My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Brown Dawg, a Social Networking site based on Mobile phones for Digicel

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brown Dawg, a Social Networking site based on Mobile phones for Digicel

Geo-location services seem to be the next new hot trend in the Social fabric that is Mobile Social Networking despite its seemingly sinister implications, this according to the program “CNET’s Buzz Report” posted March 12th 2010 presented by Molly Wood, CNET News as well as in the video “CNET Loaded”, posted April 10 2010 by Natalie Del Conte,CNET News.

FaceBook is testing this new concept of including your coordinates (exact latitude and longitude!) whenever you post your FaceBook Updates, effectively allowing users of mobile phones to be able to be tracked as well as track the locations of their friends.

Effectively an incarnation cross-hybrid of FourSquare, a Social Networking site that was developed by a former Dodgeball executive who had pioneered GPS based Social Networking as stated in the article “Google struggles with Social skills” published February 3, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Caroline McCarthy and Tom Krazit CNET News - Digital Media and Twitter, which is a micro-blogging site allowing 140 character post or “tweets” as they are called.

It seems that now even Google is now in the race with Google Buzz (finally!) after failing with previous attempts such as Orkut, and the much hyped Google Wave, which fizzled, proving that you just cannot “engineer” Social Networking, it has to be based on grouping of people who have something in common that binds them together.

Thus, FaceBook “peeps” are people who are organized and involved, Twitter “Twitterers” are people who like others knowing where they are and are mostly disorganized people,Hi5 people are people who are mostly cheerleaders or fun-loving support people,FourSquare are people who own GPS enable smart phones who like knowing where their friends are at all time.

The common factor with all these Social Networking websites is that it involves the use of computers (Desktops, Laptops and Netbooks) and smartphones and is geared towards the interaction of friends who know each other and share the same personal interests.

But what if you could create a VAS (Value Added Service) that is a Social Network using basic mobile phones that are not internet enabled and only have SMS (Short Messaging Service) and somehow incorporate Geo-Location into the Social Network, with the use of advertising to pay for the SMS and Geo-location elements in such a Social Network and in the process be a source of revenue for both the mobile customer and the Telecoms Provider?

What if such a service could be implemented using Digicel Intunes as the launch platform? It would appear with recent advance in Telecoms Provider Networks that this will soon be possible, based on the article Global Positioning Without GPS publishedSeptember 13, 2009, 11:30PM EST by Kevin Tofel Business GigaOM.

The idea, which I shall call Brown Dawg is rather simple but very easy to implement, even without the “secret sauce” algorithm from the start-up GloPos. It basically involves taking ultra precise measurements of every cell tower in a Telecoms Providers Mobile Network and storing that information in a database specifically the dimensions, angular orientation and precise GPS location of the cell tower, from the base of the tower up to the antennae (Agisson or Andrews) in the crow’s nest atop the tower.

This information is then placed into a database (preferably Telecoms Provider Digicel’sData Center). This information of course is to be used for the Geo-location portion of the Social Network and would be collected by a company contracted by the Telecoms Provider to do so.

Then software engineers would create the Social Networking website, which would basically just be a tab in Digicel Intunes. Persons who are regular subscribers to DigicelIntunes would be able to join instantly and once they click on the tab, they can register their name and other details much like FaceBookTwitter and FourSquare as it relates to themselves and their phones type, so that the service can be optimized for their screen type.

The Social Networking site would have an interface in which one can send “tweets” or in this case “hail up” via either the websites interface or from the user’s basic mobile phone interface using the SMS and MMS (Multi-Messaging service) capabilities, if the phone also supports MMS, with mobile phone users receiving SMS or MMS as answers.

How it differs from a regular Social Network is how the Social Network website is financed, which will basically be via the following types of advertising based on the information that the subscribers to the service enter into the Social Network site and opting into having advertisements for certain products and services being sent or received by their mobile phones.

This is a form of Behavioral Targeted Marketing as stated in the article “Study: Like it or not, behavioral ad targeting works”, published March 24, 2010 9:01 AM PDT by Caroline McCarthy, CNET News – The Mobile Social:

1.      Website banner Ads
2.      Google AdSense Ads
3.      Ring back tune Ads
4.      MMS Ads
5.      SMS Ads
6.      Call Ads

Website banner Ads and Google AdSense Ads are not new revenue stream. What are new are Ring Back tune Ads, MMS Ads, SMS Ads and Call Ads. In the case of Ring Back tune Ads, customers who join Brown Dawg will subscribe to promoting a particular company’s products or brands, for which a ring back tune, MMS video clip (still or moving with/without audio) or SMS ad has been prepared by that company’s marketing team e.g. Grace Kennedy, Red Stripe to name a few.

Based on your mobile phone capabilities, such as EDGE or GPRS enabled, the customer upon choosing which company they wish to advertise, their account is activated on their mobile phone. Thus the obvious becomes clear: the usage of the mobile phone to post “hail up” on the Social Network is only possible if the customer subscribes to supporting advertising on their mobile phone on Brown Dawg.

