Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Announce Mobile's CEO Discusses qode®

Well my previous posts regarding 2D codes, Hip2D, and qode seemed to have generated lots of questions from everyone. Please understand that I am unable to answer official questions about qode® and NeoMedia. I am also not an attorney and definitely not specifically a patent attorney.

One thing I have learned over the years that an attorney can and will argue any point if permitted. Patent law tends to fall into this category. There will always be someone out there who will test the limits of the patent. Look at the situation between Vonage and Verizon. There is now speculation floating around that Verizon obtained the patents in question under false pretense. Is it true? I don’t know. Do I care? No, it does not impact my everyday business. Should I care? Probably. Why should I care? Because this isn’t about what the patent is exactly, but more about who owns the patent. When it comes down to it, decisions in cases like this affect the rulings in future patent cases. So the right decisions here and the better attorney at proving his or her case will have a direct effect on future patent cases.

With that said, I am not going to get into a drawn out description of the patents. Do I understand them? Yes, but my understanding is based on my own interpretation, the information provided by others, and working knowledge of the product. My interpretation is therefore biased. To sit and argue over the validity of the patent is useless and only draws away from the value of the application. In other words, let the attorneys do what they get paid to do and worry more about making a name for the product. Nobody cares that Nokia and Qualcomm are in a heated battle over patents, in the end the consumer is still buying the product.

Okay, now that I got that off my chest. qode and Hip2D work as such. When a customer comes to Announce Mobile or NeoMedia for a qode or Hip2D solution, basically we provide them a web-based interface to generate their own Aztec code. When they create this code they are asked for several pieces of information.

1. The name (separate of a keyword) for the 2D code.
2. A description about the code - used for record keeping and easy identification in the system.
3. Now they can create destinations for the code based on several things. They can have just a simple code that has one URL associated with it and that is all it is used for. They can have a code with different URLs based on the browser type (i.e. Pocket PC, Palm, Desktop, Brew, etc). Or finally, they can set different destinations based on rules they create. The rules can include something like (a) if the time of day is such, provide this URL (b) if the carriers is this, do this URL (c) if the phone model is this, do this URL.

Once they have completed the above information they will then click to generate the code and will be provided an image file of the code. Now we received a lot of questions about where the actual URL is stored and where it is translated. First, let’s make something very clear, the code itself can not do anything on its own. It is simply a piece of data and needs an application to interpret and decide what to do with that code exactly. The difference between many of the different applications on the market is where this interpretation takes place. I am unable to answer specifically for all the other applications on the market, since I personally do not have a working knowledge of all of them. I do know that most of the others interpret the code directly at the phone level. Meaning that the application for reading the code interprets and responds to the code without conferring with a remote location. With NeoMedia’s qode®reader, it interprets the code on the phone, then communicates with a server to determine exactly what to do with that code.

The benefits and downsides

Obviously if the data is interpreted and acted upon by the application at the phone level, the uses are limited as to what you can do. If you want to change the dynamic nature of the code you would have to physically replace the code. What do I mean by “dynamic nature”? Just taking a consumer to a WAP site is not the real value in qode. Taking a consumer to a unique website based on the phone make, time of day, browser version, geographic location IS the true value. With static code solutions you are unable to do this entirely. The application would have to communicate with a server somewhere to determine how to respond. Okay, so couldn’t this be built into the application? Yes and no. The nice thing about qode is the reusability of the codes. With the other solutions, it is use one and throw away. With qode I can change the response at any given time based on various criteria. I can change how the 2D code responds to different criteria. Say for example, I want to add a new response to the code based on time of day. I simply go in, edit the rules on the server, and I am done. The code will now respond appropriately. So why not just direct the person to a single website and have that website respond based on the headers of that phone? You could do that, but think of the trouble. Plus, if the website gets it wrong you will end up on the wrong site or with the wrong information. With qode, if the reader gets it wrong it will just default to the default URL you provide when creating the code.

So what is this all about? All the codes contain information. It is up to the application and/or server how that information is acted upon.

So why did Announce Mobile choose qode? Because of the power of dynamic codes plain and simply. We want to be able to offer our consumers a simple solution with endless possibilities. With qode we are able to do just that. The other half is that we want our customers to be able to control the information for every code they have. In the business world URLs are constantly changing with various dynamic criteria. Businesses need to adapt these URLs to a mobile space quickly and efficiently. If they have to reissue new codes each time a URL changes they would be wasting valuable time and money.

Finally, let me address one more thing … Myself and Announce Mobile are separate entities from NeoMedia. We are a partner of theirs to provide Hip2D using qode. So with that said we are unable to answer specific investment or investor questions centered around NeoMedia and their subsidiaries. I will address a question that was posed to me though regarding patents and first to market. The question was basically do I believe that NeoMedia can succeed in the market since they are not first to market. I can’t answer this specifically, only time and the market know the true answer. And well, if I could guess, I surely would not be typing a blog at 10pm from my couch :)

I will turn the question around and look at history. History says companies like NeoMedia can and will succeed. It is better to get a product right and be last to market then be first to market and have it all wrong. Companies that are offering and promoting the product now may or may not succeed, again it is all determined by the market. But in the end the one with the best product will succeed, and I personally believe that NeoMedia has the best product from what I have seen in this space. You don’t have to look far when looking for similar situations in history. IBM, Lotus, and the list can go on and on. They either succeeded or failed but they were all first to market with something. Are the companies themselves failures, no. They all succeeded in their own way. But they were first to market with an innovative and groundbreaking technology and they got surpassed by companies that came along several years later with the “BETTER” product. So there you have it. Like the patents, arguing over who has the better product and who will succeed is useless. It is better to focus your attention and to get out there and promote the product in the now. Does it work? YES. Does it function as described? YES. At this time it is not available on every phone platform, but that is quickly coming.

Oh and one last question I was asked.6-6 Sorry, for the long post, just trying to address the over 100 e-mails that the entries from the last two days generated.

When is Announce Mobile or NeoMedia going to start marketing Hip2D or qode respectively. Again, I can not answer for NeoMedia. Announce Mobile on the other hand is actively selling and marketing the Hip2D solution to businesses and brands. We will continue to do so. Will we market to consumers? No, but we will HELP the businesses and brands market to the consumers and get the word out about qode reader. Why won’t we market to the consumer? It is extremely costly to market directly to consumers. We would rather focus those dollars on building the best product and generating buzz among brands and businesses. If a major US brand went tomorrow and started putting codes on all their products to run a contest you better believe the downloads and consumer awareness of qode reader would come quickly. So why focus on the consumer when the brand can generate the buzz for us. Consumers awareness will come with brand awareness mainly. It is harder to get a consumer to download an application if they aren’t going to use it for anything then to say you will have a chance to win a free XYZ if you download this application. Yes, consumer awareness and brand acceptance are a catch-22, but we believe that consumer marketing will be done word of mouth better. Brand/business marketing we have no problem directing dollars to.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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