Monthly Archives: February 2013

Siemens and UK Government Launch Learning Hub to Plug Digital Skills Gap

Siemens has launched an education and careers platform to help inspire more young people in the UK to become engineers.

The digital hub has been ‘explicitly designed to encourage young people to engage with engineering and manufacturing related subjects’, with many software, electronic and mechanical engineers now going on to work in the mobile industry.

The company is working with the Cabinet Office, Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to open the education portal for teachers, students and parents to access relevant information. It will be rolled out to 5,000 schools by 2014, aiming to reach more than 1.95m pupils in the first year and 4.5m by 2016.

Siemans launched its first mobile phone in 1985 and released more than 100 handsets before it sold this arm of its business in 2005.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:

Spotlight: Mobile Activism with Qwanz App

It’s not often that the word ‘revolutionary’ is heard in mobile without someone thinking, ‘yeah, that’s what they all say’, but Qwanz has been created with the potential to help people change the world.

The poll booth for the mobile age enables Qwanz app users on iOS and Android to vote in polls on their favourite topics, share the question with friends on social networks and even create a poll to add weight to their own cause. The polling app enables its users to quickly download for free and sign in with Facebook. I created a poll in minutes.

Become an opinion leader

Its competitors, which include Survey Monkey and Polldaddy, don’t offer the same range of functionality, including the ability to forward the results to the right decision-makers and an unlimited number of responses per poll. Users can earn badges for their participation and even become a Qwanz world opinion leader.

Like a good dating app, developers of something like this almost certainly need a critical and diverse mass in order to ensure the polling has impact. Qwanz says it is an independent platform without ties to any political, religious or ideological organisations. Its founder, Pierre Sernet, started the fine arts database, and doesn’t appear to have any sinister motives.

Qwanz also says it has a network of more than 20,000 journalists watching the results – although it is not clear how this has been achieved – but it certainly appears to be a good tool for hacks in a hurry. Is this more armchair activism or can it really make a difference?

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:

Gates: Microsoft’s Mobile Strategy “Clearly a Mistake”

In an interview with CBS, Bill Gates admitted that Microsoft’s mobile strategy was “clearly a mistake” and it didn’t allow them to “get the leadership” against companies like Google and Apple.

Asked about current CEO Steve Ballmer’s leadership, while Gates said he believed that lots of “amazing things” had been done in the last year, including Windows 8 and Surface, he admitted: “no, he and I are not satisfied”.

Having set out with the mission to have a “computer on every desk and in every home”, and succeeded, the company is still clearly banking on mobile to make sure it is now also in everyone’s pocket. But is it too late?

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:

Wayra Chosen to Launch Social Enterprise Incubator

Telefonica’s tech accelerator Wayra has become one of the first to be awarded money from the government’s £10m Social Incubator Fund. In a partnership with UnLtd, the Warya UnLtd Academy will provide investment and technical expertise to social entrepreneurs who use digital technologies to solve real-world problems. The organisation will look after 30 businesses over two years.
Bethnal Green Ventures, an accelerator for tech-based social enterprises, will also launch their Social Innovation Camp to support businesses tackling environmental and social problems. They will help 72 start-ups over four years.

“We are massively proud to celebrate this new partnership to find, support and grow digital social enterprises in the UK,” said Simon Devonshire, director of Wayra Europe. “We are also thrilled the government is giving this special partnership its full support and backing. Together we aim to address significant social issues through the use of digital technology combined with entrepreneurial talent.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:

Mahala Social Marketplace in beta

Mahala, a social network monetisation platform, is set to launch this month, enabling anyone to buy and sell products on their Facebook wall and other platforms via a secure QR code (S-QR).

The Mahala Mobile Shopper app is in beta and will be available soon on iOS, Android and BlackBerry World. Buyers simply link it with their PayPal account and scan any QR code from the company. Sellers can create an S-QR for each product or service, upload it via the Mahala portal and then share it.

The company believes this will help independent musicians, film makers and artisans to sell their wares without the need for an eCommerce site. The codes can also be placed in print or on other surfaces, like t-shirts.

Asked if this is a first, a company spokesperson, said: “It is the first. Security has always been the issue. It is not as easy as it looks. The security and convenience behind Mahala’s solution are key.”

The platform was born out of an initiative to bank the unbanked in South Africa. Sonny Fisher, CEO of Skynet Technology Group, said: “This marks the culmination of four years of hard work by our teams of global experts. By securely monetising the social networks, we have staked our claim in the payment space. This is the first of many revolutionary payment solutions that we are rolling out globally during the course of 2013.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here:

Hailo Puts $30m on the Meter

The taxi-hailing app founded by three London cabbies has raised $30m (£19m) from the VC firm that backed Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. With Tom Barr, former Starbucks exec, joining as the company’s US president and COO, the company’s next stop this quarter is New York.

The funding was led by Union Square Investors, others backers now include Richard Branson and the Japanese telco, KDDI, which has an exclusive partnership to support launches in Asia, starting with Tokyo’s 40,000 taxi drivers in a market estimated at $25bn.

“In just over a year, we have operations in ten cities across six countries and sales in excess of $100m. We now have the senior team, resources, and the investment and corporate partners to deliver our vision of bringing Hailo to NYC, Tokyo, and every street corner in every major city in the world,” said Jay Bregman, Hailo CEO and co-founder.

Nailed Dublin, Madrid next

Hailo secured $17m from Accel Partners in March to launch in Dublin –  where it became the number one taxi service in the city in just three months – and has gone live in Boston, Toronto and Chicago since the service was unveiled in November 2011. Twitter’s US sales director, Bruce Daisley, speaking at today’s Mobile Marketing Association Brand and Agency Briefing, reveleaved how Hailo uses hastag targeting to drum up new business, tweeting out statements like ‘heading for the #websummit in Dublin today?’.

Hailo, now considered the best-funded taxi app in the world, with $50.6m raised to date, is on its way to Spain, beginning with Madrid and Barcelona. Hailo says it has 10,000 London taxi drivers, from whom is takes a 10 per cent cut from the fare, which makes it the dominant e-hail application in London. Earlier this month, Hailo launched an outdoor, print and digital campaign in the capital.

The $30.6m Series B round also included Moscow-based Phenomen Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Red Swan Ventures, as well as existing investors Accel Partners, Wellington Partners, which provided initial seed money, and Skype founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico Ventures.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: