Every time I walk by a standard operator shop that isn’t EE, I have to cringe. I can’t avoid it. That’s because, invariably, the shop window is currently advertising the Samsung Galaxy S4.
And unless you’re EE, you need to cover your promotions with the text, “4G ready”.
Seriously embarrassing for any mobile operator.
Oh, you mean you don’t have that… yet you’re selling a 4G-capable device? The device that everyone-and-their-dog is clamouring for?
Oh dear. Not good.
It’s like selling a terrestrial service selling an HD television and being forced to wax lyrical about the amazing quality pictures the TV can display… just, er, not from your services. Yet. For an unspecified time.
Someone asked me the other day about the difference between 4G and all the other 3G services and there’s no contest. Arguably Three UK’s 3.5999G+++++ is pretty good. But I’ve been able to download HD movies in about 10 minutes thanks to EE.
There’s an argument to say that the areas I’m using EE aren’t heavily congested — but given there’s almost a million EE customers on 4G, I’m not sure how much that perspective washes.
I can’t disagree with the EE advertisements that recommend you don’t limit your 4G-capable Samsung S4 by getting it from a standard network. I’ve been finding EE blazing fast in most situations. Indeed, on my iPad (with EE sim) I can even stream House of Cards from Netflix in high quality for about the first 20 minutes of my train journey (whilst I’m in a 4G area).
To the team at EE that managed to outmanoeuvre their competitors and get 4G live (and reliable) in such a short time, nice work. Very nice work.
This morning on the train platform I caught sight of an advert in the Metro newspaper from O2. It read, “Change your phone as often as phones change.”
This is a really, really good advertising statement. I like it a lot — I think it will resonate with quite a few people.
All readers of MIR know that phones change like the wind. You get a window of about 4-6 months where, if you buy the phone when is launched, you get to feel like you’re using the best possible device on the market.
Routinely there will be another one along to rival your chosen device from a rival manufacturer either immediately or at least a few months afterwards. Give it 8 or 9 months and it’s not unusual to find yourself holding last decade’s technology, particularly if there’s been an OS refresh or significant technology update.
O2′s Refresh price plan concept is, I think I’m right in saying, the first time we’ve ever seen a leading operator in the UK segment the price plan cost from the device legally — so that you can choose to upgrade without contract penalties at any point.
I hope it’s resonating nicely with the public. I’ll need to catch up with O2 shortly and find out. Over the weekend though I walked into a few O2 stores and heard lots of conversation about “refresh”. This bodes well. It should also be a no-brainer for the majority of customers.
Good news. I’m seriously giving some thought to trying it out myself.
WTM (World Travel Market) is the planet’s leading travel festival. I’ve been attending for the last three years and last year I participated in my first panel discussion there. Based on that experience I was delighted when the organisers asked if I’d help out from a mobile perspective. I’m now the WTM Mobile Consultant. And goodness me it’s a brilliant role. I have met the great and the good of the travel world over the past few months, not least WTM’s own Simon Press and Micaela Juarez.
Simon runs the whole operation including the big event in November at ExCel in London’s Docklands. About 60,000 folk attend across the 3 main days and each and every single hall is rammed full with exhibitors and activities for the duration. To put this in perspective, Nokia’s huge Lumia launch a year or so ago at Excel wasn’t big enough to use a full hall. WTM takes all 8. It’s so big that Simon and his colleagues work closely with the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway to make get the logistics just right. It’s no stretch to say the travel world comes to London for the week of WTM.
Micaela is WTM’s marketing supremeo. She oversees the brand, the comms and the marketing strategy out to the industry. And it’s Micaela whom I’ve been working with on Decision Makers TV. For anyone who remembers my old Mobile Developer TV service, it’s a bit like that. Most weeks they publish a sit-down interview with some of the travel industry’s top CEOs. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on many of them. And goodness me it’s been illuminating from a mobile perspective.
In most Decision Maker TV episodes there’s an opportunity for the CEO to highlight a few key trends for the travel industry. Without fail the issue of mobile is always raised. It’s becoming incredibly important to many different areas of the travel world.
Which is why, together with partner publication Travel Weekly, WTM is hosting a roundtable event this evening. The topic is “The Future of Mobile in Travel” and it’s featuring a series of C-level executives from the travel and mobile worlds.
As you might imagine I have a huge list of executives that I’d love to see participate. Space is unfortunately rather limited (by venue) and by the nature of the roundtable format. Although it’s rather premature, I’ve already buttonholed Micaela asking if we can do “The Future of Mobile in Travel II” shortly. I just know there will be no shortage of issues to discuss along with talented executives with excellent perspectives.
Steve Endacott, top man at the On Holiday Group is moderating the event. You can catch his Decision Makers TV interview series right here. He’s an incredibly personable chap and an excellent presenter — and one of the travel industry’s proven entrepreneurial success stories. (Here’s his background at the On Holiday Group website).
Lee Hayhurt, Head of News for Travel Weekly (whose technology section is Travolution) will be there tonight along with one of the publication’s writers. We’ll therefore see a write-up of the roundtable (respecting Chatham House rules) online shortly. I’ll link to it when it’s up.
I’ll also let you know how things go tonight!
If you’re into mobile and travel and you’d like to participate in an industry roundtable do drop me a note to let me know. There are no firm dates for another yet but I am hopeful!
Plus: I’m shortly going to be turning my attention to World Travel Market in November as I’m planning the mobile/travel conference stream for the show. So if you’ve anything to contribute (as a panelist or speaker) please drop me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org).
There’s still a lot of love in the room for the Q10. I knew there would be. I KNEW it!
