Carnival of the Mobilists #271 goes OTT with the best mobile blogs on VOIP, IM, handsets, icons, m-retail and app stores galore

Welcome to the Carnival of the Mobilists. This week mobiThinking hosts the itinerant round up of the best mobile blogs of the week. This week’s eclectic mix covers over-the-top (OTT) services (e.g. VOIP, IM, social media); iconic or irrelevant icons (those little clickable images on your home screen); iPhone wannabes v handset innovation; Pintrest for mobile marketers; device detection and m-commerce; and 70+ app stores.

OTT providers v Operators

The talk of telco town is OTT and the threat that over-the-top providers pose to mobile operators and what can and should be done about it. These are services that do/could take voice and messaging business away from operators – around 50 percent of mobile operator profits came from voice calls and 45 percent come from mobile messaging (according to Tomi Ahonen) – while using up lots of operators’ data capacity without compensating them.
We’re talking about voice-over-IP (VOIP), instant messaging (IM) and social networking (arguably) and other services that mobile subscribers may use as an alternative to texting and talking via their mobile operator, and if they’re on an all-inclusive data package, won’t cost them any extra above and beyond their mobile contract. Popular OTTs include: Skype, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk, Mxit, WhatsApp, iMessage, Facetime etc.
Of the three Carnival contributors focused on OTT this week, start with Understanding OTT – Why Carriers dislike BBM, hate iMessage and fear Skype for an all-inclusive backgrounder from the Communities Dominate blog, where Ahonen suggests that no one should underestimate the power of operators to dictate their own future.
Next, move onto The telecoms industry and a dual-dilemma problem, where Disruptive Wireless’ Dean Bubley outlines his case that telcos must combat the threat posed to them by OTT providers by launching their own-brand VOIP and Internet-based messaging services. In the second post he applauds Telefonica’s move to do just as he prescribes with the launch of Tu Me a service that allows users to “text, talk and share for free” with other Tu Me users.
For dessert, read Tough times for operators in South Korea. In a stats-filled and well-referenced post, the Voice on Telecom (VOT) blog looks at the troubled times for operators facing a two-pronged attack on revenues both from OTT messaging provider KakaoTalk and political parties keen on scoring points with promises to reduce voters mobile bills, while funding the rollout of next-generation data networks. VOT asks: if this is happening in South Korea, one of the world’s most advanced mobile countries, is it the sign of what is to come in other economies?

Icons – iconic or redundant?

In an amusing, thought-provoking and nicely illustrated post that should be compulsory reading for all mobile user-experience/mobile designers, Scott Hanselman on Scott Hanselman’s Computer Zen points out 15 icons – those little pictures commonly found on the mobile devices and PCs, to denote this or that application or function – that hark back to things that don’t mean much anymore. Check out: The Floppy Disk means Save, and 14 other old people Icons that don’t make sense anymore. Bet you can’t resist reading the comments section.
When he looks at the icons on a new mobile handset, it’s not the imagery of the icons that riles Antoine RJ Wright, it’s the pointlessness of the function that it stands for. In the firing line are the icons for battery power, snooze alarm/ignore call, and Web browsers. “He said what?!”… You’ll have to read Antiquated Features of Modern Mobile Phones to find out more.

Handset innovation – to iPhone wannabe or not to wannabe… that is the question

Manufacturers who innovate with mobile handset design and do not churn out iPhone imitations should be praised, not criticized, says mobile design guru Steven Hoober, in The iPhone is not the best phone that will ever be. In a tactful and well-argued piece, he points out how the ergonomics of the iPhone and its clones and could be improved. All rival manufacturers should read this, then revisit the designs they shelved in favor of wannabe iPhones.
One of the posts that provoked Hoober was The Samsung Galaxy S III: The First Smartphone Designed Entirely By Lawyers by Ron Amadeo on the Android Police blog, who believes that the Samsung Galaxy SIII (launched earlier this month to great razzmatazz) is ugly and that this is due to Samsung’s fear of litigious Apple. At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Leigh Geary of the CoolSmartPhone blog, who returned from the SIII launch to pen Samsung Galaxy SIII – The next big thing?

Mobile Web… or mobile optimized Web

In Bridging the “mobile commerce gap”: five things every retailer & brand should know, Wilson Kerr on the Unbound Commerce blog believes that 50 percent of Americans own a Web-connected smartphone, yet only about 30 percent of online retailers and brands have a mobile-optimized websites [it would be handy to have a reference for these stats] and offers his opinion on how and why this gap between supply and demand should be addressed.
Whether companies go for a single site that reformats for PC, tablet and mobile devices or distinct PC, tablet and mobile sites using redirection, it is essential to discover what device the visitor is using. To find out more read this Guide to Device Detection on the 4orth Mobile Patterns Wiki, by device-detection expert Luca Passani.

Social media – should marketers be Pintrested?

If Pinterest is the third largest social network on the planet, as Ken Herron states on MobileGroove, then marketers everywhere will be asking How do I “Pinterest-ize” my marketing content?. Read this beginners guide and you will know.

Apps and App stores

Lynette Anthony Hundermark of laments the number of mobile apps out there that fail to justify their existence, failing to pass even the most basic criteria in Apps for apps sake – No thank you.
Ever wondered how many app stores there are out there? Well, according to the research of Chris Reynolds on MobyAffiliates, there are 70 and counting. That’s how many he’s added so far to his very useful List of Mobile App Stores, subdivided by cross-platform, operating system, manufacturer and operator. That’s either a huge opportunity or a massive nightmare for app developers/publishers, depending on which way you look at it.

Will your mobile strategy deliver return on investment (ROI)?

David Eads on the Mobile Manifesto blog tackles the importance of and difficulties associated with building the business case for mobile initiatives, using an illuminating example for mobile banking. Read: Mobile Roadmap: Calculating Hard ROI on Soft ROI Initiatives.

That’s all folks

Thanks to all mobilists for the brimming inbox of excellent submissions this week. Sorry to all of those who didn’t make it in this time. We were overwhelmed with submissions and we’d already stretched the rules to include 15 posts from 14 authors. With blogging of such high quality, choosing post of the week was tricky, but Chris Reynolds at MobyAffiliates gets the nod of respect for the List of Mobile App Stores, which must have involved some serious research and should be an essential resource for app publishers.
• Tune in next week as the Carnival moves on to Wapple’s Addicted to Mobile Web blog.
• If you missed it, please also see Carnival #270 over at Volker on Mobile.
• If you blog about mobile, you can submit your most recent post to the next carnival, via mobilists(at)

Don’t miss:
• Webby Awards 2012 – the mobile winners with videos and case studies
• China: 1 billion mobile subscribers; 400 million mobile Web users; world’s top smartphone market
• What you can learn from the FT Web app: interview with Steve Pinches
• Guide to mobile ad networks 2012 • with 5 new ad networks •
• Most popular content on mobiThinking in 2011
• Mobile events 2012: best conferences, great discounts and free tickets
• The insider’s guide to mobile device security
• The mobile city project – the blueprint of a truly mobilized city
• The insider’s guide to device detection
• The insiders’ guides to world’s greatest mobile markets
• Guide to mobile agencies
• Guide to mobile industry awards
• The big compendium of global mobile stats

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