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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 20:30

You have to laugh. If you don’t, the only alternative is tears of utter despair.

Have a read…

It is understood that EE, O2 and Vodafone have been unable to agree on how Weve’s standard mobile wallet should operate since it was announced six months ago, however. They have now effectively scrapped the joint project, which was slated for launch early next year, in favour of individual apps.

via Mobile operators abandon joint ‘wave and pay’ project as Apple looms – The Telegraph.

They couldn’t agree?

Who the fck was negotiating that one, then? Top marks for market awareness, eh? You couldn’t be bothered to agree? Well then. Move along please.

I know a few people connected to the project but I haven’t dared ask them how it’s going. I’ve no doubt the Weve folk were doing their best herding cats, but you have to wonder about the representatives of the operators.

Those must have been some fun meetings.

And the meetings that led up to today’s announcement? Comical. Absolutely comical.

Here’s another choice quote from The Telegraph:

A source at one mobile operator said Apple’s move meant it would have to write off gaining a share of payments from iPhone users, who represent about a third of the UK smartphone market.

Yeah. Welcome back to Planet Earth, Mr Operator. You are a dumb, dumb, dumb data pipe. And it’s about time you actually, finally, recognised it.

You know what? You’d make a lot more money if you didn’t blow it all on bollocks activities.

The market’s made the decision. Mobile operators are wholly irrelevant beyond the commodity service they provide (often, very poorly).

In days gone by, the operator was King Maker. They controlled the handset and the first screen you saw.

Those were the days.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, mobile payments, weve"
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Date: Monday, 15 Sep 2014 09:18

Today we have another Top 7 Apps submission and this one is from Naresh Chouhan, Director of Marketing at Truphone. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Truphone is the world’s first mobile network without country borders. The company’s mission is simple: deliver an outstanding international mobile experience to businesses around the world. That means excellent call quality, fast data speeds, reliable connections, predictable costs, and unparalleled customer service at home and abroad.

Naresh uses a Google Nexus 5, and also an iPad mini. Let’s take a look through his Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Email: A necessary evil but life just wouldn’t be complete without a massively overflowing inbox.

Train Times: As a daily commuter into London, and a control freak, I don’t like to leave it any part-nationalised organisation to govern my travelling schedule and decide when I can finally get home. This app is a daily essential!

Spotify: I am passionate about music and particularly new British artists. I waste far too many hours pressing the ‘Discover’ button on the Spotify app….

WeightWatchers: Being a real foodie – and I do mean a real foodie — I have to keep an eye on what I eat. It’s taken me years to develop my one-pack and I like to keep on top of it.

Strava: I’ve taken up cycling (it’s the new golf after all!). I like the social and challenge-based aspects of this app, which allows me to see how well friends and family are doing. It also gives me a sense of achievement in my training.

WindGuru: Being a keen kitesurfer I always keep one eye on the ever-changing weather conditions in the UK, and when I get a spare minute I can dream about how to get out on the water at the weekend.

Diary: I have zero control over what gets put into my diary these days but I have to be a complete slave to it. I also have no concept of organising things in the future, so my thankfully wife makes sure that all important social events — family and friends’ birthdays etc. — are in my diary so that I have absolutely no excuse!

– – – – –

Thanks to Naresh for his list of apps. The Train Times app has helped me so many times when I’m travelling, so much quicker than waiting at those boards at stations!

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Naresh Chouhan, top 7 apps..."
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Date: Sunday, 14 Sep 2014 22:37

The FT is reporting that it’s more or less game over for Phones 4U:

Phones 4U, the British retailer founded by entrepreneur John Caudwell that has spent most of last decade in private equity hands, has gone into administration.

The company, which is owned by London buyout house BC Partners and employs 5,596 people, said on Sunday that it had been forced to seek protection from its creditors after two of the UK’s largest mobile phone operators decided to withdraw their products from its stores next year.

via Phones 4U goes into administration – FT.com.

Irrespective of whether you agreed with the company’s new owners taking a whopping special dividend last year, the writing was on the wall for Phones 4U.

It was on the wall ever since the founder sold up.

With the mobile operators focusing heavily on their sales and marketing efforts in a hugely competitive, saturated business, that last thing they need is for Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U to exist.

Fundamentally, if you walk into any of these stores, they’ll do their level best to churn you from your existing network.

Because that’s where the revenue is.

I recognise that’s a semi-unfair statement, because these companies do (or did, in the Phones 4U case) play a part in helping consumers check out the rest of the market.

However this is absolutely not in the interests of any mobile network. And when it comes to having to fork out huge commission fees to Phones 4U and Carphone… well, yes… the writing has been on the wall.

Phones 4U heading into administration doesn’t mean it’s all over. Yet. There are lots of possibilities.

However I wonder how things are going to pan out for Carphone Warehouse?

Interesting times.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, carphone warehouse, Phones4U"
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 23:51

I’m delighted to present an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from James Parton, Director of Twilio Europe. I’ve long been a big fan of Twilio (I have had a lot of fun programming various apps using their API) — and I’ve long been a fan of James himself, having followed his telecoms career for some time now.

First, here’s a quick overview of Twilio to make sure you’re up to date:

Twilio is a software and cloud-based communications platform that enables developers and businesses to rapidly build and deploy communication solutions that meet their specific needs. Whether integrating voice, messaging and/or VoIP capabilities into a web or mobile app or building a complete system like a call center, Twilio removes the traditional obstacles to creating effective communications experiences. Twilio customers include fast-growing start ups such as Hailo, Box, and Airbnb as well as enterprises such as Coca-Cola, The Home Depot and Wal-Mart.

James uses the iPhone 5 so let’s get cracking through his Top 7 apps…

– – – – –

Spotify: Yes, yes I know its a pretty mainstream way to kick things off, but I’m a music addict and have tried every digital music service out there. Spotify continues to work best for me. I’ve also been going to more gigs than ever recently so I’m hopeful the music industry will find business models that work for all parties.

Timehop: I’m a sucker for nostalgia, and having been a long time social media user I have years of self generated content to re-discover. Everyday it sends you the highlights from your own Twitter, FourSquare and Facebook updates for today from the past 6 years, so everyday you get to reminisce at your own personal “this day in history”.

Feedly: When Google announced it was closing Reader, I like others, was aghast. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I discovered a much better way of consuming my RSS feeds. I know RSS feels very Web 1.0 these days but when you are constantly on the move, it remains the most efficient way for me to stay in touch and Feedly has managed to make RSS visually pleasurable to consume.

