MIR: A tech evangelist’s perspective on the o2/CPW saga

Please note: It must be pointed out for reasons that will soon become clear that the following is my own personal opinion and not necessarily those of my employer, SpinVox.

Hello folks,

If you haven?t read Ben Jennings? excellent post on his view of how to deal with the iPhone debacle, then go and do that now.

This post is related.

How?

…I’ll tell you.

It was with great interest that I read Ben?s three step proposal for dealing with said horrifying iPhone badness. All three steps were interesting but for me, it was step two that really made me sit up and pay attention?

For those of you that missed yesterday’s piece ? here?s the part I?m referring to:
?Step 2: Hire an Evangelist.

Ben writes:
This only needs to be one person. Heck, they could even be a student, as long as they have the right information. Maybe they could run the information page [in step 1] too. This person?s role would be to engage with the customers on the O2 forums. Wouldn?t it be fantastic if CPW had forums too? Are CPW even aware that they are being talked about on O2?s forums just because there is nowhere else for this conversation to take place? The evangelist would be an invaluable tool to act as a barometer of what are the specific hot issues. The evangelist would also make the customers feel like they were being listened to, rather than ignored. They could even Twitter updates to gain that Web 2.0 cool.?

Why am I interested in this?

Well this actually makes up a part of what I do for SpinVox and, hand on heart, I honestly have NO IDEA why other companies/brands, big and small aren?t following suit.

There really is NO EXCUSE for not at least listening to the web to find out what people are saying about you, your products, you level of customer service, your shops… Basically, if anyone out there is saying ANYTHING about you, you can bet your bottom dollar they’re saying it online.

“Well that’s lovely James, well done. But CPW is everso slightly different from SpinVox…” I hear you cry.

Yes… and no.

Admittedly, not every company is like SpinVox and I do not pretend for one second to have a single clue about the inner workings of Carphone Warehouse, however what I do have is a certain amount of knowledge about being a Product Evangelist.

And rule number one? LISTEN!

OK, so it would seem that someone out there at O2/CPW is obviously ?listening? to the web, (or maybe just to Ewan), or else I doubt very much Dan Lane would have his iPhone activated right now, (which he does by the way ? in case you were worried).

But knowing how to engage with your community once the listening period has begun can be a fantastic way to circumnavigate these kinds of troubles and tribulations.

I cannot imagine for a second that someone, somewhere along the line at O2 and/or CPW didn?t put their hand up in THAT meeting and say:

?Err? But what if it all goes wrong??

What IF it all goes wrong? It DID all go wrong!

Fair enough, it?s going to take some balls for someone to say:
?Well it?s alright, we?ve got an Evangelist, it’ll be fine!?

But by having one as part of an over-arching customer service team (aligned with the PR and the Tech Teams) can and will make all the difference. Hell, why not make it part and parcel of the lead up to launch?

At least those savvy enough to know about said person/representative will know they have someone to turn to who isn?t bound by a single ?Failed Security Check? message.

Like Ben says, an evangelist can help the customers feel like they are being listened to rather than be ignored.

Having sales folk in-store? Standard.

What about on the end of your customer service line? Yep. Got that.

Ok, so how about ONLINE?

….Anyone? Hello?!

Having a reputation manager, product evangelist, community manager, customer champion, social media manager or just ANY kind of digital representative that can talk to your customers for you can and WILL make SO MUCH difference to your online reputation!

If CPW had their own forums then they could?ve redirected their complaints to the static info page that Ben laid out in Step 1, (see post referenced at the beginning of this one). If they had their own representatives on those forums then they could feed back live information.

Hell, it doesn?t even to be their forums. They could trawl the o2 ones!

Also, being an evangelist isn?t just about talking up your stuff all over the place (online and off), it?s about being a trusted face and a trusted place. The first port of call not just should anything go wrong, but also for potential customers, partners or even just for those who are looking for information about you.

(A recent SV example from a day or so ago can be found here, on Twitter).

Sticking with the point – if the CPW website is broken? Get to X.

Oh, not happy with the CPW customer service? You should drop a note to X.

Having trouble with that thing you bought from CPW? You should follow X, (s)he’ll help.

These are all examples where an evangelist would help your brand reputation.

Something, ANYTHING to calm those folk down who think they?ve been misled, cheated, defrauded, messed around, screwed over? (do I need to go on?) ?by CPW (and/or O2).

This isn’t rocket science folks and I am most certainly not revealing nuclear codes here –
A simple Google Alert will tell you who?s talking about you RIGHT NOW.

“It can’t be that simple James!” – No really.

It is THAT SIMPLE.

I just set one up for Carphone Warehouse, (set to ‘as-it-happens’) and within minutes I got a ping?

