Saturday, April 21, 2007

Get Hip! Hip2D That Is

Announce Mobile, in conjunction with NeoMedia Technologies, is pleased to announce the launch of our new Personal Version of Hip2D.

The personal version of Hip2D includes your own 2D code along with your own personal WAP site developed by our team. The site may contain up to 3 pages and used to provide contact information, photos, or just about whatever you would like (sorry no streaming audio or video). Or you can link to one of your favorite mobile sites. The choice is yours.

So how does this work?

Simply send an email to requesting a personal Hip2D account. Within 24 hours one of our team members will respond back to you with instructions on setting up your account, along with the terms and conditions.

So what does this all cost? We are offering several plans:

  • Monthly: $9.99
  • Quarterly: $24.99
  • Annual: $89.99

So what’s stopping you? Get started today and experience the power of Hip2D and qode!

To get started or learn more e-mail us at

We also suggest you check out the Get qode section of our website for more information regarding qode®reader and compatible devices.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Motorola Veteran Jay Bonk Joins NeoMedia

NeoMedia Technologies announced today that it has hired Jay Bonk, who has been working for the company on a consulting basis, as interim Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

A longtime sales executive with Motorola, Bonk's experience includes 22 years with Motorola, including stints as Vice President of Business Development and Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. Bonk personally secured Motorola's first contract to provide electronic controls to Ford, retaining the account for 15 years and growing annual revenues to $200 million.

"We are very pleased to have an executive of Jay's caliber heading up the sales and marketing team until a permanent Executive Vice President can be found," said Chas Fritz, Chairman and CEO of NeoMedia Technologies.

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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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Announce Mobile's CEO Discusses 2D Codes

As I stated in the first 2D code post today, there are several different types of 2D codes that are currently available for use. I started thinking some more, and felt it may be a good idea to give everyone a brief idea of what the 3 main ones (Aztec, Data Matrix, and QR Codes) are and how they are different to some extent.

Data Matrix Codes are widely used across the world for various applications. You can see from the example Data Matrix code on the left the 2 dark and 2 alternating lines around the edge. These are called the finder pattern and are used to tell the reader where the information in the barcode is located. Additionally, the space around the code represents the amount of white space that must surround the code in order to be properly read. Data Matrix codes also have a built in error correction mechanism.

QR or Quick Response codes provide high-speed, omnidirectional reading with built in error correction. Like the Data Matrix codes, their finder patter is on the outer edges, making reading difficult from an electronic display. Also, like the Data Matrix code, the QR code requires a white space surrounding it in order to be properly read and deciphered.

Lastly, there are Aztec codes which are currently supported by the qode®reader application. Aztec codes are built around a square grid with a bulls-eye pattern in the center as you can see from the picture on the left. Reading an Aztec code is orientation-independent, meaning there is no left/right or top/bottom. The other advantage to Aztec codes is that they do not require white space surrounding the code. This makes reading of the codes and placing them in applications or in print very efficient. When an Aztec code is read, it is read in layers from the inside out. Important or critical data can be stored near the center to reduce the loss of data and errors. Aztec codes also incorporate a much more sophisticated form of error correction making them an excellent choice for print materials. The codes are more resistant to errors experienced by wrinkled paper, or even stained paper.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

FAQ From Announce Mobile's CEO Jeff Mould

Continuing on yesterday’s post regarding 2D codes, Hip2D, and our partnership with NeoMedia to utilize their qode® technology I would like to take the time to address some of the more common questions we receive regarding this technology. Below is a brief FAQ of some common questions. While I am not going to go in depth on any of them in particular, they should give you an idea and hopefully answer some questions you may have regarding the 2D barcode realm.

1. Is “qode” a standard for 2D barcodes?

No, qode is a technology for reading and responding to the 2D code. Currently the primary standard the qode®reader is able to read is the Aztec Code, however, more are coming. The Datamatrix and QR Codes are well on their way.

For a better definition of all the various standards I would suggest searching on Google or Wikipedia. Going in depth here would be a long and tedious post when the answers are out there already.

In summary though, the biggest difference between the various standards is the amount of data they can store and how that data is processed, i.e. is the information stored directly on the 2D barcode or does it redirect the application to a website via a central server.

