Archive for February, 2008


February 25, 2008 Leave a comment

By Wandrille Pruvot, Regional Director, Europe

More than 50,000 delegates, 2700 reporters and 300 companies gathered in Barcelona this month to attend GSMA’s Mobile World Congress. Barcelona has become the Mecca of the mobile world. While this year’s attendance is a big increase from events just a few years ago in Cannes, the most notable change for me has to do with what’s popular.

Branded communities like myGamma are in.

“White Label” companies are out. (For those of you who are not Francophones, the title of this blog is “White Labels Are Out of Fashion”).

The term “White Label” has nothing to do with Johnnie Walker. In mobile-speak, a “white label” is a company that provides back-end technology to create and run mobile portals and social networks for someone else. The target market for White Label techies are the telecom carriers and large internet sites.

Last year, for example, an Irish White Label called Newbay announced deals with Bebo (UK), O2, Orange and Swisscom Mobile.

This year, I didn’t see Newbay anywhere.

To be fair, I checked out Newbay’s website once the Mobile World Congress was over and they did issue a press release during the event (their first press release in eight months). But truth is, no one really seemed to notice.

Why? I see two reasons why the White Label approach is out of fashion:

1. Big internet companies like Google and MSN still haven’t made the leap to mobile. Yes, you can access their sites from a phone, but mobile is still a very small part of their business – and their strategies.

2. US companies still see the mobile internet as a way for users to access the same type of data. Take Facebook, for example. Before you can access Facebook from a phone, you have to create an account from a computer first. The assumption is that users (a) have computer access and (b) will use their phones to access the internet when they are on the move. But this just isn’t the case.

The buzz today is no longer about technology; everyone is talking instead about communities. Up until now, many branded community sites were under the radar. Take Peperoni, for example. Their mobile site – – is four times the size of Nokia’s primary mobile real estate, In fact, it’s one of the biggest sites outside Japan. But until recently, Nokia claimed to have the world’s largest mobile portal. I don’t think they were trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. They just didn’t know about Peperoni, which was quietly building its business.

Another social networking company that is raising its profile is

Like Peperoni, Itsmy is based out of Germany, but receives a lot of traffic from developing countries. Unlike myGamma, though, itsmy is investing in mobile video. The company issued a release during Mobile World that says it’s launched 100,000 user-generated mobile TV channels. These mobile video channels enable the sites’ most active members to broadcast their own shows to one another.

While we don’t agree with the focus on video, BuzzCity welcomes the competition. We’ve been building and promoting mobile communities for five years. The entry of more companies in this space affirms our business model. And we also recognise that competition makes you better. We’ll continue striving each day to offer myGamma’s members and advertisers the best products and service in the market.

A final thought: I’d like to highlight a theme that was missing in this year’s Mobile World Congress – The Next Billion. Approximately one in two human beings currently carries a mobile phone. Last year alone, more than one billion handsets were sold. Many of these were purchased by people who already own a phone. But industry observers expect another billion NEW cellphone users within the next 4-5 years. Most of these phones will have internet capability and we expect their owners from across the globe to join online communities. “The Next Billion” may be the future for some, but it’s our present. Let’s hope the light will be turned towards them in 2009.

Categories: Wandrille Pruvot

Feel the Love at myGamma 2.0

February 14, 2008 Leave a comment

By Yuszela Yusoff, BuzzCity Manager, Content & Community

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here at myGamma. We’ve launched a new version of myGamma! And then this week, a judges panel in Barcelona announces that myGamma is the best in the world at what it does. How cool is that?! But while it’s fantastic to receive praise from our industry peers, what really validates my team’s efforts to create new applications and content is the feedback we receive from our users, comments like:

“Yes, like d gamma looks now.. Wow! Breathtaking, good work admin.. Nice one!”

“Gamma looks like a newly born child.Its attractive 100%…..

MYRIAD C O N G L A T U L A T I O N S!!!hureeeeeeeeeeeee…..”

“ It’s shocking! All features looks new and fresh, it’s great!”

