Unwired 2010 post-mortem (Part I)

May 31st, 2010 | by Chan Chi-Loong

Firstly, a big thank you to all the fans and supporters of our scrappy little blog here.

Thanks to all the attendees who took the time and effort to come down to Techgoondu’s first indepedent and wireless event UNWIRED last Thursday 27 May at the Singapore Management University.

Time for a little shameless plug here.

Organised by chief goondu Alfred Siew, the event was a success due to the excellent crowd and overall quality of speakers. Registered attendees numbered over a hundred-odd, and there were lots of friends from both media and PR in attendance. For a first-time event that no one had heard of a month and a half back, it certainly met and exceeded some of our attendees’ expectations.

Said Daniel Goh, PR and media manager at Samsung Asia, and owner of the excellent start-up blog YoungUpstarts: “I’m quite surprised with the crowd. They actually asked a lot of questions!”

There were so many questions being asked that time overran on many of the sessions on that day.

Alf will probably add on a blog post on this baby of his, but I thought I would do a quick wrap-up of the “Mobile applications: the future driver of wireless technologies?” panel that I moderated.

The panelists were:

  • Manish Ladha, head of mobile services for consumer and online at Microsoft
  • Winston Goh, product marketing manager for Samsung’s mobile phones division
  • Turochas ‘T’ Faud, director of business development of Skype, Asia Pacific
  • Alex Tan, deputy director of product development at M1

It was a diverse bunch on stage — there was a telco, a mobile handset maker, a software platform company, and an online services company represented — but the questions that were asked by the audience were equally diverse and intriguing.

For example, Dionne Phay from Navteq, a mapping services company, wanted to know what the panelists thought about location based services (LBS). Manish from Microsoft was bullish on potential advertising revenue, whilst both Winston (Samsung) and Alex (M1) cited regulatory issues with various different governments. Alex said that although M1 saw more LBS being sold, LBS business models based on ad revenue streams were still low for now.

Another interesting question from the floor was pitched at M1 and Samsung: Which mobile platforms should start-ups look at first?

The questioner cited the difficulties start-ups have in terms of limited manpower. Given the lack of resources, it may be better to focus on one platform rather than allocating one or two developers per platform, and “being spread too thin” amongst the Apple iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile and other platforms.

Both M1 and Samsung gave interesting answers. Basically, it was “sign a NDA” with me and then we’ll reveal stats about the markets and industries that can help you decide where to focus your energy on.

Winston from Samsung also cautioned about looking just at statistics. Past results are not predictors of future events, and sometimes gut feel and making a bet you believe will pay off is more important, he said.

For example, when Samsung Mobile launched the Omnia in Singapore in 2008, many people felt Samsung was crazy to spend so much money to market a high-end phone. The marketing research had pointed that the Omnia was not a mass market phone — it was catered to power users — and money should go to mass market models instead.

Instead, Winston and his team stuck with the Omnia because they believed it was a good phone. And in the end the Omnia outsold every other Samsung model in Singapore that year, vindicating their marketing spend.

Winston also advised developers not to just look at high-end phones that require lots of data usage and ignore the low-end ones.

“You’ll be surprised at some of the revenue streams coming in from GSM applications,” he said.

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