The changing dynamics of the conversation economy

Conversation powers everything, from business, government, wars and everything in-between.  It would therefore suffice to say that he who controls the tools of communication or leverages them well will find both power and fortune.  Telecommunication companies have been in the sweet spot as far back as markets will remember, more so after the switch to mobile. That enviable position has over the last few weeks seen a growing number of well-heeled messaging suitors, flush with cash – from their own innovative monetizing strategies or high value buyouts shaking the cash cow foundations. WhatsApp’s  $ 19 billion buyout, Telegrams benefit from the visibility, Rakuten’s  $ 900 million spend on Viber, Line from Asia with a + $200 million annual revenue rake. Mxit’s continued growth among many other services taking a swipe at the telco billions. Continue reading The changing dynamics of the conversation economy

Who shall go the app-store way first? Safaricom, Zain, Orange or Yu…rubbing my hands with glee

As I think of how to best tell you what this means for developers and consumers as well as to let my excitement settle down to allow for objective thinking…someni. I had to rework this post after intel came my way right after I did the original one :-)

Its about time one of the operators took the local developers developers by their horns and said…lets see what you’ve got by opening up their own app store. While essentially not a world first :-)  this move is bound to be taken well by serious developers while the the not so serious ones will soon look for another angle to excuse their not monetizing the space.

What I am hoping for is that whoever does go first, will adopt better revenue share models than they currently have on their premium rate services on sms and IVR  and that they will offer subscription as a model as well. Case in point – for our stock market app, my customers can be billed on a monthly basis without the need to reengage them to say your monthly access fee is due. I am also hoping that they will not impose prohibitive access fees…for what its worth it should be free to access the store…only pay when you buy. Plus don’t kill us on the publisher fees as well :-)

Continue reading Who shall go the app-store way first? Safaricom, Zain, Orange or Yu…rubbing my hands with glee

The writing is on the wall…mobile advertsing is the next eyeball frontier

Todays edition of Business Daily online carried this story

Outdoor advertising runs out of growth steam –

April 30, 2009: Cutbacks in marketing budgets across corporate Kenya are slowing down growth in outdoor advertising that was until last year the fastest growing segment of the media buying market.
The industry whose value was estimated at Sh10 billion  last year is rapidly losing its market grip as companies revise brand building plans, citing uncertainty in the business environment.
It has emerged that a number of outdoor advertising industry players have reported significant reduction in placements, raising the possibility of job losses and forced consolidation in the sector.

“Right now, companies are looking for all possible avenues of cutting down on cost and unfortunately the advertisement beat is being affected,” says Mr Joseph Ng’wano, the deputy general manager at Outdoor, an advertising agency.
Continue reading The writing is on the wall…mobile advertsing is the next eyeball frontier

Forum Nokia Calling All Innovators contest – Sembuse takes to the world stage

After taking Sembuse through the paces and incorporating some of the feedback we have received, we are taking Sembuse to the world stage to compete with the best at the  – Forum Nokia Calling All Innovators contest.

This is our chance as Symbiotic to showcase homegrown talent, creativity and innovation on the world stage, and even (fingers crossed) see Sembuse on millions of Nokia devices around the world.
Forum Nokia, Nokia’s global developer Programme, challenges mobile and web application developers worldwide to submit best-in-class applications for use on Nokia devices.

We are submitting Sembuse under the Emerging Markets and Mobile Necessities category, where developers are to create innovative applications across mobile technology platforms – ranging from SMS through Series 40 and S60 device platforms. All applications will be considered, including those developed using Java, Python, or open source.
These additional areas reflect the desire to identify applications and services which enable Nokia mobile users to be in control of their busy lives and easily manage their frequent interactions with family and friends. At the same time, the applications are not just about personal productivity. Think entertainment and fun, too.
Some examples of the types of applications that the judges will be looking for include:
•    Communications – Innovative applications that span mobile technology platforms – ranging from SMS through Series 40 and S60 device platforms – to improve communications for people in rural and semi-urban areas worldwide.

•    Emerging Markets – This includes applications designed to meet the needs and improve the daily lives of millions of people living in rural and semi-urban areas worldwide. It can include applications for education, health care and more.

•    Entertainment – Applications for social networking; gaming; music and media services to create, edit and share content with friends; recommendations for things to do, such as concerts or movies; or perhaps premium services where individuals can discover and share new ideas and information with one another.

•    Life Balance – Applications that support individuals in their choice to live a healthy life by suggesting ways to improve physical and mental abilities.

•    Personal Information Management – Applications for things like time management, navigation, information search.

•    Personal Security – Applications that provide solutions to you and your family, such as how to get back a lost or stolen device, or an alarm system for your mobile.

•    Social responsibility – Applications that guide individuals to make the right ethical choice and lead a sustainable lifestyle.

And we believe that Sembuse fits the bill on more than one of these fronts. If it were to be decided through a user vote, we are sure we would win the 30,000 $ coz you would all vouch for us, but unfortunately its sheer innovation and talent that will see us through this one :-)
Haya basi…twende kazi

Taking your brand mobile

The sooner brands start to strategize and implement mobile solutions, the sooner they can engage their consumers on a truely personal level. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for any brand?

Each year, some marketing expert proclaims that “it’s the year of mobile”, yet every year passes with no noticeable shift in how the majority of brands strategize their mobile presence. Companies are worried about the ROI and marketers are still hesitant to take the risk. With marketing budgets tightening, everyone wants to know that their money is being spent wisely and their risk is minimal.

With brands big and small hesitant to develop a mobile strategy, now is the time to act. Capitalize on the fact that not many brands have ventured into the exciting new mobile medium. Early adopters have a better chance of receiving attention from mobile consumers all while not being lost in the mix. Brands have an opportunity to build a great base. By the time the competition is up and running, you will have already established your mobile brand.

Bringing a brand into the mobile world offers far more possibilities than any other medium right now. The biggest advantage that mobile offers is the personal interactions consumers have with the device. People don’t leave their house without their phone, keeping them connected with friends and family 24/7. While around the house their mobile device serves several different purposes from an alarm clock to an entertainment device. Brands have a chance to capitalize on the time invested between consumers and their handset.

Here are a few examples of ways to leverage the power of mobile devices and starting points to strategizing your mobile campaign:

  • SMS campaigns – messaging campaigns involve everything from coupons to exclusive offers on discounts at stores located nearest to them. This provides a great way to keep consumers engaged with your brand and connects with a consumer on a personal level. It gives the consumer a sense of being in an exclusive club.
  • The mobile Web – With the mobile Web still in its infant stages, brands have a chance to leverage all the new real estate. With many brands hesitant to create a mobile Web presence it is still relatively uncluttered, giving you the chance to stand out and take charge of their space.
  • Mobile apps – Apps have proven to be a great way for a brand to interact with their consumers. Apps are installed on the user’s phone and take advantage of the built-in features of the consumer’s phone. The app can be a way for the customer to interact with your whether it be through the GPS card and location-based services or their camera.

These are just three of many possibilities that a brand has to interact with consumers on mobile handsets. What about video or email campaigns? All of these options are viable with today’s mobile devices. And costs to deploy and test are lower than you might suspect.

It doesn’t matter if 2009 is “the year for mobile,” or not. The sooner brands start to strategize and implement mobile solutions, the sooner they can engage their consumers on a personal level never seen before. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for any brand?