Mobile World Congress 2013

So, this is going to be an interesting one.  While it's back in it's home of the last decade, Barcelona, they've moved to a new location, so the first day is going to be even more confusing than usual.

But what to expect?

Well, in some respects, from a purely mobile perspective, CES this year was, to put it bluntly, a bit poor.  Very few interesting devices on display and no real phone announcements.  The consensus was that the phone companies with the exception of Apple were keeping their powder dry.  Apple being a special case who don't bother to do things with the rest of the industry.

The definite feeling I'm getting from the preparation work we've been doing is that the industry has really evolved in the decade I've been attending.  For my early Mobile World Congress events (back when it had just become 3GSM) the focus was very much on the handsets - form factor, color screens, cameras and the like and data speed.  This year, I think I can comfortably say is all about the apps.

From our perspective we'll be showing 3 new things to the public and over the course of the next few days, we'll be posting more details.

Just contact me if you want to meet up next week and see you all in Barcelona!

SoMo - Saskatoon

"Would you like to speak at a Social Mobile event in Saskatoon?" I was asked.  I blinked.  I had to look on a map, sorry Canadians, I really didn't have a clue.  

Due to our interest in APIs we're currently helping the GSMA evangelize the launch of the OneAPI gateway in Canada and they wanted somebody to talk about their new cross carrier play, meanwhile, they also suggested I give a talk on the subject of if Mobile and Social are so important why are their so few Socially enabled Mobile apps?  I'll post more on that later.

It's an interesting event, focused more on the concepts behind mobile and social than on the technology.  This made it something of a bust from the perspective of getting developers aware of Viafo, but it was certainly extremely interesting in terms of content and what companies are doing with Social.

Most interesting was a talk by Dave Carrol of 'United Breaks Guitars' fame on how his viral video came about and the impact this has had on airline customer service.  This followed on nicely from a morning talk by Darren Hailes the head of Social Media at Canadian Low Cost airline Westjet about how they use Social Media and the web to engage their audience.  Having spent 5 hours in Calgary on the way here due to weather this was a subject dear to my heart.

My main takeaways: people are starting to grasp the importance of social, but they're still failing to put it front and center of their web and mobile planning - in the long term that's going to be a huge mistake for any brand.

Twitter Needs Viafo...

We were pleased to see Dick Costello trumpeting the need for our solution at his speech last week.

Surfice to say, we're 100% behind Dick in this.  The point of social networking, location and other web services is that they should be an integral part of the app you're using and not something you have to go somewhere else to do.

I hope we're going to be able to meet with Twitter soon to pitch our vision.


Yesterday we headed down the hill to the new Amazon complex in South Lake Union here in currently sunny Seattle and took part in the Crowd Pitch run by Funded Universe.  It was our first pitch with our refined pitch which is that we make mobile solutions easy.

To cut to the chase, we won.  It came as something of a surprise to us but a big thanks to all the people out there who voted for Viafo, and also to the judges, Andy Sack of Founders Co-Op, Tim Porter of Madronna, Jeff Barr of Amazon and Bob Crimmins of i-Med Exchange.  We've already had some contacts from potential investors and it's certainly fired up the team here.

Thank you all again and a final thank you to the guys from Funding Universe for putting it all together.

Watch this Space: #ctia

As I've mentioned I'm off to CTIA tomorrow morning at a suitably unpleasant hour.  Also, for my standards, my schedule is relatively light, which means that I have some space left for meetings in the mornings and early(ish) afternoon - if anybody wants to meet.

We hope to make some great announcements next week but it's still 50/50 at the moment.  We hope to be able to discuss an exciting new customer AND new platform deal, and also to formally launch our News and Search appz in public beta.  

However, we're still working on the last minute bits of the code before we go live.  Fingers crossed though!

CTIA will, however, mark the end of the Q1 silly season, which means we might be able to settle down and focus on some other aspects of the business as we enter Q2.  Again, that will mean a slew of new announcements as we head into June.  

What is it with mobile/tech and Q1?

There's a lot of activity in Q1 for the mobile industry, in fact, had I had the money and the inclination, I could probably have been on the road every week for the last 12 without a break.  Even if I'd limited myself to the headline events, there's: CES, Mobile World Congress, SXSW, Mix and CTIA - that's ignoring CeBIT and a bunch of other minor shows and events I was invited to.

