SMS Text Messages Replace Mail At UK Council

Following up on our previous post about innovative and surprising uses of SMS, we found this interesting bit of Text-Government in action:

Late council tax payers won't be able to use the UK postal strike as an excuse for non-payment any more, thanks to the local council's deployment of a text messaging system from Avanquest.

Barbergh District Council in Suffolk is using Avanquest's SMS solution, Text Message Server, to improve internal and external communications. Rather than sending out printed reminders for council tax or booking building inspection appointments, council staff will contact people using SMS messages.

"The potential for numerous worker hours saved is enormous, coupled with money savings - the cost of a second class stamp is 24p, a text charge is 6p," said Bob Southgate, Babergh's head of customer services.

But that's not all:

Barbergh plans to expand SMS usage for emergency planning processes and also for people to report fly-tipping or grafitti to the relevant departments.

Read More @ Computer Business Review.

The Most Innovative, Bizarre, Or Surprising Uses Of SMS Text Messaging

Every year, the citizens of this planet send over a trillion text messages. That adds up to over $100 Billion Dollars in texting revenues. Talking about numbers as big as these two, it's not surprising that enterprising people, companies, and organizations have found some pretty amazing (good and bad) uses for text messaging. We've scoured the web to round up 20 of the most interesting examples (again, good and bad) that we could find. Some of these you may have heard of (depending on where you live), while others will make you wonder why you hadn't thought of that, and still others will just make you scratch your head.

War - British Launch Text Message Blitz Against The Taliban
TALIBAN fighters in Afghanistan are being bombarded by a devastating new British weapon ? the text message.

Intelligence chiefs find out the numbers of the enemy’s mobile phones then send them waves of messages to confuse them and destroy morale, The Sun can reveal.

Texts range from simple abuse such as “We know who you are, give up” or “Go home, you’ll never beat us”. Others are disguised as messages from comrades to spread duff information.

The text attacks are carried out by the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group, based at the Intelligence Corps’ HQ in Chicksands, Beds.

A military source in Afghanistan said: “If they know their fight is pointless, they are quite likely to give up.”

Government - Swiss Town Votes On Local Speed Limits Via An SMS Election
Residents of the Swiss town of Bulach are using SMS (short message service) to cast votes on a local measure regarding road speed limits. The SMS voting project will be reviewed by the Swiss government which could decide to roll out the capability across the country.

Just like for any election in Switzerland, the residents received their voting material in the mail but this time they also received a user ID and PIN (personal identification number) for voting via SMS. The letters were sent Oct. 10 and residents can use a variety of methods including SMS to cast their vote before Oct. 30.

Government - New Zealand Substitutes Text Message Reminders For Immigration Raids
Visa overstayers who might once have been targeted in dawn raids by immigration officials may in future receive kinder, gentler, texts and email reminders.

The Department of Labour – which incorporates the Immigration Service – has started sending personalised texts and emails to customers to provide "immigration information" such as permit expiry reminders, policy and fee change notifications, notices for immigration agents and information about jobs.

Government - SMS service to keep rickshaw drivers in check
The Delhi Traffic Police has launched an SMS service to lodge complaints against erring autorickshaw drivers, including those who overcharge, misbehave or harass commuters, reports Delhi Newsline.

"Complainants can now send their messages to 6767. For a complaint regarding refusal to ply, the complainant should type in ‘REF' followed by the registration number of the autorickshaw, and send it to the number.

For overcharging, type ‘OVC', for misbehaviour ‘MIB' and for harassment ‘HAR' and send it to 6767. At the end of the day, officials said, all the complaints would be downloaded through the Net and action would be taken against the drivers."

??? - Super-mousetrap Texts You When The Pests Are Dead
We've seen some relatively mouse-friendly attempts at a better mousetrap, but Rentokil's RADAR trap drops all the touchy-feely stuff and brings the pain action-movie-style: with infrared beams, a trick floor, and poison-gas dispensers. Mice who foolishly wander into the Rodent Activated Detection And Riddance unit, where infrared beams and pressure sensors in the bottom of the box trigger the release of a "measured dose" of carbon dioxide, which Rentokil says is a "quick and humane" way of dealing with little Mickey. Once the deed is done, the trap fires off a text message to let you know that the rodent resistance is being dealt with, and prepares to strike again.

