O2 Bluebook service

3 minutes estimated reading time

I was prompted to write this post in reaction to the Bluebook service by O2, which is currently being promoted as part of a 4.5 million GBP campaign across a range of print media including The Observer magazine, Heat, Nuts and Kerrang! matched by banner ads on Facebook and MySpace.

First thing, the fact that anyone using banner ads on Facebook is making a poor marketing decision, in comparison to the price/performance of other vehicles on the site. Widgets would be an ideal way to showcase the service and provide a degree of utility to O2 customers for a reasonable five figure sum, why not speak to the nice people at Techlightenment or Nixon McInnes?

But is it just me or is O2’s Bluebook service a bad product for their customers?

I know what you’re thinking, this blogger chappy, he’s a bit rude and doesn’t understand the mobile phone operator business. But I do, I can completely understand how someone somewhere thinks that having all your SMS and MMS on record is a sticky application that will substantially reduce customer churn whilst allowing you to maximise the average revenue per user (ARPU) by selling premium MMS and SMS services (these offer more of a margin than the data equivalents).

But its not right, its not clever and it shows a lack of respect for the customer. Its not really the way to foster a great long-term relationship.

Let’s break the offering down.

  • Rather than MMS, why not switch customers on to a service like Picassa, Flickr or Photobucket and allow them to use the full amount of mega-pixels on the camera? There’s a great software uploader called Shozu and many of the camera manufacturers have their own version that mobile operators remove or cripple before customers get their handsets. As a mobile operator you’ve got them to upgrade their handset to the latest Samsung / LG / SonyEricsson / Nokia / Blackberry / iPhone its a shame they won’t appreciate the value of it and keep those higher resolution memories safe?
  • Users don’t need to keep hold of every text they’ve been sent: ‘Honey I am on the train, home in 10 minutes’, ‘There’s a chicken curry in the freezer for you, will be home late’ but there is a great service called Treasuremytext which goes beyond merely storing special texts, but has community aspects as well. The service has been around for a few years (it won best community website in Yahoo!’s Finds of The Year in January 2006 when I was still inhouse at the big Y!). They have a new beta version of their service here
  • As for blogging and mobile blogging platforms the world is full of them, and many of the photo services I mentioned early facilitate blog posts wherever the rest of your content is. I’ve blogged from my phone and posted a picture whilst sitting in the departure lounge of HKG and SFO airports – its really easy to do.

So is the real reason that O2 are putting lipstick on the pig of a system that they keep back-ups in the event of an enquiry by the authorities? Probably, but that isn’t the issue. Black helicopters and government conspiracies exist get over it.

The issue is that that if O2 put the customer ahead of their myopic world view you’d have happy O2 customers with a richer library of content to treasure and warm fuzzy feelings about their mobile phone company, which is what it is really all about.