Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Mini release & the return of some old friends

You may have followed with some amusement our run-in with the Dick Turpin posse using the share via SMS function to sms their friends for free (you'll find details in the archive here). Amusing, ingenious and we almost applauded it, but it cost us too much. We had to turn that functionality off while some head scratching took place about how to provide the functionality to those that really wanted it for sharing stories found on Mippin.

The good news is that it is back for a large number of customers - the bad news is that it's not there for everyone. You'll see it if your phone supports it and not at all if not. If you have a Nokia or a relatively new Sony Ericsson or Samsung you are in good shape as well as a number of other devices. We'll work on making it more extensive in future (though market development will help us in this as well).

The really good news is that this share via SMS functionality used to be available in the UK but now works globally! Fantastic!

In with this mini-release is a return to the weather feed displaying three pictures which we hope satisfies all of those weather freaks out there who were suddenly disturbed by an apparent lack of weather two days in the future - we had lots of feedback on this so we hoped everyone is now less alarmed.

Also in the release are some improvements to the search functionality to allow more recent stories to bubble to the top more freely. This makes a noticeable difference for searching for Sports results or match summaries for example. There are some other improvements coming through which will also just help the general effectiveness of the service for you.

Other changes include removal of the Mowser link :-(, inclusion of the age of a particular story, an upgrade to the Mippin Today email and changing of some terms like Mipplets to readily known terms e.g. Widgets. There is a host more but the list is long and in many cases there to improve how the service works for you rather than adding new features that you can see (that bit is a bit boring so we'll skip it if you don't mind).

More releases soon and from Monday we're trialling some very, very exciting new functionality. A fun but incredibly useful feature. If you are in the London area and want to guinea pig this for 30 minutes let us know - you will be more than welcome.

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Monday, 28 April 2008

How many people have a cellphone?

You may attribute this post to:

(i) this classic post by the Professor of Mobile Statistics Tomi Ahonen
(ii) recent pitches to financiers who still struggle with the concept that mobiles outnumber phones by 4 to1 and counting
(iii) a lull in proceedings on a Friday afternoon....

We began to wonder when the number of mobile phones in the world would reach a theoretical 100% penetration i.e. an average of 1 phone per person. We sharpened our pencils and put together PhoneCount which gives a good estimation of when this will happen.

An explanation of how the figure was derived is here. You may begin your protests now about any faultlines in the mathematics......


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Channel Effectiveness

We are learning all the time at Mippin in a large number of different areas and benefit from considerable feedback from our users and also from friends and fellow mobile industry cohorts. In this post we look at and share some data regarding the effectiveness of different channels in creating repeating Mippin users.

As in our Deep Dive on Devices post we have rated the top channel (on this metric) with 1 and then all other channels as a quotient of that channel. So, something with a score of 0.50 is half as effective as the leading channel.

In this post we are only looking at the most effective channel in creating repeat usage of Mippin. You should feel free to use this data to help you inform your own decisions if it is relevant but it is not the whole story - this does not represent the total cost per acquisition of a repeating user.

The best example is the suggestion that someone accessing Mippin through an SMS promotion. This table shows that once someone visits Mippin they are a little more than half as likely to become a repeating user than someone beginning the same journey through Getjar. BUT the number of SMSs you need to send out to bring one initiation probably means that this is going to be a far higher cost per acquisition then any other channel on this list.

Other interesting points:
- AdMob appears to have the beating of Google in the UK and the US; but quite the reverse in India
- Publisher promotion and Word of Mouth give the user the most context about what they are about to view and as a result more likely than all bar Getjar to create repeat usage
- Getjar is chock-full of early adopters who are extremely willing to experiment with mobile services

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Monday, 21 April 2008

Very happy about Mobhappy

Hurray! Big grins all around Mippin. One of our favourite blogs about the mobile space is up and running on the Mippin Maker: monetising traffic through their own AdMob account (of course). Carlo and Russell have even added the Make It Mobile button to the site to make it easier for people to find. Now there are no excuses for being out of touch with one of the most thought provoking and in-tune blogs about the mobile industry. Welcome guys.

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So much for the BAFTAS, now the MEFFYS

Yes luvvies, the BAFTAS are now behind us and we can now focus on the MEFFYS, the mobile industry's gathering of glitterati (in Cannes this year for added glitz).

The nominations are out and we are really pleased to be recognised. Cannes is a little extravagant and budgets are always tight for such jollies but Suzi Perry is presenting and something of a queue is forming in the office.

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Friday, 18 April 2008

A Top 10 Mobile Web 2.0 Company

Ewan Spence is a knowledgable follower and prolific writer about the mobile space. So, it was with great delight that we spotted this post this morning about Ewan's view of the top 10 companies in our space. Among the Google's, BBC's, Yahoo!'s, Facebook's and MySpace's nestles a few early stage companies: Dopplr, Twitter and us.

We are really delighted with that :-)

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Mippin wins Red Herring award

It's great to be the bringer of good news. I've joined Mippin about a month ago and can now share with you our excitement about having won the Red Herring award - being recognised as one of the Top 100 Tech Startups in Europe! This is a great achievement of the Mippin/Refresh Mobile team after only six months of Mippin in action.

I'm proud to be part of this team and we're committed to making Mippin even more exciting and popular!

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Mippin Today to your inbox

Mippin Today is now available via email to keep you up to speed with your favourite stories or to give you a hint of what to read on your way to/from work.

If you click into Mippin Today follow the link at the foot of the page to create your own alert for your selection of feeds.


Mobile Monday: welcome!

Mobile Monday is a mobile industry institution which now has many chapters around the world. This brings together a large number of industry professionals and enthusiasts to talk and to network on a regular basis and are always fully subscribed.

