Archive for August, 2007

GlocalReach.com has a new face

August 30, 2007

Yesterday we uploaded our new homepage to a new web server, so everything should be clean and shiny on your next visit to our website.
It’s somewhat difficult to know how much to write when the service isn’t even finished yet. At least you will get a little more sense of what we’re trying to do and a taster of the graphical profile we’re working with. Screenshots will come soon, I promise!
Enjoy your visit. 🙂

What does “here, have my card” really mean?

August 17, 2007

We live in an age of advanced communication technology. The number of mobile phones worldwide is 3 billion. That means that there are potentially 3 billion people that can call your mobile phone at any given moment.

Wow! Imagine that. Three billion people, all with the ability to at any given moment talk to anyone else of the three billion.

Our phones have to be ringing all the time, right?

Well, as you probably know, it doesn’t (although sometimes it feels like it does) and there are two reasons for this. The first reason is a simple matter of cost. International calls are quite expensive and calling up strangers from all over the world quickly empties your wallet (although this will change as we’re moving to a 100% VoIP-world (55 million VoIP-users and counting), leaving the door open for VoIP-spam).

The second reason is even more important: there’s also a social cost to calling a stranger. What do you talk about? What value can you bring to each others life? Most people would say it’s rude to disturb someone with a phone call when you don’t know the person and the purpose of the call is unclear.

The third reason is noise. You can’t find someone to talk to even if you did have a valid reason to talk.

That’s why one of the most important communication technologies we have is based on a simple piece of paper: the business card.

businesscards_smaller.jpg

The business card carries an important social meaning. Giving someone your card signals to them that it’s OK to contact you (during business hours – and not on the weekend, unless explicitly stated) using the contact information on the card. It also contains a short description of who you are in one particular role for example as a representative of a company.

It says:

“I am X and I do Y. It’s OK to contact me using the methods described on this card if you need help with anything related to Y.”

Or:

There are three billion people out there you can call. This card tells you why you should call me.

Exchanging business cards is an internationally accepted way of connecting. It lowers the social cost of making a phone call. It clarifies the value that a conversation may have. That’s why we will make the business card a central part of the GlocalReach service. It’s at the core of how you manage how other people can reach you. Our beta is ready soon.

Update: marketing genius Seth Godin has a post on business card mistakes:

Precisely because they are an anachronism, they serve a vitally important function. In an era where no one dresses up anymore, they give you a chance to position yourself, to represent who you are and what you do in a three cent piece of paper. And yet… almost all business cards are terrible. They are the leisure suits of the marketing the world, the place where bad design not just lives, but thrives.

Do you screen your calls? You’re not alone

August 14, 2007

According to a study performed by BBDO and Proximity 96% of all mobile phone users screen their calls.

That tells me we’re on the right track when we say that we want to make it easier for you to manage how other people can reach you.

The study can be downloaded here [pdf]. I love this quote:

“My mobile is like an egg from which unexpected opportunities may come out.”
TANIA , 32, ITALY

Emotional bandwidth and communication technologies

August 9, 2007

When 3G was first launched here in Europe, the operators used video telephony as the feature of this new technology. It seemed like an easy sell. Obviously, adding moving images to a voice conversation makes it better, right? And since it’s better we can charge more for it, the operators seemed to think.

Today, you won’t see any ads selling mobile subscriptions or phones with video telephony. It seemed video calls wasn’t better than voice calls, it was different. So different, in fact, that making it more expensive than voice calls is the complete opposite of how it should be priced.

One way of understanding how communication technologies are different from each other is to measure their emotional bandwidth. This indicates the extent to which a communication technology can transfer emotional data.

Humans are social creatures. When meeting someone face to face there’s a huge amount of emotional data transfered between you and the person you meet. Sweaty palms, how you move your arms and legs, what your eyes look at, a smile or a frown, if your face blushes or what your voice sounds like. Even how you smell. They are all signs of your emotional state – let’s call them emotional datapoints.

Accessing this emotional state of another person connects you to that person. By looking at a smiling person, you feel a little happier. A child crying makes you feel sad. The ability of a communication technology to transmit those emotions constitutes its’ emotional bandwidth.

A video stream with sound carries more emotional data than a voice conversation. This in turn is more emotionally intense than a written email or an SMS. The funny thing is – and this is what the mobile operators didn’t understand when they sold video calls for 5SEK a minutethe higher the emotional bandwidth, the longer you want to be connected.

For a few perfect examples of this, read the following:

An immigrant family from the Balkans living in Switzerland has a big computer screen in their living/dining room, with a Web cam focused on the dining table. The MSN messenger window is open all day, for incoming messages or calls from family back home or friends who migrated to other countries. And almost every morning they have breakfast “with” grandma (the husband’s mother) who lives in Kosovo with a similar Webcam set-up.

Or:

Several evenings a week, a retired grandfather in New York reads bedtime stories to his young grandson in California over Skype.

A family enjoying dinner together over an internet video stream. A grandfather reading bedtime stories to his grandson using internet telephony. That’s what emotional bandwidth is all about.

The GlocalReach service will make it easier for you to manage how you can be reached. In that way, you can also better control what communication technology you want to use in different contexts.

We want to give you a control knob for how much emotional bandwidth you transmit or receive. Our beta will be out this autumn.

Interviewed by Sriram Krishnan

August 6, 2007

The future of Singapore is in safe hands if there’s more people like Sriram Krishnan living there. While studying at KTH in Sweden he also managed to squeeze in a business developer job for Attana and helped organise the Hej! 2007 conference in Stockholm with practically no budget. Impressive, I must say.

He was also kind enough to interview me for his blog. The result can be found here. This is my view on the VoIP-market in answer to the question: Isn’t the VOIP market a bit too packed at the moment?

Back in the early 90s, the NMT mobile network (the predecessor to GSM) had about 10% user penetration on the Swedish market. Then some crazy people decided to bet billions of SEK in the more capable GSM network. “You’re mad!” they were told. “The market is saturated. There’s no room for further growth. All the people that want a mobile phone has a mobile phone!”

Well, they were wrong and the crazy people were right. Now there are more GSM subscribers than people in Sweden and many other countries
share the same stats. Partially this is because of what I wrote earlier: people play different roles in their lives and they want better control of how they are reached. So, they have one mobile phone for work and one for private use. Well, why stop there?

So, back to VoIP… Today 14% of the Swedish population uses their broadband connection for calls. That’s a 151% growth over one year. Of course there’s room for lots more growth.

At the same time I don’t think the evolution of VoIP will mirror GSM. It will be more like email, where you have many different email
addresses. So, I think we will see much higher market penetration than 100%, at least counting the number of “VoIP-accounts”.

We will also see VoIP-spam…

Read the rest of the interview here.