SNAPin – Winner of the Buckley 3GSM Award

The star of the 3GSM show for me was a young, US-based start-up called SNAPin, which has developed a brilliant, bit of software that solves so much operator and user pain, it takes a little thought to get your mind around the implications.

SNAPin isn’t a sexy, in-your-face application, but works almost unobtrusively in the background on your handset. It’ll be put on your phone by your operator and it’ll simply help you get the most out of your handset.

As an example, you take a picture with your phone for the first time. As it is the first time, a little bubble (or whatever style the operator chooses – it’s very customizable) pops up saying something like “Would you like to know how to send this picture to someone?”. If you say that you would, it talks you through the process and helps you do it.

No more product manuals, in other words.

Yes, but what about all those phones that are sold with the wrong settings? You’ll still need to refer to the manual and anyway, this is what people find hard to work out.

But, no problem. If SNAPin detects the wrong settings, it’ll just fix them with an Over The Air (OTA) update. You can even then go and mess them up again and it’ll just quietly correct them.

The operator even has the choice of deciding to fix stuff in the background or opting to tell you what a nice company they are as they’ve solved the problem for you.

Now all the operators have to do is price MMS more realistically and they will have a service that’s severely in danger of being used. Except they need to make a lot more templates available to make it really usable, but that’s another story.

SNAPin would be pretty cool if that’s all it did. However, it also empowers users to do a lot of the stuff they’ve had to rely on customer service teams to do in the past, along with the “Press 1 to listen to crap music for 10 minutes”.

If you dial the operator’s customer service number, your phone prompts you with a pop up menu to help yourself. It offers you choices of top issues like billing enquiries or upgrade options. Then it gives you the information on the phone screen.

For example, if you choose Billing, it’ll give you a mini-statement. It can even point out that your existing package is not the best value and offer to change it.

SNAPin works on a licence per handset model, paid by the operator. While they were reluctant to say how much this was (fair enough), being able to pre-empt just one customer service call a year, would more then cover the cost of that subscriber’s licence. This doesn’t take into account the revenue increases that might open up as people start to use the many services a mobile phone can offer that they don’t know about and/or know how to use.

SNAPin just announced at 3GSM a big trial with UK operator, Orange. But if you work for an operator, you need to call them now – otherwise you’ll get stuck in a very long deployment queue as everyone realises that this is a must-have product.

Thanks to Simon Jones of OnPr who made me go and see his client by practically frog-marching me through the exhibition. A fine example of great PR, as I’m sure I’d never have found them on my own.

Reading this glowing review, I feel I ought to just add that this isn’t one of those “sponsored posts” that some bloggers have started to do. There’s no commercial arrangements in place between us – it’s just a very well thought through solution to obvious market pain. I wish I’d thought of it.

—–>Follow us on Twitter too: @russellbuckley and @caaarlo