63336 (formerly known as Any Question Answered or AQA 63336), is a premium-rate SMS mobile question and answer service and micropublishing service based in the United Kingdom, operated by 63336 Ltd (formerly IssueBits Ltd). Mobile phone users can text 63336 with any question and get a reply, on a charge per question basis. Launched in April 2004 by former Symbian CEO Colly Myers and Paul Cockerton (Head of Global Marketing Communications at Symbian), the service has gone on to receive widespread media coverage, and has answered over 27 million questions. Spin off publications have also been produced based on questions received and answers sent. After 5 years of providing their mobile question and answer service, in April 2009 the company also launched a commercial SMS text based micro-blogging service, AQA2U, similar to Twitter, in which 63336 and third parties can set up their own publishing topics, and send text updates to subscribers via 63336, receiving a share of the text message charge to subscribers. This service was discontinued just over a year later.
Former Symbian CEO Colly Myers founded Issuebits Ltd. in August 2002, which publicly launched the service first known as Any Question Answered (AQA) on 22 April 2004. AQA was the first SMS text based spontaneous and generalised question and answer service using only a premium rate shortcode number, although other services already existed in different forms. AQA was named best mobile service at the Mobile Choice Consumer awards held on 30 September 2004.
Since launching, AQA experienced steady growth in the number of questions answered. By June 2007, 1 million customers had sent 7 million texts to AQA; By November 2011, this had risen to over 24 million questions.
In March 2008, the AQA Club was launched, expanding the service available to users above the basic one time interaction model. In March 2009, AQA was rated as the most accurate text answering service, in a survey carried out by the BBC between AQA, 118 118, Texperts (then owned by 118 118), and a celebrity panel of three (See below). In April 2009 AQA launched the AQA2U micropublishing service (See below).
In November 2009, the parent company was renamed from IssueBits Ltd. to 63336 Ltd., with the brand name dropping the AQA/Any Question Answered tag, leaving just 63336. "Over time it became clear that the most important communication we could provide to our customers has been how to use the service, which is to text 63336. Coordinating everything to be 63336 will help customers remember what they need to do to ask a question".
The assets of 63336 Ltd were sold to Australian company Global AQA Pty Ltd effective 1 December 2011. Global AQA Pty Ltd is managed by Australian entrepreneur Domenic Carosa. He has over 15 years experience in business and technology and is past Chairman of the Internet Industry Association and holds a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Swinburne University.
63336 Question and Answer service
The basic service is spontaneous, involving a single user interaction. Users are only charged for each question sent, they do not require a subscription to use the service or to adhere to a set number of texts.
The service is available for UK mobile phone users on shortcode 63336 for £2.50 per text, and in Ireland using the number 57275 for €3 per text. 63336 can also be used by UK or Irish mobile phone users in foreign countries subject to network roaming charges.
63336 charges the user per text message sent (per 160 characters) and replies, which are free to the user, are always in one text message. The 63336 service will answer any question on any subject, limited only by set terms and conditions covering certain competence/moral/legal obligations.
This optional opt in service allows users to register a member profile through the website, allowing researchers to use this profile to tailor answers to the member. Members also receive free texts and books, and can view their history of questions and answers.
The 63336 service operates through a network of home-based researchers who connect with the company's text messaging system. Researchers receive questions, and use their own sources which can include the Internet, published materials or a telephone inquiry, to compose answers. Operation is augmented through use of a database of all past answers provided to previous questions, and if applicable, through a user's 63336 Club member profile.
Researchers are recruited from English-speaking locations around the world to provide 24-hour coverage. By using home based researchers, 63336 takes advantage of relatively untapped portions of the workforce, such as students and stay at home parents. Researchers operate as piece workers paid 30p per answer, and set their own work schedule. All researchers must pass an initial acceptance test and are subject to continual reviews to ensure quality of service. A small central company staff maintains service quality.
In response to a consumer complaint about the 118 118 service, the BBC consumer affairs television program Watchdog investigated the customer service of 118 118, Texperts (by then owned by 118 118) and 63336. The programme set a test of sending 20 general knowledge questions to the companies, sending each one twice to allow for mistakes, and scoring the answers. It also gave the questions to panel of celebrities, Keith Chegwin, Konnie Huq and Iain Lee, equipped with an internet connected computer, to also search for the answers themselves in comparison. Watchdog determined that 63336 were the most accurate, with a score of 92.5%, followed by the celebrities on 90%, 118 118 on 72.5%, with Texperts last with 65% per cent. AQA welcomed the result, but also disputed the BBC marking in that one of their answers marked as incorrect was actually correct.
A number of 63336 publications have been produced using previous questions received and answered. The service has received publicity through its use by various celebrities and media personalities, and by appearance at public events such as the Edinburgh Fringe in its trademark orange colour scheme. The company's freelance researchers are often used to help in marketing events, which tend to be focussed on the London area. The company has "launched", among other things, an AQA bikini, cocktail, and necklace to promote the number and increase brand recognition.
