Mobile Fix – November 5

Lots of news this week – and some early fireworks from Facebook…


Facebook Mobile

The much anticipated Facebook mobile event on Wednesday was more of an evolution than a revolution.

They say they’re not making a phone (so those rumours about a partnership with the smart people at INQ aren’t true? Despite the owner of INQ having a stake in Facebook? We’ll see) But they are building Facebook into a mobile platform.

With single sign in and an expansion of Places, Facebook is now a key element of any mobile strategy – just like it’s a key part of any online strategy. The smart way they have built deals into places means players like Groupon have to partner with Facebook to get real scale.

Facebook are now the biggest thing on mobile web with over 200 million mobile users- and whatever they do has a huge impact on everyone active in mobile. This interview with their head of mobile is good background reading.



So, with data suggesting location hasn’t caught on yet, Facebook Places gets a major revamp which must threaten Foursquare – even though Foursquare keep getting press and look to be consolidating their position.

Again Facebook are positioning themselves as the platform – but Google have made their first real play in location with Google places,

We previously mentioned a key Google exec being given the task of focusing on location and we believe Google ambitions around social will use location in a significant way, so this battle is just getting started.



If location lets you know which bar your friends are in, the next question is Who’s buying?. And mobile is going to be big in that space too.

There are lots of people developing services around mobile money; Boku lets you use your phone number to pay, Cimbal uses QR codes and Sprint are offering a mobile wallet service for app developers to build into their services. Some of these still seem clunky but the eBay CEO says mobile is the most secure way to pay – and as he owns Paypal he has a pretty credible point of view

As well as transactions, mobile banking is growing quickly as this US data shows and this interesting paper looking at how banking needs to evolve for a digital age is worth a flick through.


Platform or Content – which is really key?

Wired have a really good article making the point that the platform players like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are now poised to drive the content markets too.

The problem in the content business – whether you make TV shows, music, movies or books etc – is that you are in a hits business – the only way you make money is when the hit content is big enough to pay for the stuff that wasn’t a hit.

That used to be a great business for lots of smart people, but the digital age has brought piracy to eat into profits and concentrated the ability to create hits. And the platform people now have the scale to be able to surface hit content and make money from it, whoever creates it.

Content is king but in a world acting more like a republic these days, that’s no longer the top job. Which is why people like Murdoch want to absorb platform plays such as Sky into their core business.

(Not sure that Amazon qualifies as a platform? Look at what they have done with the Kindle and remember how many start ups now rely on Amazon for hosting and other web services. They are now offering free web services for start ups.)


Thin or Thick Apps?

New research suggests people prefer the mobile web to apps – which backs up our thinking last week about Thin apps that open up mobile web content. But we’re not sure people know the difference or actually care that much. If the experience delights once the icon is clicked, then everyone is happy.


Mobile growing fast. Who Knew?

The latest stats on mobiles explosive growth don’t tell us much new, but the forecast for mobile ads is interesting. We worry that much of this growth (to $5b by 2015) is around banners and for that sector to prosper we need to counter the view that they don’t work that well. We’ve talked about the problems with focusing on clicks as a metric (mobile banner clickthrough rates are only going to decline – just like they did in online) and this new research shows that clicks are an inadequate way to measure the performance of banners;

the study reveals that mere exposure to impressions of digital media boosts brand and drives purchase behavior, even when users don’t click on them.

Mobile advertising needs to exploit context much better than online has – and location should be a big factor here.

Worth a read:


We’re pimping a training session run by part of the addictive extended family – who is also highly rated by Glue, Dare, Dentsu and many others. Much more than how to present powerpoint charts, this is a good investment for anyone who has to sell their ideas.

Reading some cod future forecasting we remembered an old client project predicting life in 2010. We made this video in 2001 and apart from the clients demise, only the reference to Leeds United seems a little unrealistic now. But maybe by 2015 it will all be true….

And we live by the motto What Would Seth Do, so liked this post about why people do start ups. Which reminded us of this old quote from him which drove the thinking behind addictive…

Here’s a question that you should clip out and tape to your bathroom mirror. It might save you some angst 15 years from now. The question is, What did you do back when interest rates were at their lowest in 50 years, crime was close to zero, great employees were looking for good jobs, computers made product development and marketing easier than ever, and there was almost no competition for good news about great ideas?

Doesn’t that way of thinking make sense when considering mobile too. Mobile is already a billion dollar business for Google, Amazon and eBay – what’s everyone else waiting for?

We produce Mobile Fix every week, reflecting the significant news in mobile. The content is also added to the addictive blog, where you can comment. If you’d like to know more about any of these topics or share your thoughts let us know. And please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested – they can sign up for email updates here – or either the email or the RSS feed on the site.

  • Florian Brody

    You mention Cimbal – – the contactless mobile payment solution that is entirely software based and does not need any additional hardware for the retailer or the consumer. Cimbal works equally well in a bar – as you pointed out – in-store at a retailer, for eCommerce and person-to-person, all with the same user experience that ties in social networking.

    Cimbal uses Data Matrix codes – not QR codes – to communicate between payee and payer. Cimbal codes can be presented on paper, on any screen, effectively on substrate that can show the code. At your next talk you can project the code in your Powerpoint presentation to sell your new book to the audience.

    Cimbal is available today on iPhone and Android phones for US bank accounts at; the company is in conversation with UK partners.