Hailo: I’m constantly meeting hopping around London so tend to be a big black cab user. Hailo is a life saver. Not so much for finding a cab as we are blessed in London to have the world’s best taxi service, but more to remove the need to carry cash to pay for rides. Having met the original co-founders, Hailo has always appealed most to me, having been conceived and created by cabbies.

Osper: Osper is a new bank designed for children and it is absolute genius. Both of my kids have Osper pre paid debit cards, and using the Osper mobile app I have real time control of their cards and visibility of their usage. My kids have empowerment, trust, security, and similar transparency.

Evernote: Another big hitter in the app leagues, but my life is non stop meetings and ideas so everything gets dumped into Evernote and perfectly sync’d between all my devices. Not the prettiest UI but it gets the job done.

Unroll.me: Technically not a mobile app, but I had to include it to make people aware it exists. If you are plagued by spam and other e-mail that you don’t have time to process (and who isn’t!) you *have* to use Unroll.me immediately. It intelligently scans your inbox and offers you the choice to unsubscribe with one click or roll up emails into daily or weekly digests. Life saver.

– – – – –

Thanks to James for his list, I think unroll.me is a great addition as we can all find those inboxes a bit daunting at times. I also have to say, Osper looks simply brilliant. I am seriously considering getting one for my 4 year old. Although the website does say ‘8+’.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, james parton, top 7 apps, ..."
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 12:06
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

 

Apple held its highly anticipated iPhone event yesterday at the Flint Centre near San Francisco, finally unveiling new large-screened iPhones and, perhaps more importantly, a wearable called the Apple Watch.

Expectations were high, as Apple has been under intense pressure to deliver imaginative new products and prove that is hasn’t lost its ability to innovate in the post-Jobs era. Did they succeed?

On the day, there were perhaps no real surprises due to the amount of recent leaks, but it was clear from the moment that CEO Tim Cook dispensed with the usual sales updates (“…everything is great”) that there would be more than just new iPhones. In that tantalising moment, we knew that something else special would be announced.

It’s easy to succumb to the hype and media frenzy that surrounds Apple’s keynotes, but there were also several smaller things that you may have missed in the commotion.

Before that, let’s take a brief look at some of the key product announcements and new features…

Apple Event Recap

Two New iPhone 6 models – Bigger, Better, Faster

Apple updated the iPhone with two larger-screened models, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus

Both models received a complete design overhaul consistent with Apple’s 2-year refresh cycle and sport higher quality ‘Retina HD’ displays with curved bezels. Despite the increased pixel count (one million and two million pixels respectively) the iPhone 6 retains its 302 pixels-per-inch while the iPhone 6 Plus improves on that greatly at 402 PPI. This doesn’t quite beat some of the other smartphones available today such as LG’s Quad-HD G3 (538 PPI), but the bigger screens should satisfy demand for increasingly large devices.

Apple has always maintained that one-handed use of a smartphone is critical to its usability, refusing to make compromises unless the technical challenges could be overcome. This has led to several design tweaks to the iPhone 6, such as moving the power button to the right side and improvements to iOS (more on that below) to make more effective use of the screen space and easier one-handed operation.

Apple is often criticised for adding incremental rather than revolutionary new features and capabilities to its products. The hardware improvements to this year’s iPhone 6 can also be considered more of an evolution, but Apple has improved most aspects sufficiently that the end result is, as Tim Cook boasted, the best iPhone yet.

Here’s a brief technical summary of the main hardware updates to the iPhone 6:

  • Display: 4.7 inch (1,334 x 750 at 326 PPI) and 5.5 inch (1,920 x 1,080 HD at 401 PPI) versions with better colour reproduction and contrast
  • CPU: a faster, more power efficient ‘A8′ 64-bit CPU (and new M8 motion co-processor) that delivers 25% performance increase and 50% in terms of graphics.
  • Battery: higher-capacity batteries that give 10 days standby for the iPhone 6 and 16 days for the iPhone 6 Plus
  • Camera: an improved 8-megapixel rear camera with f/2.2 aperture, 1.5-micron pixels, with 1080p video recording at 60 fps and 720p slow-mo at 240 fps. The iPhone 6 Plus is differentiated by inclusion of optical image stabilisation
  • Sensors: a new barometer measures air pressure, likely to be used in navigation and fitness apps
  • Connectivity: NFC contact less, LTE up to 150 Mbps, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support, and faster 802.11ac WiFi

Mobile Wallet (Apple Pay) – Wireless Payments via NFC

Apple Pay simplifies the checkout and payment process, uses TouchID and NFC to wirelessly pay for goods

Apple Pay simplifies the checkout and payment process, uses TouchID and NFC to wirelessly pay for goods

More significant than the actual iPhone 6 hardware itself, was news that Apple plans to enter the mobile payment space enabling customers to use their iPhones as a convenient and secure digital wallet.

With major credit card issuers like Amex, MasterCard and Visa already onboard (plus dozens of retail outlets and the 6 largest US banks), Apple plans to revolutionise the way we checkout and pay for all kinds of goods and services.

Rival e-wallet payment schemes such as Google Wallet have failed to gain widespread adoption, partially because of issues with trust and security, but also due to the practicalities of deploying such a large-scale system that is effectively invisible to users – after all, consumers want convenience (one touch payment) and the confidence that their credit card information will not be compromised.

“Our vision is to replace the wallet” – Tim Cook, Apple CEO

“A truly mobile wallet has long been described as imminent. But it remains elusive…most have been a disappointment or have not worked well enough for mainstream adoption” – New York Times

Apple Pay uses both the existing TouchID fingerprint sensor for authorisation coupled with the iPhone 6’s new NFC wireless chip. With recent attention surrounding Apple’s recent iCloud breaches, security is obviously a key focus – Apple aims to solve some of these issues by securely using ‘tokens’ (rather than the actual credit card numbers) stored in the iPhone’s Secure Element. Merchants never get to see your card, PIN, security code or even your name and address.

The iPhone 6 will undoubtedly sell in the millions, giving Apple the critical of mass users (at least in the US where the service will roll out initially in October) that might just help Apple Pay become the de facto payment method for digital storefronts and in retail. And with Apple’s unique focus on the user experience, it looks like the wallet could soon be replaced by your smartphone.

Apple Watch

About an hour into the presentation, Tim Cook delighted the audience by using the legendary “one more thing” line that Steve Jobs popularised. This was the setup line he used to introduce the world to the Apple Watch, and an announcement that even overshadowed the iPhone 6.

Apple’s intention is to make the best smart watch in the world – an incredibly precise, stylish and functional device that is a more intimate way to connect and communicate with friends, that works seamlessly with the iPhone, and that acts as a comprehensive health and fitness device.

