Miyowa, the mobile instant messaging geniuses, recently hired Scott Stonham as their VP of Product Marketing. I’ve been following Miyowa for quite a while particularly since they’re focused on educating and assisting the behemoth mobile operators of our fair planet understand and implement mobile instant messaging for their subscribers.
I always enjoy seeing how people respond to the more or less standard set of SMS Text News questions — I find it fascinating to read viewpoints from people in the industry. Thus, let’s get going with Scott’s Q&A…
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1. What was your first handset and network?
A brick-like, bright green NEC phone on the Vodafone analogue network. I was a student at the time and remember I had trouble fitting it in my bag with my books and files. Nonetheless, I was the envy of the class until upstaged by a Motorola StarTac. I remember my phone falling out of my bag in a lecture and causing physical damage to the wooden benches.
2. Describe your current mobile setup.
I currently have a Sony Ericsson K550im on Bouygues, and an HTC MTEOR on Vodafone UK. I use the K550im for my mobile messaging needs, particularly for Microsoft Live Messenger and Yahoo Mobile Messenger using the Miyowa powered clients from Bouygues.
3. How much was your last bill?
My last personal bill was £128. I don’t know how much my last corporate bill was. The biggest ‘bill shockÃ¢â‚¬Â incident I experience came whilst preparing a demo for 3GSM in Cannes. Vodafone called me to ask if I was still in possession of my phone, as the bill had just triggered the £4,000 alert threshold!
[You were lucky, Scott! They didn’t bother phoning me when I ran up a 1k data bill in Cannes! – Ewan]
4. What’s your background?
Having a strong technical background is essential in this industry, no matter what your role or speciality. I graduated with a First class degree in Cybernetics and Control Engineering from Reading University, UK, having designed and built a three-wheeled robot that learned how to move and hunt for food. With Terminator skills in my veins, I made the obvious career move into a software role at a credit card authorisation company, and with a number of successful projects under my belt, I headed for the bright lights of Vodafone. I spent the next six years working my way through software, leadership and product roles in their UK, International (later to become Vodafone Global), Interactive (later to become Vodafone Multimedia, and then Vizzavi), Multimedia and Global business units. Having spent a number of years on Vodafone’s location services projects, I left to lead the market development activities for SnapTracks’ (Qualcomms’) gpsOne(TM) Assisted GPS products across EMEA. My next role as Marketing Director at Openwave took me firmly into product management and marketing capacity, working across Europe and driving their location services and mobile advertising activities.
5. How did you end up with your current company?
I was looking for something new and exciting, in a company that wanted to make a difference, and would give me the opportunity to help make that happen. During this process, I was approached with the role at Miyowa. Out of the numerous roles I had looked at, Miyowa ticked all the boxes.
6. Give us an overview of what your company does? Key clients?
Miyowa is dedicated to delivering value to our customer, driving adoption and usage of messaging data services. We are the market leader in Mobile Instant Messaging (MIM) client technology, with support for all the major IM communities across more than 300 mass market devices, and growing at around 50 new devices per month. At this rate we plan to support worldwide MIM deployments on more than 1000 devices by the end of 2008. Behind the clients and helping deliver the compelling, engaging and addictive user experience needed to stimulate and grow MIM revenues, Miyowa provides industry leading Mobile Instant Messaging Gateway platforms and business intelligence services. Our client and gateway products are Mobile Advertising Ready, and currently being used in market trials to prove the value of the MIM inventory.
Miyowa has more than seventeen customers, across both the mobile carriers and mobile device vendors. Of our publically announced customers, Orange Group, KPN and O2 are our largest accounts.
7. What do you think is right with the mobile industry?
The mobile industry addresses the basic human need to communicate and be part of community, and continues to change our live more rapidly than any other technology on the planet. Awash in talent and exceptional people, innovation is never far away and although we often get caught up complaining about ’12-18 month deal cyclesÃ¢â‚¬Â, in those months a lot tends to happen, relatively speaking.
