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Vodafone reveals six mobile services to help developing world farmers

A report from Vodafone has showed that small-scale farmers in emerging markets could benefit to the tune of billions of dollars if they had better access to mobile connectivity.

In its report, Connected Farming in India, which was produced by Accenture Strategy, Vodafone revealed that 70 million Indian farmers could be taking in $9bn between them by the year 2020 if more attention was paid to mobile services.

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India is one of the largest food producers in the world, with around 200 million people thought to work in the agricultural sector. It is also a country predominantly of smallholdings, with around 62% of farmers owning less than a hectare of land, which can significantly increase their risk from crop failure, pests, volatile market pricing and so on.

The mobile network operator’s charitable arm, the Vodafone Foundation, said that two-thirds of Indian farmers – who make on average less than $4 per day – could enhance their earnings potential by $128 per annum, a not insignificant amount for some of the world’s poorest workers.

The report identified six mobile services that could be instrumental in boosting farming incomes in the developing world – not just in India:

Agricultural information services, such as weather forecasting, and apps giving advice on when to harvest and crop husbandry techniques to enhance yields, could increase incomes by an estimated $89 a year.Mobile receipt services to allow transparency in commodity supply chains, would boost incomes by improving efficiency and giving farmers a means to fight fraud.Mobile wallet services for payments and loans – such as Vodafone’s M-Pesa service, which is already available in India – could give farmers access to micro-finance and easy and transparent electronic payment systems, which may enhance incomes by nearly $700 in some cases.Field auditing could enable auditors monitoring quality, sustainable practice and certification compliance to eliminate paper records and adopt electronic reporting, again enhancing efficiency.Local supply chain services would allow smaller producers to transact fairly with local co-operatives.Smartphone-enabled services would provide better functionality and richer sources of information than is currently possible using basic feature phone SMS and voice services. Here the emphasis would need to be on advanced and affordable smartphones and the network to back them up.

Vodafone also announced that its existing Farmers’ Club – a social business model that began in Turkey six years ago and already offers a range of mobile services to farmers in developing countries – will start up in Ghana, India, Kenya and Tanzania.

Services available through the club will vary from country to country, but will include some of the information services detailed in the Connected Farming report, such as virtual marketplaces and mobile money financial services products.

Vodafone said it was also taking a variant of the club into New Zealand, to see how its extensive existing mobile network could help drive productivity and innovation in a developed agricultural sector.

Vodafone Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific group regional chief executive Serpil Timuray said: “One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land. 

“Mobile has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for some of the poorest people on earth.

“Our experience in Turkey has demonstrated how mobile services can transform farmers’ ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow farm gate incomes,” she said.


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EE and O2 go head-to-head to provide ESN mobile network

The Home Office has invited mobile network operators EE and O2 to submit their final resilient mobile networking services bids for the new Emergency Services Network (ESN).

The two mobile network operators (MNOs) are among eight organisations, which were selected earlier this year, invited to submit their best and final offers for contracts to run the ESN.

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EE and O2 are bidding on Lot 3 of the ESN contract to supply a resilient mobile services network for the police, fire and ambulance services using commercially available services.

The suppliers invited to bid on Lot 1, for a delivery partner, are Atkins, KBR, Lockheed Martin and Mott MacDonald. HP and Motorola are bidding on Lot 2, for user services.

Lot 4 of the procurement, which addressed mobile access in remote rural areas, was scrapped in January 2015 in light of commitments made by the bidding MNOs.

Mike Penning, minister for policing, said the goal was still to sign contracts later this year. The new network is set to go live in 2017, as the existing terrestrial trunked radio (Tetra) private radio network contracts, all held by Airwave, begin to expire.

“Making sure our emergency services have the best tools to help them do their job is paramount. As well as offering the emergency services much more capacity, flexibility and functionality than the old system, the network will also save the taxpayer around £1bn over the next 15 years,” said Penning.

