MediaFile

Don’t you dare call us

Remember how we all did the happy dance when the U.S. government created the Do Not Call Registry back in 2003? How we popped the champagne corks because hefty civil penalties could be given to a telemarketer if they called your landline after you had opted-in on the registry? Sure, there are loopholes and enforcement problems but essentially the registry works, and it restored the natural order of things by liberating us from having to drop everything because some faceless, money-grubbing salesperson rang in our living rooms.

A mere eight years later landlines are a dying technology. Cool kids, lower-income people, and savvy middle-agers know there’s really no need for a “home phone.” We’ve never had to worry about mobile phone spam because there is a FCC rule against it. This restriction was premised largely on the fact that, unlike on a landline, receiving a wireless call can cost something to the recipient. Same is true for faxes, for the same reason: unsolicited faxes — i.e., spam — is a civil violation.

But, aside from the practical rationale, this dynamic reflects the fundamental truth that I have a phone to make calls and receive them from whom I choose. I’m not paying all this money to establish a marketing beachhead in my pocket.

Well, hang on to your smartphones: Telemarketers are trying to recreate in mobile what the DNC Registry and the demise of landlines rendered moot. If we don’t make a huge stink about this right now there is a chance, however slight, that robo telemarketing calls will make a come back, on steroids.

This abomination is being teed up as HR 3035, aka the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011.” It would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and give legal cover to the cretins of commerce who think they have the right to get your attention, anywhere you happen to be, by leveraging the reality that mobile phones are everywhere and the primary means of communication for hundreds of millions of people.

Microsoft: mobile getting better, no numbers yet

Microsoft  made a big deal of the launch of three U.S. phones running its Windows Phone 7.5 software, the latest upgrade to Windows Phone 7, which represents a complete overhaul of the Microsoft mobile phone software.  They built a giant model of a phone in Herald Square, New York City and had rappers and dancers performing around it on Monday, while pizza was handed out to bemused onlookers.

Andy Lees, who leads Microsoft’s phone business, was on hand to talk up the software, which he said has been very well received by consumers.

“When people use it they love it,” he told reporters. “We’re definitely on to something.”

Sprint: When all else fails, call a magician

davidblaineAfter bigger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T stole the limelight at the Consumer Electronics Show with promises of multiple advanced phones for this year, now Sprint Nextel is trying to grab some attention with a stunt of its own.

In an intentionally mysterious invitation, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider says it has enlisted the help of illusionist David Blaine to show the world how “Sprint’s making the Impossible Possible” at a New York Event scheduled for February 7.

Sprint’s promising that the event will be “a lot of fun” but it is mum on whether Blaine plans relive his Times Square encasement in a block of ice or his vertigo stunt in Bryant Park.

from Shop Talk:

Check Out Line: US online retailers dialing up mobile apps

phone1Check out the increasing appetite for mobile applications among U.S. online retailers.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of online retailers either already have or are developing a mobile strategy and one out of every five has a fully implemented mobile strategy already in place, according to a study from Forrester Research and Shop.org, the National Retail Federation's digital division.

"It's imperative for online retailers to stay on top of what their customers want and these days it's all mobile all the time," Scott Silverman, Shop.org executive director, said in a statement. "Mobile commerce has tremendous potential and will no doubt grow to become a significant part of overall sales volume in years to come."

The end of the story…

……is the cash cow for Chinese company Shanda Literature Ltd, a
subsidiary of Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

The company’s business model is simple: read the first half
of a book online for free, and if you want to know the rest
(which usually is the case if you have read that far) you need
to pay for it. Revenues are split with the stories’ authors.

In China, this proves to be successful. According to Shanda
Literature CEO Hou Xiaoqing, the company now has cash reserves
of $1.8 billion, with 800,000 authors creating up to 80,000 new
pages of content per day, he said at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Vonage CEO sees no reason for iPhone Google Voice rejection

The US telecom regulator FCC has been looking into why Apple rejected an Internet telephony application from Google for inclusion in its iPhone application store. Responses from Google, Apple and AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, are due today.

Along with Google Voice’s consumer fans, the outcome of the inquiry will be closely watched by other Internet telephone services such as eBay’s Skype. Apple approved a Skype app for iPhone but consumers can only make Skype calls when they are connected to a short-range wi-fi network and not via the AT&T cellular network.
The head of another U.S. Internet telephony provider Vonage weighed in on the topic in an interview this week. Vonage plans to offer its own mobile communications application later this year.

Marc Lefar previously served as chief marketing officer of Cingular, now AT&T Mobility, where he helped put together the mobile operator’s iPhone deal with Apple, before becoming Vonage Chief Executive last year. Taking his previous experience in the wireless industry into acccount, Lefar said it was unclear to him why the Google Voice application was rejected for iPhone.

from Commentaries:

Bracing for bar brawl in mobile phone emerging markets

The last thing that the complex negotiations between India's Bharti and South Africa's MTN Group to create the world's third largest mobile phone company needed is more complexity. The existing deal involving an intricate mix of cash and stock is further complicated by currency fluctuations and diverging growth rates between the maturing Indian market and the wide-open African one.

Zain's footprint in Africa and Middle EastBut if a third company, Zain of Kuwait, succeeds in starting up a full-scale bidding war for itself, the Bharti-MTN deal could come off the rails and fall apart.  Zain's CEO told Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai on Monday that it is in talks with three major, but so-far unnamed telecom firms, including one from India. Last month, Zain said it was reviewing the possible sale of its far-flung African operations after French conglomerate Vivendi called off talks to buy a majority of Zain's African business.  A Vivendi spokesman says nothing has changed since then. There's no word yet from other obvious suspects -- France Telecom or Vodafone -- on whether they are interested.

The most likely Indian bidder for Zain looks like Reliance Communications, India's distant No. 2 mobile operator to Bharti. There's history here, as Reliance tried to nab MTN a year ago. That move came after Bharti's first try to strike a deal with MTN, South Africa's second largest operator, fell apart over which company's management would end up controlling the combined entity.

from Commentaries:

Humbled giants eye business phone market

Nokia e71LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Once they were warriors battling one another on the digital battlefield. Nowadays, Microsoft and Nokia are worriers, huddling together for comfort.

The world's top phone and software companies need each other to compete with Apple, Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion (RIM), whose products increasingly define what users expect from phones and charge premium prices in consequence.

In the market for so-called "smartphones", Deutsche Bank estimates Apple and RIM now take home more than half of all profits, despite producing less than a third of high-end mobile phones. Nokia held a 45 percent share of the smartphone market in June, according to Gartner Inc. (Table 2 in Gartner release)

from Commentaries:

Tech Links: Phones, more phones and communion wafers

HTC Android phoneBetter luck next year for Android
Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has warned of a revenue shortfall, saying it has too many new phone models chasing too little revenue. Revenue growth will turn negative in 2009, instead of growing 10 percent, as the company had previously forecast.

Chief Executive Peter Chou says: "Momentum on both the Windows Mobile and Android platforms are also turning out to be weaker than expected."

HTSEC weighted indexTC said it is boosting its marketing spending to more than 15 percent of revenue from 13.5 percent to fend off market leader Nokia and the Apple iPhone juggernaut.

How many phones is too many?

Most people have one phone or handheld device for work, and maybe another one for play. But how about 14?

That’s how many devices Google’s vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra has. They make it “very hard to get through the airport,” he joked.

We asked him and other executives in the mobile advertising industry what devices they use, after about an hour of a panel discussion on where mobile advertising is going at the Fortune Brainstorm: TECH conference.