Insurance - Metropolitan Life and Clickatell introduce the world's first insurance by mobile phone in South Africa
South African insurance company Metropolitan Life has introduced a new service called Cover2go that makes innovative use of mobile phone technology from Clickatell to offer insurance cover to those on lower incomes in South Africa. The service costs around R10 (approx *1), which is deducted from the phone's airtime and provides instant life insurance for six days, paying out R60,000 (approx *6,300) in the case of accidental death. Cover2go has already been offered to the public at taxi ranks in Gauteng, South Africa, in a pilot campaign.

The customer purchases the policy by sending their name and identity number to a premium-rate number. The system, powered by Clickatell, replies with a confirmation and policy number, requests the name of a beneficiary, and reminds the policyholder to inform an associate about the life insurance. One policy is permitted per person and a renewal notification is sent on expiry.

Charity - When Disaster Strikes, Text 2HELP
In the event of a major disaster (such as Hurricanes Katrina or Wilma) the American Red Cross will collaborate with the CTIA to activate the Text 2HELP initiative. At that time, subscribers of participating wireless carriers can send a text message to "2HELP" (24357) containing the word "HELP." A $5 tax-deductible donation will be made to the American Red Cross for disaster relief efforts. Donations will appear on customers' monthly bills or be debited from prepaid account balances.

Hoaxes - SMS Prank On AIDS Melons Spreads Scare In Qatar
Panic gripped the public as mobile text messages flew thick warning massive flooding of Aids virus-injected watermelons in the market.

The message from unidentified quarters said that over one million melons, injected with Aids virus, have been smuggled into Qatar through Al Shamal road.

The Ministry of Interior swung into action. Their investigations with various agencies proved the rumours baseless. After confirming the message was the handiwork of either an individual or a group of miscreants, the Ministry of Interior issued a statement to allay the fears of the public.

Justice - Kobe Bryant's Attorney's Filed Motions To Access Accusers SMS Records
At issue-- text messages, which are saved on a phone company computer. Bryant's defense wants messages sent by the accuser released-- suggesting those messages could help Bryant's case.

With text messaging, there is distinct information tapped in by the caller. According to producers of Celebrity Justice, Kobe Bryant's attorneys are filing a motion to access all the data.

Legal Analyst Shawn Chapman says depending on the content, expect arguments on the messages authenticity".

Nature - Texting To Save Kenyan Elephants
Elephants might be huge, but scientists in Kenya are finding it hard to track them, so they're using text messages to keep tabs on the tuskers.

They're fitting the jumbo beasts with special collars that text in their exact location every hour.

That means the experts can discover where elephants roam, and use that information to protect them.

They hope the technology will also be able to warn farmers if elephants are about to trample their crops in future.

SMS Enabled Interactive Street Performance Art
TXTUal Healing is an interactive public theater piece. It looks at the cell phone as a device not just to remove oneself from a physical space, but to interact with and explore  it.

Using 'always on' technology, cell phones with SMS allow an audience to interact with public space through projections on the structures that surround us, like the facade of a building for instance.

Some cool examples:

Education - Catching SMS Cheaters In The Classroom
British Schools are installing detection systems in classrooms, exam halls and changing rooms to combat pupils’ pervasive use – and misuse – of mobile phones.

When Tendring technology college in Essex installed two detectors in its exam halls in January, supervisors discovered about 20 phones among 100 pupils.

“It is illegal to block mobile phone activity,” said Mr Lee. “That is why we’ve gone for a system that doesn’t interfere with the signal.

“By adapting the software, we could collect the mobile phone number that has been detected and send an automatic text message telling them [the owner] to switch it off. But even that might be a civil liberties issue, and we’re not going there at this stage."

Religion - Send A Prayer To The Western Wall By SMS
It a very old tradition to place a note with a prayer or request in the Western Wall and for years, several Web sites have offered Jews from around the world the option to send their prayers by e-mail to a rabbi who then prints them out and places them for them in Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Now SMS2Wall is offering a text message version of this same service,  enabling people who can't make it to Jerusalem, to have their intimate messages placed in the Western Wall, from their mobile phones.

Love & Marriage - Dubai's Grand Mufti Accredits Divorce Through SMS
Muslim authorities in Dubai, acknowledging the synergy of technology and tadition, Thursday confirmed that a Muslim divorce can be carried out via a mobile phone text message or SMS.