The Apple Watch is intended to be a uniquely personal and customisable device

The Apple Watch is a uniquely personal and customisable device

 

Apple’s philosophy is that as a personal device that is worn all day and every day, a watch should not simply shrink down and replicate the typical smartphone experience (after all, interacting with a tiny touchscreen is inherently cumbersome). To overcome such issues, a ‘digital crown’ – a kind of miniature scrolling click-wheel – is used to zoom into and scroll through content such as messages and photos. It seems clear that as a companion to an iPhone, a watch that can receive notifications, update your Facebook status, provide directions and enable the wearer monitor and track their health and fitness, could become an incredibly useful and perhaps indispensable product.

Apple understands that a watch is also a fashion statement and lifestyle accessory. With just about every mobile manufacturer and tech company seeking to enter the nascent wearable market, Apple is determined to put its own unique spin on the smart watch.

Available from early 2015, the technical details were thing on the ground. Unfortunately there was no mention of screen resolution, memory capacity, or most importantly battery life. But the early showcase looked very promising – the health monitoring and fitness aspects combined with the attractive interface and high quality materials (we finally discovered where all the sapphire screens were to be used) should mean that consumers are willing to pay a premium for what is being perceived as a luxury product.

Will the Apple Watch prove more successful than the likes of Samsung’s Gear and the Moto 360 smart watches? Only time will tell…

Things You Might Have Missed at the iPhone Event

1. One-Handed and Landscape Mode

The iPhone 6 Plus is large. Without changing the interface to accommodate using such a large screen with one hand, Apple would have been in danger of violating their principle of one-handed use – the reason that was often given why the iPhone display never increased beyond 4 inches. A new landscape mode for the home screen and a new dual column layout for apps such as Mail aims to present information more effectively, in a similar manner to the iPad.

There is also a one-handed mode that temporarily pulls the entire display down, supposedly making it easier to reach the more inaccessible parts of the screen.

2. iCloud Pricing Slashed

Since the high profile attack and leak of celebrity pictures stored in iCloud, it’s no surprise that Apple focused on the security aspects of its new payment system. Notably absent however was any mention of iCloud security, although a more competitive pricing structure was announced quietly on Tuesday that aims to encourage greater adoption for sharing files, storing photos, and backups.

While not covered in any great detail at the event, iCloud nevertheless plays an important part in tying users into Apple’s ecosystem. Storage plans are now offered at 5 GB for free, 20 GB for £0.79 per month, 200 GB for £6.99 and 1 TB for £14.99. Unfortunately, iCloud is still more expensive than Google and Dropbox.

3. VoLTE and WiFi Calling

VoLTE is a relatively new packet-based network technology for voice that operators are looking to implement in the near future. By including this feature, Apple is future-proofing the iPhone and investing in the next generation of mobile networking. As a further enhancement, iPhone owners will be able to place a call over a WiFi network and seamlessly handover to a VoLTE call.

As VoLTE slowly becomes more widespread, consumers (and operators) will benefit from more flexible and powerful ways to make voice calls. The feature is initially available only on EE (in the UK), and Verizon and T-Mobile in the US.

4. More LTE Bands Than Any Other Smartphone

Apple states that both iPhone 6’s support more LTE (long term evolution) network bands than any other smart phone. Up to 20 bands are supported (7 more than the iPhone 5s), which means the iPhone will work with high-speed networks around the world than ever before. It also enables Apple to consolidate the RF chipsets and reduce the number of versions that are required to work on various operators that use different radio frequencies.

5. iPod Classic Killed Off

Nobody noticed that after the keynote, Apple’s website update silently killed off the iPod Classic. Once a mainstay of Apple’s business and credited with helping turn their fortunes around, the click-wheel version’s time was up once touch screens became the norm.

Music still plays a huge part in Apple’s DNA however, as evidenced by the appearance (and slightly awkward conversation with Tim Cook) of U2 whose new album was given away for free to all iTunes account holders.

Unfortunately, there was no word either on a refresh to the Mac Mini or Apple TV. Perhaps the television will be the ‘one more thing’ next year…

Author: "Roland B" Tags: "News, Apple, iPhone, Opinion"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 22:29

I’m delighted to have received a great Top 7 Apps submission from Elly Woolston, Chief Client Officer at Indicia. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

Indicia is a leading customer engagement agency. We develop and deliver marketing communications that bring a brand and individual closer through engendering involvement, interaction, purchase and advocacy. We then connect people with brands at an emotional level, through providing a relevant, rewarding and consistent experience across all channels. We embrace the challenge of creating powerful brand-building ideas that drive value from every customer touch point. We are digital, data, direct and social.

Elly uses a iPhone and mini iPad so let’s get on to her Top 7 Apps…

– – – – –

pic0227 - Elly 2

Here she is… Elly Woolston

Spotify: This is my favourite assault of the senses. The opportunity to chill out by accessing my favourite music from my iPad. Using my Jam-plus speaker connected to Bluetooth makes it even better.

Pinterest: As I spend so much time travelling I find switching from writing and reading to choosing visual images that are creatively stimulating very inspiring. My Pinterest boards are my own secret kaleidoscope of ideas and dreams.

Yo Sushi!: As a foodie I like a few restaurant and food apps in my repertoire. The Yo Sushi app is kawaai, fun and informative.

Clean and Green Eating: This is just what is says in the title and has inspiring recipes I can plan for my supper.

Yahoo! weather: As an outdoor girl and from farming country I like to know the weather at home and at my dream locations.

TED: Mind expanding debates by amazing people. Topics that help me question and challenge the status quo.

Hyperlapse: I love it. It is new, fun and reflects how we can allow ourselves to live today unless we take a sense check – speedy and mad!!

– – – – –

Thanks Elly for your contribution and I have seen some great stuff with Hyperlapse already, so it is definitely one for me to investigate more.

If you’d like to contribute your Top 7 Apps or if you are the PR representing someone you’d like to see featured, everything you need to know about participating is right here.

Author: "Sarah P" Tags: "Applications, Elly Woolston, Indicia, to..."
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 15:02

Screenshot 2014-09-09 16.00.04

We’ve just under 2 hours before the Apple keynote starts. Will you be watching? The link you need is www.apple.com/live.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "News, Apple, keynote"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 08:31

I logged into the web version of Amazon yesterday and was greeted by this take over screen:

Screenshot 2014-09-08 23.47.26

It’s the promo for the UK version of the Amazon Fire Phone, exclusively available on O2.

If you choose the lowest £13/month tariff (24-months) on the always helpful O2 Refresh plan, then the Fire Phone will cost £399. Or you can pick up the device free on a £33/month price plan.

