By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Loudon Wainwright III’s great live album, Career Moves:
Yes First Coffee’s back, thank you, Mrs. First Coffee and I spent a wonderfully relaxing week in Budapest, staying at — unpaid hotel plug here — the comfortable and pleasant Normafa Hotel, nestled in green hills a fifteen-minute bus ride above central Buda. Our two boys are at summer camp for two weeks and our daughter stayed with a friend for a week, so we took advantage of a rare opportunity to get away just by ourselves.
The hotel itself was half of the attraction, we live in Istanbul and it was such a nice break to be in a clean, green, quiet place, with paths in the woods to walk, a couple days we just hung around the hotel, going into the city for dinner.
We saw some folk dancing, stumbled across a quality English book store, a pleasant find, and avoided anything threateningly edifying, as both Mrs. First Coffee and I have seen enough Impressive Old Churches and Museums Showing A Whole Lot of Old Stuff. The best thing that happened to us was getting stranded in a fish restaurant by torrential rains where it was just us, the hotel staff and a group of about twenty Hungarians singing traditional songs to drink lots of Hungarian brandy by. You can’t plan stuff like that.
We did enjoy the well-done Golden Eagle pharmaceutical museum on Castle Hill; in a different life Mrs. First Coffee worked as an Auckland pharmacist, and after touring the collection of mortar and pestles, large glass tincture jars, 17th century herbariums and brass scales she said that it makes her realize how little, really, pharmacy’s changed in the past three or four hundred years. Not as many leeches or bleeding people to death nowadays, but the basic approach is remarkably similar, and evidently doctors couldn’t write legibly then either.
Nice city itself, Budapest, more interesting than we had expected. First Coffee’s glad he doesn’t have to live on Hungarian food, the Turkish diet is much tastier and healthier, but fortunately Budapest has good foreign restaurants, another nice difference between there and here. It’s a good thing Turkish food’s so good, it’s surprisingly difficult finding good restaurants here that serve anything else.
Margaret Island, in the Danube between Buda and Pest, serves for the city the role Central Park serves for New York City, in that it renders it much more livable. Few cars on the island, lots of stuff for kids and families, biking paths and concerts, roller-bladers, and those rent-a-bike places Mrs. First Coffee and I took advantage of: pictures will prove that I pedaled a covered, three-wheel, two-seater “bike” around the island.
And upon returning we were pleased to see that in our absence from computers and news — great break, really — the All Blacks had come from behind, scoring two tries in the final five minutes to beat the Springboks in the Tri-Nations Rugby series, and that the predominately New Zealander-crewed yacht sailing under the name “Team New Zealand” defeated the predominately New Zealander-crewed yacht sailing under the name “Alinghi” in the so-called America’s Cup, which should be renamed the Kiwi Cup until some team without a preponderance of New Zealand sailors wins it.
Oh, by the way, happy Newfoundland Discovery Day.
Technology resellers and product providers are poised to add radio frequency identification (RFID) products to their portfolios, but their customers have been slow to embrace the technology, a survey by the Computing Technology Industry Association has shown.
The survey found that 84 percent of technology resellers, product providers, systems integrators, and consultants will or may offer RFID products and products in the next three years. But nearly two-thirds of the companies (65.6 percent) said their customers have yet to implement RFID products.
Among channel companies with customers who have implemented RFID, most said that less than 20 percent of their customers are using the technology.
“The results of our survey are reflective of the RFID market, where rosy forecasts about rapid and widespread adoption have given way to the reality of dealing with a technology whose broader deployment has been challenged by equipment and tagging costs, murky and unclear return-on-investment for supply chain applications, and a workforce skills shortage,” said David Sommer, vice president, e-business and software products, CompTIA.
Despite the slower-than-expected adoption rate, companies in the information technology channel remain bullish on future opportunities in the RFID market, the CompTIA survey indicates.
Among companies that see their organization offering RFID products and services, 89 percent expect to focus their efforts on hardware installation and maintenance. Just over 46 percent of companies said they will offer software implementation services; 38.9 percent will offer other RFID services; and 31.5 percent plan to focus on software development.
Respondents to the survey included companies involved in the delivery of IT products and services. The Web-based survey conducted earlier this year closed with 64 responses.
“In light of recent news coverage about disgruntled mobile phone customers,” a P.R. official writes, “I thought you may be interested in a study showing that consumers who browse off-portal mobile Web sites and purchase content are ‘low maintenance,’ meaning they require very little customer service, and seldom even ask for refunds.”
Indeed, such a survey does sound interesting.
“During the month of May,” the agent writes, “Bango reported just 142 refunds per 100,000 transactions; customer queries were closer to 70 per 100,000 transactions. So compelling is the data for off-deck WAP that network operators in Europe are showing a strong preference for this model and in the UK mandating WAP billing through the cross-operator ‘Payforit’ scheme.”
In fact, Bango’s study shows that mobile content sales generated through off-deck WAP sites (mobile Web sites) deliver what company officials call “a huge reduction” in after-sale customer care costs.
Compared to the traditional Premium SMS off-deck content model — where refunds can be between 10–20 percent of sales, Bango officials say — through off-deck WAP sites refunds affect fewer than one percent of transactions on average.
“This data confirms that the mobile Web model is great for browsing and buying content because the point of payment and download are tightly coupled, leading to fewer errors and low refund levels,” said Bango CEO Ray Anderson.
The headline growth in mobile content revenue has been strong, especially off-deck sales where content providers market and sell direct to the mobile consumer and typically bill that consumer through operator-enabled SMS messages.
However, CRM problems arise when relying entirely on SMS to drive sales. For instance, the consumer is billed through Premium SMS but then cannot access the content due to connection problems, handset incompatibility or operator network limitations. In contrast, if the user cannot access the WAP site to get their content, they cannot be billed.
Or, since the American mobile industry provides clear and concise Best Practice guidelines for services using SMS, the consumer needs to read and understand the terms, i.e., the fine print, either from a text message sent to their handset or on the print of the original advertisement. Shockingly, not everyone does. But with the WAP presentation, the consumer is advised of all the terms of sale on-screen immediately before they are billed without having to refer to separate messages or the original ad.
Bango officials claim the company “created the world’s first global exchange for the mobile Web,” a “common integration point for brands, businesses and individuals.” The company has offices in USA, UK, Spain and Germany and is quoted on the London Stock Exchange.