Fundamentally, I am faster at typing on a physical keyboard. There are generations of executives who are the same as me. And ever since the iPhone came of age, we’ve been overlooked. We’ve been told that the Earth is flat from every other manufacturer suffering from Appleitis (that is, the only phone anyone wants to buy comes with a virtual keyboard). Apart from the odd exception, mostly on the ultra-low end, manufacturers have walked away from physical keyboards.
Stuff you, they said. The Earth is flat, they said. All the time, we qwerty-fans have been looking over the horizon wondering if there was any hope.
So profound was the touchscreen-only mantra, it was commercial suicide for BlackBerry to even MENTION the prospect of a physical keyboard device running BlackBerry 10 for a long time. For quite a while the Q10 was absolutely and wholly clouded in rumour-only status. Once the market got comfortable with BlackBerry 10, then the Q10 was confirmed.
Now then, will the Q10 sell by the bucketload? That depends on how you define “bucketload”. There are legions of senior executives quietly cursing their touchscreen devices every hour of the business day. When you just want to reply “y” or “yes” to dozens of emails from subordinates every hour, there is nothing that beats a BlackBerry.
Just… they haven’t been that modern, recently. But that’s all changing with the Q10.
There are millions of low level executives whose status in their companies will currently be insufficient to command a BlackBerry Q10. That’s because it’s a 500 quid device. The BlackBerry Curve 120 quid specials are still incredibly popular in enterprise. Those folk don’t have anywhere to go yet. That’s something BlackBerry will address shortly I’m sure.
This weekend you could buy a Q10 exclusively from the Carphone Warehouse concession store in London’s Selfridges.
Predictably, they sold out super quickly. Just by judging the excitement on Twitter relating to the Q10, I could see there would be demand. There’s no word on how many actual phones were sold. However Carphone Warehouse’s Charles Dunstone is on record today describing their Q10 weekend sales as an “amazing success”. He goes on:
“We have never seen any product sell that amount of volume in such a short space of time – it was incredible.”
This, from one of the country’s biggest sellers of iPhones and Samsungs.
Dunstone’s glowing feedback doesn’t stop there. He continues:
“The new user experience is fantastic and with its trademark BlackBerry keyboard, we think it will appeal to both BlackBerry loyalists and new users alike. We are expecting the nationwide launch of the BlackBerry Q10 to be huge for both BlackBerry and Carphone Warehouse.”
Rob Orr, BlackBerry’s top man in the UK & Ireland is on bullish form:
“This increased support from Carphone Warehouse following the Selfridges sell-out reinforces the strong demand for a high-end BlackBerry 10 smartphone with a full-QWERTY physical keyboard.”
You can pick up a Q10 for £579.99 SIM free from one of Carphone’s 800 stores (or online) from tomorrow. Or, I imagine, you could pop to Selfridges right now and probably pick one up. I’d ring ahead and reserve one though — even though they’ve had more stock, you’re up against a load of other Qwerty fans!
News just in from the Carphone Warehouse team: You can be amongst the first in the UK with a BlackBerry Q10 if you head over to the company’s concession in Selfridges, London, this weekend. The device itself will cost you £579.95 sim-free from them. Or you can reduce that dramatically with a contract (the phone is free from £36 per month).
I have been waiting for the Q10 to arrive for ages. For absolute ages. I am particularly excited now that it’s almost here. I’ve had hands-on briefly with the phone quite often across the past few months and I have to say it did feel brilliant in the hand.
I think I fundamentally am a keyboard guy. Some of the innovations on the Q10, particularly the ability to type the first few letters of someone’s name from the home screen and then rattle off an email to them immediately. Love it.
Read more about the Q10 over at the official BlackBerry product page.
What about you? What’s your interest level in a newly updated BlackBerry with a physical keyboard?
Are you ready for some real magic? I was exposed to some on Monday night when I went along to the O2 Refresh launch.
Check out this amazing magician, Oliver B, who performed some seriously cool magic on me. He’ll be out and about on the streets in London this Thursday, where he’ll be blowing peoples’ minds.
Here’s the video:
You can follow Oliver B on Twitter here: @oliverbmagic
And here are some images of me being seriously impressed by Oliver:
Finally, read my earlier perspective about O2 Refresh (“O2 Refresh: Inspired, innovative and available today“).
I came across this Folding USB solar power cell on Kickstarter the other week and thought I’d pick one up. It’s too easy to forget how reliant we are on traditional means of obtaining electricity for your important gadgets, especially if you live somewhere exotic. Like the East coast of America where all sorts of weather regularly takes out the power lines.
Although there are plenty of other possibile products out there I liked the look of this on Kickstarter and stuck $60 up with another 881 people. Have a look and see what you make of it.
If you’ve any other suggestions for similar products, let me know!
O2 UK has launched a new way of doing business for its contract (or “post pay”) consumers. It’s called O2 Refresh and it completely decouples the monthly service plan from the handset cost.
With this approach you now choose your calling plan — which must be 24 months in length. You then select what phone you’d like and select a “phone plan” for paying that up.
So, for example, you can pick up unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 1GB of data for a highly reasonable £17 per month. That’s your service plan taken care of. You now need to choose a phone. Let’s say you opt for the super-gorgeous HTC One (with it’s wonderful HTC Zoe functionality). The HTC One requires a £49.99 up front fee followed by £20 per month. (So the phone will transparently cost you £529.99 — zero interest, zero APR, none of that jazz).
Your total per month with this configuration? £37. That’s exactly the same, by the way, as the standard 24-month Pay Monthly contract currently on offer from O2.
Why bother with O2 Refresh then? Well, because you can pay off the phone and upgrade whenever you like.
And here’s the science bit: O2 will not force you to pay off the existing line rental as a terminal fee.