I’m tempted, just to get a proper long-term look.

I think Amazon has got quite a bit of work to do before folk will be lining up around the block for it.

How about you? Interested now that it’s coming to the UK?

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, News, amazon, fire, fire phone,..."
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Date: Monday, 08 Sep 2014 20:14

Tim Cook Apple Keynote

Hello it’s Ewan here. Ahead of the upcoming Apple’s September 9th keynote, I’ve asked mobile commentator Roland B. to give us a look ahead and a bit of context. Over to you Roland…

– – – – –

Perhaps the most anticipated date in the mobile industry calendar, Apple’s September 9th event could also be the most important one in the company’s recent history.

Love or hate Apple, each year the industry follows the build-up obsessively in an attempt to predict the features and capabilities of each new iPhone. And deservedly so, because Apple is one of the few companies that can redefine how we use our devices and what they can do for us. This is what makes the annual iPhone event so special, and why Apple needs to seriously impress.

“Later this year, we’ve got the best product pipeline that I’ve seen in my 25 years at Apple” – Eddy Cue, SVP.

Apple must not only satisfy consumer demand for larger phones but also demonstrate that under CEO Tim Cook’s leadership it can still innovate and create new product categories that will drive growth, especially in emerging markets like China where rising affluence puts the iPhone in reach of a larger audience.

This time around, several things signify something bigger than usual – the venue has changed to the higher-capacity Flint Centre for the Performing Arts in Cupertino (where the original Mac was unveiled by Steve Jobs 30 years ago), and a countdown clock has appeared on Apple’s website. These facts have stoked the rumour mill about the products that may be announced this Tuesday. Adding to the speculation is the surprising number of fashion journalists and bloggers who received invites (with the cryptic tagline “Wish we could say more”), and the construction of a mysterious two-storey temporary building besides the main auditorium. Is it a post-concert venue (U2 have denied the recent tie-in rumours)? or a full-scale mockup to demonstrate a smart home command and control system (based on HomeKit) or even health monitoring wearables? Perhaps all this does indeed suggest that Apple will finally be announcing the fabled iWatch…

A record-breaking but tumultuous year

Before considering what may be unveiled on Tuesday, we need to look back over the last 12 months to understand the direction Apple may take in future.

Last autumn, Apple proved that the iPhone still has enduring appeal with consumers who want a high-end smartphone. The launch weekend alone broke all previous records with 9 million sold; despite this, the plastic iPhone 5c was widely perceived as a failure because it didn’t satisfy market demand for a “low price” entry model. Yet somehow, it still made the top 3 best-seller list on every major American mobile operator until at least November 2013, and fulfilled its aim of providing a desirable handset using the previous generation technology at a lower price point.

Amidst all the doom-and-gloom and predictions of impending failure, on the whole Apple’s unit sales and profits tell a different story. Since the original iPhone was launched in 2007, sales have rocketed from just 1.4 million annually to over 150 million in 2013. And Apple has reportedly ordered up to 80 million iPhone 6’s ahead of this year’s launch in expectation of more blowout quarters. However, this kind of momentum is hard to maintain: iPad sales seem to have plateaued recently, and if the new iPhone receives anything but a stellar reception then Apple may struggle to continue increasing sales by double digits each quarter.

Apple Yearly Unit Sales

Apple has also managed to hang on to a respectable profit margin of around 20%. Although not as high as the 2012 peak of almost 30%, it is fairly cyclical based on investments in new technology and tooling required for each successive generation of iPhone – particularly for the two-yearly major updates that we’ve seen so far.

Just about the only manufacturers making a profit are Apple and Samsung – others such as HTC and LG have continued to struggle even though they have launched some of the most appealing and powerful smartphones. Apple’s bottom line is undoubtedly helped by their staunch principle of making high quality, high-end products that people are actually willing to pay for. And once you’re tied into the Apple ecosystem, it’s increasingly hard to leave.

Apple Quarterly Profit Margin

This year has also seen Apple under pressure not only from its mobile rivals, but the financial markets amid concerns of dwindling market share (although not profits) which is steadily being eroded by Android handsets (mainly Samsung, HTC and LG) and homegrown Chinese brands such as Lenovo and Oppo. Last week, Comscore put iOS market share in the US at 42.4% and Android at 51.5%. Microsoft finished a distant third with just 3.6%. While these numbers don’t tell the whole truth and don’t necessarily reflect the picture worldwide, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Apple remains the most lucrative platform for developers despite a smaller share.

Part of the issue for Android software developers is fragmentation – there are so many versions of Android running on smartphones that have a wide variety of screen sizes and hardware capabilities, that iOS is often the more straightforward (and lucrative) choice. Apple is quite rightly proud of the high rate of adoption of iOS 7, a trend that will surely continue with iOS 8.

Apple and Android Platform Versions

Health, Wearables and Beats Audio

Throughput the past year, Apple has made a number of key hires that suggest Apple is planning to enter the health and wearables space.

The first of the high-profile hires broke last year when Tim Cook announced during its Q2 results that Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO of Burberry, would be joining Apple as head of retail replacing John Browett. She was just one of many executives with experience in fashion, wearables and fitness, and is widely credited with transforming Burberry’s retail outlets into high-tech, modern stores.

Another luminary Apple snapped up from the fashion world was Paul Deneve, CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, who was brought onboard to work on “special projects” followed in July by Patrick Pruniaux, Vice President for sales at luxury watch maker TAG, and more recently the well-known Australian designer and personal friend of Jony Ive, Marc Newson.

Apple Health AppIn an uncharacteristic move, earlier in 2014 Apple purchased the fashionable audio company Beats Electronics for $3 billion – a surprise acquisition that provided a head start on improving its streaming music service (against competition from Spotify, Pandora, Rdio and Napster) and an immensely popular “cool” headphone brand. Also joining Apple were the two company founders – music mogul Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre.

It seems clear that Apple is placing more emphasis on fashion and design in its forthcoming product strategy. A fitness or health-based wearable doesn’t now seem that far-fetched an idea, and coupled with the new Health app and developer tools (demonstrated in April at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference) and collaboration with healthcare providers like the Mayo Clinic, a wearable device that monitors your fitness could be just around the corner.

What to expect at the Apple event on Tuesday

There have been so many supply chain leaks recently that there are probably few real surprises left in terms of the iPhone 6 hardware. However Apple did manage to keep a lid on many of the rumours surrounding its World Wide Developer Conference in April – for example nobody expected a new programming language (Swift) and a new low-level graphics programming model called Metal (which gives developers more direct access to the hardware to create better graphics).