We actually launched Mippin at the London event on the 8th October last year and it is therefore especially nice to see the Indonesian team up and running on the Mippin Maker and promoting the facility from their web page using the 'make it mobile' button.

As per our post last week, Indonesia is one of the most vibrant mobile markets in the world right now and already in the top ten traffic generators for Mippin. We hope that a lot of the Mobile Monday members become enthusiasts.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Free Mobile Games

From today on Mippin hundreds of award winning games have been made available within a dedicated category - called - umm - Free Games. Originality in the naming was clearly high on the list of priorities.

We have included games in response to your feedback and it reinforces our commitment to provide the best free content experience for all mobile users. We hope you like it.

To do this we have partnered with the excellent Greystripe, a pioneering ad-supported mobile games supplier.

There are over 200 games immediately available and many more in reserve that will be rotated continually each week.

There is a benchmark to aim for: in the first four weeks of videos within Mippin we saw a massive 250,000 video downloads. Will Games be as compelling?

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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Cheats and Tricks #5: Registration

At Mippin we have taken pains to ensure that the end user needs to expend as little effort as possible: this means no download, no need to register, no need to manage anything on the web, no need to send an SMS etc etc.

However, it is worth pointing out that registering does give you additional features.

The most significant of these is the ability to modify your list of favourites. Instead of relying on your past history you can define exactly what you'd like to consult (you also keep your history).

This completely transforms the value of Mippin Today as well.

It is also a good insurance measure against lost cookies. If you ever were to reset your cookie or change devices then your username password would bring you up to speed immediately.

So, something definitely worth considering.


Friday, 4 April 2008

Did you know.....?

That users of Mippin span 151 different countries around the world?

Ridiculously brief post but last time I checked this stat was not that long ago and it was "only" 124.

For a bit of Friday fun, I'll give some of the top ten and send some famous Mippin Sticky Buns for anyone who can complete the missing three.......

In no particular order, seven of them are: UK, US, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Indonesia and Mexico.

The others are?

[Updated Monday 7th - Bangladesh, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia]

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Evolving Communication

We are seeing some interesting sites come through the Mippin Maker since its launch yesterday: schools, golf societies, fishing sites, tech blogs, organic farming tips from as far as Russia and Argentina. The long tail is alive and well.

Looking at a selection as they came in I was also struck by this post at Weeno Media which looks at the long tail from another and powerful perspective. It is an observation of the first news stream from the recent earthquake in the UK and underlines how individual participation can be just as powerful in certain circumstances as the more established media channels. The first posts from Twitter and Jaiku were quicker and more insightful than those of the large houses thereafter.

Mippin Maker is a tool for all: an especially the 120 million bloggers out there who have something to say. Here is your platform to say it to everyone, wherever they are.

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Safe Search Filter

The Mippin Team monitors the feedback you give on the service and also the search terms that are entered. We do this so we can respond to your interests and requests. (You can see a hilarious example of search in our archive under the title "The best search term ever").

We receive a steady stream of requests for the Safe Search Filter to be disabled with many commenting that they are old enough to decide for themselves or that we are not being open by not allowing people to view exactly what they would like to and that this approach is different from that taken by leaders like Google in the web space.

This feedback is entirely correct and we agree.

But, there are some constraints in the mobile world which we are wary of contravening which are worth pointing out.

It is entirely within the power of the ISPs in the mobile world - the operators/carriers - to deny access to a site if it contravenes industry standards. One of these standards is that if a site contains 18+ content a user must be authenticated as being 18+. This can be a laborious process (even if you are 18+) and kills take-up of fledgling services.

We take the most detailed content guidelines for each market and apply them. In the UK for example this comes from H3G who give very good commentary on what is 15+ (you will see in Mippin) and what is beyond that threshold. In the US, this threshold is much stricter and what is 15+ in the UK is still 18+ in the US.

We appreciate that there is a demand for 18+ content and our ambition to allow you to read , discover and share whatever you'd like, whereever you are remains true. But we do not want the service to be defined by this content and we do not want to make it available if it means that the majority of users lose their easy access.

In time we'll solve the issue and find the right balance - in the meantime we hope that you overcome the frustration and enjoy, nonetheless, the full selection of what is available through the 12,500 sites which are there across a spectrum of topics and interests.

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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Video Update

CTIA coverage is a little thin on the ground this year with many complaining of seeing nothing but a re-hash of Mobile World Congress news and views from February. An example is this post from Fierce Wireless covering the Arun Sarin keynote.

One interesting thing from our perspective is that he includes the fact that Vodafone has seen 2.5m youtube videos viewed by its users over the last 12 months. A stat which is used presumably to demonstrate Vodafone's relevance in the mobile space.

However, to our delight, here is a clear sign - in bright red if you will - that the more active users are moving away from the operator portals in numbers.

Mippin saw a quarter of a million video views in just one month since launch and the excellent blueapple (our video partner) is delivering a monthly number which is many times that which Vodafone reports cumulatively.

Stats like these are incredibly reassuring for start-up businesses - like ours- who began hoping these trends would come to pass.

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Tuesday, 1 April 2008


So as an end user there really is no reason for you to know this but as many of you will know Mippin works using RSS feeds as a raw material.

We have over 12,500 feeds now in the system across a huge array of topics, languages and cultures. We also have a sophisticated alarm system so that we know when one is not working.

Today, has been a day of near-cardiac arrest as feed after feed appeared to be failing. We set the team to it and soon realised that we were falling hook, line and sinker for a classic April Fool. Aaarrrggghhh!

There is no denying it. You had us. But it is after 12 o'clock now so turn it back again!