Apple Keynote at WWDC


No doubt there is some excitement going on at the WWDC. So far (and I will do my best to keep updating this post) this is the list of notable feature upgrades they have made to the iPhone OS 3.0:

iPhone OS 3.0
3.0 Software is FREE for all iPhone owners and $9.95 for touch owners (and available on June 17th)

New Business Models (entrepreneurs, take notice) — In-Application Billing! Finally!!!
Push Notifications!
Cut/copy/paste. Works across all apps
Tethering is now supported.
MMS now available.
Want to undo? Just shake the phone.
Adding Spotlight: now search across your entire phone, apps and details within apps!
iTunes: Rent and purchase movies right from the phone!
iTunesU now also on phone.
HTML5 support in Mobile Safari. Javascript 3X faster.
Autofill
Users can play your own music (from your library) inside applications
You can also send a “remote wipe” command to wipe your data remotely! (with MobileMe)
Login and it will show you a map of where your phone is located! (with MobileMe)

Random Stats:
40,000,000 iPhones/touches sold already
1,000,000 SDK downloaded

iPhone 3GS
“s” stands for “speed”
Up to 3 times faster than the 3g model
iPhone 3GS has a new camera (3.2 megapixel)
Video capturing is now possible on the iPhone 3GS!
30 frames per second with auto focus, exposure control, and more

Oh … and either iPhone 3.0 can show you real-time health information (with proper accessories, of course):

Viral Marketing Whitepaper


Viral marketing can be a huge asset to the launch and sustained growth and success of any product or business.

I am in the process of creating a whitepaper that brings in proven strategies as well as specific case studies of successful viral marketing efforts. The whitepaper will also cover more specific strategies centered around mobile App Stores and effective utilization of Facebook Connect and Facebook application pages. Lastly, it will contain a bible of social media strategies.

I kindly ask all of you to share any viral strategies that you have used to-date, along with key dates and timelines, screenshots, verbiage used in messaging, and key metrics (user growth, #downloads, etc…) achieved from the strategy.

Please leave comments below, or DM/@ me on Twitter with links to your story, my username is @jsookman. I will be tracking posts with the #UbiquitousVC hashtag, so please use it!

USSD: Lost in the Crowd?


All day long I am surrounded by BlackBerry and iPhone apps and business models. After listening to an intriguing talk by Nathan Eagle, a Professor at MIT, I started to think about how a single application can be developed to reach everyone in developing countries (a much larger proportion of mobile phone users than those in developed countries). Nathan mentioned that some applications in developing countries use USSD protocol as opposed to SMS or data-rich applications. I wanted to learn more.

Here are some of my findings:

USSD (“Unstructured Supplementary Services Data”) is a mature core mobile-network technology similar to Telnet; it is session-based. In fact, it is as old as GSM technology — and guess what — it works on EVERY GSM-based handset from a Nokia 1100 to a BlackBerry Bold.

Mobile software developers are constantly trying to find a way to write (code) once and reach many (different handset models). USSD can work for some application types, but not all. USSD will not offer feature-rich capabilities, but it can send and receive data through sessions (no data is saved on the device), allow for navigable menus, and it can interact with billing accounts on-file with wireless carriers.

After doing some research, it seems as though this technology is predominantly being exploited in developing countries, where there have been some very creative uses of USSD applications.

Here are some of the many uses this technology can provide (at a much cheaper cost than SMS messaging — a huge consideration for communication in developing countries):
– Mobile banking and payments
– Point-of-sale banking (using your mobile prepaid account as the source of payment)
– One-time password request notifications
– Weather services
– Menu-based navigation of corporate or city services
– Advertising
– Voice Chat
– Roaming

As it stands, USSD technology is being underused primarily due to a lack of available applications and content providers, a lack of understanding, and a lack of motivation at the operator level. Only recently, Bharti and Vodafone have productized this medium by launching USSD portals; largely however, this technology is under-developed and under-utilized.

Comments on a LinkedIN thread about USSD showed the following benefits of USSD technology (post from Gaurav Sarin):
1) Handset agnostic – 99% compatibility of active handsets
2) Easy Surfing – browser based experience for customers
3) Free content discovery for customers – since most operators do not generate CDRs of USSD sessions
4) Real Time session with the server – faster & more secure than SMS
5) Higher reliability as compared to SMSSMS has a 70 -80% successful delivery rate

What are your thoughts on USSD?

