sale, moving past ARPU, and more...


No doubt mobile music is a hot topic, several announcements this week had to do with it. Vodafone said it was expanding the number of tracks available for download through its mobile service to 500,000; Sony Ericsson launched its Walkman phone; and a research firm said the mobile music market will be worth $9.3 billion in 2009. The firm says ringtones will account for more than half of that, but there are some questions if the market can continue to thrive, with many vendors focused on a quick buck rather than building a business.

Operator O2 in the UK has launched paid-search listings on its WAP portal, reflecting another aspect of the wired Internet that's possibly been misconstrued for the mobile Web. The search provider behind the listings, of course, thinks it's a great idea, but in the limited space of a mobile screen, and given the fact users are generally paying for any data sent to their phone, how will they not feel burned by being served ads, which they're paying for, that make search less useful?

Advertisers are still searching for the best way to use mobile media, but one new trend has users initiating contact with advertisers by sending in cameraphone pictures. One such campaign in the US has users send in snapshots of a new car for a chance to win prizes. These non-intrusive campaigns appear to be going well, and successful in getting users to seek out the product they're advertising.

ARPU: the metric of choice for mobile carriers. The only problem is it's skewed to early adopters. A study released this week says late adopters don't spend as much as early adopters -- in addition to not being a surprise, it means these late adopters don't value mobile services at their initial prices. Of course, the fascination with ARPU makes operators loathe to lower the price of anything, even if there's revenues to be made.

For many workers, the mobile phone is an essential business tool. It's important to another set of people, too -- the unemployed. Authorities in Australia have begun loaning mobile phones to job-seekers so they can easily be contacted by potential employers. The government there says having a phone increased the chance of getting a referral by 40 percent, and the chance of getting a job by a third.

An interesting blend of digital and analog technology came out of Japan this week, where a QR time clock was announced. The clock displays a QR code workers snap a picture of to log in or out, and a Java app in their handset sends the time into HQ. Okay, perhaps it's not that interesting on its own, but it does show how mobile technologies are letting digital services be overlaid on an analog world, and technology initially used to call up static information can be used for more dynamic purposes.

News out of South Korea this week said Qualcomm had pulled the plug on developing EV-DV chipsets for mobile handsets, effectively ending the standard for the time being. The only operator in the world to have begun rolling out an EV-DV network, LG Telecom, is in a precarious financial position and may be unable to actually deploy a 3G network, while the success of EV-DO -- and the improvements planned for it in forthcoming revisions -- has forestalled the need for the EV-DV flavor.

Elsewhere on the site this week, Mark Frauenfelder talks about how some researchers are looking to harness the power of personal recommendation for mobile services, and later shares how mobile technology might help answer one of parents' least favorite questions, Steve Wallage says "Domo arigato Bluetooth roboto", and Howard Rheingold takes a look at the latest social research on cameraphones.