Friday, 25 April 2008

Live Mesh

I had the 'honour' at being at the launch of Microsoft Live Mesh yesterday.

It promises a lot: ultimate, seamless connectivity for all devices, cameras, PCs, smartphones, even Macs. Unfortunately at the moment that's all it is, promises.

I have been given access to a special invitation preview, that I've signed up for but hasn't yet yielded an account. From what I can make out though, at the moment all it is is file storage. Put some files in the cloud and access them later. useful, but not ground-breaking.

Now, I know there is more than that to come, but at the moment that's it. It feels to me like a rushed announcement before the ink is dry on chapter 1 of the Live Mesh novel. I'd expect to at least get to the end of the first act.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The iPhone is useless without data coverage

The iPhone is useless without data coverage
I'm in the US at the moment and being too stingey to pay exhorbitant data roaming charges, I'm hopping from WiFi point to WiFi point where possible but generally I'm frustratingly unable to access anything useful

Tim O'Reilly said today that we are moving to a vision of one computer encompassing all computers and devices glued together by the Internet.

At the moment my iPhone is not paticipating in that utopian vision

Mobile post from the Esendex BlogIt service

Monday, 7 April 2008

Alphanumeric sender restrictions come to Spain

Spanish operators seem to be clamping down on the use of alphanumeric sender aliases. Instead the messages must come with a valid reply-path be it shortcode or MSISDN (standard mobile number).

This is in an attempt to combat SPAM messages being sent to their subscribers. The theory, it would seem, is that if a number is used then the sender can be identified. Allowing the recipient to identify and reply to the sender to unsubscribe from the service.

These kind of restrictions are very broad brush approaches to problems caused by a minority that have a big impact on the majority. I've talked before about these kind of restrictions in Web-sent SMSs now face restrictions. It's puts in an interesting situation.

Many of our customers make heavy use of the facility to brand their messages with their own company or service name. A quick mystery shop round other SMS service providers in Spain reveals that it's business as usual. Alphanumeric senders are fine, they're happy to carry the traffic.

Currently, we have a number of routes into Spain that allow traffic with alphanumeric senders to pass, the messages are received and delivery receipts returned without issue.

That said one of our routes is having issues with alphanumeric senders to one of the Spanish networks. Is this a standard technical issue or this symptomatic of a tightening up of the restrictions?

So do we give the customer what they want while we still can along with everyone or do we self-police our customers and use one of our Spanish virtual mobile numbers for those that don't want the extra cost of having a dedicated number?

The risk if we do the former is that routes get summarily blocked to all traffic rather than just traffic that fall foul of the restrictions because that's pretty much all the operator can do at an interconnect level. This means customers with legitimate messaging have their service disrupted.

However, if we do the latter, we risk losing customers to other service providers who are prepared to carry the traffic.

We're going to put it in the hands of our customers for as long as possible. For those that rely on our service to get the messages through without any potential downtime, we will recommend using our Spanish virtual mobile number service.

We'll just be ready to switch it on for the customers that are happy to risk an alphanumeric alias for the meantime.

Wrestling with low-lifes

Running an ecommerce site as we do, we get exposed to all sorts of fraudulent attempts to purchase our SMS services with stolen credit cards.

We've put all sorts of checks and restrictions in place to try and prevent this before we even submit the payment for processing by our merchant service but there's a background task to keep them up to date.

Sometimes I look at the number of people involved in development and strategy meetings on this subject and feel a mix of aggrievement and frustration.

Don't get me wrong it's not a big problem that we spend lot's of time on. It's just that we do spend time on it, it's just dead time. We're not moving the service on, we're just working to stand still. All because someone has decided that stealing is a legitimate approach to making a living.

Part of what drives me and the team is the gladitorial challenge of legitimate business competition. How can we differentiate our service, be first to provide the customer wants, be best at providing it. Fighting with low-lifes is no fun at all.

Rant over, thanks for listening

Thursday, 3 April 2008

"We even hired an expert"

This tickled me. You may be aware that Sprint are launching an iPhone competitor in partnership with Samsung, the Samsung Instinct. It's a big deal for Sprint and interesting one for the rest of the industry to monitor up take by subscribers.

"This is certainly the biggest device that we will launch this year," David Owens, director of product commercialization at Sprint said. "We built it through a partnership with Samsung and even hired an expert to help us with UI design."

Wow they hired an expert. Does that mean the rest of the phone was designed and built by amateurs? There are so many ways to read that last sentence.