The development team here at BuzzCity has been diligently working to create new features that stimulate discussion, encourage interaction and highlight user generated content. myGamma 2.0 is now live. Let me walk you through the new site. When a member logs in, their new homepage is divided into four sections: a link to featured content, a picture of a featured member (and a link to contact him/her), a dashboard and a personal page. Non-members who visit myGamma are taken directly to the Featured Content page, which includes groups, blogs, links and a photo of another featured member.

On the Dashboard, there are useful tools like links to friends, who’s Online Now, photo albums and games. On the Personal Page, you’ll find what’s new in your profile, including new testimonials, new messages, group postings and comments to your blog entries.

The theme for myGamma’s Featured Content this month — since 14 Feb is Valentine’s Day – is “Love & Romance.” Most of the content here comes from our members. What we’re doing is highlighting related items of interest on the same page. For “Love & Romance”, we’ve identified two “Hot Groups”: the first is a discussion about how love makes you feel, the second a chat room on relationships.

We’re also featuring two mobile blogs. 20-year old “Boondox” from Kenya writes poetry on his moblog:
my heart was pounding,
my blood was racing,
my lungs exploding…….
each poem from their lips killed me softer,
killed me slowly.
I took to the stage,
nw immortal amongst immortals,
spoke the words of my poems,
a melody to my sleepin’ spirit.
Words shall never describe that night,
actions shall never replay the scenes

In the second featured blog, the question is “Is Emily in love or not?” One day, the 27-year old South African says she is “heartbroken, angry, alone and sad”, the next she has “da greatest guy”. You figure it out. A fellow reader advises Emily that “FRIENDSHIP isn’t how U forGet but how U forGive.”

Underneath the user generated content, we have featured links from our content partners. In this case, there are links to Wikipedia entries about dating.

At the moment, the featured content page is the same across all myGamma countries. But starting next month we’ll have a customised page for India. We’ll add a Thai-language page in April.

Each month, there’s going to be a new featured subject. Since the Oscars take place in March, “Movies & Entertainment” will be the theme that month. In August – when the world’s attention turns to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing – our focus will be on sports. Not every topic will centre on a holiday or the news, though. Some months we’ll highlight other user interests. For example, in April we’ll feature content about Accessories & Gadgets since our customer research shows that a lot of our users are quite interested in discussing the latest phones, cars, home entertainment systems and more.

myGamma’s editorial and customer care teams, meanwhile, are communicating with our members to get to know them better, to find out their concerns and the issues they’re talking about. One tool at their disposal is polls. For example, in March, we might poll members about their favorite all-time movie and then use the results to spark a discussion.

I’m really excited about myGamma 2.0 because we now have better ways of presenting new content and applications. When we first started myGamma, we designed games like GammaLife to provide “stickiness” to the platform and keep members engaged. Now with myGamma 2.0, users can still play the games, but we’re also highlighting more avenues for them to interact.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us here at BuzzCity! 😉

Categories: myGamma, Yuszela Yusoff

Let The People Speak !

February 13, 2008 Leave a comment

We’re Number 1! ; ) Judges at the Mobile World Congress have named myGamma the “Best Mobile Social Networking service”.

We’ve been waiting with baited breath for the final announcement — as have our members.

“Let the people speak.” said the judging panel, describing myGamma as a “rapidly growing social network site spanning borders, cultures and languages. The world just got a lot smaller – and smarter.”

And speak they did! Since we announced our nomination, myGamma members have sent us more than 3000 messages of support and encouragement. Mary from Central Visayas, Philippines, thinks “myGamma’s d best wapsite” as does Tushki from Uttar Pradesh, India. Abuzola from Lagos, Nigeria, had promised to “intensify my prayer for mygamma to win” and if you see fireworks tonight in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, that’s probably Jonyluv celebrating!

“We are very honoured by the recognition the GSMA has given us and also humbled by the support of our members” says Lai Kok Fung, BuzzCity CEO. “The team has put a lot of effort into making myGamma a powerful tool, but it’s our members who make it a great experience.”

“Each year as the influence of mobile communications spreads further to enhance more and more aspects of people’s lives, the scope of the Awards become greater, and the competition becomes more intense as a result” says GSMA CEO Rob Conway. “Because the mobile world is such an amazing universe of opportunities, its gravitational forces are pulling other industries into its realm—internet, finance, advertising, music and film.

