Calendar Perfection

I had two meetings this morning, one which I put on my calendar and one which my Ann had entered. We have a detailed training course which all PAs go through. I forgot that there are almost 20 steps that PAs are trained of doing when setting up a meeting. I never followed them of course; partly because I don’t have the time to make it as detailed as Ann does. So when I looked at my calendar meetings this morning – I realised Ann’s entries are pretty closed to calendar perfection.

(1) The subject should be descriptive.
(2) When working across time zones, having the Time and Timezone in the subject means there is no confusion.
(3) Confirming with the attendees the day before.
(4) Meeting location is filled in, even if it is just on skype – if it is a physical address, the address must be Google maps clickable.
(5) Additional information in the Meeting details (like the Skype usernames).

#2 – Why Apple just does not get Asia!

I have complained about Apple’s one-phone–fits-all” strategy in previous posts. This strategy just doesn’t work in Asia (although there are now rumors of a low cost iPhone on the horizon). Samsung has proven that the demand for a range of phone options – from low cost to high end – is driving consumer choice here. Samsung has a reported 80% of the smartphone market in China, and some of the locals in China have nicknamed the iPhone 5 as the iPhone 4L :-)

Over the past few months, there has been another interesting trend emerging: Dual SIM Support. Now these are not new, but it looks like Dual SIM is about to become the norm here. Mobile phones with Dual SIM support have been around for a number of years, but they were usually evil, no-name brand phones with dodgy keypads, and which never seem to work reliably.

Recently, Asia has started to climb onto the dual SIM bandwagon. You walk into a mobile phone shop here and by default, most of the phones are Dual SIM, and not just the no-names. Samsung, Alcatel, Sony, and LG are now in the Dual SIM game Samsung has even branded their Dual SIM support as DUOS(tm).

It a very noticeable change.

Android Dual Sim Support is Mature
Under the cover, the chip manufactures have had the dual sim hardware technology worked out for a while – but the phone’s interface has been lacking in both usability and reliability. With the latest Android updates there is good support for dual sims. Send a Message – select which sim, in the settings choose which SIM is used for which function, etc.

Why Dual Sim?
In developed countries, most income levels are high enough that many people don’t really care too much how much they are paying for telcom services. The pain and hassle of having two different phone numbers on different carriers outweighs the cost savings. Asia is different.

Some Examples
In the Philippines, the 2 major carriers are SMART and GLOBE
With GLOBE it costs 1 peso (2 cents) to send a TXT message to someone on another network, or 0.5 peso (1 cent) if you send to someone within the GLOBE network. While cents to us sounds crazy inexpensive, here the minimum wage is about $200/mth., making each penny quite significant.

With SMART, for 25 Peso (50 cents) you can get unlimited call & texts to other SMART users and 20 texts to GLOBE for a 24 hour period.

These numbers show uswhy people here have two phones, or at least 2 SIM cards.

I don’t think you’ll see Apple joining the Dual SIM bandwagon anytime soon. There just isn’t the demand for it in their primary markets, and Apple’s telco deals wouldn’t be conducive to multiple carriers on one handset. So yet again, another small paper cut for Apple.

Now where is my Apple iWatch?

The PrePaid Phone Economy in Asia

In the emerging economies of Asia, the prepaid phone system is pretty sophisticated. It has to be; people here don’t have credit cards, many don’t have bank accounts or ATM Cards, and the logistics of trying to manage post-paid accounts would be interesting, to say the least. So the local telcos have become very creative when it comes to the features and tools available for their customers to maintain their pre-paid phone credit.

When you think of prepaid phone cards, you are probably used to cards with scratch off sections which reveal a code which is keyed into your phone to redeem the credit (or top-up with credit cards online). These prepaid cards are available here, but I have met people here who have had a prepaid mobile for five years and never used a pre-paid card. So how do they get credit? They go to a local store, hand over 5, 10, or 20 pesos (10, 20 or 50 cents) and the store owner instantly transfers credit from their phone to the customer’s phone.

Pass-a-Load

The system is called Pass-a-Load and anyone can do it – not just store owners. If you have credit on your phone, you can transfer credit to anyone else on the same network, without paying any commission. Simply send a TEXT message with the phone number and amount of credit to transfer, and it’s done. There is an affiliate program for store owners to receive a very small commission.

Request-a-Load

If you are out of credit, and don’t have money to buy credit use Request-a-Load. This is an interesting feature where you can enter a mobile number and for a cost of 1 peso (2 cents) the person will be sent a message saying, “Requesting load (phone credit) from you!” If you reply YES to the message, 5 pesos (10 cents) of credit is transferred from your phone to theirs.

Even more recent is the ability to borrow phone credit right from your phone company!

All-Net SOS

In the Philippines, one of the mobile carriers (Smart) will let you BORROW credit from them – they give you two options, both which allow you to go into the red with your prepaid credits, when you re-load, the loan is paid back. Now we are only talking about 10 cents here but still, if you have no money, and no one is going to send you credit with Request-a-Load, this gets you back on the air.
The first is On-Net, which gives you 3 texts and 1 peso of airtime. When you reload your plan, P4.00 (8 cents)  will be deducted as payment for your previous loan.
The second option is called All-Net. This service gives you four texts to all networks with P1.00 airport. Thus, P5.00 (10 cents) will be deducted.

Of course, there are guidelines for borrowing:
You can’t avail both SOS packages simultaneously. You have to pay for your loan first.
After a loan is made, any subsequent loan must wait at least 48 hours..
If you don’t reload within 30 days, your number will be service-blocked forever!

 Text Mo, Libre Ko?

As I was about to post this, a message arrives on my phone. Text Mo, Libre Ko? This is a new offering from another Philippine telco called Globe.
This is “Reverse Charging” for TEXT messages. When you send me a text message, it will cost you nothing, and you don’t need to have any credit on your phone. The receiver of the message pays! They will have 1 Peso deducted from their account for every message they receive from a selected phone number. When the “Reverse Charge” text message is sent, the receiver can choose to REJECT all messages, ACCEPT them and pay for them or ACCEPT only 1 message.