Category Archives: tech

Spotlight: Phonebloks, an ‘App Store for Hardware’

Just as the European smartphone manufacturing market was starting to look a little empty, a young designer called Dave from the Netherlands has cause quite a stir with a concept called Phonebloks.

The idea behind Phonebloks is that users will be able to customise their handset by attaching component ‘bloks’ – whether it’s a processor, battery, camera or even a display – to a pin-based motherboard.

Concerned that consumers are too quick to throw electronics away when they stop working, Dave Hakken’s idea is that each blok could be replaced or upgraded when necessary. In a swipe at the large OEMs, already critcised forsourcing components from conflict zones and having questionable manufacturing processes, Hakkens also points out that current mobile phones are not designed for repairs or upgrades.

Termed an ‘app store for hardware’, third parties would be able to build their own components for the Phonebloks blokstore, everyone from startups to traditional tech players, with the proceeds split between the store and the developer.

Hakkens is not seeking to crowdfund Phonebloks, or rely on a single investor, and is instead using ‘crowdspeaking’ platform Thunderclap to coordinate a wave of individual support for Phonebloks across Twitter, Facebook and Google+, making any potential investors aware of the demand. The number of supporters has already reached 639,298 – 98 per cent of the target – but the R&D on this rather ambitious idea is likely to take far longer.

The Phonebloks site outlines potential subscription services so Phonebloks owners can get regular updates to hardware and send back their old parts. People with specific needs – solar batteries, a high-end camera or large screens for the visually impaired – can choose their components accordingly. And more blocks means a larger device, so tablets are also on the horizon too.

“The market of electronic devices is growing rapidly, but it feels like we are building disposable stuff,” said Hakkens. “Every time we make something new we completely throw away the old one. Imagine all the good displays, bluetooths and speakers we have thrown away. I love the connected world that we live in and it’s time to set up a universal modular platform that companies work on together.”

It’s unclear whether this technology could actually come into production, at least any time soon, but the idea behind Phonebloks – and Hakken’s mission statement of ‘trying to make the world better by making things’ – is a breath of fresh air for the industry. See an explainer video from Phonebloks below.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here.

A Car is Bought Every 3 Minutes in the UK Using eBay on Mobile

A car is bought every three minutes by someone using eBay on their mobile in the UK – totalling more than 175,000 vehicles sold every year – making motoring the third most popular mobile purchase. 

Fashion is the top mobile purchase on eBay, with a pair of shoes snapped up every 15 seconds and a handbag sold every 30 seconds. Tech is the second most popluar purchase for mobile eBayers in the UK. 


eBay has revealed that Birmingham is the top mobile shopping city in the UK, followed by South London, Sheffield, Nottingham and Belfast. The 21 per cent of cross-platform shoppers on eBay make up 44 per cent of total global sales, the company also said. 


eBay forecast at the beginning of the year that the value of its mobile transactions in 2013 would be $20bn. It also revealed in July that it had seen 197m downloads to date worldwide.


Top 20 destinations 


  1. Birmingham 
  2. South London 
  3. Sheffield 
  4. Nottingham 
  5. Belfast 
  6. North London 
  7. Leicester 
  8. Peterborough 
  9. East London 
  10. Bristol 
  11. Newcastle 
  12. Manchester 
  13. Cardiff 
  14. Portsmouth 
  15. Doncaster 
  16. Coventry 
  17. Derby 
  18. Brighton 
  19. Reading 
  20. Chelmsford


Read more at http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/car-bought-every-3-minutes-uk-using-ebay-mobile#4md5aFFEEZJadX0I.99


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/car-bought-every-3-minutes-uk-using-ebay-mobile#4md5aFFEEZJadX0I.99

Generation Wireless – Will women and unconnected majority lose out?