2. Why has adoption of 2D codes been so slow and why is the market hesitant?

The biggest reason the market has been slow is that there are so many different standards. There are some companies that are developing their own 2D to work specifically with their application. The way the current market is structured is almost like if each appliance in your house had a different type of plug on it and the builder had to guess as to what is most common and put that type throughout your home, hoping that the majority of your appliances would work. The same holds true for 2D codes. Brands are still trying to sort out what is going to be the standard, or at minimum what is going to be the most widely accepted. They are quietly sitting back and letting the different companies battle it out.

The formation of MC2 (Mobile Codes Consortium) is a significant jump in the right direction of developing the standard in the market. In fact their primary goal at this time is to develop that standard.

3. Why does it take so long to get the applications capable of reading the codes to market?

Welcome to the world of mobile. Unlike applications designed for a PC, applications for phones have a typically longer development lifecycle. There are numerous hoops that must be jumped through for each carrier, each phone manufacturer, and sometimes even down to a specific model. Releasing one version of the software that runs on all phones is impossible. Each phone manufacturer has a different set of APIs and each application must be developed independently.

Additionally, there are several steps beyond that. Again, unlike Microsoft, application developers looking to deploy their mobile application on a large scale must go through various certifications at both the manufacturer and carrier level. These all take time and add to the development time.

Plain and simply, it is impossible to launch a large scale application, such as qode reader, by just throwing together some code and posting it on a website for download. Each application is throughly tested and certified to run on the device and thus development time is increased.

4. Are there currently any plans or are any carriers going to integrate the technology on their phones? What about manufacturers?

Right now I really can’t answer this question completely. One thing is for certain in the answer, it will be a whole lot easier to gain carrier and/or manufacturer acceptance with a standard in the market.

The other half of this question that needs to be understood is just because a manufacturer agrees to include the application in their device, does not necessarily mean that the carriers that utilize that particular make and model will allow their subscribers to use the application. Again, without going in depth here, the carriers will and do lock down various applications that come pre-installed on the phones.

The key is more getting both the carriers AND the manufacturers to accept the application and allow the subscriber to use it.

5. Is Announce Mobile providing development help or guidance on the development of the qode reader?

No, the development of qode reader and the technology behind it are strictly the responsibility of NeoMedia.

6. Does Announce Mobile plan to support the various standards once supported by the application?

Announce Mobile will support the standards that qode reader supports. We are a partner with NeoMedia and as a partner we will support their decisions and initiatives in regards to what their application is capable of doing.

7. Does Announce Mobile have plans to join MC2?

No not currently. Again we consider NeoMedia a strong partner and have the utmost faith in them to address our concerns and points to the MC2 community. However, we are not eliminating the possibility of joining at a later date and the entire MC2 initiative will continue to remain high on our radar.

8. When is the market for 2D barcodes going to explode in the US?

This is a tough question to answer. There are a lot of factors that go into answering this question, some of which I can and some of which I can’t discuss here. However, the once answer that it is certain, is the establishment of a standard for 2D barcodes throughout the market. Similar to how UPC symbols on just about every packaged good you purchase are standard, the market must establish a similar standard for the 2D code.

This is also a catch-22 question. 2D Barcodes are not going to be accepted by brands until a demand is there, however, a demand can not be generated unless the codes are there. So how do we generate this demand, encourage your friends, family, whoever, to download the qode reader today. The more consumers that have it on their phone the easier it is for companies like Announce Mobile and NeoMedia to sell the product.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Announce Mobile's CEO Discusses Hip2D

There has been a lot of attention given recently to the use of 2D codes in marketing. Solutions such as NeoMedia’s qode® technology have been a driving force behind this attention. Since this is such a large topic and there are many aspects to it, I am going to split the discussion across a series of posts (between e-mail and this blogging thing I will have carpel tunnel in a month otherwise).

Announce Mobile has selected qode as the backbone for our Hip2D solution. We have been getting a lot of questions surrounding what Hip2D is exactly and how we are using qode in it. Hip2D is essentially qode. The underlying difference is that we have added the design, implementation, hosting, and management of the complete WAP interface to it. So with Hip2D not only do you get qode and all that goes along with it, you also get the content to link the 2D code to.