The first link points to the second link, the second link look something like this:

Familiar story huh?

Well how about hiring an evangelist to monitor this stuff?

To reach out to these disgruntled bloggers and say something like:
?Hi Tom
Look, we messed up. Big. We are REALLY sorry. In equal measure we also REALLY want you to get your iPhone. I honestly do not know when we will be shipping your iPhone 3G out to you, but if you?d like to email me your details I will do my best to find out what the current state of play is regarding your account.
Yours,

John Smith
CPW Evangelist?

Reasonably simple; make it personal, reach out to your critics and let them know they are being heard.

Help them understand that you are here to help and yes, even humans mess up sometimes.
Fingers crossed, Tom?s account details would be passed back, a rapport would build, information would be shared and the next thing you know you might even have a fan who?s happy to tell the world that actually, yeah CPW got it wrong.. but y’know what, they ARE trying to get things done.

CPW, if you’re listneing, engage your online community and ignore them at your peril.

And if you want to tack a bit of science on the end of that just to really hammer it home:
Recent studies show that the internet is the most influential medium when it comes to consumers purchasing decisions; twice as strong as that of Television and almost eight times the influence of traditional printed media.

Source – http://pov.fleishman.com/blogs/fhsocialnetwork/2008/06/new_research_reveals_the_impac.php

Here endeth the lesson.

MIR: Stop the Press! The Apple store can’t sell iPhones

Alrighty,

Whatley here – I just got a call from our man on the street, Dan Lane –

(that’ll be the new version of Nokia PC Suite)

Bless Dan – I almost feel sorry for him.

After hearing that the Apple Store might have some iPhones to sell – our hero decamped to Regent Street to see what he could lay his hands on.

Turns out the answer is NOT MUCH.

Dan is still queuing.

The o2 servers have gone down.
he Apple Store hasn’t sold an iPhone for the last TWO HOURS..
Shocking.

Can you say: “Worst. Launch. Ever???”

Apparently Apple have drafted in o2 staff to do manual sign ups as the o2 systems couldn’t handle the load.

Brilliant.

Bet you wish you’d waited now. Heh.

Oh and by the way, I’m hot-desking at the Mippin offices in Fulham today (Hi Guys!), and I’ve just taken delivery of a brand new Nokia N78 + MD4 speakers from those lovely folk at WOM World.
Expect a review in a couple of weeks.

…and I didn’t even have to queue.

MIR: The Mobile Geek of Glastonbury: “Please Hold”

A ditty, while I write the main review…

So off I went to Glastonbury; all my gadgets in tow.
With all the kit I was packing, I had a confident glow.

And yet something seemed to be nagging, this voice inside my head.
It wouldn?t stop, nor would it cease… and this is what is said:

?Your gadgets will be no good to you, your phones will not stay dry.
Your software will all be useless when your batteries up and die.

Solar chargers cannot work in rain and your wind-up is a joke;
Your DC-8 will desert you mate, trust me it will choke.?

And so with these words I did depart, my head hung up in woe
Would my gadgets last me? I really did not know.

So dear readers the time has come, which ones were the best?
Which one passed and which ones failed.. this glastonbury test…

Write up coming soon…

MIR: The Mobile Geek of Glastonbury: Gadgets

Evening readers, Whatley here, writing this on my laptop en route to Pilton for the festival that is known as Glastonbury.

As you know from my last post, the multitude of tools available to the modern day, festival going Mobile Geek really is quite something… So here, for your pleasure, is a quick rundown of what I am taking with me, starting with the hardware…

Handsets:

I’ve packed my N95, my N95 8GB and my E61i. The E61i is perfect as an emergency, backup handset as the battery on that baby is HUGE and it lasts FOREVER (well, about 5 days). So if it all goes pear-shaped I can resort to using that. The N95s I’m going to tag-team throughout the day/festival. One to carry with me and one to charge. Speaking of chargers…

Power:

When it comes to keeping the batteries fully topped up, I?ve covered all bases with this one. I’ve got a Nokia DC-8 battery charger, bought this today, £25. Steep, but I?m a sucker for the branded stuff (and it’s worked OK so far).

I’ve also got a Free Loader Solar Charger (see below). This thing gets kudos just for the fact that out of all of the chargers, this was the only one that came with one for the Nintendo DS. Which has made my friends very happy indeed; Mario Kart for them while I type this passing Stone Henge, (fact).

Finally, I have this ‘GoHello’ wind-up charger and, as Ben Smith so rightly said in a recent Mobile Industry Review podcast – “…they ain’t called wind-ups for nothing”.

Seriously, I’ve got nothing out of this thing yet. Nothing. Boo.

