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Summary:

In theory the cell phone makes the perfect research tool — a text-message or WAP-based survey on a cell phone is immediate, location-aware, and targeted. Implementing these services, especially in the U.S. where carriers are controlling and mobile data usage is low, is much more difficult. […]

In theory the cell phone makes the perfect research tool — a text-message or WAP-based survey on a cell phone is immediate, location-aware, and targeted. Implementing these services, especially in the U.S. where carriers are controlling and mobile data usage is low, is much more difficult.

Embrace Mobile, a UK-based mobile survey startup wants to help fix that. The year-old company opened an office in Palo Alto, and launched its US specific offerings, says CEO John Merrells, who is also demonstrating the company’s products at the Office 2.0 conference in downtown San Francisco. The 25-person team has raised no venture funding, but says it is already profitable. Embrace isn’t really looking for funding, though, of course, probably wouldn’t turn down any discussions from investors.

Embrace’s core product is MSurvey – a service for running questionnaires via cell phones. Its target customers are market researchers, advertising agencies and big consumer brand owners. Embrace makes money by licensing its software or charging for a managed service. In the U.K. the company has done surveys for big brands, but doesn’t disclose those customers. The crew also has a lot of other mobile applications, including a mobile rating application for Hot or Not, but the company might be wise to stay focused.

With roughly twice as many cell phones in use in the world as PCs, it makes sense that startups are exploring ways to use mobile phones as research tools. Nevertheless, Embrace is going to have some tough competition on their hands. Mobile marketing company Air2Web recently raised $25 million from the Carlyle Group and lists a polling application among its mobile services. Both Air2Web and mobile startup Flytxt produce text message campaigns for big consumer brands and media companies in the U.S. Embrace’s Merrells says mobile marketing companies could be good customers of their mobile survey software, but those companies could likely do this themselves.

The market just also might be just a little too early in the U.S. Or maybe they have timed it right. When I called the research company M:Metrics to see if they had similar technology, M:Metrics execs quickly called Embrace for an intro and demo. That’s a good sign!

  1. Ok, what is The Next after Web 2.0 ?

    If Web 2.0 is syndicating, sharing and taking the internet to its elementary pieces, then the Next is applying activates between the elements of Web 2.0.

    If Content in Web 2.0 is an elementary piece, then the Next elementary piece is the relations per se, which are combined in the content, between such contents and which are linked by/via/to it.

    Imagine peers having their private “knowledge base” on each of their machines. Imagine each of the peers employs each other’s machines, but contrary to grid computing or distributed computing, they do so in short pulses and in a developed reaction, in which each of the peers forms and not only performs the tasks, while earning and ranking the trust of the others.

    If sharing in Web 2.0 is exercised by delivery of contents, then another scale of processing the information is opened up for such communities.

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  2. We have a carrier platform that allows surveys as part of the core offering. It’s more carrier focused, letting the carriers control the offers/surveys that go out.

    -Todd

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  3. Embrace Mobile is showing off their product at 10:30am at the Office 2.0 Conference.

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  4. One of my ventures after Yack.com was Recency Data/Informano Networks. We did one of the first, if not the first mobile polling applications for Gallup and AT&T wireless as well as a presidential polling application in the ’00 election debates.

    It’s interesting to see that this company has 25 people. I think in retrospect that they have succeeded because they are European, and Europe is way ahead of the US.

    I’m curious though how much they charge for their application. Marketing companies are notoriously cheap.

    Farhan Memon

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  5. Hi all,

    I would like to mention to you our mobile surveys solution. You can try it at http://www.mobiode.com

    It works on all kind of mobile phones, from old Nokia’s to new iPhone.

    I think that doing market research using mobile phones has a big future. Only limitation in these days is price of mobile inetrnet connection.

    Regards
    Tomas Zeman

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  6. Hi all,

    I would like to mention to you our mobile surveys solution. You can try it at http://www.mobile-sps.com

    It works on all kind of mobile phones.

    I think that doing market research using mobile phones has a big future. Only limitation in these days is price of mobile inetrnet connection.

    Regards
    Arik Litinsky

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