That, I reckon, is the most important feature of the whole offering. This has been a flipping thorn in my side for a LONG long time.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s stick with the £37/month HTC One example.
You’ve paid £49.99 up front. You then have the HTC One for 9 months, right, until the HTC Two comes out and blows the One away making into a luddite overnight. Traditionally you’re absolutely screwed, especially if you’re an O2 customer. O2 have a long history of being first with lots of the top of the range devices.
If you had 15 months outstanding on your standard £37/month contract, you’d be liable for a whopping £555 to exit (or thereabouts).
Some people will do this if they’re that frustrated. But the majority have to sit and adopt a fake smile and watch whilst their friends turn up at the pub with their beautiful HTC Two devices.
As an O2 Refresh customer, it’s a much different situation. If you want to upgrade to a new device, O2 will waive the airtime fee. You’re still liable for the phone cost of course. In this situation you’d need to pay £20 x 15 (£300). This is fair enough. The handset costs a lot of money. It’s paying off the unnecessary airtime that annoys me about the old way of doing things.
You’re liable for this £300 — however, O2 will give you up to £260 for your old handset. Provided you’ve kept the HTC One in reasonable condition, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get a good amount back for it. Let’s assume you can get £200 for the HTC One because it’s had a few knocks and scrapes. You now only need to pay £100.
Is it worth paying £100 to quit everything and get yourself a new HTC Two from O2 when you’ve only had the HTC One for 9 months? I’d say yes. And I think, increasingly, a lot of other people would agree with me.
I love it.
I really, really like the flexibility.
For O2, it’s a boon. The number one thing O2 want is to keep your eyes facing them whilst Vodafone, EE and Three dance around seductively trying to tempt you. Remember you’re still committed for the 24-month period unless you upgrade, in which case, everything is reset.
For the consumer, the ability to chop-and-change to the latest iPhone, Samsung, BlackBerry or Nokia is likely to be very appealing.
The challenge for O2 will be explaining the benefits of this new approach in as clear a way as possible to the consumers.
I haven’t been an O2 customer for about a year. I have accounts on every other network but I got to the point with O2 that I couldn’t see a valid reason for bothering. O2 Refresh changes things dramatically for me given my requirement to always have the latest devices.
Nice work O2.
If you’re interested, pop into an O2 store. You’ll be able to get O2 Refresh online and via the phone at a later date.
The O2 Refresh site is here.
Here’s the full release with all the details:
O2 launches new tariff allowing customers to get the latest phone whenever they want
• O2 transforms the way consumers can purchase the latest mobile phones with the launch of O2 Refresh
• In an UK first, O2 Refresh offers customers the opportunity to get a new phone when they want, without having to pay out their airtime contract
• O2 Refresh will be available in O2 stores nationwide from April 16
O2 today announces the launch of O2 Refresh, the first 24 month tariff to decouple the cost of the phone from the cost of calls, texts and data. O2 Refresh has been designed for customers to get a new phone at any time, without having to pay out their airtime contract. Instead, customers simply pay the remaining balance for their phone and then start afresh.
When a customer signs up to O2 Refresh, they choose a Phone Plan and an Airtime Plan. By signing up to and paying separately for their phone and airtime, customers are given complete transparency, while paying the same overall as they would on a standard 24 month Pay Monthly tariff.
For those customers who want a new handset before the end of their contract term, O2 Refresh enables them to pay off the remainder of their Phone Plan and end their Airtime Plan with no termination fee. To make it even more affordable to get the latest smartphone, customers can trade in their old mobile for cash using O2 Recycle, getting up to £260 to put towards their new phone.
O2 Refresh also offers great long-term value for those customers who don’t want or need a new phone before the end of their contract term. Once the customer has paid the full balance of their Phone Plan, monthly payments dramatically reduce to just the cost of the Airtime Plan.
“Mobile phone technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, yet the way phones are sold has remained largely static,” said Feilim Mackle, Sales and Service Director at Telefónica UK. “Increasingly our customers are telling us that they don’t want to be tied to the same phone for two years and, with 4G coming to O2 this summer, we want to make it easier for our customers to benefit from the latest technology. For the first time in the UK, O2 Refresh will make it possible to get a new phone part way through a pay monthly contract, at any time – quickly, easily and cost-effectively.”
Customers will have a choice of three O2 Refresh Airtime Plans, which have been tailored to meet varying call, text and data requirements. For £12 a month, customers get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 750MB of data; for £17, customers will have unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data and for £22 they receive unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data.
O2 Refresh has also been designed to give customers the flexibility to choose whether to make an upfront payment. The overall cost of the phone may be less depending on whether a customer chooses to make an upfront payment toward their mobile and which O2 Refresh Airtime Plan they opt for.
At launch, O2 Refresh will be available on a range of phones including the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, Blackberry Z10, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple iPhone 5. Following the launch, O2 Refresh will be extended to include a wider range of phones, with a specific focus on high-end smartphones including the Samsung Galaxy S4*. O2 Refresh will be available in O2 stores from Tuesday 16 April and will be available online and over the phone in the coming months.
How O2 Refresh works
A customer buys a HTC One on O2 Refresh and chooses to pay £17 per month for their Airtime Plan and get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data. They then choose to pay £20 per month for their Phone Plan and pay £49.99 up front, meaning their combined O2 Refresh tariff costs £37 per month, the same as they would pay on a standard 24 month Pay Monthly contract**. The total amount they will pay for the phone is £529.99.
Notes to editors
* O2 Refresh is available on Samsung Galaxy S3, S3 Mini, Note 2 and Ativ S, Blackberry Bold 9900 and Z10, HTC 8X and One, Sony Xperia T and Z, iPhone 4, 4S and 5, Nokia 820 and LG Nexus 4. It’ll also be available on the Blackberry Q10 and Samsung Galaxy S4 as well as other new smartphones in the future.