The country's Grand Mufti, Ahmed al-Haddad, who issued a fatwa on the subject, noted: 'Islamic clerics disagreed over the way divorce can be written.'

'While some said writing a divorce is equivalent to verbally announcing it, others believe a divorce must be documented by writing and can only be applied when there is intention and when it is read aloud.'

Al-Haddad said he believed an Islamic judge or 'mufti' is able judge a divorce case filed via a mobile phone SMS, based on any of the two opinions by choosing what is most applicable to the couple's circumstances.

Sex - Text-Sex With Artificial Intelligence Powered Chat-bots
In early 2002, wireless technology company, Link77, specializing in the development and operation of innovative mobile services, launched an SMS Chatterbot* called NataChata, a sophisticated text chat application for adults, based on Artificial Intelligence, enabling users to engage in provocative and sex texting... with a bot.

Labor - 'U R Sacked' - 2,500 People Fired Via Text Message
How's This For Efficiency: 2,500 Workers at the British Amulet Group received a message on their mobiles phones telling them they were out of work.

The message said, in part, "you are being made redundant with immediate effect".

Politics - 2008 Presidential Hopefuls Embrace Text Messaging
If Sen. Barack Obama is your guy, dial 62262 -- which spells "Obama" -- on your cellphone and text "Go." For supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, punch in 77007 and text "Join." Text "Today" to 30644 if you're a fan of former senator John Edwards.

A small but growing list of presidential candidates, all Democrats, are jumping on the text-messaging bandwagon. With more than three-quarters of Americans estimated to own cellphones -- and more than 15 billion text messages sent within the country each month -- campaigns believe it's a technology they can't afford not to exploit.

Literature - Novels Via SMS Popular In Japan
Engadget report on a fabulous success story of a Japanes author who has been sending installments of his best selling novel by text messaging.

"The author of best selling novel Deep Love, who calls himself Yoshi, created a website providing content for mobile phones in May 2000.

"Using a promotional campaign that consisted of passing out business cards to about 2,000 high-school girls in front of Tokyo's Shibuya Station (the center of Tokyo youth culture), Yoshi released The Story of Ayu, the first installment in the longer novel. News of the novel spread by word of mouth, and within three years the site had received a total of 20 million hits".

Accessibility - Real-time Text Messaging For The Deaf
Thanks to Text4Deaf, users can send and receive messages to individuals and groups. The Website also enables recipients to respond directly to the originating PC, Mac, PDA or mobile phone and to group member mobile phones. Users can send Web texts from any web-enabled device worldwide to any U.S. or Canadian mobile phone.

Commercial Fishing - Indian Fishers Negotiate Prices Via Text Message
"During a recent trip to India I saw fishermen in Kerala use SMS and voice for negotiating the price of their fresh catch. This was like share trading at the stock exchange. I could foresee they could well exploit IM with mobile positioning and presence functionality."

Many of these stories were found at the excellent blog, Textually.

Read a story about an interesting use of text messaging we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments.

iPhone Opens Up - SDK Coming In February

Since it's launch there has been one persistent criticism of the iPhone and that has been its closed platform:

Apple made it very clear from the start that AT&T was going to be the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, and two weeks before the iPhone went on sale, CEO Steve Jobs let everyone know that because of security and reliability concerns, native third-party applications weren't in the cards for iPhone 1.0.

"We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of the iPhone by letting developers write great apps for it, yet keep the iPhone reliable and secure," Jobs told developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. That solution was Web-based applications, which is sort of like being told that you can't buy a DVD because HBO shows that movie every month or so, and it was met with tepid applause by Apple's developers.

If you live in New York City (and especially if you ride the subway), you probably know that Nokia even launched an advertising campaign promoting the 'openness' of its phones, taking a jab at Apple.

Well, the walls are coming down:

Steve Jobs made it official Wednesday morning: third-party applications are coming to the iPhone.

Apple's CEO posted another of his open letters to the world Wednesday on Apple's Hot News section of its Web site, confirming reports that a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone will be released to developers next year. It's coming in Februrary, rather than January as reported, but application developers and iPhone owners will probably be able to wait the extra month.

Why the change of heart?

It always made sense for Apple to go down this road, since it was never going to win a hacking war and users clearly want third-party applications on their iPhones and iPod Touches, which will also be opened up by the SDK, Jobs confirmed.