To view the full list of winners, please click here

Categories: Uncategorized


February 5, 2008 Leave a comment

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

“Search Eskimos” may seem like an odd heading for this week’s blog entry, but if you’ve seen Hutchison’s brillant Indian ad campaign, you know that “searching eskimos” has everything to do with educating the public about the possibilities of the mobile internet. It also highlights how telecom carriers can promote – or hinder – mobile surfing.

At this stage of the game, public education — letting consumers know what they can do with their phones — is key. But this message is being broadcast more loudly in some markets than others. Let’s take a look at three marketing campaigns: “Mr Blue Sky” by SFR (France), “Can you hear me now?” by Verizon in the US and Hutch’s “Search for Anything” in India.

SFR is the second largest mobile operator in France with a 35% market share (in 2006) and nearly 18 million clients. Three million of these consumers are using 3G phones. SFR’s campaign features popular French footballer Thierry Henry, who is France’s leading goal-scorer. The ad, “Revolution sur the Mobile”, highlights that users can use their phones for email, internet searches, messenging, music, video and more. The main message is that SFR offers unlimited 3G internet access.

Vodafone Essar / Hutch has 38 million clients in India. Their ad campaign is the most creative of the three. Eskimos, in full winter attire and carrying spears, are traveling in India – by sailboat, by foot (wearing snowshoes on the beach), in an open-air lorry and on the back of a bicycle. Switch now to an image of a cup of tea and an older Indian man drinking it. The man looks surprised. The eskimos have arrived in his home. His phone beeps and we see “Live Search – Eskimo – Search Complete” on the screen. The commercial then switches to two slates: “Search for Anything” and “Live Search – only on your Hutch GPRS phone”.

In the US, Verizon doesn’t publicise search, downloads or any aspect of the mobile internet. Rather, its ads focus on voice and the company has identified coverage as the issue most important to users. The “Can You Hear Me Now?” campaign shows monkeys in a zoo holding bananas as if they were telephones. “Some wireless companies like to pretend they’re the best” says the narrator, “but there’s only one most reliable wireless network in the nation.” A Verizon worker then walks past the monkey cage, holding a real phone, and says “Can you hear me now? Good!”

The lack of public education in the US explains why
only one-quarter of US mobile phone users subscribe to an Internet access plan and less than 10 percent have used their phones for internet search in the past six months. By contrast, 20 percent of Indian users — more than 30 million people — connect to the Internet with a handset.

Come on, Verizon, get with it!

Categories: Hisham Isa

A Mobile Math Problem

February 4, 2008 Leave a comment

By Hisham Isa, Vice President (Marketing)

Here’s a math problem for all the telecom experts out there:

If John pays $25 for 10MB per month, how long can he spend talking on his phone or accessing the mobile internet?

Answer: Beats me.

And that’s the problem – pricing models for mobile phone usage don’t make sense to most people.

Indian and Thai operators have got it right, though. They’re now packaging their products in a unit that consumers can understand – time. This allows users to make informed purchasing decisions and manage their usage better. Selling contracts in terms of minutes or hours is also a big step forward in user education.

Of course, another way around the KB/MB/GB pricing problem is to offer unlimited surfing packages.

India is now leading the way here too. For just five rupees a day (US$0.13) — the cost of a banana — Indian consumers can enjoy unlimited surfing. Pre-paid card users get an even better deal with AirTel – unlimited usage for just 2 rupees per day. Indian carriers have dramatically cut access fees to capture market share, enlarge the user base and attract high volumes.

Telecom operators in most other countries though punish low-to-moderate usage consumers. For a 10MB package, Bouygues (France) charges more than $36, AT&T (USA) – $25, O2 (UK) – about $20 and SingTel (Singapore) – $18.

Orange (UK) is heading in the right direction, though. They have priced their product to encourage surfing from the start and will do well to cap their prices close to current surfer friendly prices.

Check out our recent survey of telecom pricing across eight countries and 25 carriers.

Categories: Hisham Isa