On Tuesday, we can guarantee that at least some of the following will be confirmed:

  • A new look 4.7 inch and possibly a 5.5 inch iPhone 6 in three colours and 16/32/64/128 GB
  • An NFC (or iBeacon / Bluetooth / WiFi / TouchID) payment system that ties into Passbook
  • A faster A8 CPU with a smaller 20 nm die process and 20-30% speed improvements
  • Improved graphics (latest PowerVR chipset from Imagination Technologies)
  • Faster 802.11ac WiFi support and the latest LTE chipsets
  • A sapphire (or sapphire laminate) screen and increased resolution
  • iOS 8 release with a demonstration of new features (“Continuity” support with Macs and iPads)

The new hardware is ultimately of less importance than how Apple plans to expand its ecosystem and usefulness of the iPhone. An iPhone payment system based on TouchID and NFC could finally make wireless payments an everyday reality. Visa and American Express (and various retail chains in the US) are said to be onboard, and Apple already has a vast database of credit card numbers tied to iTunes accounts.

Perhaps most of all though, there is real excitement about the possibility of a new wearable device and the sense that this event is going to be something special.

But besides all the new technology, we can also look forward to the usual self-congratulatory videos portraying the legions of Apple fans at stores around the world, and soundbites from the iTunes Festival that took place this month. And of course, the now-obligatory Jony Ive video in which he talks about the simplicity, beauty and clever design of the iPhone. There will be whoops and hollers from the crowd, but if the new iPhone delivers the goods and there is indeed a surprise iWatch announcement, the enthusiasm of the audience will be justified.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, Apple, homekit, iPhone, keynote..."
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 21:01

The next submission of Top 7 Apps comes from Peter Miller, Creative Director at Tangent Snowball.

Here’s some background on Peter’s company: Tangent Snowball is a digital agency that joins the dots between data, creativity and technology to help clients connect with their audiences and build on-going relationships. Their clients span a range of sectors and include clients such as The Labour Party, Carlsberg, SAP, Meridian Audio and Citroen. They have taken a lead in the development of innovative open source digital solutions with Oscar and TS Connect products. Built for flexibility, Oscar is used by Tata Group, PepsiCo and Carlsberg amongst others as an commerce solution.

Peter uses an iPhone 4s for daily use and lists his top 7 Apps as follows:

– – – – –

Timeful: Helps you actually do those things you keep saying you should do, but never find the time. Get fit, learn a language, meditate, whatever. It uses behavioural science to place to-dos and good habits into your day based on your available time, location and your past plans & successes.

Hyperlapse: Brilliantly simple user experience combined with some fiendishly sophisticated technology. The beautiful time-lapse videos it creates makes it the first app in a while that might actually make Android users jealous of our iPhones again.

Mindly: The closest thing to a blank whiteboard and marker you can get on your mobile. It’s a simple interface that makes it surprisingly easy to create complex mind maps wherever inspiration strikes.

Citymapper: The only transport app you’ll ever need for getting around London. The journey planner that considers cabs through Hailo, bike and car routes, or any combination of public transport (buses / tube / overground / even the Thames Clipper!). I’m a big fan of the personal dashboard with live departure times for your local bus stop or train station.

Jinn: Get anything from any store in London delivered to your house in under an hour, from groceries to sneakers to restaurant food. What’s not to love?

Monument valley: I love the calming, almost meditative play of this beautiful, surreal game from UsTwo. More please.

Flickr: With a terabyte of free storage, the ability to auto-sync my photos to Flickr is great – it helps me free up space on my iPhone without the hassle of hooking up to my Macbook and manually copying everything across. If I need an old photo later, I can download it at full resolution from Flickr, complete with EXIF data.

– – – – –

Some great ones there, thanks Peter! I’m pleased to see Peter is a Citymapper fan too. I just love that app. And I’m really interested to see that he’s a big fan of Jinn. Now that I’m not doing much work in London at the moment, I really haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet. I’m going to try and use it the next time we record a 361 Degrees podcast. Thanks again Peter!

If you’re interested in getting involved, and would like to tell us about your favourite 7 Apps, just drop me a line at ewan@mobileindustryreview.com. Similarly, if you’re a PR who’d like to get an executive involved, just give me a shout!

Author: "Joanne Jeffries" Tags: "Applications, peter miller, tangent snow..."
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 20:51

Before I get to Reemo, I’d like to set the context.

I really enjoyed Star Wars. I’m not a die-hard fan, but I really enjoyed it. I can quote much of the original movies more or less verbatim (I can tell you which movie features the line, “Your eyesight will return in time”).

So I have an appreciation for ‘the force’ and all that Jedi stuff.

And here’s the admission. Do you do the following? Almost every time I walk up to any automatic doors, I carefully judge where the sensor is pointing so I can place my right hand in front of me as I’m walking and then extend two fingers, together… still with me? I then wave the two fingers to the right just as the doors open. Woosh. I feel like a Jedi. And occasionally a young child standing nearby is momentarily impressed.

So when I came across Reemo, I had to write about it.

Firstly, it’s not a watch. It’s a mouse. Keep that in mind. The Reemo team describe it as a ‘wearable wrist mouse’. Combined with a base station and a few adapters, you can put on the Reemo band and control your house (office, or any appliance, basically) by just moving your wrist.

Flipping genius.

You can of course control computers too — think Tom Cruise in Minority Report, minus the gloves. You don’t need gloves, just wrist gestures.

Have a watch of the video:

Now, have a look at the GIF animation which shows how the system works:

reemo gif animation

There we go. You point at the appliance you want to control, make your gesture and the device responds accordingly. As you might imagine this would be perfect for those with limited mobility, not just folk who want to play jedi. (That’s actually where the original proposition began back in 2012.)

The Reemo team are crowdfunding their development on IndieGoGo at the moment. You can purchase a Reemo, a smart plug and receiver for $160 on IndieGoGo with delivery targeted around May 2015 (roughly 9 months time).

For British readers, it doesn’t look like there’s a British plug for Reemo yet but I’m sure they’ll knock one of those out later on. Reemo is compatible with the OpenHome standard and they’re also working hard to support other platforms too.

If Reemo has piqued your interest, I strongly recommend watching the company’s phenomenally well produced IndieGoGo video. In fact, after watching it, I felt compelled to give the team some fiscal support, even though there’s no British one to buy. I’ve added $10 to their IndieGoGo total.

Here’s the video:

Every success to the team at Reemo!

