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15 questions to Ian Price, Managing Director of Broca

Broca, the secure messaging specialists, have been coming across my radar frequently across the last few months so I thought it would be rather good to put some questions to their top man, Ian Price (Managing Director). Here we go!


1. What was your first handset and network?
It was a BT issue phone – the size of a brick – which I was given on joining. On Cellnet, naturally. I still have it in the garage.

2. Describe your current mobile setup.
Nokia N70 – nothing particularly sophisticated although I do have some (legal) SMS forwarding software on there to show people how unsafe plain SMS is.

3. What’s your background?
English Lit degree specialising in Old and Middle English. Started out in consulting where I wrote the Cable & Wireless business plan for what became One-2-One (now T-Mobile). Then joint a fledgling cable TV company in Camden and got headhunted by BT to lead the fight back. Spent 11 years with BT launching among other things the BSkyB partnership, BT 1571 and BT Click&Buy. Left BT to start up Digital Payments, the mobile top-up solutions provider part-owned by Vocalink.

4. How did you end up with your current company?
I was approached by 2ergo while at Digital Payments. They had bought the patents that Broca’s technology is based on. Broca demerged from 2ergo in March this year.

5. Give us an overview of what your company does? Key clients?
We are in the advanced messaging business with two products based on our patented technology: SAMS (Secure Advanced Message Service) makes SMS content 1) password protected 2) encrypted and 3) recorded delivery. The second product is Acquire which is targeted at data capture requirements. We have a number of channel partners that resell the products such as Vodafone, Rapide and Infinite Solutions. Recent wins through partners include Malaysia On Line. Also trialling Acquire with a major handset manufacturer and European network.

6. What do you think is right with the mobile industry?
GSM is a basically sound technology which gives most consumers 90% of what they need AND works in the developing world. It is a truly global technology – 2.3bn consumers can’t be wrong.

7. And what’s wrong with the mobile industry?
Disastrous lack of handset standardisation pushes the cost up for anybody trying to innovate in the industry.

8. If you had to buy a new mobile handset tomorrow, what would you get?
Nokia N95. Could be regarded as a safe choice but my main use is for business. I can hook one up to a projector and do on-screen demos.

9. Pick 3 people that you admire and rate in the mobile industry and give us 2-3 lines about each.
I would have to say Barry Sharples and Neale Graham of 2ergo as the first two. For one thing, they might read this. Genuinely, though, they have done great things in the mobile technology area. I would also pick Peter Erskine who has just announced he is leaving Telefonica/O2. I worked for him when he was at BT and remember when he took on what was then Cellnet.

10. What services do you use the most on your handset?
Aside from the everyday ones, I have been known to place the odd bet using the Blue Square Java Sportsbook I downloaded. I am pleased to say I am well ahead on aggregate – I must get round to placing something on the Hatton fight.

11. Do you have any pets?
Big domestic fault-line here: I and our 13-year old son are very strongly pro-dog. Wife anti. She seems to have the casting vote in spite of being in the minority. My son and I have been reduced to taking dogs out for a walk at the Dogs Trust in Harefield.

12. What’s the last thing you saw at the cinema?
Beowulf with my son. Either they’ve taken liberties with the original or I skim-read it at University too quickly and missed all the sex…

13. What’s your ringtone?
I’ve come to the conclusion that my musical taste is too esoteric to find a ringtone that suits – I was with someone yesterday at T-Mobile who has Cantaloupe Island but only the US3 version as he can’t get the original. Rather than be reduced to that sort of compromise, I prefer to stick with the default.

14. When did you last send a picture/video message — and who was it to?
I have never sent one. Received one once from my cousin who had her picture taken with Trey from the apprentice. (‘You’re nothing to me” if you remember…)

15. Anything else we should know?
Watch out for a new consumer application we are planning to launch in Beta very soon. You will hear about it here first so watch this space…

– – –

Ian, thanks for taking the time to answer those questions.

If you’d like to do a Q&A, drop me a mail.


  1. I see the share price is looking somewhat depressed, despite all the hysteria that is being spouted. Are there any recorded cases of significant SMS fraud at present?

    Additionally, why would somebody use their mobile to perform high value transactions when their laptop (with all the benefits of security utilities such as SSL) is equally as portable nowadays? In areas where laptops are not prevelant, who’s going to using a mobile to buy a microwave anyhow?

    Equally, marketing hits such at the ones Ian discusses can be achieved in a much more cost efficient manner via e-mail, with all the benefits of standard forms and controls, not to mention a proper keyboard, monitor and a mouse. Has anyone ever tried to fill in a form on a mobile? It isn’t a very friendly experience I can assure you.

    I wish them luck. They’re going to need it.


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