Start-up marries blogs and camera phones
by John Cradden
A Dublin-based start-up is to offer software to mobile operators that will enable mobile phone users to create and maintain Weblogs or "blogs" using only their phones.
NewBay Software, a privately funded company headed by former Baltimore Technologies executive Paddy Holahan, is aiming to capitalise on the explosive growth in weblogs over the past year. It is estimated that over 500,000 have been created over the past 18 months and are now starting up at the rate of about 5,000 daily.
The content of Weblogs can range from personal diaries and opinion sites to amateur publishing on sports, politics, events and reviews. Weblogs are created using PCs and blogging software that is available both commercially and for free over the Internet.
NewBay Software is hoping to capitalise on the ubiquity of mobile phones and particularly the MMS capabilities of the latest generation of camera phones to market its FoneBlog software product. Using FoneBlog, network operators provide Web addresses for customers who can then update their personal Web sites by sending text and images from their phone. If the user's phone does not have MMS, a text only site can be created.
Speaking to ElectricNews.Net, Paddy Holahan, chief executive of NewBay and former vice president of marketing with Baltimore Technologies, said that the response from initial approaches to mobile operators had been very positive. "We think in the short term network operators will see this as an immediate way of capitalising on the new wave of camera phones."
The company is targeting 200 operators worldwide, starting in Europe and the US, and hopes to announce the first deals within a few months. Holahan said he was hopeful of generating revenues of at least USD10 million. The company, currently employs nine people at its offices in Upper Baggot Street, may also expand into other areas eventually but for the moment is concentrating on its Weblog product, he said.
Up until now, blogging has appealed to a small band of relatively sophisticated PC users ranging from amateur journalists to angst-ridden teenagers, but Holahan says the convergence of weblogs and camera phones will crack open the market for weblog services. As well as boosting revenues for network operators, it will drive the sale of camera phones, he said.
According to research from Strategy Analytics, camera phones are expected to make up 11 percent of phone sales by 2004, while 50 million MMS handsets will be in the European market by 2004. It is also estimated that there will be 147 million camera phones in existence by 2007.
The software, hosted by the network operator, automatically stores and formats incoming messages that are then added to the user's Web site in a diary or log fashion. As each entry is sent, it is automatically added to the top of the Web site with each day creating a new Web page. The Web site can be viewed from any Web browser and visitors automatically see the most recent entry or can click on a calendar to view previous days.
Mobile phone users who maintain their weblog using their phones will still be able to edit their sites using PCs. Holahan said that 3G phones will open up the creative possibilities for weblogs, such as including video images.
NewBay Software, which was established in November is a privately funding start-up. It is owned by a number of private investors, including Holahan, but with no venture capital involvement.