Tesco sells iphones from Dec 14th

The UK supermarket chain, Tesco, has announced December 14th as the date when it will start selling Apple’s popular phone. O2 lost it’s exclusivity on the iphone a few months ago and since then Orange has started selling the handset, and Vodafone have announced it will be available in early 2010.

As you would expect with Tesco’s they aim to undercut the competition. They are offering 12 month iphone contracts from £20 – their competitors are only offering 18 or 24 month phone contracts. With this contract, the handset price will be £222 for an iPhone 3G 8GB. They are also offering the 3G and 3GS on their tripple credit pay as you go price plan.

It will be interesting to see if there is a price war on the iphone. It will also be interesting to see how many more phones will be sold, now that the O2 exclusivity has ended. There were 1 million handsets in the UK in Feb 09, and approximately 1.5m in Dec 09. Watch this blog for more updates!

There’s no such thing as a free SMS

No really, there isn’t!

As we also work in the SMS sending market, we see a lot of searches for ‘Free SMS’. In fact, if you search for it in Google, there are 1000s of sites appearing to offer Free SMS. In reality though it simply doesn’t exist. There are a number of ways in which the SMS is offered as ‘free’:

1. Extra text messages when you purchase a certain amount – nice to see offers but in reality the prices charged are far higher than additional messages.
2. The user is charged for a Premium SMS – this isn’t free at all so the offer is entirely misleanding. The user must put in their own number first, and an SMS billing message is sent to their phone. The cost of this is considerably higher than simply buying online with a credit or debit ard.
3. Advertising-sponsored SMS – this is the nearest that could be described as ‘free’, however about 30 characters are taken up with a sponsor’s message. Although not a major problem, these types of text messages are limited in where you can send them to, the time taken to arrrive or the ability to send it from your own number.

We are currently running a promotion for SMS to Pakistan. If you search Google, there are numerous offers of ‘free SMS’ but all with the kind of catches I described above.

Why don’t we have free?
The problem is simply this: every time an SMS is sent, a mobile operator somewhere is charging for it. Unlike the internet which as ‘free’ built into it, SMS does not. Therefore the cost to send the SMS must be carried by someone, and that someone is the mobile user.

We have focussed on providing a low-cost, reliable service, rather than going the so-called ‘free’ route. Lets hope the simple, honest approach wins out in the end.

Mobile Ad Spend up 42% in 2010 …

… that’s according to an article at emarketer.com.

A senior research analyst has predicted the market for the next five years as growing at the following rate:

2009 : $416 million
2010 : $593 million
2011 : $830 million
2012 : $1140 million
2013 : $1560 million

That’s great new from the industry, and who am I to question a senior analyst in a reputable online research company?

However, I would always recommend taking these kinds of figures with a pinch of salt. I can see that there are grounds for this prediction: Google’s acquisition of Admob for $750 is a good argument in favour of mobile advertising’s rise. However, is $1.5 billion by 2013 actually a realistic figure? Who knows? What I do know is that predictions like this get bandied around the industry and quickly become irrefutable facts that are often quoted. Yes, mobile advertising will grow, but I would suggest taking this kind of analysis with a pinch of salt.

iphone app reveiws scam: Apple pulls 1000+ apps

I’ve reported on how some companies have been able to scam the iphone apps store reveiws before now. It came to light earlier this year that one company had been using interns and various associate to post favourable reviews of their apps.
Another scam was spotted by reader of iphonegraphy blog, concerning app development company, Molinker. Basically, many of their 5 star reviews came from users who had only reviewed their products.
A report was sent to Apple, and yesterday all Molinker apps – over 1000 of them – were pulled from the store.

Top Ten Yahoo Mobile Searches

Yahoo have just published a great review of the 2009. It will be online until Dec 30th and makes for some interesting reading.

One bit of information to come out of this are the list of top ten mobile searches. In 2009 they were as follows:

1. London
2. Premier League
3. Big Brother
4. Champions League
5. Katie Price
6. Lottery
7. Weather
8. Mail
9. Cricket
10. Michael Jackson

Although web search is dominated by Google, it is worth noting that in mobile search, Yahoo is a significant player. The top searches make some interesting points about the way that users engage with the mobile web. Typically it is to access small, specific pieces of information: location related information, football (and other sports) scores, the weather and lottery numbers. The Yahoo results bear this out. Yet looking at all searches (both fixed internet and mobile), the results are somewhat different:

1. Big Brother
2. X Factor
3. Job centre
4. Michael Jackson
5. Jade Goody
6. Premier League
7. Swine Flu
8. Katie Price
9. Cheryl Cole
10. Train Times

Looking at all web searches, the focus is much more on entertainment (6 out of the top 10), whereas mobile searches are more information based (7 out of the top 10). It tells us that the mobile web is different. Brands should recognise this, and tailor their mobile web offerings accordingly.

Square: it’s mobile payments, but not quite as we thought

It came to light this week that Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey, is working on a new project for mobile payments called ‘Square‘. The project has been around for a few months, but the press finally put together the various pieces and worked out what they were up to!

Square is a great concept: install some software on your smartphone, then plugin a small plastic square. You swipe a user’s credit card and take a payment.

As with all great ideas, the concept is extremely simple. It is aimed at small businesses who don’t aren’t able to invest in PDQ systems. The revenue model comes from taking a small fee per transaction. It’s great to see a mobile application that will help small businesses – afterall many of the online brands that we know and love (or hate) started as small businesses.

Most people think of mobile payments in terms of taking the money from the phone bill, however Square takes a more left-field approach to it. There is no question that people are reluctant to enter credit card details on a mobile site. Even though the connection is almost the same as PC web, the trust element with mobile is missing. So if Square takes off (and I hope it will), as well as providing a useful and much needed service for SMEs, it may also change perceptions about payments through the phone.

With the introduction of NFC (Near Field Communication) systems on mobile, in app payments and now Square, the next year will see mobile commerce becoming massive.

iphone vs Android: will porn be the killer app?

Apple has taken the high moral ground when it comes to certain areas of specialist entertainment. Yup, we’re talking about porn. The iphone appstore has been very prudish when it comes to adult related content. They even banned a dictionary app which included the words ‘fuck’ and ‘piss’ – it was later accepted as R15 after the f word was removed. Whilst I wouldn’t expect Apple to endorse adult entertainment (and they clearly do not), the exclusivity of the appstore means that it is not possible (without jailbreaking an iphone) to have any adult apps. The interest in porn clearly exists with iphone users. One of the most read articles on this blog was about a midly titilating app called iblush babes. Furthermore, a recent report showed that one in five people have viewed porn on their iphone, presumably via the mobile web.

The companies that are supporting Android, haven’t endorsed porn either – far from it. There is a big difference, however. They don’t control the delivery of apps in the same way as Apple’s iphone. One company called has done the indecent thing, taking advantage of Android’s more open approach to set up an app store for adult entertainment called MiKandi.

When it comes to technology, history would suggest that porn is the killer app. VHS took off (and ultimately won out over Betamax) with it’s adoption by the porn industry. Similarly broadband took off because it provided easy access to adult websites. So, is it possible that easier access to porn through the Android will see Google’s mobile OS win out in the end?