I’ve been sitting in a lot of meetings recently, hmm who am I kidding. I always sit in a lot of meetings, and the more I do that the more I become convinced that the smart boardroom table is a brain numbing device.
Sit in the pub or a wine bar and the ideas are free, intelligent and forthright. Meet the same people when they have an afromosia table and a ceiling mounted projector and they talk bollocks.
In particular about Location Based Services. There seems to be a view that if you give an eight year old a mobile phone with five buttons and GPS it will be what they want and allow you to track them.
This is wrong on both counts. An eight year old is smart enough to know what a mobile phone is. They are more likely to send an MMS than a 48 year old.
But worse is the ignorance of those who think that GPS on phones work.
In a fit of exasperation in a meeting last week I asked for a show of hands as to who had used GPS. Most hands went up. Then I asked who had used it on a mobile as opposed to a car sat nav. None did.
The idea that GPS in phones knows where you are all the time comes from a very different experience. Most factory-fitted car sat navs use the GPS very little. It gives broad brush location which is combined with a map on a DVD and wheel sensors using the anti-lock braking. When a car goes around a corner the sat nav finds the appropriate corner on the map. Something like a Garmin or a TomTom just uses the map with the GPS and without the sensors but even then it’s streets ahead of a phone system. Phones live in pockets. TomToms live on dashboards. Dashboards are in the middle of the street with a view of the sky. Pockets, not only don’t have this, they spend the majority of their time indoors. To use GPS on a phone you spend as much time switching it on and getting a fix on the requisite satellites as you do using it. Even with AGPS it can take a few minutes to get a fix.
The idea that you could use it to locate a kid who had one in his pocket is laughable. The only use-case for a mobile phone with a GPS based mapping application is as a replacement for a better, dedicated in-car system. Things would be different if the phone side was used to download the latest maps and traffic info but as it is you are better off with doing the other way around – the Trafficmaster Smartnav and the latest generation TomToms are navigation devices with GSM modules to download the information. You can bet whoever came up with them did so in the pub and not around a boardroom table.
Cat Keynes publishes her thoughts on the mobile phone industry every Sunday at www.catkeynes.com you can read the column the previous Friday by subscribing here.
The UK network 3 has launched a Facebook phone. I see this as a trend for the future. There is certainly scope for an ebay phone – photograph something and post it to ebay automatically. Maybe other web companies might do a phone. I must suggest it to Google.
Qualcomm has taken Brew into the netbook market. The Kayak is a reference platform but it’s an interesting approach to emerging markets. Demo units use an external screen and keyboard.
Orange has recently re-discovered it’s old form on customer service. It once housed them in the biggest porta cabin ever built – in Darlington. My recent experience with them has been great. The next step is to move call centres back to the UK .
The Jitterbug founders Martin Cooper and Arlene Harris have been voted the top innovators in wireless by Fierce wireless, being an American list it doesn’t feature anyone who invented anything like GSM, SMS or reverse billing.
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