**This is a representative example; wherever you mention pricing for O2 Refresh please include this and the terms below. Representative example for HTC One: Duration of agreement 24 months. Cash Price is £600. Upfront cost is £49.99. Credit amount is £480. Interest rate is 0% fixed. Representative APR is 0%. Monthly phone payment is £20. Total amount payable for the HTC One is £529.99. The monthly airtime payment is £17.
O2 Refresh includes a 24 month Airtime Plan on our Pay Monthly Mobile Agreement and options to pay for your phone upfront or on a 0% APR consumer credit agreement. To get a new phone, simply pay any balance due on your Phone Plan and we waive the remaining months of the Airtime Plan. Subject to status, credit check, and payment by Direct Debit. Applicants 18+. Subject to availability. Airtime Plan prices may go up. Standard UK calls and texts, special numbers chargeable. UK data only. Credit provided by Telefónica UK Limited trading as ‘O2’, 260 Bath Road, Slough, Berks SL1 4DX. Telefónica UK Limited is regulated by the OFT, consumer credit licence number 0518589. Terms and fair use policy apply, visit o2.co.uk
I’ve been rather silent of late.
I never want to actually force myself to write here on Mobile Industry Review. It’s far too easy to get stuck into the churnalism world of cutting and pasting press releases to make yourself feel like you’re doing the right thing.
When I feel like I’ve nothing to write, I have to work hard to avoid sitting in front of the keyboard and knocking out tripe.
So I’ve been letting my view on Facebook Home bubble away. I’m now ready to pronounce… that I think it’s a fantastic concept. I am particularly keen on the little chat bubbles and the manner in which Facebook have implemented the persistent yet backgrounded interactivity.
First, though, the flaw. I only had to see the first few snaps of some of the keynote coverage to recognise (then affirm later on) that Facebook Home is primarily for young’uns. Young people. Folk with nothing better to do than continually live their lives by documenting the experience rather than actually simply experiencing it. It’s a different perspective that many folk over the age of 30 simply don’t understand.
I do actually think that some of the younger people I know actually do things so they can Facebook or Instagram them. I caught one, the other week, exclaiming that, “We should go on the London Eye [Ferris Wheel] because it’ll be a great photo.”
What the individual meant is that they’ll spend 90% of the ride trying to get the right shot and immediately liveblogging the queue, before interacting with friends half way around the world, sharing the event. They’ll spend the other 10% looking and then worrying that they’re not capturing enough of the experience and further, worrying that their “friends” following them live from Sydney, Chicago and Hull aren’t getting enough updates.
Those are the type of friends you need for the basic premise of Facebook Home to work.
I’ve two Facebook accounts. One setup at the urging of my wife (“Now we are married I can’t have you boring our [my] friends with stuff about mobile all the time.”) and the other my original proper account.
Neither, I’m sorry to say, provides the level of entertainment I think I need for Facebook Home to work effectively.
My friends simply don’t post enough “news”.
An average day will see 3 new items added into the stream.
So I either need to get some new friends, demand the existing ones change their service level or simply do without the Home updates.
I suppose with even an average of 3 updates, the wallpaper would effectively change regularly.
But… my friends aren’t good enough! Not all of their updates come with photos! Ah dear.
I suspect, then, that Facebook Home is aimed at the youthful masses who take huge (and understandable) joy from sharing everything and participating in their huge virtual communities continuously.
I’m particularly interested to see just how these users adopt the platform — and whether or not it’s something that’s likely to make me want to use Facebook more. I think the chat functionality could very well draw me and a lot of others to it.
Now, though, it’s time for me to wallow in the collective pity of the mobile world. How rubbish is it, that we were (I think, universally?) pretty impressed by the Facebook Home interface and user experience?
I was delighted with it. Seriously delighted. But at the same time, completely dismayed. Facebook’s achievement with their UI (however unproven) is a frustrating reminder that innovation has stagnated terribly in the Apple Era.
Luckily I think we’re well on our way out of the Apple Era… and into another. I’m not sure which, yet. Facebook certainly has a chance.
Nowhere, dear reader, NOWHERE, is it written that the manufacturer of the hardware has to specifically define the user interface experience. Nowhere.
I know we’ve all been brainwashed by Jobs dancing on stage saying (words to the effect of), “anyone serious about software builds their own hardware.”
Yes. I get that. This doesn’t mean they need govern the front-end user experience. Indeed I think the most successful platforms in the future will get out of the way and let the user buy and define their own interface.
Right now the UI is linked directly to the platform. You need to change devices to get a different one, generally. Facebook Home is one of the latest examples of a next generation viewpoint: The actual platform doesn’t matter. How long until you’ll be able to subscribe to different Facebook Home interfaces, iterated daily? Or buy a particular user interface like you would a theme for your phone? That will rock.
In the meantime, congratulations Facebook. Good job for thinking outside the box. Nice implementation. Inspired. Every success and let’s see how things go.
I’ve been pretty vocal recently about how shit the Sky Go Extra service is. I am astonished that the team there even let it out the building alive. There must have been some real pressure to deliver and I seriously doubt whether any of the senior executives have bothered taking a look at it.
Or perhaps they did so in laboratory conditions with 16 techies standing next to them ensuring everything worked perfectly.
Sky Go is the British satellite broadcaster’s mobile streaming service. This has been available for ages and is, I think it’s fair to say, acknowledged as a good success. The service relies totally on streaming so it can be rather difficult to watch anything if you’re on a fast moving train or in a poor signal area. But if you’ve got decent WiFi, it’s excellent. If I’m not mistaken, Sky Go is free of charge to existing Sky subscribers.