On top of all that lot, I’ve got four (count ’em), N95 batteries. All fully charged before departure so let’s see how long they last shall we?! 🙂

Software:

Well stuff like Qik, Google Maps, VOX, SpinVox, Moblog etc… I kinda covered this last time round. I want to talk about the new stuff. Since writing that original piece I?’ve acquired two pieces of software; both of which have – so far – impressed me much.
First up is ViewRanger. I downloaded this earlier in the week and my thought was: What a load of rubbish!
However…

THEN I downloaded the Glastonbury specific maps – aka Worthy Farm etc, and WOW! Impressed!
Check out this screenshot:

You can see that they’ve pre-loaded the app with the relative points of interest. Which is so awesome; things like cash machines, toilets, stages etc… And on top of that if I hit ‘Lock to GPS’ it’ll tell me where I am.
Rock on. I cannot wait to use this properly 🙂

The other piece of software is from Orange. It’s called GlastoNav and at first I really couldn’t get this to work..

Eek!

A few days after this, once they had ironed out the gremlins and suchlike, this little app has turned out to be very handy indeed. Not only can I look at the (much richer interpretation) of the map, but also I can plan my schedule for the event… and THEN I can share that schedule with my fellow festival-goers!

So far (again), this has really impressed me 🙂

For actual mobile stuff, that’s all.

But, I have also been given some other cool pieces of gadgetry to use/play with. One of which is the Flip video camera. This is something that I think Ewan has spoken about a fair amount – my only problem with it however is that once my hour of recording is up, I can’t upload it until I get to a USB connection.
Bah! We’ll see how I get on with that one…

The other piece of REALLY COOL stuff I’ve been given is this Loc8tor device which, hand on heart, is the best thing yet (in theory anyway).

I attach the small part to something I might lose – i.e. my friends – and then, if I lose them, I switch the big part on and it beeps to tell me how close I am etc…
I had a play before I left the house and it rocked my socks.

So… again, we’ll see how we get on.

That’s it from me, I’m nearly at Glastonbury and my laptop is about to die. Thanks to Ben Smith for editing this for me and putting the media in etc…

You can keep up with my exploits at http://www.glastonblog.co.uk

See you soon!

J.

MIR: Nokia open up about Symbian

Morning readers, Whatley here, just got this over MSN from a friend of mine at Nokia;

“Hey Whatley, we are buying Symbian and will donate it + S60 to an open source foundation!”

To which my response was a resounding – “Eh?”

You can read the official Nokia press releases here and here

Now, I’m not a developer. I’m ready to admit my knowledge in this area isn’t great. Ewan’s in the Maldives, the rest of the SMSTN Team are (still) sleeping so it’s down to me to make something of this.

Looking around online there is little opinion up yet – however, unsurprisingly, All About Symbian has the news too and Steve Litchfield says that ‘This is officially HUGE‘.

I dropped the news into Twitter just over an hour ago (at the time of publishing) and got few responses back.

One of my followers and all round smart chap, Jof Arnold, emailed over his thoughts, which he’s kindly given me permission to publish here – I for one am interested to find out what this actually means for the industry as a whole and, more importantly, what’s your opinion on this latest Nokia acquistion?

_________________

Over to Jof:

In practice well, that all depends on Nokia and I couldn’t possibly comment on their track history of OSS projects – cos I have no idea.

In theory? Potentially an awful lot. Compare to the iPhone and you’ll see why. Remember all those people trying to jail-break the iPhone? Those projects were successful because fundamentally the operating system pissed off many people; cut and paste; closed apps; no file explorer. Now, had apple open-sourced it fully you’d have a situation where the masses would be contributing huge amounts of their time into making the iPhone just how they wanted it all under Apple’s approval of course.

But, Apple won’t do that and developers are annoyed. Which is why any system that allows developed to tinker with the core operating system is going to be attractive to them. All of a sudden, developers have a conundrum;

  • Develop for a locked-down system that is only on 10m handsets yet has a cool app-distribution and revenue-sharing system. Apple)
  • Develop for an open system that has 200m handsets (nokia)
  • Develop for some google vapour-ware (android)

Impossible to say what will happen, but developers have always had a soft-spot for Symbian. This is potentially game-changing, but Nokia/Symbian’s got their work cut out; despite all this, Apple is a marketing monster and is hard to resist.

Jof Arnold
http://www.brainbakery.com
http://twitter.com/jofarnold

_________________

Thanks for those thoughts Jof. There’s a live webcast scheduled in for 11am today.

We’ll have more news, as it breaks.

Thoughts?

MIR: The Mobile Geek of Glastonbury: Intro

Greetings readers, your friendly neighbourhood Whatley here;

While some of us are off gallivanting around the Maldives – sorry, ahem – A DESERT ISLAND, other bloggers, like myself, have to make do with the festival season to amuse themselves here back in the UK.