Generation Y Millennials – aged 18 to 30 – will be led by a group of tech savvy, switched on young people who believe they can change the world, says Telefonica survey of 12,000
Telefónica UK has released the results of the largest ever global survey of Generation Y Millennials, broadly seen as those aged 18 to 30 that have lived most of their lives with access to the internet. The mobile operator, owner of O2, spoke to more than 12,000 people across 27 countries in six regions. 
Given the tech focus of the report, it is clear that many see the global internet revolution as empowering, useful and necessary for future personal and global success. The research found that 76 per cent of this group now owns a smartphone, highest is in Asia thanks to hugely tech-savvy populations in Japan and South Korea, at 83 per cent, and lowest in Central and Eastern Europe at 60 per cent. Look to your left and right. No matter what your political leaning, and whether you think it is always a positive thing, it is clear that we are always-on, media gorgers. 
Much of what they found won’t come as a shock. In North America, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and Asia, all of these young people agreed that the economy is the number one issue. In Latin America and the Middle East and Africa the answers differed – with social inequality and terrorism topping each list respectively.
A significant majority, 63 per cent of Millennials globally, believe it is difficult for their generation to progress from school to adult life. With unemployment rates in many of the countries surveyed highest among 16 to 24s, this comes as little surprise. And news of the consequences of ageing populations has clearly reached our young people too – 39 per cent expect to have to continue to work indefinitely and not have enough money to retire. When asked whether they thought employment was a right or a privilege, 55 per cent said that having a decent job was the former versus 45 per cent who picked the latter. A bit of a leading question? It is an economic imperative – we all have to eat. More positively, and hopefully without delusion, 68 per cent of those surveyed believe that they have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur.
Telefónica claims to have identified a new kind of elite – 11 per cent of Millennials globally – who are not defined by metrics like socioeconomic status, but by their access to technology and opportunity. While their immediate priorities are the same – family, school and friends come first – 44 per cent of these leaders believe access to technology is important to success, compared to 30 per cent overall. “These people are at the cutting edge of technology and highly interested in what happens around them from a political standpoint,” said José María Álvarez-Pallete, COO of Telefónica on launching the results. “Politicians around the world must see that technology is going to influence the future. But this is not just for government but for business leaders too,” he said. 
Speaking in a keynote at the launch, Julian Genachowski, former chairman of the US telecoms regulator the FFC and head of Obama’s tech strategy during the 2008 election, said that the world is now engaged in a “global bandwidth race”. As healthcare, tech, government and people move increasingly online, countries are now concerned with giving companies and citizens the quickest access. But given that only one in six of the world’s population actually has access to the internet, 1bn people, it is clear that socioeconomic status, which gives people access to technology and opportunity, is likely to still dictate who the winners will be.  And while many young people are switched on, politically speaking, as Álvarez-Pallete mentioned, many aren’t. Recycling is the acceptable face of the green movement in developed nations but sustainability goes out the window when you see flights to Barcelona for £49. Meanwhile, literacy and access to basic human rights and services, let alone internet, are also hopelessly lacking in large parts of the world too. 
The UK’s young people appear to be are more tech savvy than their global counterparts, the survey found, with 49 per cent here saying they have an excellent knowledge of technology compared to just 30 per cent worldwide. Tech is now seen as more important than any other subject, with 25 per cent saying it is critical to future success, compared to economics and science both at 18 per cent or languages with just eight per cent. There are certainly jobs to be had in tech, in fact, there is a skills shortage. On top of that, 76 per cent believe technology makes it easier to get a job – many jobs are only advertised online  – so job search, application and even doing many of your average Western jobs is an increasingly digital pursuit.
A “new gender gap”, as if we need one, was also outlined by Álvarez-Pallete, with men around the world much more likely to consider themselves at the cutting edge of tech – 80 per cent vs 69 per cent. Those that believe that tech is the most important factor to ensuring future success also saw a contrast – 42 per cent vs 29 per cent. It appears that women, yet again, are likely to be left behind.
But why would a company like Telefónica want to know just what little old us think of our future anyway?
“For a company like us,” Álvarez-Pallete said, “we need to understand what’s going to happen for our industry and for our customers. This is the largest technological revolution in human history and Millennials are the drives.  We deeply believe that we need to understand what’s going on to have an idea of what the future will look like.”
Take that to be altruistic, after all Telefónica has its own start-up accelerator and is working with the EU to create a young entrepreneurial community of 300,000 people, along with many other worthwhile initiatives. Or look at it with a keen eye. We are a huge target market for advertisers and will continue to be so into our later years – more than 90m of Telefonica’s 316m customers worldwide is a Millennial. Companies like this need our custom, our data and actually depend on our success. But given how events have unfolded around PRISM and GCHQ, I’m just surprised they didn’t have access to all of our vital statistics already!
My favourite stat from the report was that 89 per cent of everyone surveyed believes that the best days of their country are yet to come. In a world of economic uncertainty where we fumble from one political problem to the next, I’d like to hope that they’re right!