For a startup this is a tricky juggling act. Especially after many years of travelling on somebody else's budget.  Finding money for yourself is somewhat scary when you look at 2 Vegas Tradeshows and a European one in the same quarter.

We've managed it, and we're hoping to make some great announcements around then too, so keep an eye on the site/blog.  We're working on our key product launches and a new demo system which should show our technology off extremely well.

CTIA - Meetings

Informational update.

We're going to be at CTIA from Monday to Thursday next week.  Monday is already booked up as is Tuesday afternoon.

I'm still open Tuesday morning and all day Wednesday for meetings - if you want to catch up, then let me know.  

We're hoping to put some news out about a big new customer next week.

We have an Appz for that...

It's been an interesting weekend as we fiddled with the Mix10 Appz and had a think about what it is we had done with it.  We've had some positive feedback from a couple of trial users who liked the general approach and were extremely impressed with the speed at which we'd put the complete application together.

The question they asked, and I suppose one we need to think about is what we do with that? 

Our business goals are clear, we still intend to license the technology to third parties and provide hosted solutions for some of our services.  However, the tactical appz like the MWC App and the Mix App have given us a boost in the web traffic, if nothing else.  To whit, as of this morning the Viafo website has had as much traffic as our previous record breaking month...

With this in mind I think we'll do a CTIA app - it's in keeping with ViaEventz anyway.  But what else should we do?  The World Cup (Soccer, you know the one that practically everybody in the world plays) is coming up in June - should we build an app for that and have it on our main platforms, which should, by then, include WinMo, Bada, iPhone and Android?  Or does that become a low revenue time sink for us?

To be honest, I don't know at the moment.  I'll let you know when we make the decision.



In a little over a week it'll be time for one of the big events of the North American Telecoms calendar, the early CTIA event.

We're thinking of doing another App "for that" - at least for WinMo - we'll be aiming to have our iPhone demo to show then, but it's touch and go at the moment.

At the very least we're intending to launch our first 2 apps, ViaNewz and ViaSearchz, and also probably, announce our second significant customer deal and the target platform.

As always, if you want to meet, let me know.

Mix10 Appz: Day 4 - Beta/Alpha Delivery

I'll be the first to admit that this isn't 100% perfect.  Give us a break, we have only had a few days.  But here's the Mix10 app for Windows Mobile built on Viafo's technology after we decided to do this on Tuesday.

Key features and stuff we did get done:


  • Windows Mobile 5.x, 6.x Touch and Non-Touch Support
  • Integrated with the speaker profiles and schedule
  • Maps coming over the weekend
  • Integrates to your Twitter Account and provides a #mix10 Twitter feed
  • Integrated Mix10 RSS feeds plus slots for 5 of your own relevant RSS feeds
  • Follow Users for the Twitter #mix10 feed feature and Follow Speakers - where they've registered a twitter handle
  • We might add local search for Las Vegas too... but that's the point at which the CTO starts kicking me...


There are a couple of things we've spotted which are Windows Mobile related.  If the device is low on system memory we've seen the initial, "large" sync failing - there's not a lot we can do about WinMo memory management but if you do get a "ViaStkz failed error" then try a reboot to clear the memory out and retry.  And whinge at somebody from WinMo when you see them at Mix ;)

Feedback will be useful, but remember this was a Quick and Dirty attempt to build a working and useful app from a set of backend data sources in a couple of days.  I hope you enjoy it!

Mix10 Appz: Day 3

Scene: INT - Seattle Coffee Shop - Day

CEO and CTO of exciting startup are sitting having a progress review over a pair of coffees.  The coffee shop is full of people in fleeces and outdoor wear and working on laptops.

CTO:  ... and you OFFERED X?

CEO: Yes, the code's written it's just cut and paste isn't it?

CTO Er... well... er... yes, sort of but not quite... I mean it will be but I needed to get X,Y,Z done first and rolled up into the main...

CEO's eyes are glazing over at this stage.

CEO: Ok, ok, just get through it quickly and then you can get onto the next client, which I know you want to.  

CTO: Except you just got that new project in and...

CEO waves hands...

CEO: Ok, ok...  fine, anyway I've a couple of busy weeks ahead and we need the demos, and then I'm off to CTIA for a week.