BlackBerry Developer Challenge


This morning we launched the official call for entries for the 2009 BlackBerry Developer Challenge. We’re pretty excited about it, and there are some great prizes lined up for BlackBerry Developers!

Here is a summary of the prizes to be won at this year’s challenge:

Finalist Prize Package worth approx. US$5,000:
– Featured Placement on BlackBerry App World carousel for one week;
– One BlackBerry Developers Conference pass;
– One BlackBerry smartphone;
– Invitation to demo at “BlackBerry Sweet 16” event at the BlackBerry Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, where final judging will take place;
– Publicity via monthly press release announcing finalists.

Grand Prize Package worth approx. US$100,000:
– $75,000 Cash Prize;
– $25,000 Value Package.
– Value Package includes:
—- One Elite BlackBerry Alliance Membership for one year;
—- One Day Mentoring Session with RIM in Waterloo, Ontario, providing analysis, review and insights into how to best improve the application on BlackBerry;
—- Press Release and Featured Interviews with Media;
—- Two additional weeks of BlackBerry App World Featured Placement on the carousel;
—- Potential investment offer from BlackBerry Partners Fund.

Runner Up Prize Package worth approx. US$25,000:
– $10,000 Cash Prize;
– $15,000 Value Package.
– Value Package includes:
—- One Select BlackBerry Alliance Membership for one year;
—- One Day Mentoring Session with RIM in Waterloo, Ontario, providing analysis, review and insights into how to best improve the application on BlackBerry;
—- Mention in Press Release;
—- One additional week of BlackBerry App World Featured Placement on the carousel.

More information can be found on the official challenge page.

Kevin and I will be Tweeting about the challenge; for real-time updates add @ktalbot and @jsookman.

Financing Opportunities for Canadian Start-ups


I want to draw your attention to a blog post that I wrote on the BlackBerry Partners Fund website a few months ago. In times of recession, when cash is tight and purchase orders are scarce, understanding how and where to receive financing becomes of paramount important.

For additional details, please refer to the full article.

Here are some of the highlights:

If you are a mobile start up, please feel free to apply for Jump Start Financing at the BlackBerry Partners Fund, which can invest up to $500K USD into innovative start ups.

OCE Discovery 2009


Ontario Centre’s of Excellence (OCE) is putting on their annual event called Discovery 09 on May 11-12, 2009.

The event is expected to draw an impressive crowd of over 2000 people and over 200 booths. The event will be divided among three major Zones: Green Tech, Health & Digital. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore a huge showcase of promising ideas across numerous research, academic and industrial sectors as well as connect with the leaders, dreamers and doers who are driving Ontario’s innovation revolution.

I recently confirmed a speaking engagement on a panel that will be held on May 12th called “Building a Digital company for 2010.” Should be fun.

If you have a startup and you’re looking to go international, this is the place to be. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with 80 Canadian trade ministers representing 26 Canadian trade countries from around the world. Rick Segal talks about the value of these Canadian trade ministers in his blog, The Post Money Value.

I hope to see you all out there!

Wednesday: Canada’s Wireless Telecom Battle Begins


On Wednesday, March 14, 2007, the battle begins for Canadian wireless phone providers. Why? Because wireless number portability (WNP) finally kicks in after a VERY long waiting period. We are already seeing a flurry of activity in the plans of the wireless carriers, namely, Rogers Wireless, Bell Canada, Telus Corp, and Virgin Mobile Canada. Virgin and Telus are butting heads over who claims to have the “happiest clients” and are both prepared to go to court over it. Instead of paying lawyers millions of dollars … come up with an innovative plan, increase your marketing, or actually give subscribers what they want.

According to a 2005 report, PricewaterhouseCoopers expects 850,000 numbers to be moved from one carrier for another.

Implications? What can we expect?

  • These companies are going to spend more money on advertising and marketing
  • More cost-effective phone and data plans to be more competitive
  • For consumers, its good time to take advantage and get locked in to a ‘likely’ great rate while these companies are fighting over subscribers
  • Upcoming quarterly revenues/EPS may fall shorter than expectations due to increased costs and/or lost customers (who is going to be the big gainer?)

Also, another exciting event happens on Wednesday! Research In Motion (RIM) is finally releasing their latest BlackBerry 8800 into Rogers stores. Hmmm … I wonder if they are going to try for a big promotional event in correlation with WNP? My suggestion, go out and see what deals you can find. Who knows how long they’ll last?