JustGiving Just got Easier with One-touch Mobile Donations

After its mobile traffic overtook desktop for the first time back in April, JustGiving has made it even easier for smartphone and tablet users to make donations to their favourite causes. 

The JustGiving mobile website has been updated so it remembers donors’ credit or debit card details after their first donation. It is hoped that this ‘one-touch’ process will encourage repeat giving. The additional Gift Aid option has also been simplified to ensure more UK tax payers opt in. 


JustGiving anticipates that by 2014, around 70 per cent of all traffic will come from mobile devices. Its Android and iOS apps will be brought in line with this at a later date, the organisation said.


“The way that people give is changing – more than ever, people want to give wherever and whenever they want, on any device,” said Lee Marshall, product manager at JustGiving. “In a world full of distractions, it’s vital for us to continue to make giving as easy and intuitive as possible. Our next challenge now is to encourage mobile donors to give more, and more often, to their favourite causes.”


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/justgiving-just-got-easier-one-touch-mobile-donations#ZZYqYCV6iGb3Dd9S.99

Job Centre: With all eyes on Tech City, where are the mobile job opportunities and do we have the skills to fill them?

According to the Connected Digital Economy Catapult, established by the Government’s Technology Strategy Board, the IT, software and digital content sectors are worth £100bn to the UK economy. This is larger per head than any other country in the world and could represent 10 per cent of UK GDP by 2015. 

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, EU commissioner for technology, Neelie Kroes, said that Europe would have 1m new tech jobs by 2016 and 2m by 2020, with up to a fifth of these in the UK. Worryingly though, IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends report found that just 1 in 10 UK organisations believes it has the skills to use advanced technologies, including mobile computing, cloud computing, and social business. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of educators and students said there is a major or moderate gap in their institution’s ability to meet demand for these skills.  

PM David Cameron has announced a £50m regeneration of East London’s Old Street tech hub, Silicon Roundabout, which is due for completion in 2016. While this will certainly create an impressive landmark to showcase digital leadership, little commitment has been made to creating a suitably skilled British workforce. And in any event, it may already be too late.  

With some of the biggest media companies in the world – the likes of Skype, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and BSkyB – all expanding their mobile operations in London, and each requiring large engineering teams of hundreds of people, the competition is already fierce for mobile talent. Is the UK up to the job? 

“Our candidates think mobile is a really interesting opportunity, particularly around M2M and the chance to use mobile technology to make people’s lives better, whether that’s through medical and health or utility,” said Mark Long, director of future media recruitment company ABRS. “They are in a really good position – everyone from software engineers, UX designers, product managers – across the mobile platform, there are more jobs than candidates. If you’ve got the skills, there are loads of opportunities – if you’re a company trying to build this stuff, there is lots of competition.” 

Like the FT, Walmart and Deloitte, Thomson Reuters bought a London-based mobile dev firm, Apsmart, to shore up its mobile capacity. Bob Schukai, head of mobile at Thomson Reuters, says: “It’s not uncommon to just buy a mobile development company to take them completely off the market. You might never do anything with the product, you might just be doing it as a talent acquisition.  “It used to be about offshore versus inshore – that discussion has changed completely. It’s now about outsource versus insource. You can see a decline in numbers in the PC space and with that comes an insatiable demand for mobile talent. That’s a capability that companies need to create themselves and be able to instil across their organisation.”

 So, does the talent have to be bought or can you help grow it? Raj Day, group CSO for Telefónica in Latin America, was out running while considering his difficulty in finding innovative products, services and different ways of working. There was only one shop for digital innovation – Silicon Valley – and it was not only expensive to hire from but was also eating up some of his own digital talent. He passed an empty shop and thought ‘what would happen if we filled that full of startups?’ 

Three years and 13 countries later, the startup initiative Wayra is now established across Latin America, the US and the EU. Ann Parker heads up EU operations for the accelerator programme, and she says there is an abundance of talent. “The perception I had was that we would struggle to find that kind of talent and people willing to go and work in a startup in London,” she says. “We have found quite the reverse. We get a lot of people who have finished their degree but have decided that the corporate ladder isn’t for them. We also get lots of people in their mid-30s. People who’ve got life experience, who’ve made a few mistakes. That really helps.” 

