Docomo’s Banking Plans

WSJ writes:

Within the next year or two, DoCoMo plans to introduce phones with an embedded DoCoMo credit card, company officials say. The goal: to turn Japan into a credit-happy nation like America — and to build a lucrative new profit center for the company. “We have to enlarge our battlefield,” says Mr. Natsuno, who calls himself DoCoMo’s “crazy barking dog.”

DoCoMo’s vision could point the way for cellphone companies around the globe. The Tokyo company has 49 million customers in Japan, more than half the market, and a market capitalization of 9.058 trillion yen ($82.8 billion). It led the industry in offering commercially viable Internet and email service over cellphones, and also pioneered downloadable ringtones.

DoCoMo hopes the wallet phone will help turn things around. The first version, introduced in July 2004, can store up to about $450 in cash. It can also store credit-card numbers for some credit cards widely used in Japan such as JCB, so people can charge purchases using only their phone. About 22,000 retailers in Japan have installed devices at their cash registers that can receive the phone’s signal. Starting in January 2006, commuters will be able to board Tokyo trains by waving their cellphone over a sensor in the turnstiles.

Instant Outlining

Dave Luebbert writes:

I realized this morning that Instant Outlining would allow you to model the reporting relationships in a real-world comapny and you could actually get most of it’s business done with it.

Microsoft is built around its mail servers. Every employee in a development position gets a blizzard of tens to hundreds of emails every day. They have to pay attention to the email flow, ignore the messages that don’t apply to them and act on those that are important for them, respond to those that request assistance, and file those that might be important in the future.

In many ways the whole effort would work better if it were built on Instant Outlining.

Universal Mobile Client

Paul Golding writes:

Presence and its associated buddy-list presentation is possibly the vital link to a mobile computing future, along with an ever-increasing reliance on the Internet for our daily living, which is inevitable. Information is the key currency of the modern era. The Web is evolving to provide information in ways previously unavailable and unimaginable. Broadband penetration increases and with it comes a more habitual reliance on the Internet.

The question is whether buddy-list managers (“buddy browsers?”) and Web browsers are convergent. This would certainly be a good idea as it would mean that we still have a single universal client with which to visit the information world and to interact with presentities (i.e. anything – human or automaton – that can convey its state to us and support interactive real-time communication). Imagine doing a search on contacts in your social-networking tool (take your pick) and having their presence information visible in the results and actionable (e.g. click to call, IM, push-to-talk etc.)

The Tiny Wired Hospital

Forbes writes:

Large urban hospitals might learn a thing or two from tiny Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue, Wash.

The 256-bed, not-for-profit private hospital has a wireless network that gives doctors and support staff access to equipment, patient records, and most importantly, to each other. Being wireless allows the staff to see prescriptions, charts and lab results right by the patients bedside. Support staff carry Internet phones that work on voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) wireless networks.

Administrators say being wireless improves and speeds up patient care, cuts down errors, improves records management, prevents lost test results and speeds up decision-making in emergencies.

Changing Journalism

Rory O’Connor’ writes:

Journalism is again becoming a democratic medium. No one owns journalism, blogger/pundit Jeff Jarvis exults on Buzzmachine. It is not an official act, a certified act, an expert act, a proprietary act. Anyone can do journalism. Everyone does. Some do it better than others, of course. But everyone does it. And Jacob Weisberg points out on Slate.com, If you dont like this raucous clamor emanating from cyberspace, youre not really comfortable with democracy.

The profession is undergoing a revolution generated from the bottom up, which is turning our world and the world we report on upside down. As the technological tools of the citizen journalism trade become increasingly accessible, the lesson for journalists everywhere is clear: Embrace the change, or else. They not busy being born are busy dying, as the poet once wrote. The only choice before us, as Scoop Nisker eloquently phrased it, is this: If you dont like the news make some of your own!

TECH TALK: Next-Generation Networks: Mirror Worlds

Over the past few months, it has become increasingly obvious that the mobile phone is going to become the personal device owned by more than half the world’s population in 5 years. (The current ownership figure is about 1.8 billion). The very nature of the device personal, always-on, always available and always-connected will bring forth a new set of services. These will go beyond voice, SMS and the holy trinity of ringtones, wallpapers and games that we are seeing today. The mobile will become the computer in our pocket. Others think of it as a teleputer or a social computer. Whatever we call it, it is a device unlike anything we have possessed before. Just as the Internet ushered in a new world, so will be the next-generation of mobile services.

It is important to distinguish today’s mobiles and data services from tomorrow’s. Today, the phone is mostly used for talk and messaging, with some personalisation being done through the choice of ringtones and ringback tones (or the lack thereof). Some of us download games for offlines entertainment. A few use the mobile to check email and browse the Internet. But for the most part, the mobile of data is 90% voice and 10% data. Of the data, the majority is person-to-person SMS.

Also, data services being offered today are very closely controlled by the operators. As such, the ecosystem of value-added service providers that has come up is focused on creating offerings for the operators. Independent entities have to work through one of these allies of the operators. So, what is present is a closed garden of data/value-added services.

I like to think of this as v1.0 of Mobile Data. The focus so far in countries like India has been on growth and customer acquisition naturally so. Little attention has been paid to widening the array of data services. The phone by itself has morphed into a multimedia-capable, networked device but the applications and services have not kept pace. There are obvious limitations in the input/output on the phone but this, along with the operator control, has prevented independent mobile data services vendors from coming up and thriving beyond the ringtones-wallpapers-games categories.

The time has come to now look ahead. Let us imagine what v2.0 of Mobile Data will be. The coming generation of phones are rapidly subsuming functionality from camera phones to the ability to play music and video to high-speed Internet access via 3G networks. The next version of Mobile Data services will be much more open as operators realise that opening up will help them generate greater revenue to offset the falling voice revenues from increasing competition in maturing markets.

It is in this context that we need to look ahead to what the mobile is capable of – by itself, and connected to networks. This world will be very different from the one we are currently seeing. Different countries are in varying stages of building this out with Japan and South Korea leading the way. This new world will have software and content play a far more important role than they have in the past where the phone was a closed system. There will be two key drivers: the mobile as an increasingly open development platform, and the need for centralised (server-based) software to complement the phone. Together, they will usher in a new set of services some of which will migrate from the PC world, while others will need to be created afresh for a world in which every mobile user is reachable 24×7.

Tomorrow: Mirror Worlds (continued)

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