Such customers, who I shall now refer to as members of the Mobile Social NetworkBrown Dawg, would be rewarded each time with JA$100 bonus credit whenever someone called them and the Ring back tune ad played. Members of Brown Dawg are also rewarded whenever they send a text message, as the recipient of the text message receives two (2) text messages or SMS, the first one (1) containing a SMS based ad and the second one (1) being the original text message that you sent, for which the sender receives JA$100.

Rewards are also received whenever members of Brown Dawg send a MMS message, as the recipient of the video clip (still or moving with/without audio) receives two (2) MMS messages, the first one (1) containing a MMS video clip (still or moving with/without audio) ad and the second one (1) being the original MMS message that you sent, for which the sender receives JA$100.

Additionally, members of Brown Dawg can also opt into another service offered, in which businesses and companies can pay  Telecoms Provider Digicel to have Call Ads randomly sent to their mobile phones,

The customer receives JA$100 for each call that they receive and listen to in its entirety.

Thus, thanks to this advertising model, all SMS and MMS messaging sent by members of  Brown Dawg is free, both from the website interface as well as  from the user’s basic mobile phone interface using the SMS and MMS. This concept is very similar to how most Social Networks are initially self financed using advertising revenue and Brown Dawg is no different.

But the exciting part is the Geo-Location bit. With the correct algorithm and assistance from GloPos utilizing the information stored in the database specifically the dimensions, angular orientation and precise GPS location of the cell tower, from the base of the tower up to the antennae (Agisson or Andrews) in the crow’s nest atop the tower.

Geo-Location advertising service can be offered to basic mobile phone users to not only find the location of other users who are your friends and who have opted into Geo-Location on sign up to Brown Dawg by using simple find commands e.g. “find 18763810035”, which would tell you where the friend is currently in terms of street, direction and distance

Business places can pay Telecoms Provider Digicel to have advertisements about their products and services sent via MMS, SMS or Call Ads, which is an automated call made to your mobile phone selling you the company’s product or service.

Thus once you pass within proximity of their business place or outlets, for which you can opt into, much in the same way you can be a fan of a product or service on FaceBookonly this time around you would be paid JA$100 per ad received from the company or business that you opted for this Geo-Location service.

In addition, Brown Dawg would also alert you if a friend of yours or someone you wish to avoid is nearby, once these friends also opted into Geo-Location upon signing up withBrown Dawg and has opted to have their location tracked by you, the alert being in the form of a simple SMS telling you. 

Eventually other elements similar to other Social Networking websites can be gradually added into the website such as popular online games such as Farmville as stated in the article “Gameworld: A virtual farm turns new ground for game developers” published Thu Mar 25, 9:48 am ET By John Gaudiosi, Reuters Yahoo! News

Traditional  Telecoms Provider Digicel giveaways and other elements that are good revenue turners, all advertisements content in terms of Ring Back Tune Ads, SMS Ads, MMS Ads and audio recordings for Call Ads hosted in databases on  Telecoms ProviderDigicel’s Data Center and all advertisements being paid for using package deals with the relevant advertisements agencies or businesses/companies who wish their Ads to be presented to customers via this medium. 

Thus the Telecoms Provider Digicel has the customer base to introduce this new Social Network initiative that would not only put  Telecoms Provider Digicel into the Social Networking game but also allow  Telecoms Provider Digicel to make advertising revenue with a site that takes advantage of possibly the largest Social Network that exists in Jamaica, that being  Telecoms Provider Digicel’s own subscriber base without customers having to resort to purchasing new smart phones.

Eventually, when  Telecoms Provider Digicel launches it WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network at the end of the second quarter of 2010, effectively in the summer time as suggested in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4th 2009 by Lavern Clarke, The Jamaica Gleaner.

With ZTE Corp of China as their build out partner of their new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network as stated in the article “Digicel signs ZTE as 4G Mobile WiMaX Internet Partner”, published Sunday, September 27, 2009, The Jamaica Observer.

Brown Dawg can become the platform for their offerings to users of their Network traditional GSM Network as well as their new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network and push  Telecoms Provider Digicel into making advertising revenue from it large customer base, especially as the increasingly negative effects of the Recession in the United States of America will continue to affect Jamaica for the next seven (7) years

It will result in customer’s reducing their spending on the purchase of credit, making local calls and especially making international calls, the bread and butter of all Telecoms Providers in Jamaica. This is now evident from  Telecoms Provider Digicel making offers of JA$1 per every minute of international calls (a figure that may be increased!) from abroad and reminding people that they can have friends and family abroad top up their phones via the various money remittance agencies abroad in a  bid to encourage people to keep talking.

However this will begin to lose traction by September 2010 as people as more broadband solutions, both wired and wireless become available to Jamaicans who will then opt to call less and make more VoIP calls, a sign of the necessity of MNP (Mobile Number Portability) at that point in time.

Probably the only wrong with this idea is the name, which needs a little work……..

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