While Telefónica says it does not intend to take any of the teams that it gives funding to into the business itself, startups like cloud service provider Cloud66 have become preferred partners and in return gain access to more than 300m customers. “If we want digital startups to contribute to the economy, everyone needs to be putting their hands in their pocket,” says Parker. “There’s room for us all.” 

Eric Van der Kleij, fintech entrepreneur and head of Level39, Tech City’s newest accelerator, believes that the financial crisis has given entrepreneurs and big business the opportunity to explore and create new technology together. “London and Europe are facing another challenge in the contraction of the financial services sector, which has previously represented up to 12.9 per cent of GDP if you include IT services,” he says. “It’s the innovators in tech and digital and creative that are going to form part of this replacement economic growth.  “You can imagine an idea being created at a hackathon that one day goes on to become a substantial banking mechanism for new, open, transparent banking. Now that is being made possible by the talent and by an environment that supports innovation – with a combination of support from organisations and government.” 

While this all sounds rather cosy, startups and big businesses are clearly in competition for great graduates. Some see a ‘brain drain’ as people choose big bucks in the City over the uncertainty of startup life. But Bob Schukai thinks the issue is more fundamental. “Five guys can build a product and beat you to market in a heartbeat. Big business is going to need that technology talent to be successful and compete at an enterprise level as well as at a consumer level. The challenge in the UK, like the US, is that neither are producing enough STEM grads. That’s where the real problem is.”

American-born Schukai has gone on record many times arguing that foreign graduates in the US should ‘have a green card stapled to their university certificate’ and he thinks much the same is required in the UK. “Anybody that graduates with an advanced technology degree should be given indefinite leave to remain in Britain. These are people that are going to be producing, going to be working in high paying jobs, contributing revenue to Inland Revenue.” 

Wayra’s Ann Parker, however, disagreed with the perception that tech graduates are the only people who can create entrepreneurial success. “Good ideas come from everywhere,” she said, “you don’t need to be a computer scientist to have a great idea for a startup and even if you are a great coder – it doesn’t mean you will be a successful entrepreneur.” 

So if it’s skilled digital workers we lack, why do we have an abundance of idle ‘digital natives’, 1m young people who commentators fear becoming a ‘lost generation’ excluded from employment into adult life? While 16-24-year-olds are never too far from Blackberry Messenger or Facebook, many, it appears, may not understand the opportunities in emerging technologies; the opportunity to become creators, rather than simply consumers. If you were born in the 1990s, the digital natives rather than older digital immigrants, can you help but take technology for granted? 
“’My brother said ‘stop being a waster, have a Sinclair ZX81 [released in 1981]’, and for the first time I felt completely empowered,” says Van der Kleij. “Today, the mobile phone, and especially the smartphone, has made technology incredibly accessible. So many more people understand how apps can solve problems in life and come up with solutions that previously would have required huge amounts of programming expertise. This exposure could catalyse them into entering the computing profession and maybe getting a computer science degree or even entering IT services.” 

With this tech-native generation coming of age in terms of their careers, what does the Government need to do to nurture growth? “The first thing I would say to Government,” Ann Parker at Wayra says, “would be to get more computer programming on the syllabus. People should learn it from age six or seven – do it like speaking French. There also needs to be more work on encouraging more entrepreneurial skills to be taught at school – understanding the concept of cash flow, knowing how much money you have in the bank and not spending more than that.” 

A number of organisations already work for free to excite young people about creating the technologies of the future, including Devcamp and Apps for Good. Reuters’ Schukai is also a mentor for Apps for Good, where participant schools spend a school term building an app from start to finish, with the winning team going on to have their app made for real.  “We think that this can become a feeder for large and small companies across Britain or creating the entrepreneurs of tomorrow,” he says. “We have more than 200 schools and it has become the benchmark programme, but I would love to see more engagement between business and schools.” 