Head over to C|Net for more information about the SDK, including Apple's response to Nokia.

Text Messaging Coordinates New Year's Eve Ticket Sales Staff

JoonBug Productions is a leading organizer of New Year's Eve Parties, with celebrations in Times Square, Downtown, Midtown, and on Cruise Ships. As a small, growing New York City-based company, JoonBug hires additional salespeople every fall to help sell New Years Eve tickets. In a city where space comes at a premium, it is essential for JoonBug to efficiently coordinate their sales staff. This means assuring that there are always just enough salespeople per phone in the office at any given time. In the past JoonBug has relied upon email and phone calls, which never worked perfectly during the harried fall sales season. So last year they decided to do something different. They decided to implement a Club Texting-powered text messaging solution.

In October, as they hired their seasonal staff, they collected cellular phone numbers and entered them into their Club Texting account's database. With this data in hand, JoonBug found new and innovative ways to communicate with their sales team. Sick team members were asked to text in. As soon as the information was received text blasts went out offering everyone else the opportunity to pick up a shift. When office schedules changed, as they often did, everyone could be notified instantly (at times at the last minute). In short, at their busiest time of the year, JoonBug Productions was able to radically simplify a tiresome, unorganized process that is nonetheless essential to their business.

On The Web:
JoonBug Productions - New Year's Eve Parties
Club Texting Case Studies

Verizon Wireless launches AAA Mobile

FierceMobileContent picked up on an interesting press release from Verizon and AAA:

Verizon Wireless announced a partnership with motoring and leisure travel organization AAA to launch AAA Mobile, a tool enabling travelers to find AAA-rated points of interest and access roadside assistance services via GPS-enabled handsets. AAA Mobile delivers visual and audible directions to any travel destination in the U.S., including locate AAA Approved sites like Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants--subscribers may review detailed AAA descriptions, receive maps and bookmark favorite locations. The service also offers single-click access to roadside assistance. AAA Mobile is now available for $9.99 per month.

At FierceMobileContent.

New Study: 'Mobile Marketing Ready for Takeoff'

eMarketer reports on a new study:

Major European brands are set to increase their mobile marketing, according to an Airwide Solutions-sponsored study by Vanson Bourne.

More than one-quarter of the 50 companies surveyed had already launched live SMS text-messaging campaigns, and nearly one-fifth had launched live MMS multimedia campaigns

Follow here for more information, or click the chart below:


SendMe Acquires mbuzzy Mobile Community

MediaPost's Online Media Daily reports on the latest transaction in the busy mobile sector:

THE MOBILE CONTENT AND SERVICES feeding frenzy continues, as San Francisco-based SendMe has announced its acquisition of the mbuzzy online and mobile community.

Meanwhile, London-based Refresh Mobile has rolled out Mippin, a service that aggregates, displays and customizes content for a user's mobile Web experience.

Opportunities for marketers to "go mobile" with branded applications, sponsored content and standard mobile ads are bundled into both announcements.

San Mateo-based mbuzzy adds a social networking asset to SendMe's pair of mobile entertainment (a distribution network for ringtones, games and other interactive content) and (an SMS-based bidding game that users play to win prizes like electronics and trips).

With mbuzzy, users create a profile and share pictures, videos and other content via mobile phone or desktop. The off-deck service also allows for instant messaging, chat and status alerts--and it's not tied to any particular carrier or handset, maximizing the potential for market penetration.

More @ MediaPost

Details Emerge About The GPhone. It's Not A Phone.

Today's issue of the New York Times addresses the long running Google Phone rumor mill:

For more than two years, a large group of engineers at Google has been working in secret on a mobile phone project. As word about their efforts has trickled out, expectations in the tech world for what has been called the Google phone, or GPhone, have risen, the way they do for Apple loyalists ahead of a speech by Steven P. Jobs.

But the GPhone is not likely to be the second coming of the iPhone — and Google’s goals are very different from Apple’s.

Google wants to extend its dominance of online advertising to the mobile Internet, a small market today, but one that is expected to grow rapidly. It hopes to persuade wireless carriers and mobile phone makers to offer phones based on its software, according to people briefed on the project. The cost of those phones may be partly subsidized by advertising that appears on their screens.

