TRY YOUR CELL
TO BUY AND SELL
Copyright 2002 www.reuters.com
[ February 19th 2002 ]
cellphones already deployed for fun as fashion
accessories and for 160-character text gossip,
it was only a matter of time before mobile firms
tapped their potential for the serious business
of buying and selling.
are weighing the best methods to promote products
and services via the cellphone, which in some
ways is more intimate than TV, but far more disruptive.
Experts say it is crucial to ensure mobile marketing
does not go the way of e-mail "spam" - irritating
and largely ignored. And on the buy side, payment
systems have been created which allow mobiles
to be used like credit cards, so that for someone
dashing out of the house going through a mental
checklist of "keys... phone... wallet", two out
of three might not be so bad.
phone is such a personal device for people, that
they tend to look after them much more carefully,"
said Barry Shrier, sales and marketing director
at paybox, a mobile payment firm started in Germany
with sights on the rest of the world through a
partnership with Taiwan's Pacific Electric Wire
new revenue sources in place will be crucial for
mobile operators, which face huge bills for investments
in next generation networks despite few clear
paths to profit from them. The novelty of wireless
voice calls has worn off, along with the growth
potential. Many countries are saturated with mobiles,
and there is only so much time users can spend
shouting into their phones in theatres, restaurants,
and quiet train carriages.
by the surprise success of text messaging, the
industry has set big targets for non-voice or
"data" revenues. Ways to meet the targets will
certainly dominate the industry's annual southern
France rendezvous at 3GSM in Cannes this week.
The large sums of money available from advertisers
seeking a finely targeted audience may help underwrite
mobile investments. Fittingly, early ad developments
have involved the Formula One motor racing industry,
which itself funds its multi-million dollar cars
with money from advertisers eager to get their
name on these incredibly fast, moving billboards.
Formula One Racing Team took part in a pilot programme
to reach its fans for One 2 Infinity, a product
launched by software firm Global Beach allowing
many people to hear voice messages recorded at
a central location via the Internet. A mobile-enabled
campaign then ran with Lara Croft, of computer
game Tomb Raider fame, who turned drinks sponsor
for GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade.
SMS text messages to alert fans, who then heard
messages from Lara on their mobile, Global Beach
Chief Executive Clive Jackson said his product
took advantage of the mobile's voice capability,
and not just its data functions. "[Much of the
industry is] still trying to make a phone behave
like a PC," Jackson said in an interview on the
sidelines of this month's SMS 2002 trade fair
group Orange, already a Formula One sponsor, announced
a similar service last week inviting subscribers
to hear retired veteran racing announcer Murray
Walker deliver a post-race review, starting with
the first race on March 3. Other campaigns include
one from ad firm 12Snap, which did a tie-in with
fast food giant McDonalds promoting the UK opening
of animated film Monsters, Inc. A code on the
back of a large fries could be sent via text to
enter a competition.
Singh, a mobile commerce analyst at Durlacher,
said consumers had to be able to "opt in" to such
promotions. "Advertisers don't want to make the
mistake of sending them messages without permission,
as they did with the Internet, because of the
backlash it would create," he said.
ad agency, AdreAct, produced a campaign for Dunkin'
Donuts in Italy offering coupons in exchange for
text messages to numbers on billboards, sparking
an initial nine percent sales rise. Rival ad firm
Flytext did a chocolate campaign for Cadbury offering
prizes to texters.
buying things, the world's largest mobile phone
operator Vodafone has developed a service allowing
its UK subscribers to make payments of under five
pounds through their phones, with the charge showing
up on their bill. Vodafone believes m-pay, due
for a UK launch next month and aimed at smaller
purchases such as mobile ring tones or access
to particular online content, will prove popular
among people wary of giving out credit card numbers
on the Web. But Durlacher's Singh said this system
might struggle to take off because it was limited
to Vodafone subscribers. "A successful system
would have to be pervasive," he said.
half-owned by Deutsche Bank, is one firm hoping
to be the independent mobile payment system of
choice. A computer authorises transactions when
a pin number is typed into the phone, making it
more secure than credit cards, Shrier said. Having
enjoyed some success in Germany with credit card-less
operators like taxi drivers, paybox has signed
up 6,500 merchants and 500,000 subscribers around
Europe, though only 60 percent of the subscribers
are described as "active".