There are many online courses, at minimum cost, as well as free resources that offer a real learning opportunity at a fraction of the debt promised by university. But is it too late by then? Courtney Boyd Myers, audience development director at London’s General Assembly, a tech education and events business, says businesses must work together with educators to help the education system keep up with the pace of change in the tech, digital and mobile industries. “Business both established and startup need to have the resources and knowledge in place to be continually learning, growing and developing in this space,” she says. “Our opportunity and our challenge is to figure out how we can build businesses that help people connect, increase access to healthcare, education and jobs, and provide an infrastructure to create further new businesses.”

So where are these 2m promised jobs of tomorrow going to be? Bob Schukai believes “app exhaustion” may have set in. “But there are other areas that are underexploited, such as health, fitness, and especially education,” he says. “You will see a lot more testing and evaluating jobs that didn’t really exist previously. People in the beginning just sort of built stuff and threw it out the door. You’ve also got to have people who write the automation programs, because the amount and number of mobile products you need to create isn’t going down it’s going up. Those people are eventually going to become developers themselves.”

So far, £6m was pledged in the Autumn Statement to train 3,000 people in technology roles and after intense pressure from the industry, Michael Gove’s controversial EBacc qualification – the education secretary’s proposed GCSE replacement – will now contain computer science as a fourth science option. Business and universities will be consulted in the development of the syllabus, Gove has said. 

But is this all too little too late in the global tech race? “Some of the most exciting ideas come from innovators who have had no formal training. They are not restricted by the fetters of corporate and traditional education,” said Van der Kleij. “But any investment that we can make in education that is more appropriate to the skills that we need at the moment and that we’ll need in the future – any investment that we can make in that is a worthwhile thing to do.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here:  http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/job-centre#ZaiA8MTBVxewdhiq.99

London Event App YPlan Raises $12m to go Global

London’s spontaneous events app YPlan has announced that it will open its doors in New York after receiving $12m (£7.8m) in Series A funding. US VC firm General Catalyst Partners, investors in Kayak and Airbnb, led the round, along with YPlan’s initial backers Wellington Partners. 

The company has attracted an impressive range of co-investors, including Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade, early Facebook employee Kevin Colleran and David Morin, founder of Path and serial angel investor. Shakil Khan, investor and advisor to Spotify and Summly, also joined the round. 

The start-up, which curates 15 last-minute listings per night, has offered tickets to more than 2,500 exclusive events, including a Beyoncé show and the invite-only Sofar Sounds, since it launched in November last year. It passed 200,000 downloads in April and is present on more than 10 per cent of London’s iPhones.  

We spoke to YPlan last year about how they find all the weird and wonderful stuff that London has to offer. Its executive team boasts some of the brains behind toptable, GetTaxi, Songkick, Airbnb and lastminute.com, with the former digital director of Timeout in charge of picking the best events. 

The YPlan team has already opened its New York office and is currently hiring for a growth hacker, a product manager and marketing staff to support the official launch in H2 2013. More European cities and an Android app are also on the way. 

The company received its seed funding of $1.7m in July 2012, a round led by pan-European Wellington Partners, investors in Hailo, and UK-focused Octopus Investments, which invested in SwiftKey. We’ll be speaking to YPlan to find out more about how they’re going to spend the next $12m.


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/londons-mobile-only-event-app-yplan-raises-12m-go-global#pa0aGpFLhHTJARrW.99

It’s a Girl Thing: why are there so few women work in tech and what can we do about it?

Veteran mobile journalist Tim Green called this year’s Mobile World Congress “so ludicrously mono-demographical it’s almost funny”. And the most largely represented group, in case you were wondering, was “middle-aged, white males”.  

Look within the tech industry, and at leadership roles across other sectors, and funnily enough, this story isn’t unusual – LadyGeek calculates that the number of UK technology jobs held by women actually dropped from 22 per cent in 2001 to 17 per cent by 2011. Only 22 per cent of MPs are women, and despite a drive following the Davies Inquiry to reach a pretty reasonable target of 25 per cent female directors in the FTSE 100, the number is stubbornly stuck around 17 per cent. Six of the FTSE 100 boards are still all male. 


Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, and clearly one of the most powerful women in business, has caused a stir that even she says she hadn’t expected on the launch of her book, Lean In. Pragmatist and feminist, she argues that often women hold themselves back, uncomfortable with the decisions they make in their career. You cannot wait for the institutional barriers to fall down around you, she says. 