Whatever Google winds up releasing, it's going to be a while before we have it in our hands:

Google is expected to unveil the fruit of its mobile efforts later this year, and phones based on its technology could be available next year.

Read more @ the New York Times.

France: Mobile Bar Codes Drive 25% Of Magazine Traffic

Here's a story we can look forward to seeing rewritten in the near future in the US as we begin to catch up with the rest of the world in the mobile data arena:

According to the French association of multimedia mobiles (AFMM), the use of bar codes in magazines this summer was very successful. 15% to 25% of traffic to the websites of Public, Closer, and Voici were generated thanks to users coming through the bar codes.

The bar code technology enables users to access online content on their phone by taking a photography of the code, inserted in the paper, with their mobile.

Users must first download a special application, Flashcode, in order to identify the bar code and access the content.

In July and August, there were about 30,000 downloads of the Flashcode software.

“One of the main priorities now will be to gradually pre-equip mobile devices with the Flashcode software, so that the user doesn’t have to download it," said Nicolas Guieysse, from the AFMM.

@ The Editors Weblog (via mocoNews)

Free Music. How's That For An iPhone Effect?

The iPhone will be arriving in the UK on November 9th, in an exclusive deal with O2. Competitor Vodaphone is not waiting idly:

Vodafone is planning to offer its all-you-can-eat music service free of charge in a bid to drive customer uptake in the UK. Although Vodafone’s MusicStation service was launched with a £1.99 per week charge, the operator will offer it free on 18-month contracts of £40 ($80) or higher using certain handsets. MusicStation offers unlimited downloads for a subscription price, but if the person stops paying the subscription they stop being able to play the songs.

Coincidence? mocoNews says otherwise:

Vodafone’s free move is clearly intended to help it better compete with O2 and the iPhone during the traditional Christmas mobile sales rush. It’s of course hoping that despite the lacklustre record so far for operator-portal music services, the MusicStation subscription model will strike a chord with users.

Full Story @ mocoNews.

A High Def Billboard In Times Square That Interacts Via Short Codes

Clear Channel Outdoor’s Spectacolor Division unveiled a digital billboard in Times Square this week.
The new Spectacolor HD billboard is the first to run multiple advertiser spots in conjunction with streaming news, weather and live HD broadcasts, which are provided exclusively by CNN.

Why are we bringing it to your attention?

In addition to streaming news, the billboard will also provide viewers with a dedicated audio channel received via mobile phones by dialing a toll free number. Advertisers will have access to a standard feature set that includes Bluetooth downloads, interactive content via short code (SPECHD) and Times Square’s first free public WiFi Hot Spot.

Somehow billboard doesn't do this thing justice.

@ Media Buyer Planner (via Textually)

Nokia Bids For Map Maker Navteq - Analysis

The big news in mobile today has been Nokia's bid for digital map supplier Navtaq (Google News: Nokia Navteq).

Hot on the heels of TomTom's plan to acquire mobile-mapping company Tele Atlas, Nokia has announced an agreement to acquire Tele Atlas rival Navteq for $8.1 billion.

Analysts say the moves, if approved, will effectively create a duopoly in the mobile mapping market.

"There are no independent map suppliers left in the market,” said John Strand, CEO of Copenhagen-based consulting firm Strand Consult.

The deal calls for Nokia to pay $78 for each share of publicly traded Navteq in a transaction that will be financed roughly half by debt and half from Nokia’s cash horde. (Red Herring)

So what does this deal mean? Reuters has already put together a short analysis:

The $8.1 billion bid for Navteq, if successful, could make the world's largest cell phone manufacturer a leading player in the navigation business, which is one of the technology industry's fastest-growing segments.

Nokia's financial resources, wireless technology and carrier relationships may give it an edge in creating phone-based navigation devices, analysts said. What's more, it could damage Garmin's ability to influence design decisions at Navteq, Garmin's biggest map supplier.

Of course there is the Google angle:

An industry executive speaking on the condition of anonymity said Google may decide it needs access to a digital map database, especially if the widely rumoured Google phone turned out to be a real product. Google is already taking comprehensive pictures of cities for its online maps system.

And what about TomTom?

TomTom's position as Europe's leading maker of car navigation devices could also be threatened by an aggressive move into the navigation segment by Nokia, if it can convince consumers they do not need a separate navigation device.

