It was no April Fool’s joke last week, when Opera Software announced its agreement with Virgin Mobile USA to distribute Opera Mini on several Virgin Mobile USA handsets. The popular mobile browser will be available as a free downloaded application on select devices from Virgin Mobile USA prepaid customers through the VirginXL storefront beginning April 14. In total, Opera Mini will be available on eight handsets including the Slash from Samsung, the Arc, Shuttle and SuperSlice. Opera also announced that the Opera Mini browser will be pre-installed on select future Virgin Mobile USA handsets.
Opera Mini will support both English and Spanish languages, and will be available to Virgin Mobile USA prepaid customers at standard data prices.
Mobile Spam Bill Introduced
This week Senators Olympia Snow (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Florida) have introduced the m-SPAM Act. The two co-sponsors have introduced this legislation aimed at stopping unsolicited text messages by increasing the government oversight of commercial text messaging. This proposed bill would give the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission greater authority to restrict mobile spam and even block commercial text messages to wireless numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry.
According to figures from Ferris Research, mobile phone users received approximately 1.1 billion SMS text messages in 2007, up 38 percent from a year prior, and it is believed that those numbers increased to 1.5 billion in 2008. However, the SMS spam problem remains “negligible,” according to Ferris Research, at least when compared to e-mail spam. The problem of course is that many consumers end up paying for the SMS messages, while spam to the PC is typically free.
The 2004 CAN-SPAM Act was the first of its kind to establish regulations to prohibit sending unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to wireless phones without permission, and the new bill (S. 788) would actually extend these protections to text messages as well.
Interestingly however, there’s not much being done about the seemingly random automated calls that are making the rounds, and are targeting mobile numbers as much as landlines. These calls, which offer to lower credit card interest rates or just as often warn that your car warranty is going to expire, are essentially predatory calls that will charge the receiver money for virtually little in the way of actually services. The problem with these calls is that these are often times made from spoofed phone numbers, and are all but impossible to track back. So while the Mobile Spam Bill sounds great, how about a bill that makes it a crime for telemarkers to call mobile phones!
Mobile Advertising Moving Forward
While the idea of mobile telemarketing and SMS spam usually is the last thing anyone wants, the surprising twist is that mobile advertising actually could be something that is more readily embraced. This is because most users see the ads as a way of providing new – and more importantly free – content to the third screen.
The turning point according to a new eMarketer report titled Mobile Advertising and Usage, is the introduction of the smartphone, along with the speedy adoption of the iPhone. The development of 3G mobile phones has meant better Wi-Fi connectivity, improved connection speeds and notably mobile Web browsing. It has been built, and now the advertisers will come.