One reason why Google+ may not succeed

Tim Berners-Lee was right when he said that Facebook was anti-web. The Comscore chart below shows the almost exponential rise of Facebook, and the almost inevitable decline of The Web as we knew it. A decline of 9% in fact. Given that Facebook has essentially created their own web, within the web, how will Google+ compete with that? Many users are effectively locked in to Facebook and need a massive incentive to move social accounts. Google+ has great functionality, but Facebook is a past master of implementing good technology and doing it quickly. The chances are, Facebook will simply implement similar features to Google if they appear to becoming successful. Google do search brilliantly, and did mobile (Android) surprisingly well, but when it comes to their ability to do social, the track record isn’t so great. At best, Google+ will be for the real social media geeks and not a true mass market product.

One reason why Google + might just succeed

Google have failed at a social media a few times already – take Buzz or Latitude, for example  – however, Google + has lots of whizzy features that make it useful – Circles looks like a good concept. But there’s one key point about Google+ that may actually make it successful. It’s not Facebook …

Now see one reason why Google+ might not succeed >

43% of people in the UK have had a spam text (and 30% in the last month)

Whilst many a mobile marketer is developing whizzy apps, using QR codes and creating great mobile sites, the truth is that in the UK most consumers’ experience of mobile marketing is spam. The particular problem has been spam for accident claims, debt management and PPI claims. A new study by the DMA found that nearly 43% of the UK adult population have received such a message. It would also seem that the problem is getting worse, as 30% of people have received such a text in the last month.

The problem of the ‘text pests’ was reported on the front page of The Sunday Telegraph. Along with previous radio reports and a campaign by Money Saving Expert, the issue is becoming very high profile indeed. In the Telegraph report, John Spencer, Vice Chair of the Motor Accident Solicitor’s Association called for a ban on referral fees. Given that 3% of people have replied to such a text, the ‘claims farming’ industry is worth millions of pounds. Removing the incentive would certainly help. However, it won’t solve the problem of spam SMS. We have already seen the spammers switch to generating leads for Debt Management Orders and PPI claims. The MO is the same, and is clearly carried out by the same people. It is therefore essential that the whole of the mobile marketing sector works to removing the spam SMS, creating a clean, permission-based channel.

With my DMA hat on (yes, you get a hat when you join), we’ve been working to address the issue. A month ago we sat down with all the key regulators as well as some industry representatives to work out how we can stop it. Part of the problem is the bureaucracy of the regulators and the operators who can be both slow to respond or take concerted action. We identified seven different sets of regulations that are being breached by these messages. However that actually makes enforcement more complicated. Regulators who could enforce this are the ICO, MOJ, OfCom, OFT, The Solicitors Association and the ASA, but many of them will simply pass the buck to another regulators. Similarly, although some operators are very concerned about the problem, the ones we invited didn’t come to the meeting.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore that the DMA study found that 46% of consumers didn’t know who to complain to. Of those who thought they would know where to go, OfCom was the favoured one (20%). Unfortunately OfCom have no information or reporting procedures for this on their website. In our meeting it was clear that they had no interest in tackling the issue. Many would complain to their operator (17%), but our experience is that customer services rarely know who in their organisation they should pass the information to. In fact the two organisations who are most relevant to the accident claims texts are the ICO and MOJ. They scored the lowest of the organisations that consumers would go to.

So what’s the solution? It seems remarkably simple. At the sending end, the operators need to respond more quickly to block spam texts. At the receiving end, all of the regulators need to take a more concerted approach to enforcement. They should also be providing a clear, simple set of consumer guidelines. The ICO have some information here. There is also some useful information on Money Saving Expert.

Nokia Goes Meego with the N9

According to information given to Engadget, Nokia’s new flagship handset, the N9 will be based on the company’s own new OS, MeeGo. So, in spite of the fanfare over their tie-up with Microsoft’s mobile OS (by Nokia at least), it looks like the Finish handset manufacturer’s first offering outside of Symbian will be a MeeGo one. The handset shown on Engadget is a fully featured smartphone which is entirely touch screen (ie no buttons), save for the volume rocker switch, the screen is 3.9 inches and comes with an 8 megapixel wide-angle camera. Oh and it has NFC.

‘What about apps?’ I hear you ask. Well there’s the NFC enabled Angry Birds Magic for starters. Nokia have also been porting over many of the OviStore’s most successful apps, whilst social media integration comes as standard. Whilst supporting Nokia doesn’t seem particularly fashionable at the moment, it actually looks like the company has produced a decent handset with a more than reasonable OS.

The exact plans for the roll-out are as yet unknown, but rumours are that in the UK at least, the N9 will be the ‘hero’ handset for some of operators Xmas campaigns. Nokia have been loosing sales in the smartphone market in the last 12 months, largely to Android. It remains to be seen if the new MeeGo offering will provide a suitable competition to Samsung and HTC’s Android handsets.