Universal Mobile Interface

The first ever true UMI is born!

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on June 25, 2009

I just want to inform you that the new version of Squace went live a few days ago. We now have the first service to illustrate the strength of the Universal Mobile Interface, UMI, concept. Hopefully more services will follow, but presently this is to my knowledge the only service that can be regarded as an UMI. The new version of the client already runs on about 1000 different phone models. For further information about the service and to down load please visit the Squace site.

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What is it then that makes Squace a UMI and why will this release the potential of the mobile Internet? The new version of Squace has the capability to act as the mobile desk top comprising most key services, such as messaging, calling, web links and applications. It does so independently of operator and device and is fully controlled and customised by the user. In addition, it is also very easy to integrate existing web services or create mobile services enabling long tail content going mobile. Compared to the previous version of the Squace service, launched in the spring of 2008, the whole Internet is now available and there is also direct access to applications. The user interface has become even more intuitive. The number of clicks to whatever content or applications, the individual may prefer, are fewer than ever. The viral potential of Squace, being a fully operator and device independent service connecting all users, will be really interesting to follow. We are now in a similar position compared to the early days of the Internet with the position to experience massive peer to peer distribution of content, but this time in the mobile space and now including more or less the whole population on this globe, not just those having a PC. Exiting!

The new version of Squace certainly holds a huge potential and with more integrated content and applications this may be a key mile stone within the development of the mobile Internet. However, what this type of UMI service does is to fully integrate the mobile and the fixed Internet. This is making the mobile what it should have become a long time ago, just another window or access point to the Internet and its services. Well done!

Here are some examples:

GigaOMOliver StarrTechCrunchGoogle SearchYahoo mobile

 

 

Why companies should do mobile versions of their web sites

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on April 14, 2009

Many times I find myself taking for granted that all organisations and companies understand the importance of having their web content and services accessible through the mobile phone. All don’t, and many seem not even to have reflected over the need. Others have, but show a reluctance to create a mobile version of there web site. Indeed, there are a number of very good reasons why they should be sceptical, such as: cost, limited penetration, immature technology etc.

 

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But what can they then gain by doing a specific mobile version of their site/service? This depends on the explicit requirements and environment. The needs the PC and the mobile phone meet can be categorised in two dimensions: timing – is the need immediate or can it wait; and complexity – does the service demand a large screen and keyboard to be used in a proper way. The first dimension, timing, is very hard to circumvent while the other, complexity, may be reduced by making the site much simpler and by using a concept such as UMI.

 

A very simple answer to those that wonder if they should do a mobile site is to respond with the following questions: Is it important for those you address to always be able to have immediate access to the site? If yes, is it possible for you to simplify the site so that it is possible to use over the mobile and more or less any mobile? I would argue that the answer to the second question is always yes, but it may demand some additional work to realise. But are then the users as logical as predicted above in terms of when they use one device as an alternative to the other? Do they really use the optimal tool? No, experience has shown that there are many reasons to act less rational.

 

Comparing the PC to the mobile, there are clear differences in how they are used, when they are used, why they are used, why they are not used, differences in screen size etc. The table highlight the limitations of a PC compared to a mobile phone and vice versa. Special attention is given to why the devices are used despite not being an obvious choice.

 

new-picture-5Reasons not to use the mobile when it still would be the best choice are mainly due to lack of experience and knowledge about the mobile. There are still limited possibilities for cost control, the settings may not be correct and the user may not even know how to use additional features and clients on the phone. These barriers are all expected to gradually decrease in importance as the maturity improves over time. Reasons to use the mobile when the PC would be a better choice are different in nature and can be expected to remain. The most significant one is of course that there is a quite limited penetration of PCs in many regions. But there are also less logical reasons such as laziness, similar to why many of us have made more expensive calls from a mobile as we don’t have the energy to look up the phone number and then make a cheap call from a fixed line phone when in reach.

In conclusion, you do not need to do a mobile version of your web content if: there’s no need for your users to access your site when only having a mobile phone available; and if the web site is so simple and with so limited functionality that it can be used directly on any mobile. I guess however that most will conclude that they need good, ubiquitous and user-friendly mobile presence and that the present web site is unable to deliver a good enough user experience. In addition, please keep in mind that the mobile will also be used in situations where you would expect the user to prefer the PC.

 

The right timing for mobile marketing

Posted in UMI by Martin Vendel on March 19, 2009

I just come from yet another meeting with a major consumer retail brand that would like to explore the potential of the mobile as a new channel to communicate with their customer base. I remember an executive in one of the leading European mobile operators stating: “Within two years all major brands will have mobile presence – or they will not exist”. This was about three years ago but seems today as a rather relevant statement.

There is today a general enthusiasm over mobile marketing combined with a healthy awareness regarding the limitations. The initial a bit naïve view that just doing an app will solve my needs as a brand to reach the technically advanced customers, have now matured into understanding what can be achieved but also that this is not just about doing an app.

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Looking at mobile marketing successes in the past, they are mainly sms-based campaigns. But this is not a scalable approach. If we should redirect marketing spending to this type of activities then each consumer will be spammed far beyond what anyone can accept, eventually totally killing the opportunities. Will then moving from the sms-approach to the app solve the issue?

Moving into an app-approach is mainly to extend the present web marketing with a mobile extension but with some pros and cons. You then get the same issues as on the web like: how do I become visible and searchable; how to incentivise customers to return frequently to my digital shop; the need to log in to get there personal offers; etc. The mobile do except for its given limitations also bring some additional values like: the mobile is always accompanying the consumer, all offers can be reachable from the mobile when on the move as well as club memberships; you get a strong tool for viral marketing campaigns; etc. Mobile marketing has a fantastic potential but sms-campaigns and apps are not the complete solution. We need to find ways to extend the present web into the mobile and taking advantage of the unique benefits of the mobile, but without ending up in an app jungle.

Coming back to the consumer retail brand and their ambitions. What do they ask for? They want to explore the mobile as a new communication and marketing channel for their key customers. They want to be able to reach all customers irrespectively of what phones and what operator they have. They want to have simple solutions based on existing web services and functionality and that they can manage real time themselves without involving it-departments or consultants. This all sound very reasonable and is essential to get this to work. What they ask for is a Universal Mobile Interface.

Finally some general advice to those that plan to utilise mobile marketing:

  • The mobile channel will not replace print and web but will act as a complement to the existing channels.
  • Mobile marketing will initially attract a limited but growing segment of the customer base.
  • Base the mobile solution on the present web services and do not build a separate mobile system.
  • Incentivise and educate the customer base to gradually move from print to digital channels.
  • The content on the site needs to be updated even more frequently on a mobile site. A “dead site” will immediately loose the attention of the consumer.
  • Build in viral elements such as mobile to mobile coupon distribution.
  • Choose scalable solutions that have the potential to reach and be used by the majority of the customer base.
  • Start with limited pilots gaining experience and avoiding disappointing customers with immature services.