CTO: Great... with any luck you can stop adding new requirements....


Well, it wasn't quite that bad.  But apparently we're getting close :)

Mix10 Appz: Day 2

Quick update on the Mix10 App we're building.  We've got the features agreed and we've pretty much sourced all the content to add.  The goal of our solution is to make building mobile applications like this, especially those for events, really easy.

The tricky part, at least for us, is all on the back end of the app.  So we've been locked down over the course of the day working out how we can extract the schedule and attendee data from the online side of things.  We've got that sorted today, so we should have the application built for tomorrow... and, I'll be honest, if we can show 48 hours from thinking about the mobile app, to the app being ready for download, complete with the web interface built... well... then I'll be a happy CEO.

I'll check in tomorrow to see if we've got everything done and a link to the app...  Shame we're not even going - but we have to pick our events carefully at the moment and we're already off to Vegas later in the month.

Maybe next year... especially if somebody at Microsoft pays.

The Bravado of the Start Up CEO

Coming from a BizDev background with just enough technical understanding to be dangerous gives me the fun without the object horror associated with having to do things...  at least until I have to micro-manage the deadline :)

Actually, I'm kidding a little.  But it does mean I get to have insane ideas and then act on them while dumping most of the hard work onto other people, and today I've had a good one.  It comes from a post from a friend who is one of the world's few remaining Windows Mobile users who notes that the apps for Mix seem to be iPhone focused.  Highly amusing when you read that one of the big things for Mix will be a phone to beat the iPhone.

Anyway, this got me thinking about a challenge for us.  There is a Mix App out there for the event on iPhone - why don't we see if we can put something our using our technology which matches some of the iPhone App functionality using our ViaEventz stuff and see if we can get it out there before the event and with some interactive and dazzling functionality...

I've not spoken to the CTO yet, but I know he loves a challenge...

I'll get back to you later...

Off to Barcelona we go...

One of the funniest sitcoms in history, at least in my opinion, was the incredibly short lived but hysterically funny Fawlty Towers.  A tour-de-force by John Cleese as a minor hotel owner in a seaside town in the South West of England.  If you haven't seen it, stop reading and go and find it.

One of the minor characters is Manuel, an unfortunate soul working for Cleese's horrendous Basil Fawlty.  Nothing Manuel does is right even when Basil is at fault, and every infraction is blamed simply on the fact that Manuel is from Barcelona.

Well, in a few days pretty much every body in the mobile industry will be in Barcelona too.  It's the annual GSM Association conference there.  This will be my 10th year and the second time I'm going as part of a new company, and the first time as CEO.  It's an amazing event - 50,000+ people crowded into the old Olympic center displaying and selling the leading in mobile technologies.  We'll be there, exhibiting at the Alcatel Lucent stand in Hall 7.  I'll post more on that tomorrow.

Here I wanted to focus on what I'm expecting to see or hoping to...

  • Windows Phone 7 - having developed our V1 solution on Windows Mobile, I feel that, out of loyalty I should be excited about that.  But I feel like I've been invited to the ball once too often by MS and they've never actually taken me.  Everybody I know at Microsoft tells me how wonderful it is, but I still haven't seen evidence of this.  I'm still not convinced we'll see anything other than canned demos even now
  • Apps!  Lots and lots of apps.  I'm on record as not being persuaded by the concept of Browser based services for mobile phones and I think Apple has, in a way, locked the mindshare of the phone using community into the app in the way that SMS has for messaging.  Let's be honest here.  Nobody in their right mind would send 140 character messages at $0.25 a message, but we all do, even though we have email.  Why?  Because it works.  I think Apps will be the same
  • Location and Augmented Reality - I'm hoping to see a lot of this.  Why?  Because it's cool

I intend to blog through the event, WiFi permitting!

Mobile NW

We're going to be showing demos at Mobile NW on Monday and we've also supplied a prototype of our new Event Management Solution.  Unfortunately the App is only on Windows Mobile at the moment, but you can download it and try it from the Mobile NW site mirror here.

After that we'll also be at the Mobile Marketing Association Forum event in LA on Tuesday.

Symbian Expo

After an excellent CTIA and a great Wipjam session we're on the road again, back to the UK to sample curry, a decent Bacon sandwich and the Symbian Expo 2009.

Its going to be a busy week!