Incumbent operator Airwave has – teething problems notwithstanding – been running the current Tetra system for a number of years, and was controversially dropped from the procurement process earlier this year.

The government is keen to enable blue light services to use broadband data services, as many of them increasingly rely on smartphone handsets. To accommodate and facilitate this, the plan is to enhance the commercial mobile network with extra coverage, resilience and security, with priority access for emergency services traffic.

The government claimed that as there was no dedicated spectrum available to give to the emergency services, it was impossible to procure a private network, not to mention too expensive, and has insisted coverage will “at least match what is currently provided”.

Nevertheless, some services have already announced plans to stick with what they know for the time being.

Earlier in May, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) wrangled an extension to the Firelink programme – used by all 57 fire and rescue services in England, Scotland and Wales – which means they will continue to use Airwave Tetra radios until the end of 2019, with an option to extend to 2020.


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TalkTalk not buying Tesco Mobile

TalkTalk has ruled itself out of the running to acquire mobile virtual network operator Tesco Mobile, after reports linked the two.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today Programme on 14 May, CEO Dido Harding said she was focused on the integration of TV and video-on-demand service BlinkBox, which Tesco sold to TalkTalk at the start of 2015, and would not be acquiring its mobile business as well.

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Tesco’s chief executive Dave Lewis is thought to be keen to sell off non-core units as he struggles to clear debts of £22bn. Tesco’s cut-price mobile phone service, which runs over the O2 network, is a prime contender for being sold.

It has also recently sold off a music streaming service and is touting its big data analytics unit, Dunhumby, as well.

TalkTalk unveiled strong full-year results, with revenues up by 4.1% to £1.8bn across the whole year and 6% in the final quarter. Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation rose by 15% to £245m.

The firm saw strong growth in data revenues, which helped drive growth at TalkTalk Business. On the consumer side, more customers committed to quad-play bundled packages of landline, broadband, TV and mobile.

TalkTalk said it had gained more than a million new broadband, fibre and mobile customers in the past 12 months, and claimed that its TalkTalk TV platform was now the third largest pay-TV service in the UK with 1.4 million customers. It also announced that it would be adding Game of Thrones to the service in June.

At TalkTalk Business, a number of new contracts to supply Ethernet and Ethernet First Mile connections added more than 9,000 new lines and took its total base to 26,000, up by over 50% on the previous year.

A new bargain bucket business broadband service for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small office/home office customers, priced at £4 a month and representing a £535 saving on the equivalent BT service, also began to draw in more customers.

TalkTalk Business managing director Charles Bligh said he remained committed to providing customers with innovative and value-for-money products.

“Companies need scalability and speed to deliver on new ways of working and make the most of the opportunities available. With the demand for data increasing every month, from the largest corporate to the newest sole operator, we are well-placed to build on this year’s growth,” said Bligh.

Separately, TalkTalk announced the acquisition of tIPcall, a next-generation session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking service, to build out its wholesale SIP trunking portfolio and offer converged voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services to more customers.


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In-app ads: How to get 20% engagement and 2000% higher click-through

In-app ads: How to get 20% engagement and 2000% higher click-through

by John Koetsier

This just may be a blinding flash of the obvious, but apparently we like ads that don’t suck. And fit into our current context. And give us something we want.

Whoda thunk?

MediaBrix, the app ad company, ran a survey to discover what people like and don’t like about advertising in apps: Facebook apps as well as mobile apps. I spoke with chief executive Ari Brandt yesterday to get the details.

The first result? We like ads

Well, I’ll qualify that.

We like ads more than paying for apps. On smartphones, 61 percent of us want free apps with ads, while 39 percent would pay to avoid the ads. For the cheapskates on Facebook, those numbers skew to 83 percent free, 13 percent paid.

That’s a consumer trend MediaBrix has embraced. But the company, which started out building marketing campaigns with standard Facebook ads, was looking for something better than a banner ad or a sponsored story.

