February 13, 2008

Let The People Speak !

We're Number 1! ; ) Judges at the Mobile World Congress have named myGamma the "Best Mobile Social Networking service".

We've been waiting with baited breath for the final announcement -- as have our members.

“Let the people speak.” said the judging panel, describing myGamma as a “rapidly growing social network site spanning borders, cultures and languages. The world just got a lot smaller – and smarter.”

And speak they did! Since we announced our nomination, myGamma members have sent us more than 3000 messages of support and encouragement. Mary from Central Visayas, Philippines, thinks “myGamma’s d best wapsite” as does Tushki from Uttar Pradesh, India. Abuzola from Lagos, Nigeria, had promised to “intensify my prayer for mygamma to win” and if you see fireworks tonight in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, that’s probably Jonyluv celebrating!

“We are very honoured by the recognition the GSMA has given us and also humbled by the support of our members” says Lai Kok Fung, BuzzCity CEO. “The team has put a lot of effort into making myGamma a powerful tool, but it’s our members who make it a great experience."

“Each year as the influence of mobile communications spreads further to enhance more and more aspects of people’s lives, the scope of the Awards become greater, and the competition becomes more intense as a result” says GSMA CEO Rob Conway. “Because the mobile world is such an amazing universe of opportunities, its gravitational forces are pulling other industries into its realm—internet, finance, advertising, music and film.

To view the full list of winners, please click here http://www.globalmobileawards.com/winners.shtml

February 05, 2008


By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

"Search Eskimos" may seem like an odd heading for this week's blog entry, but if you've seen Hutchison's brillant Indian ad campaign, you know that "searching eskimos" has everything to do with educating the public about the possibilities of the mobile internet. It also highlights how telecom carriers can promote - or hinder - mobile surfing.

At this stage of the game, public education -- letting consumers know what they can do with their phones -- is key. But this message is being broadcast more loudly in some markets than others. Let's take a look at three marketing campaigns: "Mr Blue Sky" by SFR (France), "Can you hear me now?" by Verizon in the US and Hutch's "Search for Anything" in India.


SFR is the second largest mobile operator in France with a 35% market share (in 2006) and nearly 18 million clients. Three million of these consumers are using 3G phones. SFR's campaign features popular French footballer Thierry Henry, who is France's leading goal-scorer. The ad, "Revolution sur the Mobile", highlights that users can use their phones for email, internet searches, messenging, music, video and more. The main message is that SFR offers unlimited 3G internet access.

Vodafone Essar / Hutch has 38 million clients in India. Their ad campaign is the most creative of the three. Eskimos, in full winter attire and carrying spears, are traveling in India - by sailboat, by foot (wearing snowshoes on the beach), in an open-air lorry and on the back of a bicycle. Switch now to an image of a cup of tea and an older Indian man drinking it. The man looks surprised. The eskimos have arrived in his home. His phone beeps and we see "Live Search - Eskimo - Search Complete" on the screen. The commercial then switches to two slates: "Search for Anything" and "Live Search - only on your Hutch GPRS phone".
In the US, Verizon doesn't publicise search, downloads or any aspect of the mobile internet. Rather, its ads focus on voice and the company has identified coverage as the issue most important to users. The "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign shows monkeys in a zoo holding bananas as if they were telephones. "Some wireless companies like to pretend they're the best" says the narrator, "but there's only one most reliable wireless network in the nation." A Verizon worker then walks past the monkey cage, holding a real phone, and says "Can you hear me now? Good!"

The lack of public education in the US explains why
only one-quarter of US mobile phone users subscribe to an Internet access plan and less than 10 percent have used their phones for internet search in the past six months. By contrast, 20 percent of Indian users -- more than 30 million people -- connect to the Internet with a handset.

Come on, Verizon, get with it!

February 04, 2008

A Mobile Math Problem

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Here's a math problem for all the telecom experts out there:

If John pays $25 for 10MB per month, how long can he spend talking on his phone or accessing the mobile internet?

Answer: Beats me.

And that's the problem - pricing models for mobile phone usage don't make sense to most people.

Indian and Thai operators have got it right, though. They're now packaging their products in a unit that consumers can understand - time. This allows users to make informed purchasing decisions and manage their usage better. Selling contracts in terms of minutes or hours is also a big step forward in user education.

Of course, another way around the KB/MB/GB pricing problem is to offer unlimited surfing packages.

India is now leading the way here too. For just five rupees a day (US$0.13) -- the cost of a banana -- Indian consumers can enjoy unlimited surfing. Pre-paid card users get an even better deal with AirTel - unlimited usage for just 2 rupees per day. Indian carriers have dramatically cut access fees to capture market share, enlarge the user base and attract high volumes.

Telecom operators in most other countries though punish low-to-moderate usage consumers. For a 10MB package, Bouygues (France) charges more than $36, AT&T (USA) - $25, O2 (UK) - about $20 and SingTel (Singapore) - $18.

Orange (UK) is heading in the right direction, though. They have priced their product to encourage surfing from the start and will do well to cap their prices close to current surfer friendly prices.

Check out our recent survey of telecom pricing across eight countries and 25 carriers.