Passing the 15th million question mark was assisted in part by a rush of use, after customer Graham Norton used 63336 to settle the issue, "Are baboons evil?", during an argument on his television chat show in October 2008.
63336 has received coverage in the mainstream and internet media through various story angles, such as strange questions, researcher back-stories, real-life customer stories, and the commercial or technological aspects of the business. 63336 also provides services to third party companies such as MTV, which has a specialised version of the service called "Mr Know-It-All" that shows the questions and answers on TV over the music videos, and various magazines. The 63336 website publishes a list of the best 5 questions and answers processed each day. New users are provided one free initial question through the website, or three free questions through the 63336 mobile phone app.
In 2007 63336 also worked with leading comedians to develop a comedy show We Need Answers based on its questions and answers, sponsoring two years of shows at Edinburgh festival. We Need Answers has now been commissioned by the BBC, with 63336 continuing to supply the questions and answers.
63336 produced and broadcast its first television advert in November 2009. The advert referenced Graham Norton's "Are baboons evil?" question, and was the subject of controversy due to the alleged use of Illuminati symbolism such as a pyramid and an eye. In March 2010 the advert was shown for a second time.
AQA2U Micropublishing service
On 20 April 2009, 63336 launched the AQA2U micro publishing service available to the general public, similar to the Twitter model of personal text update distribution. Publishers send content to 63336, for onward distribution via text to a subscriber base, receiving a percentage of the cost profit from texts sent to subscribers. After paying a 98p subscription fee for a particular topic, subscribers are then charged 25p per text, with the total monthly cost limited to £3.50 per month per topic. Publishers are restricted to 14 text updates each month, with a maximum daily allowance of three texts. Subscribers sign up for updates from a particular publisher's topic, via text shortcode, with the service promoted to subscribers as being spam free, and featuring content screened by 63336 against an editorial policy.
Upon its launch, 63336 setup a number of proprietary topics on popular subjects sent to the 63336 question answer service, such as football scores, word of the day, racing tips and breaking news. Ever since the launch of AQA2U, HORSE2U has been the most popular topic, with just over 100 subscribers.
The service was discontinued June, 2010.
The 63336 service is promoted as being spam free for basic users, who will not receive any texts other than requested answers. The service also promises not to use a user's mobile number for any other purpose than the 63336 services. 63336 operates within the UK PhonepayPlus (formerly ICSTIS) and Irish Regtel premium rate service regulators codes of practice.
In popular culture
- The use of the AQA service (mentioned as AQA, not 63336), was a brief part of the storyline in the BBC comedy Gavin & Stacey on 3 December 2009 (Series 3, Episode 2), when Pam reflects on how she never uses the paper edition of the Yellow Pages any more, and Pete reads out the answer he got when he asked AQA whether he should divorce Dawn.
- The service was used (as 63336) and discussed in Season 4 of The Ricky Gervais Show (aka "The Podfather"), when Stephen Merchant asked, "Karl Pilkington believes in ghosts. Is he an idiot?".
- The End of the Question Mark (2006) Profile Books Ltd ISBN 1-86197-869-3
- Any Question Answered (2007) Profile Books Ltd ISBN 1-84668-082-4
- Brilliant Answers (2008) Profile Books Ltd ISBN 1-84668-216-9
- More Brilliant Answers (2009) Profile Books Ltd ISBN 1-84668-326-2
- ↑ 63336 reveals the UK's top questions. 63336's own website.
- ↑ Former Symbian, Psion boss answers all your questions. The Register.
- ↑ AQA 63336 leads the pack at consumer awards. 63336's own website.
- ↑ 63336 passes 26 million questions. 63336's own website.
- ↑ AQA 63336 loses initials. www.63336.com (63336's own website). Retrieved on 26 November 2009..
- ↑ 63336 changes price of UK question service. 63336's own website. Retrieved on 16 May 2013.
- ↑ Aussies answer Brits text googlies. 63336's own website.
- ↑ Text question and answer companies BBC Watchdog reports, 30 March 2009
- ↑ So, who are you going to text? AQA 63336! AQA News, 31 March 2009
- ↑ 15m questions answered by AQA Mobile Entertainment, 9 October 2008
- ↑ We Need Answers up for award 63336 News, 23 January 2008
- ↑ http://www.aqa.63336.com/news/pr_091130_tvadvert.htm
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 AQA launches commercial micro-blog, www.telecoms.com, 20 April 2009
- ↑ The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/20/AR2009042001984.html. [dead link]
- ↑ AQA 63336 launches AQA2U a commercial micro-publishing service AQA Press release, 20 April 2009
- ↑ Pilkipedia.co.uk. Pilkipedia.co.uk.
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