Instead of interrupting apps, Brandt says, he wanted to integrate into them.

“In-app advertising needs to acknowledge, embrace and respect the user experience,” says Brandt. “Standard pre-rolls and traditional ad banners don’t really work in this space.”

So the company, which works with major game developers such as EA and King, and brands like Proctor & Gamble and Coca-Cola, started looking for alternatives.

The second result? We like the right ads, at the right time

Perhaps iAds had it right, partially. As many as 72 percent of Facebook app users prefer immersive, interactive ads to standard banner ads. The numbers for smartphone users: 60 percent versus 40 percent.

That might sound crazy, since an immersive and interactive ad demands more of your attention. A banner ad, after all, can be ignored.

But the key factor is the right offer at the right time. Here’s how Brandt explained it to me:

“Imagine you’re playing a game, and you need a power-up. So a message pops up and says: ‘John, your power is low. Interact with this Coca-Cola ad and receive five free power-ups.’”

The user is in charge: she can decide to accept the power-up or not. If she doesn’t, she continues playing the game as before. But if she does, the ad unit is engaging, built specifically for the game, and immediately rewarding. And that, apparently, is the key.

“We’ve seen amazing performance,” Brandt says, “including engagement rates as high as 20 percent.” MediaBrix’ click-through rates are high, he told me, as much as 2000 percent higher than Facebook promoted posts … which can have click-through rates of a fraction of a percentage point.

The third result? We hate pre-roll videos

Unsurprisingly, 63 percent of Facebook users don’t like pre-roll ads. And for once smartphone users are almost completely in agreement: 62 percent would prefer to have a choice to play the video or have it shown during a natural break in the app that they’re playing or using.

So MediaBrix created an interstitial-type product for session-based games.  One example is the popular app Fruit Ninja, says Brandt:

“When you complete a level, you get a message: ‘Congratulations, you just slashed 100 pieces of fruit. The next level is loading — please watch this message from our sponsor.”

The message, the art, and the entire ad is customized — integrated into the game experience.

The point for you?

If you’re an app developer, design custom ad experiences into your apps that are innovative and integrated into your user experience. And if you’re a marketer, don’t settle for interruption marketing or annoyance marketing.

Give something to get something.

In-app ads: How to get 20% engagement and 2000% higher click-through

Newton Coull Videos – We are a video performance network.

Quad-core LG Optimus 4X HD makes European debut

LG’s quad-core superphone, the Optimus 4X HD, is officially on sale in Germany.


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While American smartphones have yet to taste the fruit of quad-core computing, yet another fire-breathing handset boasting the technology has hit European shores. LG has confirmed its Optimus 4X HD is now for sale in Germany.

The Optimus 4X HD, unveiled at Mobile World Congress back in February, made waves as one of the first handsets to feature Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor. Other notable hardware the Optimus 4X HD flaunts is a 4.7-inch 720p resolution LCD screen (1,280 x 720 pixels) using IPS technology, an 8-megapixel camera, and a big 2,150 mAh battery.

Software running the show is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich along with LG’s latest Optimus UI 3.0 interface. You can even take notes with the phone Samsung Galaxy Note style across multiple applications, but without having to use a stylus.

Another groundbreaking device launched at the mega mobile phone expo in Barcelona was the HTC One X. Unfortunately the U.S. variant sports a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip, though paired with fast 4G LTE.

Similarly, the hotly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S III won’t run quad-cores either when it arrives on all four U.S. carriers. Just like HTC’s One series phones, it will be so nimble and filled with cutting-edge tech you won’t care.

Besides Germany, LG plans to roll out the Optimus 4X HD to other European markets including the Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, and Italy soon.

Topics:Smartphones,Gadgets,Cell phones,Carriers,AndroidTags:Nvidia,Smartphones,Tegra 3,LG Optimus 4X HD,phones,mobile

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Which cities lose cell phones the most, and when?

