CAMPAIGN-I: Private Surf - Robert Hamilton, the founder and creative director of SCAN, the mobile commerce company, takes a look at

One of the developers in our New York office told me about, and though I doubt I'll ever have time to tinker with it

as much as I'd like, it is very cute indeed. Chillingly reminiscent of

something I wanted to do for a client several years ago (back then both

budgets and the client's ambitions railed against me), the concept is

simple and familiar, but with a twist.

A cross between a Multi-User Dungeon - for those of you lucky enough

never to have set foot in a university computing department, that's a

game where users can interact with each other as well as create spaces

and objects at will - and a virtual chatroom, the hotel's economy is

fuelled by something very close to my heart, the mobile phone.

You can wander around and talk to people without commitment, but if you

want to set up your own rooms and furnish them you have to pay. No need

to reach for your platinum card though - just grab your phone and send a

text message to buy credits which can be exchanged in the hotel. The

site also allows payments via the SplashPlastic system - obviously

hoping to capture the hearts, minds and pocket-money of those who aren't

old enough to have even an Amex Blue yet.

So HabboHotel makes cunning use of SMS to provide micro-payments - how

many websites have longed to be able to charge people a few pence for


It looks good, it works and, erm, I am all but convinced.


Well, there are two things a hotel should deliver above all else: big

fluffy towels and a never- ending supply of martinis. If I could get

those by SMS I'd be moving in. Until then, Sanderson will just have to


Owner: Habbo

Site positioning: A hotel for UK teams - it just happens to be on the


Launched: February 2000

Developed by: Sulake.


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