Sky Go Extra is the download extension that costs an extra £5 per month. You get streaming, but you also get the ability to download various episodes (and movies) to watch offline. Only it’s pants. Utter pants. It doesn’t actually work. Or, to be accurate, it’s never ever worked for me despite me trying on all sorts of devices.
However last night I got value from my Sky Go Extra subscription. I was able to watch the first episode of Game of Thrones on my iPad at home on WiFi.
So actually, I was only using Sky Go.
But. I persevered.
Whilst I was watching Game of Thrones (worth a look, by the way) I opted to download two episodes of Revolution, the new JJ Abrams. I had to leave the iPad plugged in and “on” for hours. Sky clearly don’t pay for any of that super-swish CloudFront style CDN jazz meaning your episode downloads crawl along like a Tortoise with bronchitis.
Eventually both episodes downloaded.
Therefore, dear reader, you and I shall do something live. Relatively live. I haven’t looked yet to see if they’ll work.
I’m on the train. I’ve got a full EE 3G signal. Shall we see if it works?
(By the way, there’s no sensible reason why I should *need* a full signal as these episodes have downloaded — but then again, this is Sky we’re talking about. They clearly didn’t think this stuff through at all.)
Ok here goes.
I’m swapping to the other app now.
Well blow me down with a feather, cover me in butter and call me Shirley!
Initially when I activated the app, the two “watch” button next to the two episodes was greyed out. I had to wait a few seconds before the app swapped them to bright colours. That is either the app doing something pointless or it’s the system having to make a request to Sky’s servers before playing the episode. If that’s the case — if that’s genuinely the case — someone at Sky needs a seriously good slap with a very large fish. Especially since they’ve let their marketing team go out and tell everyone you can watch episodes offline.
The first episode did play.
So if you’ve been having a shit time with Sky Go Extra like me, you’re doing it wrong. Make sure you’ve got the patience of a Demi God. Download the episodes OVER FLIPPING NIGHT and don’t you dare do anything else on your iDevice whilst this is happening. Then MAKE SURE you’re in a FLIPPING good signal area before trying to watch the episode.
Is this enough to prevent me from dumping the £5/month subscription for Extra? Possibly. For the time being, yes.
In an utterly unbelievable move, Nokia today announced that the company’s existing Lumia range of smartphones will be joined by a reinvigorated Nokia Essentials range. Harking back to the company’s previous successes, the first device to hit the shelves will be a completely revamped Nokia N95 christened the N95-A.
The exact same candybar form factor will be retained, however everything else will change. First, out goes Symbian, in comes a custom authored version of Android 4.2-N. Google has reportedly been working on this version for sometime now together with the Finnish company’s engineers.
The fantastic original 5 megapixel camera is upgraded to a gorgeous category leading 96 megapixel PureView lens.
And finally, the screen gets an upgrade to 526ppi — the best we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.
The standard numerical keyboard will remain allowing hardcore fans to finally type their messages without looking once again thanks to a specifically engineered version of T9+.
The N95A also sees the first Qualcomm chipset in a this form factor along with a wholly reasonable 64GB of onboard memory.
This is an exciting move for Nokia given they sold millions upon millions of these candy bar style smartphones just a few years ago.
$799 or £490 is steep but worth it for a phone of this calibre.
Fans of the other popular N and E series form factors should keep looking for news — they’re all due a revision.
I for one can’t wait for the Communicator announcement.
Definitely check your calendars today.
(Published 1st April 2013 0240 GMT)
Those who’ve been reading MIR for a while will recall that I recently bought an iPad Mini. I ordered a £15.99 monthly SIM from EE to power the connection. And when I signed up, I ticked the box to find out more about their EE Film offering.
I installed the app a few days later but only today have I actually got round to buying something from their shop (powered by FilmFlex — not sure who they are!).
I decided to buy something fairly random. I settled on the latest edition of Resident Evil. It was £2.79 and it was a rental. You can either choose to stream the movie on your iPad (other devices are available) or you can download it. That’s my preference.
Although I am seriously delighted with the fact that my iPad regularly says “LTE” instead of 3G (and that means the connection is lightning fast), I live in the middle of nowhere and the train journey to there consists of a series of network blackspots. Streaming is not an option.
So I like the ability to download — something, alas, I don’t think Tesco’s Blinkbox allows yet.
Throughout this year, anything downloaded from EE FIlm is zero rated. It doesn’t count toward your monthly data usage limit. I think mine is 6GB. I’m not sure what compression the service is using — I haven’t watched the movie yet — but I’d expect it to require at least a gigabyte, if not two.
I hit download carried on with other tasks. Before I did so, I was surprised to see the download meter hit 2% within a few moments. I looked away, did something, looked back and bam, it was at 68%. I was astonished. I looked away at some more email and boom, the download had completed.
It can’t have been more than 10 minutes. In fact I felt that it was about 5 minutes. I should have actually timed it. I’ll need to try another one and see how quickly it downloads.
Whatever the actual figure, it felt fast — and that is perhaps the ultimate requirement from a 4G network.
I downloaded it in Richmond which has very good EE 4G connectivity (along with 49 other towns and cities across the UK, by the way).
I’d expect EE to also have done some degree of caching or smart network optimisation. The fact I was downloading this particular movie can’t have been a surprise for them. It was on the front carousel of the film store app too. So I’m sure a bit of optimisation will have helped boost the speed.
I’m going to have a go watching the movie shortly. I’ll let you know how it goes.
For some time now I’ve been feeling like chucking my existing smartphones out the window of the train, car or office that I’ve been inhabiting. The data connectivity of my smartphones (all brands — Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows) are second to none. We know this. All the whizzy stuff tends to work quite well, network permitting.