A year ago, and before Sandberg’s book had even gone to press, Women in Wireless (WiW) London launched to promote and develop female leaders in the UK’s mobile and digital industry. The four founders, Jen Macrae, Rimma Perelmuter, Rhian Pamphilon and Jen Hiley, have a formidable combination of expertise, killer contact books, drive, vision and a bit of humour between them. 


Today, the network has more than 700 members, and within its first year, hosted eight events across its Connect, Develop and Promote streams within its first year.  The London branch was established after Macrae, who is currently working as VP, digital wallet market development, at MasterCard on the UK deployment of its Masterpass payments system, was approached by one of Women in Wireless’ global co-founders about setting it up. “Although there were many networking organisations, there was an opportunity to create something member-led, targeting career development needs, and serving to promote and support the development of women to more senior roles,” she says.  


Things kicked off with a launch led by former Nokia CMO Jerri DeVard, followed by an entrepreneur debate hosted at Telefónica’s Wayra Academy, and then an international careers event with leading female executives at QTel and Microsoft.  At the end of last year, WiW London commissioned its first (if not the first) survey into women working in wireless in the UK, with the help of Telefónica and Diffusion PR. The study sought to understand the barriers and opportunities for women in the industry, to raise awareness of diversity issues, and set priorities for their work. The survey garnered more than 600 responses. 


Mobile is a young industry, with, the survey found, many younger women working in it. 43 per cent of those surveyed were aged 25 to 34 and a further 9 per cent are in the 18 to 24 age group. Just 14 per cent are 45 to 54 and only 2 per cent are 55 to 64. Not surprisingly, as stereotypes go, the most popular career for women in wireless is marketing – while just 5 per cent work in product development or innovation, 4 per cent are engineers, and only 2 per cent have financial roles.


While there are many initiatives to encourage more young women to get coding skills and take-up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects, Jen Hiley, who is currently a senior consultant at Infosys Lodestone and social coordinator for WiW, says it is the myth of all tech jobs being “techy” that can deter women in the first place.  “There is a mystique of it being a very technical field, whereas, in fact, there are so many non-engineering career paths in the industry,” she says. “Today’s marketplace for technology is no longer about meeting the internal needs of big business. It has shifted to meeting the ever-growing demands of the everyday consumer, which in turn is driving innovation and creativity, and opening up masses of new opportunities.”  


Many of the women surveyed are yet to make it to senior roles – just 15 per cent currently hold one – fewer still – just 10 per cent – have directorships. Rimma Perelmuter, who has worked in mobile for 13 years and is now CEO of MEF and co-chair of the WiW development stream, believes it is imperative to have a clear understanding of the causes of why women are under-represented in senior industry roles. “The survey reveals some surprising results,” she says. “83 per cent of respondents between 35 and 54 believe that it is harder for women to succeed in their careers than it is for men, with 36 per cent identifying ‘a male dominating culture’ as the reason they are under-represented at senior levels. While culture is clearly a challenging issue to address, the survey is a wake-up call to the Industry to take action.” 


“The survey shows a stark reality,” says Dereck McManus, COO of Telefónica in the UK and board lead for diversity and inclusion, who helped to analyse the results. “The majority of people we spoke to believe it is harder for women to succeed in their careers than men, and two thirds seeing culture as a barrier to the progress of women to senior positions. I believe that businesses have a responsibility to do more to ensure that women are represented at all levels in business. At Telefónica, we’ve launched a number of initiatives, including our Women in Leadership programme, to do exactly that. “One finding that I found interesting, but perhaps not that surprising, was the fact that flexible working was seen as one of the top ways companies can support women in their career. Just last year we ran the biggest ever flexible working pilot, with 3,000 of our people working remotely for a day. It sounds ambitious, but the pilot showed what’s possible when flexible working is done properly.” 


While some businesses clearly see the benefits of helping employees manage their career and busy home lives – just 11 per cent of survey respondents said they have an excellent work/life balance – Yahoo’s first female CEO, Marissa Meyer, recently banned her staff from working at home. All of the WiW founders emphasise the need for personal initiative as a means to success – whether that’s finding mentors, sponsors, networking opportunities or going to educational events. 52 per cent of those asked said they had never tried to find a sponsor, while 41 per cent had not identified a mentor. 