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, reemo, wearable, wrist mouse"
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Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 22:42

I’m delighted to have received an in-depth Top 7 Apps submission from Neil Robertson, Senior Associate at top boutique PR firm FieldHouse Associates. Here’s a quick overview from their website:

FieldHouse Associates was founded to service the technology, enterprise and investment ecosystem. This is PR with a business edge. We take media relations, copy writing, speaking opportunities and the rest of public relations for granted. We focus on communications strategy – where a company is, where it needs to be and what can be done to get it there. What’s seriously going to hit the bottom line? That’s what’s interesting and that’s what will make an impact. That’s why PR is important.

Neil uses an HTC One (M7) and didn’t want to include the usual suspects on his list (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Maps and Google Chrome). I think that’s fair. Instead he’s focused on his other critical apps.

Right then, let’s have a look…

– – – – –

The man himself

The man himself, Neil Robertson

CityMapper: Essential for getting about town, finding the quickest and most cost effective ways to travel. Also with live travel updates detailing disruptions, it takes the guesswork out of getting around London.

Spotify: All my music, anywhere I want. Have been a Spotify user for years and it’s something I use everyday when commuting. This along with Google Music offering 20,000 songs uploads for free it means that iTunes is obsolete for me now. [Me too -- Ewan]

PayPal: With a wedding just around the corner, my PayPal use recently has been prolific. PayPal has made a big consumer push over the last couple of years and it’s still the easiest way for me to transfer money to people.

Amazon: You can pretty much get anything from Amazon and delivered within 24hours and now in London, even on a Sunday! As an Amazon Prime member there’s so much content Amazon throw at you including unlimited Kindle book rental, Amazon Instant Video and hopefully Amazon Music hitting the UK shores soon as part of the Prime deal. Again with a wedding around the corner the Amazon app has been one of my most used.

Evernote: Because I tend to take a lot of notes when out and about, even photos and audio notes, Evernote is something that’s become an essential part of my daily work. Regardless of whatever device I’m using, everything I’m doing is stored on Evernote. Be that taking notes in a meeting, taking a photo of wine I like, making a shopping list (especially helpful when planning a wedding). Essential.

Pushbullet: Tim Cook talked about iOS8 and ‘Continuity functionality’ that will enable iPhones, iPads and Macs to talk to each other so that you’ll be able to see who’s calling you just by looking at your laptop screen. While Apple users all wait for that, Pushbullet has been doing all of this already. Seeing as my work revolves around communication, and being glued to my laptop, I can immediately see if it’s a nuisance call and take the appropriate action. Pushbullet mirrors a whole heap of communications to whatever screen you want. Got something on your phone you want on your laptop? Use Pushbullet to send it there.

Swarm/Foursquare: With the update and the separation of check-ins, Foursquare got a whole lot more useful. Mayorships have gone which is a good thing, Swarm handles all the check-in stuff where as Foursquare is now purely about discovery and action. Similar to the old Foursquare you can see what tips have been left by other people but the new app is a lot smarter, tagging food, generating expertise and learning exactly the sort of things you like so it can make useful, relevant recommendations.

Honourable mentions: 

ZipCar: I don’t own a car, so whenever I need a car to get somewhere or do something, I use ZipCar and have done for the last four or so years.

Uber: Fantastic driver service, always a driver in the area, love it (use uberNeilR for £10 off your first ride ;-))

SquareSpace: editing the FieldHouse website and blog on the move.

– – – – –

You can find Neil on Twitter here. Thanks Neil for this comprehensive list! Pushbullet was new to me so I’m off to check that out. (Incidentally Neil, huge congratulations for your upcoming wedding this week!)

If you’d like to send us the list of Apps you find most useful, or you represent an executive that might like to get involved, then why not drop me a line at ewan@mobileindustryreview.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Applications, fieldhouse associates, nei..."
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Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 21:44
Children with Woggles

Children with Woggles

The other weekend I needed a Woggle (Amazon link).

For the uninitiated amongst us, a Woggle (sometimes referred to as a ‘Noodle’ too) is a long polystyrene tube that children (in particular) use to support themselves (and play with) whilst swimming.

Our eldest (Archie, 4) is getting into swimming big time. He’s having lessons. They use a ‘Woggle’ now and again in the pool.

My wife commented that it would be useful to have one of our own for when we go swimming.

“Good idea,” I thought.

I then took out our youngest (Freddie, 2) in the car for a drive, primarily to get him to sleep.

I resolved to drive to Toys ‘R’ Us in Basingstoke.

They’d have a ‘Woggle’ right?

Maybe. It is after all a swimming utensil. Toys ‘R’ Us would, I thought, have some sort of swimming section.

I was guessing.

I was assuming.

I was also expecting to pay over the odds — for the ability to acquire a Woggle in ‘real time’.

I was, in short, doing the shit thing that you and I, dear reader, used to do about 10 years ago: Shop. That is, dick about trying to give money to inefficient product distribution centres who have now been superseded by Amazon.

Shops have now been upgraded. There is only one and it’s name is Amazon.

This, dear reader, I have affirmed, on account of the bollocks experience pushing a wonky trolley around Toys ‘R’ Us at the weekend.

I walked up and down the tired aisles with Freddie staring blankly. Not even he was excited by the experience.

Having done the circuit and concluded that the only thing on offer was a paddling pool and some arm bands, I realised that I am now done with ‘physical’ shopping.

I actually said the words, “I’m done with this,” to myself out loud as I pushed the rubbish trolley to the exit and then left.

I don’t mind food shopping now and again as a bit of ultra-mild-excitement and to do a bit of physical browsing. But I am done with speculation. I did buy some swimming Goggles the other day from Argos — but only after using their rather good logistics system to reserve two pairs — to guarantee I wasn’t wasting my time driving there.

Sitting back in the car, I then promptly added two Woggles to my Amazon shopping basket.

I do love mobile shopping.

Here’s the Woggle I finally bought on Amazon:

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Opinion, browsing, News, shopping, woggl..."
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Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 12:37

This story is flying around the marketplace at the moment (and, incidentally, getting quite a lot of traditional banks in a bit of a panic):

Hot on the heels of a report that Apple has inked a deal with American Express, a second report has stated that the company has also signed deals with Visa and MasterCard.

via Apple’s secret iPhone 6 digital payment system said to also include Visa & MasterCard.

My view is: Bring it on. Bring it flipping on.

For a long, long time the concept of the iPhone becoming central to a user’s financial world has been muted. To a large extent, the device already is central. Apple — by virtue of their App Store — has placed itself at the centre of the Universe.

Hitherto, Apple has enabled others to benefit — witness, for example, the raft of bank, building society and credit card providers who all offer market leading services via iPhone. The latest American Express Passbooky-cum-app integration is just gorgeous, for example.