However, when I want to make a telephone call that lasts for more than 5 seconds, my smartphones are completely failing me. On multiple networks. None of them seem to be able to maintain a call beyond a few seconds when my train is moving slowly out of Waterloo. None of them seem to be able to cope properly with any audio telephony.
I therefore think it’s time to at least try a proper Nokia. I don’t mean a Windows Phone, I mean one of the Ye Olde Symbian specials. Please could you recommend 2-3 proper Nokias that I can evaluate and then purchase? Ideally I’d like a device with data connectivity and ideally I’d like my address book to sync with Google. But given that I only actually phone about 5 people, adding a few numbers to an address book isn’t a problem. Price is not an issue. Quality is more important in this bracket. So whilst I am attracted to a Nokia 100 series device for a tenner, I’m happy to consider a more expensive equivalent provided you reckon the components I care about (principally the bits that let me make and maintain a phone call to a network) are higher quality.
What is your suggestion Mr Blandford?
Thanks for your time in advance,
When — if — Rafe has the time to pen a response (he’s a busy guy), I’ll publish it and link the reply here.
Update: Barely 2 hours later, Blandford has replied. See the comments!
I’d very much welcome your suggestions for public relations firms (and/or individuals) working in the mobile space.
The reason I ask is that I’m trying to put a reasonably comprehensive list together.
Every week I get emails from people asking for suggestions for companies to meet. I have got my favourites (some of whom I list below), but I’d like to actually publish a list.
I get the impression from a lot of the enquiries that they’re pretty urgent. So when I respond days later by email, I often worry that I’m not fast enough — hence my intent to create a list.
Googling “Mobile PR” or “mobile public relations” or “wireless public relations” will yield you a few results I’m sure. But there are a ton more agencies out there. Many of the best aren’t actually dedicated to mobile, but instead are “tech focused” with a mobile practice or specialism.
Here, then, is my first attempt at a list. These are the agencies that are front of mind at the moment. It’s not comprehensive
nor is it in alphabetical order yet but it is now in alphabetical order.
Where I’ve written an opinion, it’s just mine and based usually on my experience interacting with the company from the other end (i.e. the blogger end). (Please make up your own mind!)
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As far as I’m aware, they’re the digital focused section of Hotwire. Capable, proven, competent people. They routinely represent some big players.
Good resources, very professional. I’m just beginning to get to know them. They represent some behemoths. Think Microsoft Windows, Truphone.
A London-based tech agency that specialises in the mobile niche. They’ve over 20 clients working in the mobile space, including the likes of Ruckus Wireless, Tektronix Communications, Podifi and MusicQubed (the company behind O2 Tracks). Babel was founded in 2006 by two Hotwire alumni, Ian Hood and Narelle Morrison.
My contact at Brands2Life is the super-enthusiastic Fiona Goldsworthy. The company works across a wide range of industries including technology. Fiona is deeply immersed in the agency’s telecoms, mobile and tech practice. I find her well informed, organised, highly competent and ready to support me, whatever the request. Crucially she’s not just reactive — she’s proactive. For example, it was Fiona who managed the NFC contactless payments challenge that I participated in recently (on behalf of her multi-billion dollar telecoms client, Gemalto).
I know Paul Cockerton of old… from the first generation mobile revolution. Back when Symbian was king. Paul was part of the core team at AQA, one of the first question/answer text services in the UK. Those were the days. Paul co-founded Dynamo PR a few years ago with colleague Peter Bowles. Collectively the team has a wealth of mobile related experience. Get this: The has collectively launched BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Mobile in the UK. And I heard they just picked up a small digital agency award recently too. As well as mobile and digital projects, they’ve also recently launched a rather smart service customised for Kickstarter projects — smart!
Recently established, one of their key experts is Neil Robertson. He’s well known around the London tech scene as a highly capable PR professional… but also someone who lives and breathes mobile technology. Don’t underestimate how important it is to be represented by someone who actually cares about the stuff (and who’s already tried your five competitors, not because you were coming in for a pitch, but because he was curious).
Recommended to this list by an elder statesman of the mobile world whose opinion I value. No Flannel specialise in public relations for online businesses and they’ve really helped this stateman’s mobile company out. The agency is led by former New Media Age journalist Claire Armitt who is described by the statesman as, “Hungry, a great turn of word, very creative and [perhaps most importantly] she’s got us plenty of coverage.”
Recommended to this list by one of London’s leading mobile figures, Giant PR do quite a bit of work in the mobile/telecoms world — most notably with the likes of mobile industry body, MEF and top-of-the-line mobile/digital agency, LBi. They’re based in Brighton, 50 minutes from London.
Hotwire Public Relations
If you’ve hired Hotwire you’re making a statement that a) you’ve got a lot of cash and b) you’re serious about what you’re doing. Excellent capabilities and as a blogger I really appreciate the resources they can offer their clients. I’ve been on quite a few press trips with them and they are simply brilliant at managing them.
Patrick Smith, the super genius connected telecoms chap runs this boutique player. Expect attentive and personal service, along with honest perspective — the kind can add zeros to your valuation if you pay attention. The Joshua PR team will go to the ends of the earth for you.
I know them best for representing Qualcomm and WeDo Technologies. They are super professional and responsive. I’ve been on a few press trips that they’ve arranged and their attention to detail and tenacity to help you get things done is always impressive.
Is this Silicon Valley’s brightest and best boutique tech/mobile agency? I think so. Candace Locklear and Rebecca Fuller are some of the most talented and well connected PR maidens on the West Coast. They both hail from huge independent valley agency, Spark (more on them below) and broke out to offer a smaller, focused service. At least once a month the Mobile Industry Review office echoes to the sound of me yelling, “GET ME CANDACE LOCKLEAR”, in response to a pitch from a struggling startup CEO who patently needs to a) get into the Valley and b) get his messaging fixed pronto.