Why is this important? Because without the content, the 2D code goes nowhere plain and simple. It is up to the business or organization purchasing the 2D code to develop and manage the content. Now don’t get me wrong and before everyone runs out and says Jeff from Announce Mobile is bad mouthing qode. I’m not, don’t worry! qode IS important because without it, the content is not as valuable. qode makes the content available and easy to use for the consumer. So they NEED each other. This content can consist of product information, a ringtone/music/wallpaper/game download, a hint or clue for a scavenger hunt, a price lookup, or a product information portal. The possibilities are nearly endless as to what you can provide to the consumer via qode.

So what is qode? Without delving into the entire technical jargon and long drawn out explanation, for now let’s leave it at qode is a mobile code-reading platform which can read and decipher UPCs and 2-dimensional barcodes. There are several different standards for these codes and together with a longer explanation we will discuss that in a future post. NeoMedia’s qode works by installing an application, called the qode®reader, onto a standard camera phone. The qode®reader software integrates into the camera and allows the consumer to take a picture of the 2D code. Combined with a back-end server, it then translates that code and redirects the consumer’s mobile browser to a specific piece of content. Like a UPC symbol on the back of a box of cereal translates into what brand, type, and price at the grocery store, the 2D code does essentially the same thing but on steroids. Instead of just providing a basic piece of information (i.e. name/brand/price), the code can provide a lot more and can be dynamic. The result provided by a qode can be based on location, phone make/model, user preference, time of day, time of year, the list goes on.

An example of use of qode is the corner video store. How many times have you gone to a movie store, looked at several movies, and wondered just what the movie was about? Would making a decision have been easier if you could have watched a trailer for the movie while you were in the store? Had the movie case had a 2D code on it, and assuming you had the qode®reader installed on your phone, you probably could have. Of course for this example to work at all, there are several other pieces that need to be provided, and that is where Announce Mobile and NeoMedia have teamed up to provide a complete solution called Hip2D.

Hip2D would have been the driving power behind that movie trailer you would have watched on your phone. Working directly with studios, or even the corner video store, a 2D code could have been printed on the DVD insert and mobally linked to a WAP portal that in turn would have streamed the video to your phone (assuming your phone could handle video).

So there you have it. That is Hip2D in a nutshell and that is why Hip2D is such an important product for Announce Mobile and NeoMedia. Due to the depth of this topic, the amount of discussion causes, and overall interest level, I am going to take each day this week to discuss a different aspect of the 2D code industry. We will discuss the new MC2 initiative, the technology and definitions behind 2D codes, and uses for Hip2D. In the meantime, go download qode by going to on your mobile phone. Before doing so though, visit the qode web page to make sure your handset is supported. And who knows maybe sometime this week or next we will have a little contest for everyone.

Source: Announce Mobile Blog

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Announce Mobile Launches Hip2D

Announce Mobile's Hip2D combines the power of NeoMedia Technologies qode
® platform with the interaction of a full-featured WAP portal.

By using the innovative qode
®reader on their mobile device the consumer is able to instantly obtain product information, participate in scavenger hunts, enter contests, or view a movie trailer or song sample simply by clicking on a 2-dimensional barcode.

Make your campaigns, packages, displays, ads, publications, or any other medium come alive. Attract new customers, improve loyalty, and increase brand awareness and revenues.

A smartcode can be printed on just about anything as long as the quality and size are capable of being read by the camera phone. The easy to use application runs locally on the consumer's phone or PDA.

According to Jeff Mould, CEO of Announce Mobile, "We are happy to announce the launch of Hip2D, which is the integration of the 2D code platform provided by NeoMedia Technologies called qode, and our WAP development platform and team. With Hip2D, businesses get a one-stop-shop for 2D code, code reader, and WAP portal, m-commerce site, or content. This single solution provider allows us and NeoMedia to deliver complete solutions to customers quickly and efficiently. By partnering together we are each able to deliver new and exciting solutions to our customers."

We are excited to begin offering our customers true LBS solutions along with the 2D codes. I think our next project may be working to integrate the entire platform into one single offering. Imagine making 2D codes geographically aware directly at the phone level. Or a 2D code that responds differently based on a previous location. The possibilities are endless and we are happy to see the technology finally catching up in the US."