But the iPhone itself? Just a dumb terminal in the world of payments. Today.

Tomorrow, though? It could get rather exciting, especially if there’s integration into the existing contactless/NFC standards.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple did it’s own thing. The market will simply gravitate toward whatever they do, such is the power and influence of the brand. Don’t forget that most C-Level executives in Corporate America are typically wielding an iPhone, iPad or both. So getting the business case approved (which is what it all comes down to) shouldn’t be too complicated.

The issue will be if Apple does the usual shit. That is: A semi half-baked gorgeous concept that is missing key points or integrations, either because it hasn’t been built, because Apple doesn’t understand it or for naked commercial gain.

There is a temptation to assume Cupertino is the font of all wisdom. It’s not. The abject secrecy the company works with makes it really difficult for real world testing. Do you remember the iPhone-left-in-a-bar saga a few years ago? That was when a pre-release iPhone disguised as an older version was let outside the compound so that an Apple worker could test the device in real world conditions.

Failures have been high. We just don’t ever, ever pay attention to them. Perhaps the best example was bumpergate. The “You’re holding it wrong,” saga. Grip your iPhone 4S (was it? I can’t remember now) and the signal will visibly wilt. No one at Apple seemed to have tested the device in the real world without a ‘bumper’ or a case. Obviously. Because the devices were disguised in cases. Steve Jobs wove his magic and told us we were wrong in a special edition keynote. And then offered everyone a free ‘bumper’. Very well played. Everyone smiled and carried on.

I hope that the team at Apple has arrived to dominate the mobile payments market. I hope they will absolutely blow away the existing banks and credit card companies. That will force the kind of innovation and development at pace that the rest of the market sorely needs to adopt.

The first step is to integrate though.

As an American Express customer accustomed to brilliant service and reasonably swift innovation, I will be delighted if I can ‘do advanced things’ with my iPhone and Amex account. Similarly with Visa and MasterCard although I won’t be surprised if the various financial institutions I use don’t ‘sign up’ right-away.

We’ll see. Bring it on. I hope we have some exciting innovation announcements at the keynote next week.

One final comment: The operators — dead and buried. That’s it. The moment Apple announces something credible with mobile payments (and it does need to be credible) I think we can all relax that the ‘game’ (such as it was) with operators is over. Years ago, I used to write about the operators panicking about Apple doing something to unseat them or their position. We’re almost done now. Dumb data pipes, for the most part.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Devices, Services, Apple, contactless, c..."
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Date: Saturday, 30 Aug 2014 08:51

As the VP of Strategy at MobileIron, we were really keen to read Ojas Rege’s Top 7 Apps. MobileIron provides the foundation for companies around the world to transform into Mobile First organisations, we were sure he’d have a great list.

Ojas currently uses both an iPhone 5S and Nokia Lumia 925. (We’ve provided links to both the Android and iPhone versions for his chosen apps… We’ll need to see if we can extend this to Windows Phone soon).

– – – – –

Ojas’ Top 7 Apps

Amazon (Android and iTunes): My bank account would LOVE if this app wasn’t in my top 7 but unfortunately I am addicted to one-click ordering.

Facebook (Android and iTunes): Yeah, not original but it is my only connection to so many people I care about but don’t get to spend time with in person.

Fandango (Android and iTunes): I’ve got a teenager who loves movies and he’s got a dad who loves to take him to see them!

Flickr (Android and iTunes): My family’s entire life over the last 10 years in captured in this app.

Pandora (Android and iTunes): I love my three custom stations, developed specifically for my variant moods: Classic, Heavy, and Really F’ing Heavy.

Slideshark (iTunes): We should all be doing presentations from our mobile devices! Plus sharks are cool.

Twitter (Android and iTunes): It’s how I keep up to date with everything happening in tech (@arstechnica), comics (@Marvel), and music (@Blabbermouthnet) and  it’s like having a constant stream of everything geeky I love getting directly piped into my brain.

– – – – –

Thank you Ojas!

If you’d like to get your top apps published why not drop me a note to ewan@mobileindustryreview.com.

Likewise if you represent an executive who might like get involved we’d love to hear from you too.

Author: "Joanne Jeffries" Tags: "Applications, mobileiron, ojas rege, top..."
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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 10:09

Our very first Top 7 Apps post comes from Nick Gibson, Managing Director of Tiger Mobiles, a mobile phone comparison site. Nick’s role is to oversee day to day running of the company as well as playing a key role in marketing and understanding customers’ shopping behaviour to help them make better buying decisions.

Nick’s primary handset: Google’s LG Nexus 7

Now let’s get into his top 7 apps….

– – – – –

Trello: Helps me stay in sync with the team, we use it internally as a business for workflow and the app lets me check up on things if I’m out of the office or at home looking at tomorrow’s agenda.

IFTTT: Anything that can automate simple processes is extremely useful and that’s what IFTTT does. I personally use it to keep track of some stock prices (it sends me a notification if it drops above or below a certain price) and also to auto send certain emails into a Google drive spreadsheet. You can literally automate anything with it though even boiling the kettle for a cup of tea from another room.

Clean Master: I like keeping my device free from junk files and flushing apps that are hogging the memory. It just keeps it running that bit smoother and also lets you remove apps that you’re hardly using.

Wunderlist: Alongside a work based to do list / workflow system I use Wunderlist for personal tasks and projects. I like it because it’s very simple in design, works well on all devices and has been really well thought out. It’s basically just a to do list with a couple of nice features and a very slick interface.

Buffer: I’m quite active on social media and I have access to all the company profiles too so it’s important I have something where I can share things seamlessly across Facebook & Twitter, as well as schedule posts when I need to. Buffer has those options as well as some inbuilt analytics for tracking shares & clicks.

Lastpass: I have a LOT of login / passwords and I try to use as many unique combinations as possible just for security. Remembering them all is a tough ask so Lastpass is ideal if I need to login into something on the go as it stores them all securely

eBay: I sell games, electronics etc on eBay that I’m no longer using and the eBay app keeps me informed if my items have bids on or have sold. It’s useful for marking items as dispatched as soon as you’ve posted them and just makes the selling process that bit slicker.

Nick also had the following honourable mentions:

Blockchain: I’m heavily into crypto currencies like bitcoin and I use the blockchain app as my bitcoin wallet to store a couple of coins so I can spend them easily or move them elsewhere quickly.

Google Authenticator: Online security is a big deal and I try to enable Two Factor authentication wherever possible. The Google authenticator app makes that pretty easy and I prefer it to receiving an SMS code as it’s easier and doesn’t clog up my inbox.