Likewise I’m still getting to know them. Nokia’s agency in the UK. Very professional.
Run by the always calm and collected Martin Smith, you can usually find him with one foot in Europe and the other foot in the Valley. Particularly useful if you’re in the market for telecoms PR in the San Francisco area, with a UK/European heritage and capability.
Acknowledged as a thoroughly nice chap, Chris Bignell is also well regarded as one of the best PR practitioners in mobile technology. He’s steadily built a capable and team with a proven track record. XL are the brain surgeons behind the SmartUK awards (amongst others, they advise the likes of UKTI) which sees them helping many of the country’s newest mobile technology companies take their first foray into the challenging world of public relations.
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I’ll add a few more shortly. Any suggestions?
Right now I’m sitting on a train carriage surrounded by people using laptops. I’m the only one using an iPad (and a physical keyboard). The chap sat across from me looks to be in his sixties. He’s well dressed and looks to be a city grandee type. Arrayed before him is:
- An iPad (WiFi+3G, 3rd generation at least)
- An iPhone 5
- A MacBook Air
The only reason he’s wandering around with a laptop is because of Microsoft Word. Nothing else.
I know, because I asked him. I asked why he had the iPad open on it’s stand along with the laptop.
“Word,” he replied. “The office still runs on Word.”
This is certainly the case for a lot of businesses I know. Excel, too, is a critical dependency for a lot of people (who haven’t quite looked up since 1985 to find that there’s a better world out there.)
It was unspoken but what the chap meant was that nothing quite seems to edit Word documents properly on an iPad. Nothing can quite guarantee that the stupid template that your company uses works on the array of third party Word/Office editors out there.
Until such time as you can accurately review and edit a Word document on your iPad or Galaxy Tab, a laptop is going to be necessary kit for a lot of people.
Or you could buy a Surface.
I did suggest this to see what the chap thought of it.
He hadn’t heard of it.
Because Microsoft priced it to fail (not deliberately; they had their reasons, all of them totally wrong).
Which brings me to the question of Microsoft Office on iPad. A few people I’m loosely connected with reckon they’ve “seen it”. Numerous posts from the Silicon Valley elite reckon there are all sorts of test versions around. I’ve no doubt.
It’s clear to me — and you, right? — that if Microsoft released Office for iPad, almost everyone with half an interest in commerce would buy it. At a one-off £9.99, I’m sure high tens of millions would buy it without a thought. Of course, you could bundle it into some sort of subscription programme — £4.99 a month or thereabouts. That would have some impact but anyone who owns a suit and an iPad would probably give considerable thought to buying it. It’s almost as if you’d be unprepared for work life if you didn’t have Office on your iPad. Just in case. The implications for Microsoft’s SkyDrive could be profound if Office defaulted to using that as the primary data store… if Apple would allow it. You could hook it into an Office365 subscription requirement. There are huge possibilities. You could do multiple subscription offers — Word for £2.99 a month, Word & Excel for £3.99 and the whole “suite” for £6.99 or whatever.
I can understand the invalid concerns from Microsoft. Office is a huge, huge cash cow. Currently. It’s going the way of the dodo though. This is written. 95% of my interaction with word processing is now focused around Google. Just because it works, it’s convenient and the collaboration is instant and easy.
Last year I used to sit down in front of Word to write big strategy documents. I used to obsess about the write styling and the right headers and the wonderful contents page functionality. Until I recognised and accepted that, actually, the content was far more important than messing around with buttons. Routinely I’ll write everything in Google (or, actually, one of the dedicated iPad writing apps) and then get it “collaborated” with colleagues via Drive. Then if necessary, I’ll stick the resulting approved content into Word for 10 minutes worth of formatting.
It used to be that the senior executives I work with couldn’t understand or parse any documents if they weren’t delivered in the house style Word template. Indeed many felt that things “weren’t official” unless the document was presented in the ancient template format.
Increasingly I’m finding that nobody cares.
IT still care. The people dicking about with all the Microsoft licensing issues still care. Many users still live in Office.
But I feel we’re collectively moving away from a dependence on it — and that is only compounded by failing to release an iPad version.
What’s your view? Do you still live in Office most days?
Yesterday Vodafone splashed in the Metro about their all new (well, sort of) wifi offering for customers using the London Underground system.
If you’ve ever been caught wanting to send an email or look up somewhere on a map whilst on the platform, having access to the Internet is mighty convenient.
I have tried the Virgin Media service at a few stations and I’ve been pleased with the functionality. And speed. Speed us important.
Fundamentally it’s flipping annoying when you lose connection as the train leaves the station. But that’s another issue.
If you’re a regular Underground user I can see how free WiFi access would be a useful bullet point when you come to select your next Vodafone contract.
Not so, if you live and work in Hartlepool though.
Have you tried the London Underground WiFi system?
If you recall I have been trying to get Sky Go Extra to work. The idea is simple: If you’re a Sky customer you are meant to be able to download a selection (admittedly limited) of episodes for consumption on your mobile device of choice.
The day I posted my rant, I found the Sky Go team had published an update on the App Store. I thought it would be worthwhile giving the service another go once I’d done the updates.
It’s still “a bunch of toss”.
This is a technical description for an application or service that does — theoretically — work. If you squint hard enough at the specific objectives defined by the application’s project manager and suspend your disbelief, you’ll agree that Sky Go Extra does work.
Everyone else — me, at least — calls it a Class A Turkey.
I am so disappointed.
I thought it was going to be worth the effort, I really did.
