Thursday, November 13, 2008

KnEeetops? You won't find Vodafone’s LiveGuy in Northern Ireland :(

Every now and again there’s a big change in the kind of electronic devices that businesses and consumers want to buy. Usually a firm markets something that breaks the mould, or reshapes an existing product to allow it to fit previously unseen situations.

IBM5155 Luggable PC ... portable-ish

Laptops have been around for a long time. The first ones were more luggable than portable. Closer to fitting a handle to a normal desktop unit! I remember taking a laptop home from work to provide remote support over a weekend. If you’d put a 1999 Toshiba Tecra into a plastic bag, it would have fallen through the bottom of the bag as soon as you lifted it!

When Asus launched the Eee PC this time last year, there was a sudden demand for their cut down handbag-sized subnotebook or netbook. Out of the blue, it was acceptable to use a device with a small 7” screen, solid state drive (if you drop it you don’t wreck the hard drive), built-in wifi, integrated camera/mic and a simple set of bundled software (OpenOffice running under Xandros Linux on the majority of models) that you’ll use but not add to.

(I’m a particular fan of the Eee PC 1000H, which squeezes in a very usable 10.2” screen (screen resolution of 1024x600), built-in bluetooth and a keyboard 92% of the size of a normal laptop. Good performance, good size, but still small enough to carry around - though it does have a proper hard drive.)

The next stage of development is to move beyond wifi, and bundle 3G-like services with netbooks. So rather than being limited to locations with wifi hotspots that you can (afford to) access, you can take advantage of the ever-increasing 3G coverage. But without having to permanently tape a 3G USB dongle to the laptop case!

So netbooks are now starting to be sold with 3G data subscription bundles. Just slide in the SIM card, take out a new mortgage and off you go. And here we get to the point of this post.

Can you find Vodafone's LiveGuy in Northern Ireland?

Vodafone UK are sending “LiveGuy” around the country wearing a lurid red sweatshirt. If you spot him and you say the magic phrase (lots of clues online as to his location) he’ll hand over one of the four Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbooks [deep voice] “with built-in mobile broadband from Vodafone” he has to give away each day of his tour.

But if you’re reading this in Northern Ireland, don’t get too excited. You’ll not need to know the winning phrase. His UK tour doesn’t involve getting any ferries across to visit a city near you. Vodafone wimping out from visiting us.

The quick online conversation went:

alaninbelfast: @vodafoneliveguy Not coming across to Northern Ireland? Shame on you. Your tour's not complete! We do have Vodaphone 3G in NI!

vodafoneliveguy: @alaninbelfast you're not willing to cross the seas to get a free netbook? where is your dedication? Only the strong willed succeed.

alaninbelfast: @vodafoneliveguy Only the lazy and excluding lose sales and generate bad publicity :(

Vodafone-branded Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook

Maybe we’re technically backward on this side of the Irish Sea? Cave dwellers with no electricity to recharge the batteries of their laptops. Maybe he wouldn’t understand our accents when we talked to him.

Has Northern Ireland been sidelined again? Or am I just falling into the trap of playing the victim card all too easily? No doubt you’ll tell me in the comments below ...


Timothy Belmont said...

Indeed,NI has been overlooked by the Vodafone marketing colossus whether for reasons of expediency or logistics I know not. Of course, they are not alone; doubtless the tip of the iceberg!
I think you've made a good point and I agree with you Alan.


Stephen Barnes said...

Hey, that's a Compaq 'sewing machine'. Last time I saw one was in Royston House 3rd Floor store.... I wonder if it's still there ;-)

Harrison said...

I knew there were benefits to moving over to the mainland!

I presume he will be in obscure, un-wi-fi-d locations?

Anonymous said...

I remember when the Compaq arrived in Omagh 1980 or 1981 - it was way ahead in portability!

Jonny said...

Googled your blog and found this thread. Hello, I'm one of the annoying chaps that came up with this idea, so let me explain...

We certainly considered Northern Ireland, but logistically we were so up against it anyway we had to rule it out. We are not ignoring you, although I can appreciate that's how it might look.

One thing your post neglects to make clear is that the 4th netbbok each day can be won by playing along online, so that anyone, anywhere can nab him in the virtual flesh and claim their Dell Insiron Mini 9 - obviously the closest tag on his GoogleMaps page wins. You'll have to follow the link to learn more.

Good luck!


Alan in Belfast said...

Jonny, thanks for getting in touch.

You've beaten the Vodafone press office to it, who so far haven't yet emailed or commented - despite having been offered a right of reply!

Jonny said...

No problem. Rest assured, NI is in our thoughts and we've got a big project coming up next year. Hopefully we can make it over the Irish Sea and get you guys involved.

In the meantime, LiveGuy's on the loose in Edinburgh.

Check his GPS position (with a 15 minute delay) here:


Pottaz said...

It seems that the LiveGuy campaign has been so successful, Vodafone want to bring him over the Irish Sea after all. The word is LiveGuy is coming to Belfast on Thursday December 4th.

It's not official yet, so keep your eyes and ears open. A victory for people power (and a brand that recognises that needs to keep its customers happy).

Good luck.

Alan in Belfast said...

@Pottaz - doesn't sound like we'll be seeing LiveGuy in Belfast on the 4th ... it's all gone very quiet.

@Jonny - maybe you'll comment/email if there's any news.

Pottaz said...

My information is that it was extremely close to going ahead - today (Weds 3 Dec) was slated at LiveGuy day in Belfast, but the arrangements that needed to be made (including pre-publicity) couldn't be done in time.

That's a real shame. But I know that the LiveGuy campaign was deemed a real success - he got rumbled everywhere he went and I wouldn't be surprised if LiveGuy packed his big red holdall and headed out on the road once again. Were that to happen, I feel sure that NI would be front of mind.

Sorry it's not better news, but take comfort from the fact that Vodafone was actually listening and I think it will give more and more consideration to its activities across the Irish Sea for all future campaigns.