By Amy Gahran

If you’re at a coffee shop, anywhere in Philadelphia, or if it’s late at night, hang on to your smartphone.

Losing your smartphone can be stressful, given how much important data and access to services a typical one contains. On average, people lose their smartphone once per year, according to Lookout Mobile Security.

Recently, Lookout analyzed phone loss data and found some interesting trends about where and when people lose their phones. This data is presented on a new interactive website, Mobile Lost and Found.

trackitbackThe World’s Largest Lost & Found Recovery Service

LookoutMobile Lost & Found

Lookout gathered data from its mobile security app, which is on more than 15 million cell phones around the world (mostly Android phones). In 2011, Lookout found 9 million smartphones. (The company considered a phone as having gone missing whenever a user logged in to Lookout via the Web to find a phone.)

“Losing your phone is absolutely the biggest mobile security risk cell phone owners currently face, even more than malware,” said Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout’s chief technology officer. “People lose their phones in the places they go every day. It’s not a stray comet from the sky snatching your phone. That’s why we wanted to study this.”

When are people most likely to lose their phone? Lookout found that the vast majority of smartphone losses happen late at night, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Looks like nightlife may be a culprit.

But on holidays, or during major events such as festivals or big sporting events, people are especially likely to lose a phone. In 2011, phone losses around the world spiked on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

And on February 27, 2011, phones in Dublin, Ireland, were lost at nearly three times the normal rate during a major international rugby tournament there.

In general, throughout the United States, the five types of places where people are most likely to lose a cell phone are coffee shops, bars, restaurants, at the office or at home.

Also, the five U.S. cities where people are most likely to lose a smartphone are Philadelphia; Seattle; Oakland, California.; Long Beach, California; and Newark, New Jersey.

Mahaffey observed that several of the top phone-losing cities also have high crime rates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that more phones are stolen in these cities.

Lookout’s data does not indicate what actually happened to those missing phones — how many were stolen vs. lost, or how many were eventually found. That might be a subject for future Lookout research, he said.

However, where you’re most likely to lose your phone may depend on which city you live in. For instance, people in Austin, Texas, are most likely to lose phones at a gas station or garage, at the grocery store or at a pizza place.

But church is the third most common setting where Chicagoans lose their phones. And in Atlanta, people are most likely to lose a phone at the office.

One reason why losing your smartphone is so risky is that recent research by Symantec (another mobile security provider) showed that more than 95% of the time, people who find lost smartphones try to access sensitive data or accounts on those phones — which can including e-mail, online banking, photos and more.

This is why it’s so important to always protect your cell phone with at least a security passcode or swipe pattern.

What’s the cost of a lost smartphone? Lookout estimates the average replacement cost (just the device, not counting costs associated with lost data, international phone calls, unauthorized online purchases and illicit access to online banking or other accounts) is about $200.

“For a lot of people, $200 is a lot of money,” Mahaffey said. “It could be a month’s rent, or groceries.”

That said, Mahaffey emphasized that Lookout didn’t conduct this research to frighten people, but rather to help them understand the importance of protecting your phone. “You should never be afraid of your phone,” he said, “But you should know how to protect it.”

Consistently using a passcode or swipe pattern to lock your phone is the most basic level of protection — not just from a random person who finds your lost phone, or a deliberate thief or snooper, but also from police.

Courts in several states have authorized police to conduct warrantless searches of cell phones seized from people under arrest, but they probably cannot compel an arrestee to unlock a seized phone.

Several mobile security services offer additional features (for an annual fee) such as causing a lost phone to beep (which can help if you just can’t find where you put it down at home), or to show the current location of the phone on a map (which in one case helped catch a carjacker), or to remotely lock or even wipe all data and contacts from a lost or stolen phone.

The opinions expressed in this report are solely those of Amy Gahran.
Which cities lose cell phones the most, and when?

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