I was looking forward to the prospect of being able to watch cool new shows like Game of Thrones and whatnot. Instead I’ll need to wait 6-9 months and buy it on iTunes. Or Netflix.
The extra fiver that Sky is charging for the download capability really did excite me. The concept had the potential of significantly changing the game for the broadcaster.
The advertising I’m seeing around the place (I snapped the above photo at Waterloo a few minutes ago) is now having an adverse effect on me. Every time I see any adverts, I have to work really hard to avoid shaking my fist at the b’stards.
Don’t misunderstand me. I was right there standing in virtual line with my virtual credit card in hand when the company announced Sky Go Extra. I signed up with a few clicks on their site and excitedly logged in on my phone.
It’s only when I repeatedly tried and failed to get anything to work on any of the large number of devices I’ve got, that I have now declared defeat.
I haven’t bothered phoning Sky.
As I said in my original post, if I have to phone someone, that’s a failure point that I simply cannot handle. I want this stuff to work first time, or not at all.
Perhaps there’s something wrong with my account? I obviously didn’t download a movie and I was pretty careful in trying to select downloads from the likes of Sky One that I *know* I subscribe to. (I don’t subscribe to the movie channels any more as I just buy stuff on iTunes or Netflix. When I managed to eventually cancel it from my package I cited the lack of download functionality as the key reason I was removing that service! I’m not kidding, I did want to use Sky Go Extra!)
The next step I now face is colossal: Removal of the service.
I think I’m still in the trial period but that’s likely to change shortly. There’s probably a 30-day notice period knowing Sky. Insert cynical comments here. So be it. I shall attempt the cancellation procedure when I’ve got a spare 30 minutes in the next few days.
If you have magically got the service to work, please — for the sake of some balance — add a comment below.
I’m off to watch some iTunes content.
Have you been reading the various news reports about the US regulator considering the possibility of actually allowing folk to use their Tablets and Smartphones during take off and landing?
I really do have to calm myself every time I’m on the plane and I have to “stow” my iPad or smartphone because of stupid outdated policies from yesteryear.
My fix — I’m sure the fix employed by most readers of this blog — is to buy some dead trees. I always buy a magazine and sometimes a newspaper, to make sure I’ve got something to read when the plane is sitting on the runway doing nothing.
It is completely MIND-FRACKING-NUMBING when you’re stuck on a plane “with it’s engines running” on the runway and unable to do anything except… stare into space. Or read the vaguely interesting in-flight magazine.
If you’ve forgotten to buy some reading material, you’re screwed. The in-flight magazine will only get you so far. If you’ve had to sit for 45 minutes (or worse) in a stationery jet with nothing to read by the in-flight magazine, it doesn’t take long for Completer’s Panic to set in. (What’s worse than having nothing to read whilst your plane is standing on the runway doing nothing? Finishing the in-flight magazine and having to leaf back through it frantically trying to find anything to stimulate your brain.)
We are now unaccustomed to handling unpredictable periods of enforced downtime without the use of smartphones or tablets.
It’s painful. Seriously painful. Especially when you’ve actually got work or something meaningful to get on with and you’re having to re-read some article about the Olympics for the Nth time.
I suspect that when a new ruling arrives from the Americans allowing the use of tablets and/or smartphones, they’ll need to deal with the issue of talking. I don’t have a problem with that being prohibited. I also don’t have a problem with people being asked to avoid using headphones/earphones during take-off and landing. Safety first.
But I should definitely be able to read my Kindle or do some email or browse my feeds.
The moment I know I can do this, I won’t ever bother buying a magazine or newspaper.
I sometimes even buy a book because I worry about being delayed. Especially when I’m flying across America, coast to coast or from say NYC to Austin. The weather can really cause some shocking delays and you really do need a book or something substantial to keep your attention focused away from screaming babies and mutinous passenger rants.
My policy right now is to always visit WH Smiths at Heathrow and pay my air-travel-technology-tax. That is, I spend about £15-20 on magazines. I try and pick up Wired USA. I always get a copy of The Week (despite having it on the iPad — useless on the iPad, right now, because of the stupid travel technology policies). I might pick up Time Magazine or Newsweek if it’s a long flight. And I usually browse the “Airport Exclusives” section just to see if anything jumps out at me.
If, by the way, I do spot a book that’s of interest, I mull the reality of purchasing in dumb paper format vs the convenience of being able to read something when the plane is delayed. Usually I just rely on magazines or newspapers. That has served me well. If I’ve just walked away from what looked like a good book, I will often flick up Amazon on the smartphone and buy the book as I step out of WH Smiths.
I look forward to the day when I don’t need to mess about with physical bits of paper. I wonder just what a change of the inflight rules on tablets and smartphones will do to the concession stands at airports.
What’s your strategy at the moment?
I’m pretty sure that BT doesn’t get a lot of online orders at 230am most days. Last night however I thought I would see how the march towards BT Infinity was coming on. The last time I looked the scheduled date for availability in Hook, Hampshire was June.
Anyway. I was up soothing the elder child at crazy o’clock this morning and when I returned to bed, was overcome with the need to check the status of Infinity.
I’ve been seeing a lot of vans around he area doing things with cables you see.
Imagine my delight when I found that Infinity 2 can be installed from next month!
That’s 20mb up and 76mb down.
I’ve used it at the old place in Ascot and it was very satisfying.
I found that Infinity helped me use my phones and tablets more. Everything was just so much easier and faster. Netflix? Instantaneous in HD. Attachments appear the moment you open an email. FaceTime is wonderful.
Bring it on. Won’t be long. The speed is due to start on 12th of April.
A video conference? From a British train? Almost impossible for more than 20 seconds, surely?
(I found this advert on the train to Basingstoke)