Founded in 2006, Announce Mobile is a leader in Mobile Marketing and provides the tools necessary for any business to easily conduct Mobile campaigns that are able to reach millions of subscribers.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Javien Licenses NeoMedia's qode® Platform

Javien Digital Payment Solutions announced today that it has entered into a transaction fee based license agreement for the qode® platform, an innovative direct-to-mobile-web technology solution from NeoMedia Technologies. The pioneering qode® solution from NeoMedia allows consumers to interact with products and services in the physical world using barcodes allowing for content and products to be consumed.

Javien Digital Payment Solutions, delivers next-generation e-commerce and m-commerce management platforms to content providers for driving online sales. Offered primarily as an ASP-hosted service, Javien technology helps digital music sites successfully deploy and manage subscriptions, pay-per- view, downloads, micro-payments and alternative billing. Javien's customers include MTV Networks, Trans World Entertainment, Ruckus Network, MusicNet, iMesh, Bearshare, SNOCAP, Azureus, Hungama Mobile, and Thomson.

Javien Digital Payment Solutions will incorporate the power of the NeoMedia qode® platform into its persuasive Total Commerce Solution™ allowing for a complete billing, couponing and content product acquisition and resolution offering. NeoMedia will earn $0.05 per click and expects each transaction to generate up to four clicks.

"Online and brick and mortar merchants are looking for ways to maximize sales and bridge the digital world to the physical world, and qode® will allow us to expand our services to markets and customers in the physical world," said Leslie Poole, Javien's CEO.

According to Chas Fritz, Chairman and Interim CEO of NeoMedia Technologies, qode® gives Javien a strong competitive advantage over other payment processing system vendors.

"qode® gives Javien an additional commerce channel for their clients. It also enables Javien to expand into new physical world markets quickly," said Fritz.

With benefits like these, Mr. Poole is convinced that qode® offers significant added value to its client base. "We are excited to integrate this technology into our platform, giving our clients another profitable revenue source," he said.

NeoMedia's qode® includes qode®reader and qode®window, providing One Click to Content™ connectivity for products, print, packaging and other physical objects to link directly to specific desired content via the mobile internet. qode®reader works with camera enabled phones, letting users "click" on 2-dimensional "smart codes" for a direct connection to desired multimedia information, advertising, promotions and content, etc., and qode®window lets users enter a key word, slogan, barcode number or other unique identifier, for similar connection.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

qode® Provides Direct Connect For Mobile Games

NeoMedia Technologies, an innovator in wireless services and patented technologies that provide automatic links to content on the Mobile Internet, and Cellufun, a leading provider of real-time multi-player games that can be played on existing and next-generation Web-enabled mobile phones, have teamed up to provide qode® technology to link consumers to Cellufun's Mobile Game portfolio.

Cellufun, whose off-deck strategy has attracted more than 1 million subscribers, will use Internet-linked smartcodes and keywords from NeoMedia in print ads, online, and other promotions "deep-linked" to its mobile games. Along with subscribing to smartcodes and keywords, Cellufun will drive downloads of the qode® mobile phone software to existing and new subscribers, allowing them to link to game downloads on the Mobile Internet by clicking on a 2-dimensional smartcode or entering a keyword.

"Our award-winning games, multiplayer environment, and gaming community are very attractive to mobile gamers," said Arthur Goikhman, CEO of Cellufun. "By using qode®, existing subscribers will be able to directly connect to other games in our expanding portfolio, and new subscribers will be able to avoid the complexities of navigating the mobile phone to connect to Cellufun's content. Clicking on a smartcode or keying in a keyword from our print promotions or Web site is the best and fastest way to effortlessly download a game."

"NeoMedia is excited to be on the leading edge of this exploding market in our partnership with Cellufun," said Rick Szatkowski, vice president of Business Development for qode®. "Recognizing the interdependence between the necessary constituents of the Mobile Internet ecosystem, NeoMedia will continue to use qode® and work with our partners to bolster what we believe is a leadership position in the rapidly growing market uptake for mobile gaming and other Mobile Web content and applications."

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

NeoMedia's qode® Makes ONE Water Interactive