And what better festival other than the Mother of all festivals: Glastonbury!

:)

Yes, it really IS that muddy. I took that photo myself.

Last year, I think I’m pretty safe in saying;

I was the ONLY person to live blog Glastonbury from a mobile phone.

Yes. That’s right, I blogged the whole darn thing (well as much as my battery would allow) from my Nokia N95-1 (the original silver one, the one with the REALLY poor battery, y’know?).

In fact the only reason my current blog exists is because of my then(?) obsession with Mobile Blogging.

You can go back and read some of my exploits here, here and here if you’d like.
But really, all you need to know is, at the time, the only way I could do this (AFAIK) was through VOX.

VOX has a neat little application that sits on some/most Nseries phones that you can download and is also available as one of the upload options in the Share Online app, also found on most Nseries phones.

Power wise, again only for last year, I had three N95 batteries (BL-5Fs for the true geeks among you) and these two things below:

That on the left is an independent battery charge-base and that on the right, a portable double AA battery powered phone charger.

The former proved itself to be extremely useful, then and indeed over the past year of ownership too. With that handy little device I can always have one battery in my phone, while another charges. This, of course, is all well and good until you go and lose the damn thing; which is what I did a matter of days ago.

I digress.

The thing on the right, I bought that from Amazon, thing is mind.

It . Was. Rubbish.

In fact I think it actually USED more battery power than it actually gave back. I ended up passing it onto some fellow festival-ite in our circle of tents. It conveniently came with a bunch of other adaptors – not just Nokia; covered SE, Motorola, Blackberry… the lot. You name it. So at least that much was handy about it.

However, for me, it was no good.

And don’t even start me on the quite frankly RIDICULOUSOrange Charge Tent‘.
I mean, who wants to QUEUE for an hour to charge their handset, only to discover that when they get to the front, they then have to wait around for a further two hours to watch their phone charge at an unsecured bar.
Joined up thinking really not their specialty it would seem.

So, how did I stay charged?

Well, while the Orange monkeys were missing out on potentially 3hrs of great music, I managed to find a little store amongst the clothes stalls and falafel vendors, which specialised in phone charging.
You paid a fiver a go and it was kept under lock and key and all was fine. The system the guy had running behind him reminded me a little of chargebox and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were one and the same, I’ll ask them this year and see. Anyway, this little store became a daily haunt for my good self.

In the morning I’d get up, review any content from the night before, write a quick post or two and then upload as much as I could before my battery died. After that I’d mosey on down to aforementioned phone charging establishment, pay my fiver, and then go off and meet friends who I’d arranged to meet at a later time (do you remember when we did that?!).

Later that afternoon I would pick up my phone, liaise with all the folk that had been trying to reach me for God knows how long, and then get off to another stage where upon I’d take more photos/videos that I would later, no doubt upload.

Lovely stuff.
So aside from the not-so-brilliant portable phone charger, last year was a reasonable success.

But what about this year?

Well, my VOX blog is still up and running.
So I’ve got that working just fine, but now look at all the other things I can do!

I can upload via SMS, MMS or Email via Moblog.
I can simply make a phone call and speak a blog post through SpinVox.
I can boot up Qik and stream LIVE content direct to the internet. Not only direct to my QIK page, but if I hit ’55’ while I’m streaming, my 500-odd followers on Twitter will get told about it too!

The plethora of Social Tools now available to the modern, festival-going geek, really, truly, is a spectacle to behold.

I shall be using ALL of those services/apps/tools I’ve listed above, and probably more.

The question is Dear Readers, which ones do YOU think I should be using?

What should your Mobile Geek of Glastonbury be packing in his rucksack to ensure a complete all round mobile performance?

Leave your suggestions below or, if you have anything you want showcased/tested over the coming festival season, email james@whatleydude.com

Cheers! 🙂

MIR: Whatley on the iPhone – “Meh. Next!”

I’ve actually been working my ass off all day and haven’t really been paying that much attention – I’m sick of all the tweets TBH. I got the vibe that others were too.

I did take a look though. I wasn’t amazed. And I think, as our mate Jon said “the difficult 2nd album” as it were.

There was scope to do better.

*shrug*

And as for new pricing? As I said above – I’ve not seen it, not bothered, not paying attention.

What is Apple’s ‘Mobile Me’? Not bothered. Really. Not. Fussed.

Not upgrading. I told you that I am a content creator. I told you that my phone does everything for me. That iPhone? Nah. Nothin.

THEY HAVENT EVEN UPGRADED THE CAMERA.

*sigh*

NEXT.