“At our inaugural event, inspirational speaker Jerri DeVard made a poignant remark that’s stuck with me: ‘We all stand on someone else’s shoulders’,” says Peremulter. “It speaks to the importance of going beyond ‘superficial’ networking to building relationships with mentors, sponsors and colleagues that you can learn from and that are there to support you.   

“Equally, it is important to take the time to share your experience with others and give back. I’d like to see more leaders in our industry take the time to live up to this ideal regardless of whether they are women or men.” 

It is natural networking abilities, Jen Hiley believes, that should bring success to younger women. “We are widely recognised to be more empathetic, task-orientated and extremely thorough. Women are born networkers, with the ability to forge strong and lasting relationships, seeking out opportunities and alliances. Creating groups like Women in Wireless will hopefully inspire more C-level women to share their extensive knowledge, whilst providing a forum for ladies who can feel comfortable asking for support.” 


Self-belief and confidence was highlighted in the survey as one of the top enablers to support career progression. But what happens when that takes a knock? Jen Macrae says: “Our survey respondents have told us, and we have all experienced it, that when personal initiatives fail, it can have a negative impact on career opportunities and confidence. Our challenge now at Women in Wireless is to provide a support structure that helps those wanting to progress to overcome their own internal barriers.” 


Telefónica’s McManus concludes: “As an industry, we need to do more to turn this around. Whether it’s running mentoring schemes to support women throughout their career, or using positive role models of successful women in the industry – all businesses can make a difference. If we don’t take action, we run the risk of missing out on the vital skills of a generation of women.”


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and first published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/it%E2%80%99s-girl-thing#KLXduxDsrktJQkfx.99

FTC Tells Google: "Don’t be Evil"

Written for and first published here: http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/ftc-tells-google-stop-being-evil

Google has agreed to change some of its business practices following a large-scale investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into the company’s operations.

The FTC criticised Google for breaches of licensing agreements on patents essential to the development of the industry. The agreement could spell the end of the wave of costly class actions over patent infringments between technology companies.

Google has also promised to stop using content from other companies’ websites for use on its own vertical offerings, and will also give advertisers more flexibility to manage ad campaigns on Google AdWords, along with other rival ad platforms simultaneously. While Google was investigated for manipulating search algorithms to favour its own vertical websites, the FTC concluded that this ‘could be plausibly justified as innovations that improved Google’s product and the experience of its users’.

Standardised patent ruling

Motorola, bought by Google in June, is accused of reneging on commitments to give competitors fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access to patents needed to develop products including iPhones, iPads and Xboxes. Google continued this, seeking injunctions against companies that wanted to license these patents, which ‘constitute unfair methods of competition, as well as unfair acts and practices’, the Commission said.

Should the terms be accepted following a period of public comment, this could set a precedent for similar disputes across other industries where companies amass patents for ‘for purely defensive purposes’. The judgement should prevent firms from performing a ‘patent ambush’, where the cost of royalties incurred by businesses can be passed on to consumers, or prevent products from being developed at all.

“The changes Google has agreed to make will ensure that consumers continue to reap the benefits of competition in the online marketplace and in the market for innovative wireless devices they enjoy,” said FTC chairman, Jon Leibowitz. “This was an incredibly thorough and careful investigation by the Commission, and the outcome is a strong and enforceable set of agreements.”

Some members of the Commission criticised the FTC’s use of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act as an abuse of the its authority and claimed that this judgement is in conflict with a previous ruling concerning Apple and Motorola.

Facebook Will Monetise Instagram – But How?

Written for and first published here: http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/facebook-will-monestise-instagram-how

For the early-adopting hipsters that popularised the photo-sharing app Instagram, its buyout by Facebook was welcomed like their mum turning up wearing skinny jeans. It was inevitable that change was on the way and Facebook has now begun testing the service as its route to making money on mobile. Just as they find out their mum has started hanging out in East London.

Facebook has so far proved that you can have 1bn users and not be making enough money. And as a publicly listed company, it really needs to start making something back for its shareholders, particularly on the costly buyout of the Instagram app company. Of course, as Instagram’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, said in a clarifying blog after the news spread, and suggestion of a boycott gathered pace, the service was created to become a business.

While he has denied that the company will sell users’ photos, social advertising in-app, with branded accounts and the potential for your preferences to be considered as endorsements are well on the way. While Instagram says on its website that it is looking at ‘innovative advertising’, this sounds very similar to what Facebook is doing, and is struggling to monetise.