"That is not an imminent risk, but a couple of years out, if Nokia has the ability very tightly and nicely integrate functions, get the form factor and services and the pricing right, it could prove a very interesting alternative," Oberdorfer said.

Forget E-Tickets, In The Philippines They've Got SMS Tickets

The 160Characters Association ran an interesting story this morning about Philipino airline Cebu Pacific:

Flights on Philipine domestic airline Cebu Pacific can be paid for through ATMs with the tickets delivered by SMS.

Travellers with domestic Philipino carrier Cebu Pacific (CEB) can pay for their airline tickets via the 1,700 Megalink automated teller machines (ATMs) around the country after making their booking through CEB’s call center or by text message.

Follow here for more.

Text The Vote

As a follow-up to our earlier post about Barack Obama's text messaging efforts, we'd like to point you to this story that appeared on the Washington Post's 'The Trail' 2008 election blog a couple of weeks back:

If the campaigns get it right, mobile experts say, next year's election will see "a very big bump" in youth voter participation.

That's a big "if."

So far only Sen. Barack Obama, who's emerging as the pioneering Internet candidate of the campaign (by measure of online fundraising prowess and grassroots popularity on the MySpace-Facebook-YouTube trifecta), is regularly using a text messaging campaign effectively and strategically.

And they've got a study to back up those claims:

A new study by Princeton and University of Michigan found that on the eve of last year's midterm elections, young voters who were sent message reminders were significantly more likely to vote. No surprise there, experts say, since most teenagers live on their cell phones the same way many use SMS programs on Facebook and MySpace. The non-partisan Working Assets Wireless, a mobile company that works with civic organizations, reported that sending a message reminder to vote -- particularly a succinct, to-the-point reminder -- gave a 4 percent boost in the youth voter turnout rates.

Read the entire piece at the Washington Post's website.

Oh, and if you need more proof to how mobile-savvy Barack Obama's campaign is, in addition to  a twitter-based effort, they've even got ringtones.

Blyk Launches Europe's First Free, Ad-Supported Mobile Service

In an potentially important development, Bylk has launched the first free pan-European  mobile service.  It would be interesting to see how receptive consumers are to an ad-supported service like this--unfortunately Bylk is not exactly what it first appears to be:

At a press conference in London, Blyk founders Pekka Ala-Pietila and Antii Ohrling said Monday that they have started offering subscribers 217 free texts and 42 free minutes in exchange for accepting MMS (picture messaging) and SMS (text) advertising. Customers will be charged for additional usage.

After that, you've got to pay up, which begs the question, why not just pay from the start and not bother with the ads. Nevertheless, Bylk should make for an interesting experiment.

For more, head over to Red Herring.

Sprint Intros Mobile Shopper

SPRINT NEXTEL IS GIVING RETAILERS another way to market, advertise and pull money from the pockets of subscribers. The wireless carrier on Thursday introduced Mobile Shopper that lets consumers buy products via their mobile phones through an e-commerce tool powered by mShopper, a Boulder, Colo.-based company owned by 2B Wireless.

The service allows consumers to search among 7 million products from 30 online retailers such as eLuxury, eBags, JC Penney's, Wal-Mart and Target, which have an opportunity to tie promotions and ads to Sprint's mobile Web application.

And how will Spring promote this service?

While television or radio ads won't promote the service, Sprint spokeswoman Emmy Anderson says the Kansas City, Mo.-based carrier will market Mobile Shopper through text messages sent to some of its 54 million voice subscribers. A link on Sprint's Web site provides a demonstration and literature to educate consumers.

Sprint has been the most aggressive carrier when it comes to getting voice subscribers to sign up for data services, says Julie Ask, wireless analyst at JupiterResearch.

Read more at Media Post's Marketing Daily.


The Baby Boomers Are Mobile Savvy!

We all know that the 18 - 34 demo is extremely mobile savvy (and of course teenagers and tweens in even greater percentages), but this bit of news is definitely surprising (in a good way!):

NEW DATA FROM INSIGHTEXPRESS SHOWS that when it comes to use of mobile features, Baby Boomers aren't that far behind their younger, seemingly more tech-savvy counterparts--a sign that mobile marketers and advertisers have the opportunity to tap into a wider, more diverse audience than previously thought.

