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LBS & tourism through the eyes of a postgrad marketing student in New Zealand.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Descriptive Walking Directions

Via near near future: A Location Representation for Generating Descriptive Walking Directions. In fact, check out the whole 'locative' category at near near future.

I still need to reply to Russell's analysis on LBS & tourism, too! Such a backlog of links/LBS news to go through...
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Friday, February 11, 2005

Why MMS sucks

Thanks to expert bloggers like Russell at The Mobile Technology Weblog, I have a fairly good understanding of why MMS has failed so miserably. To get consumer adoption of new technology, you usually need exactly the right combination of a few things, including marketing. To Vodafone's credit, they did that part great, as usual. After seeing that cool ad with David Beckham and Michael Schumacher, I and most of my friends wanted pxt-capable cameraphones. Finally, about a week ago I got my first cameraphone, and what happened when I tried to send a pxt?

Nothing. It's like the MMS got sucked into some mysterious black hole. I had lunch with my friend later on, and she said that I actually was supposed to configure my phone with Vodafone first, because she found the same thing when she got her Nokia 6260 from Hong Kong. She took it to a Vodafone shop, where they told her she would have to pay if she wanted them to set it up for her (seeing as the 6260 hasn't been officially launched here by Vodafone yet). Well, we'll just see about that... She went home and figured out how to do it herself from the Vodafone NZ website. However when my brother tried to do the same thing for our phones (he also got the MPx220), for some reason it wouldn't work, because obviously there are no instructions in existence for setting up MMS for your Motorola MPx220 on the Vodafone New Zealand network. So I've decided to live without MMS for now. Besides, I can transfer photos from my phone to my computer and then email them from there for zero cost, so...

It's like ringtones - why would I ever buy ringtones for $1 a pop when I can put any MP3s I like on my phone's internal memory and just use those? Even if my phone didn't support MP3 ringtones, I could still put my own midis on there to use instead. One thing's for sure - I'm not going to pay for mobile content that I can get even more easily for free.

Another great example of why MMS sucks: my friend took a photo on her 6260 and sent the pxt to my other friend. She never got it. The end. It's great to know that you've got a completely unreliable form of communication, isn't it?

It's a bit sad for me, having all those extra functions on my phone that I'll probably never use because the GPRS charges will be absolutely ghastly (especially on a prepay!). For a country that's supposedly technologically advanced, data connection prices are still prohibitively exorbitant. Let's not get me started on the ridiculous situation of broadband in NZ! You can either have decent speeds with a bandwidth usage cap, or a severely handicapped speed with no bandwidth cap. We've got the latter. I guess I can't complain though - at least we don't have to use that 56k modem anymore!
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Why LBS & Tourism?

It's been a while and I still haven't really gotten into the flow of blogging here, so I thought I'd cheat and insert a pre-written exerpt from my scholarship application, just to tell you what LBS is all about. =)
“Knowledge of the end user’s location will be used to deliver relevant, timely and engaging content and information. For mobile network operators, location-based services represent an additional stream of revenue that can be generated from their investments in fixed infrastructure. For the end user, these services can help reduce confusion, improve the consumption experience, and deliver high-quality service options” (Rao & Minakakis, 2003, p61).

Location-based services (LBS) uses various positioning techniques such as GPS and Cell-ID to pinpoint a user’s location in order to offer value-added services such as safety, navigation & tracking, transactions, and information. According to Barnes (2003, p64) “Tourists are a key customer segment requiring location-based information, since they are most often found in unfamiliar geographic areas”. Specifically in New Zealand, in a recent address to the Wireless Forum’s Conference – Convergence 2004, the Hon. David Cunliffe (2004) commented on the shift New Zealand firms were making towards wireless technologies: “Very soon it may be possible to point your cellphone at any downtown office block, and download the names, business interests, contact details and floor locations of its occupiers. Or transfer that concept to tourism. Click on the flagpole at Kororareka and hear the story of Hone Heke. Point to a hotel and press a key to get room rates and tonight's restaurant menu. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.”

Wireless technologies such as LBS have great potential in enhancing the value and sustainability of tourism in New Zealand, but they have yet to be properly implemented in this country – research is needed to assess the perceived value of these services from both a tourism industry and tourism consumer point of view. In The Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Towards 2010 – Implementing the New Zealand Tourism Strategy’ document, New Zealand’s ‘ideal customer’ has been identified as the ‘interactive traveler’, someone who: is an opinion leader who shares perceptions online & learn facts from the internet, travel professionals & well-traveled friends; uses technology, especially mobile technologies, to enhance their lives; seeks out new, interactive experiences where they can engage with natural, social & cultural environments; and are active decision-makers who book immediately and have high discretionary incomes. Since wireless services such as LBS would be primarily targeted at these tech-savvy tourists, understanding the perceived value of this technology will become even more imperative if Tourism NZ is to cater to their specific needs, now and in the future.
The problem with all this, though, is that it's still just a pie in the sky. A delicious-looking pie, but it's still hanging in the sky nonetheless. Next post I'm going to talk about what happened to the other pie that some people tried to push into New Zealand, but it didn't quite work - MMS.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Evidence of the vastness of the internet

I used to think that there were little or no academic articles/research into LBS and tourism. Well, how wrong I was! Just type 'location-based tourism' into Google Scholar and violà, tons of results. It's somewhat annoying I have to pay US$30 or thereabouts for access to some of the articles, so I'm not sure if I'll get those... I suppose I could get reimbursed, but I'm not even 100% sure it'll be useful to me.

Will blog more about the results of my Google Scholar search later.