8. And what’s wrong with the mobile industry?
Long deal cycles. Seriously, my feeling is that market saturation is stifling innovation in the mature markets at a time when competitive differentiation should be most important. The industry continues to face the bit-pipe threat and must either adapt and overcome through innovation, or acquiesce and embrace a new world of bit delivery.
9. If you had to buy a new mobile handset tomorrow, what would you get?
I plan on purchasing the HTC TyTn II. My background tends to bias me towards Qualcomm based devices, especially when they come equipped with Assisted GPS.
10. Rate the UK network providers in order of preference with a one line summary of each.
First: 3 – For the impact it has had, its vision and alternative business approach
Second: O2 – for the understanding of its customer base, and ability to target services accordingly
Third: Vodafone – For being the yard-stick, and setting the standards. I’ve always been a Vodafone subscriber, so too have my family. You know what you’re getting with Vodafone.
Fourth: Orange – It has had some great ideas, and been well positioned to bring innovation to the industry, but is often understated
Fifth: T-Mobile – Personally, I just haven’t seen T-Mobile do that much around the UK, unlike Germany and the USA. Perhaps I’m being unjust, and am simply not its target demographic. However, its Web’n’Walk service certainly helped the demolition of those garden walls, which in my book is a good thing.
Of the MVNOs, Virgin is top of my list.
11. What’s the hottest mobile service to catch your eye recently?
Whilst trying not to be too biased, I would have to say MIM. The reason I joined Miyowa was because of the potential MIM has to bring to the mobile industry. I see MIM as much more than just ‘another way to communicateÃ¢â‚¬Â, and as an underlying framework for the future of mobile applications. MIM has the opportunity to deliver on not just the promise of next generation messaging, but will also lead the pack on IMS enabled applications, support the emergence of mobile advertising and make Mobile2.0 a reality.
Beyond MIM, it’s the wealth of new location enabled services coming to market on the back of GPS equipped devices. One that caught my eye in particular, mostly as a demonstration of the kind of ideas that the developer community can come up with if given the tools, was SatLav.
12. Pick 3 people that you admire and rate in the mobile industry and give us 2-3 lines about each.
There are quite a few individuals I admire, but to avoid the Oscar acceptance style speech, I’d like to answer this in terms of groups of people:
First, I admire those who work in the standards world. In my opinion, it takes a very special type of person to do this, and having worked with people who fly half way round the world to exotic locations, just to spend 5 days locked in an air-conditioned meeting room debating the merits of one call flow vs another, I have to acknowledge their work, since the industry would be a very different place without them.
Second, TAT. The Astonishing Tribe of Sweden are, in my opinion one of the leaders in forward-looking, slick UI designs. I met them for the first time at a conference in Amsterdam, and realised I had already seen their work in many different places. I guarantee you will have seen the Photo River concept in handsets today.
Thirdly, I have had the privilege to work with a number of dynamic and energetic people who decided to give up their comfortable lives in the hi-tech world and move to far-flung places to help the less-privileged. I admire them for both their achievements in this industry and the courage and compassion they have shown when moving on.
13. What services do you use the most on your handset?
In order of use: MIM, Voice, SMS, Music, Navigation, Camera, Photos
14. Do you have any pets?
Yes. 2 cats, 2 tree frogs, 11 fish, 2 tortoises, 1 macaw and 5 stick insects, previously we have kept 2 lizards, 4 chipmunks, and 2 chinchillas.
15. What’s the last thing you saw at the cinema?
Ocean’s Thirteen, Die Hard 4.0 and Transformers
16. What’s your ringtone?
The Whistler by Claude von Stroke on my MTEOR and Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin on my K550im
17. When did you last send a picture/video message Ã¢â‚¬â€ and who was it to?
Two weeks ago, to a friend whilst on a train to London.
18. What sites to you read to keep up to date with what’s going on in the mobile industry?
I don’t rely on any one or two sites, but in my browser cache today are: The Register, Telco2.0, BBC, WebUser.co.uk, MobileEurope.co.uk, eurocomms.com and, obviously, smstextnews.com.
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Scott, thank you very much for taking the time to answer!