The Stamford-based online market research firm surveyed more than 2000 mobile users and separated them into four age groups: Gen Y (18-24), Gen X (25-44), younger Baby Boomers (45-54) and older Baby Boomers (55-64).

Not surprisingly, mobile penetration was high across all ages, at 85% and 82% for Gens Y and X, respectively--meanwhile, 80% of younger Boomers surveyed had a mobile phone, followed closely by older Boomers at 79%.

Boomers' handsets were just as cutting edge as their younger counterparts, as 75% of younger Boomers and 68% of older Boomers had phones that supported text messaging--compared to 86% and 82% of Gens Y and X, respectively. Gen Y led the pack in actual text-message usage with 43%, followed by Gen X with 22%--but some 16% of all younger Boomers and 10% of all older Boomers sent or received text messages daily.

Head over to Online Media Daily for the rest of the findings and some interesting commentary.

Mobile Comic Books Are Catching On

Last week's Washington Post included an interesting story about the growing popularity of mobile comic books. With their graphic content, short size, and devoted fanbase, mobile comic books seem like a revenue generating mobile data service that just might do well for itself:

Sean Demory realized a long-held dream of becoming a published comic book writer when "Thunder Road," a post-apocalyptic adventure he developed with artist Steven Sanders, was released.

"I've been plugging away and pitching things for 15 to 20 years," Demory said. "This is the first one that landed in fertile soil."

But don't look for the tales of Merritt and his buddies on the shelves of a comic bookstore or even the Internet. "Thunder Road" is the first comic book released in the United States exclusively via cellphone, part of a lineup of mobile comic books offered by Kansas City-based uClick.

"It opens up a market that wouldn't necessarily be seen as a traditional comic market," Demory said of the launch last month.

Several companies are experimenting with putting printed material on mobile phones, including publisher HarperCollins's announcement this summer it would begin putting excerpts of new books on Apple's iPhones.

Mobile comic books are still in their infancy in the United States -- uClick says it's grown to about 55,000 readers a month in the first year of offering its GoComics service.

But it touches on two strengthening trends: Comic book creators looking to leap to the digital arena, where production and distribution are cheap, and the demand by wireless providers for data-rich applications to drive future revenues.

"Obviously comics have a pretty large following," said David Oberholzer, associate director of content programming for Verizon Wireless, which offers GoComics along with competitors AT&T and Sprint Nextel. "You want to mimic what's out there already and have that on your deck."

For $4.49 a month on Verizon, or $3.99 a month for AT&T and Sprint, subscribers can view nearly a dozen different traditional comic books. There's also a separate subscription service for Japanese comics called manga.

Read the entire article at the Washington Post.

Qzone Launches Video Classifieds For Web, Mobile Phones

Media Post's Online Media Daily has some news on the mobile classifieds front:

MOBILE FIRM IQZONE ROLLED OUT a free service that lets users create, send and post photo and video ads to online classifieds via mobile phone. Meanwhile, Yellow Book USA posted links to a set of online video ads--spots that the local search powerhouse crafted to give advertisers a preview of its forthcoming video classified offering. The two services are the latest examples of how video is shaping the development of both online and mobile classifieds.

IQzone's "Snap Send Sell" service is geared toward the under-30 market--namely, college students aiming to sell cars and textbooks, or find roommates. Users take photos or video of their merchandise, include the ad copy with price and ZIP-code info, and then send to The application then categorizes the item for sale and submits the ad to a number free online classifieds and aggregators like oodle, edgeio, and LiveDeal.

Classifieds are big business--newspapers rely on them for revenue--and developments like this one, along with the ever-expanding reach of Craiglist,  spell big trouble for an industry already in deep water.

California Considers SMS Emergency Alert System

Consider this situation:

When a wildfire threatened resort areas of Catalina Island off Los Angeles last week, authorities used bullhorns to spread word of an evacuation.

We know that there is a better emergency communications solution--and is seems that California has realized that as well:

"All of the cellphones within range of those towers [on Catalina Island] would ring with an emergency message," says Lt. Gov. John Garamendi (D), describing the proposed cellular alert system, which could use text and voice messages. "Visitors as well as residents on the island who had cellphones, pagers, BlackBerrys, etc., would get the message."

Cellphones are now ubiquitous – outnumbering land lines in the US – making them an obvious part of any emergency alert system.

Visit CBS to read more about California's emergency SMS alert effort.


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