But if I like something on Facebook, or follow an account on Instagram, does that mean that I advertise it? Questions have already been raised about whether people have even ‘liked’ things that appear on their Facebook feeds, and some have even claimed that dead people are managing to endorse brands from beyond the grave.

“Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience. Instead, we want to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content while building a self-sustaining business at the same time,” Systrom said.

So what does the future hold for Instagram – apart from the inevitable need to generate some cash? As with many changes that Facebook has introduced, while there is the usual push back and the most determined leave the service, many people accept them as the price of free access. If a service is free, you are the product, so the saying goes. Users have to ask themselves what they are comfortable with sharing while accepting less control. They have until 12 January to remove their profiles before the experiments with brands and advertising start to happen.

Instagram could opt for a paid-for, ad free premium service, although this could reduce the appeal of its inventory to brands by reducing the number of affluent, desirable advertisees. Microsoft computer science researcher, Jaron Lanier, told Newsnight: “The internet has to be about more than advertising or it’s a path to nowhere.” Alluding to a looming advertising bubble, he said that if we wanted to build the ‘information economy’, people have to be able to share money and buy things on Facebook. But that means they have to trust it.

The question has started to be asked – can and will people start charging for their data? Or could they be given more opportunity to say ‘yes, I want advertising about cars, holidays and business solutions, please do not send me things about…’? For more on what these developments could look like, see i-allow.

Could this very 21st century problem end up with one social network bringing down another? The #boycottinstagram campaign on Twitter sure hopes so. Or is this all just a Twitter storm in a tea cup?
Meanwhile, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced the donation of $500m worth of Facebook stock to charity…

Women in Wireless London – Building your International Career

Written for and first published here: http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/women-wireless-london-building-your-international-career

 Women in Wireless London welcomed two internationally successful women in mobile to talk at their event last night, ‘Building your International Career’.

Both Cynthia Gordon, CCO at Qatar-based network Qtel, and Marianne Roling, MD of Mobile for Microsoft in Central and Eastern Europe have had impressive 20 year careers that have seen them living all over the world.
Cynthia Gordon 
Cynthia GordonCynthia’s roles have taken her from the -35 temperatures she experienced when working for MTS, the largest mobile operator in Russia, to the +50 heat she now works in at the Qatari firm that serves 90m subscribers and generates $10bn. “One tip – it’s all about clothing” she said.

“Europe and the US are quite similar, there are commonalities. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Rajasthan are truly different – the culture, the environment. If I can excite you about anything – grasp those opportunities to experience something that is totally different.”

GSMA MWomen Programme

She said that an international career gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn but also fantastic opportunities to help other women in the customer base or company you work for – women are often hugely underrepresented in emerging market companies.

She highlighted the MWomen Programme of the GSMA. “In Iraq – women are killed for having a mobile phone. Men think they will have affairs or it will take them away from their families.” The GSMA created special TV ads to address the cultural barriers and have increased the female user-base from 20 to 30 per cent. “How many women have the opportunity to use mobile phones is a big issue in emerging markets.”

From the Berlin Wall to real-time global translation
Marianne Roling 
Marianne RolingAfter the fall of the Berlin Wall, Marianne had the opportunity to work on a Hungarian project funded by the World Bank to build telecoms infrastructure, where just 8 per cent of the homes had a telephone line.

She has seen the internet boom and bust, the development of the mobile industry and now the smartphone and tablet revolution. Micosoft recently performed a real-time translation between the US and China as if the American speaker was fluent in Chinese.”This is the most viibrant, amazing industry ever,” she said.

Work/life balance

She separated her success into having great networks and role models, identifying sponsors, mentors and coaches, as well as getting a work/life balance. She moved five times in five years while she was working for Lucent in South America, completely starting form ground zero every time.

“Now I don’t travel at the weekends and do lots of conference calls early in the morning. You have to create the rhythm with your family.” But Cynthia said she believes you can’t have it all. “My husband gave up his career even though when we met we were level.”

Her key advice to get that international mobile career you crave: “Numbers numbers numbers. Go into the detail – never skim over the topic, seek to understand it better than anybody else. Have confidence in what you can do and achieve, get on that plane, you can do it.”