Monday, June 15, 2009

Find and Be Found: AKA Mobile Directory, Messaging, and More

When Google first came out with a simple-looking web application called the search engine more than a decade ago, it was so ordinary nobody expected it to become what it is today. Now, another unique-sounding application is leveraging on the lucrative industry of search engine technology and messaging systems. It's called AKA.

AKA is basically a Short Messaging Service (SMS) and web based mobile directory system. The AKA Mobile Directory has its own directory-based search engine which allows any registered mobile phone user to search and be searched within the community either through SMS or the internet.
Directory Search

By simply typing AKA FIND 'keywords' (ie: AKA FIND letsgosago philippines) on your cell phones, the system returns a list of alias that matches the specified keywords. If your query results only to one, the directory entry is immediately shown (like in this case).

One can also directly get information about an entity if you already know the alias. For example, type:

and send to 0922.999.7255. You will then receive the exact directory entry of the blog entity

Moreover, users can create searchable information within the system which essentially makes them publishers as well. Bring it to another level and you get mini-blogs; just like regular blogs which you can send as SMS, emails, and as widgets. Its flexibility can even accommodate user applications like SMS-based promos, point system, messaging systems, and the likes. This is where future developers' ingenuity can be most harnessed and explore the possibilities of coming up with killer applications that would really 'click'.
A user can do all these as well on the web by accessing


Currently, its strongest-potential feature would be its integrated messaging system which works on both SMS and the web. Registered users can communicate with each other through individual usernames or group aliases. These messages can then be routed to various channels such as SMS, any AKA Inbox, as an e-mail, or even social networking notifications.

With the Philippine market's penchant for anything SMS-based, and being the top SMS market in the world, it holds a lot of promise.

Interestingly, It uses two simple commands "AKA TELL" and "AKA YELL". As the keywords suggests, The former sends messages to one user within the directory while the latter sends it to a designated group of people called 'watchers'.


Sending format using AKA Tell is simply:
AKA TELL 'message'
The message will then land in the registered receiver/user's cell phone as an SMS.

The sender can send it using his/her cell phone or from his AKA account on the internet. From the web, the user has the option to send it to the receiver's AKA inbox only, or include his/her cell phone.

There are times that you need to send the same message to a number of people, this is where AKA Yell is most useful. It's a broadcast command which enables the message creator to send it to all you 'Watchers.' Watchers are users who have agreed to receive your broadcast messages. Very similar to blog subscribers.
Think about a restaurant business owner sending his newest promos to his subscribed loyal customers/watchers.

To Yell to all your watchers:
AKA YELL 'message'
To Yell to a select group among your watchers:
AKA YELL 'groupname' 'message'

To Watch another user:
AKA WATCH 'alias'
Regular Pricing/Cost

Sending both TELL and YELL through the web alone is free but sending it as an SMS message consumes AKA Credits which may be bought in the near future similar to SMS load we have around. Otherwise, your message will be delivered to the target user's AKA Inbox for free.

The SMS search engine utilizes a centralized Sun TxtBlitz Service with the contact number 0922.999.7255. Just like any telecommunication charging schemes, using/sending the AKA commands to the Sun Cellular number incurs cost at the current normal rate of P1.00 (or free if your plan allows you to do so, like my Sun Plan 350 which has unlimited call-and-text SUN to SUN).

Room for Improvement

YELL's concept of braodcasting to your reader-base ('watchers') looks promising. However, one hindrance I see on the side of the broadcaster/business owner would be cost. Sending a 'yell' to my 100 watchers also consumes 100 AKA credits on my part (the sender). As a business owner, I would first have to think twice before sending information to my customers/watchers. Is it worth it? Is the cost worth the ROI?

I hope AKA can provide a good business model soon to allow the Yell feature to be utilized in a cost-effective manner without sacrificing community participation.

The AKA SMS Shoutbox feature such as the PLOG, buy.sell, and BBZ are snazzy applications which can hold great appeal to users and organizers for events.

Currently at beta version, is still limited to Philippine-based mobile networks.

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