– – – – –

Thank you very much Nick!

If you’d like to submit your Top 7 Apps, drop me a note and we’ll sort that out — ewan@mobileindustryreview.com. And if you are a PR manager representing an executive who might like to participate we’d similarly love to hear from you.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Applications, nick gibson, tiger mobiles..."
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 22:16

Photo 28-08-2014 21 48 02

I’d like to say hello to JP, Social Media genius at Telefonica O2.

He sent me a chocolate bar together with the slightly mysterious note you see above.

As you can see on the wrapper, the text on the chocolate bar reads:

This doesn’t have to last you two years. Just like a phone. Get a new one whenever you like with O2 Refresh.

A smart way to draw attention!

I’m a big, big fan of O2’s Refresh. If you recall, that’s where they separate line rental from the cost of the mobile phone. If you really don’t like committing to a 24-month contract, then Refresh is definitely for you. Agree the line rental package you’d like and that works like normal. However, you can then change your phone as often as you wish. You’ll need to pay it off before swapping but there’s a lot of possibilities around — you could try and sell it, recycle it or even see what O2 would give you for the device. The key point is you won’t get nailed for the full cost of a contract if you’d like to change.

O2 launched Refresh about a year ago and since then has been getting excellent feedback. Anecdotally whenever I’ve been talking to O2 store employees, Refresh is regularly cited as a Godsend when dealing with fractious customers like me who want everything now-now-now.

If you’re keen to try it out, you need to make sure you’re on the right price plan — all the company’s new monthly contracts are “Refresh enabled”.

O2___Samsung_Galaxy_S5_Black___Refresh_tariffs

Here’s a practical example with the Samsung Galaxy S5. Let’s say you go for their £38 line rental. That (see the red box I highlighted?) is broken down as £18 for actual airtime and £20 for the phone.

This means you’re on the hook for £480 for the Galaxy S5. If, 10 months from now you decide you’d like the Galaxy S6 (as it should probably have launched by then) you’ll have paid off £200 (£20/month x 10) and therefore the balance will be £280. Let’s assume you can use O2 Recycle to get…. £190 back. (That’s me being realistic… today you’d get about £270 for a recycled S5). So in this example, you’d had to stump up £90 to call it quits and get a new phone. I think Refresh is a good idea even if you end up keeping your phone for 24 months. I like everyone to have the flexibility to change.

Order by 10pm, get it next day

The other piece of news, delivered by chocolate bar — seriously, this is the way to go for press releases in the future, stick it all on a chocolate bar wrapper — is that O2 is upping the bar, yet again.

Logistics Managers all across the industry will be gnashing their teeth when they see that O2 has now launched guaranteed next day delivery on all orders placed before 10pm. Good.

The amount of times I’ve been ordering phones from operators and had the deflating answer from the call centre along the lines of, “Oh yeah sorry it’s gone 4pm so … yeah… you’ll get the phone in two days time.”

Arrrgh.

O2’s customer services is open until 9pm during the week so you’ll definitely meet the cut-off no problem if you’re ordering by phone. Otherwise, if you place your online order before 10pm, expect it to arrive within about 10-12 hours (assuming it’s delivered from about 8am-10am onwards). That is pretty smart.

It’s a good challenge for the rest of the industry and it will no doubt add to the net promoter scores for O2 customers. It also just makes sense in today’s now-today-right-now culture.

Back to the chocolate bar. I arrived home at about 9pm this evening and then fumbled for my phone to quickly get an email off to JP prior to the 10pm cut off as instructed. I admit to eating some of the bar too. See the photo evidence below. I left a substantial amount for my wife though!

Great work O2.

(And seriously: Press releases compressed into 4 lines on a chocolate bar wrapper — love it!)

Photo 28-08-2014 21 48 49

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Operators, chocolate, o2, phone, price p..."
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 20:59

I’ve got a new feature coming soon here at MIR. It’s called Top 7 Apps. I’m asking executives from around the industry (and beyond) to list out their top 7 mobile applications with a line or two about each.

I chose 7 rather than 5 or 10 as I think that will push each individual to go beyond the absolute favourites. I’m hoping to discover some nuggets that I haven’t come across — or perhaps a different perspective that leads me to look at an app in a new light.

Anyway if you’d like to participate, drop me a note: ewan@mobileindustryreview.com. I’ll send you back the details.

I’ll have the first one up shortly.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Applications"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 22:23

We’ve just published episode 10 of Season 7… (SEVEN!) of the 361 Degrees Podcast.

If you haven’t checked in recently, I (perhaps rather obviously) recommend you have a listen. We’re finishing this series by exploring the question of whether we will shortly see the death of tablets.

Not the full, actual death… but given the market has seen fewer iPads being produced over the last year or so, what could that possibly mean? And how should that be rationalised, given the recent Ofcom stats indicate a doubling in the use of tablets in the UK!

Here’s the summary:

It’s our final week of season 7 and the team turn their attention to tablets. Rafe’s gathered some research (so we know the numbers are right) showing the iPad has lost its market-dominating position with overall sales of tablets slowing too. Samsung is catching Apple fast with its broad range of tablets and price-points but the smaller, lower-cost devices are the real winners cumulatively beating both the big firms.

In other news Ewan’s finally a productive member of society again (well, he’s started his new job) and Rafe’s finding dual-sim phones useful in rural areas with poor network coverage.

THE CHAT
Ewan says he’s impressed with the capabilities of some of the new lower-priced tablets, especially Amazon’s Kindle range.

Rafe says tablets probably aren’t ‘dead’ but life-cycles are clearly different to smartphones which are replaced much more frequently..

Ben says there’s probably not just one type of tablet market and he can believe they can become home-users’ main device.

Here’s the Soundcloud embed so you can play right-away:

Or, here are the subscription details.

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "Opinion, 361degrees, Podcast"
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 11:42

Screenshot 2014-08-12 12.42.29It’s that time again dear reader: Three UK’s CRM system has, as I predicted, chucked me back into the call queue for their sales team.

The last time the calls began was back in May. I ignored them for a few days and eventually answered on May 14th (I wrote a post then to chronicle the experience).

So almost three months to the day, I got another call from the now eerily familiar 0800 358 number range. The number that rang this afternoon was 0800 358 4481.

I answered and I shit ye not, I thought it was one of those phone jacker calls on account of the language the chap was using (e.g. phrases like ‘informations’ and so on.”

He was polite. He was particularly insistent. He offered me a free phone (“absolutely free”) from £16 per month. I countered by saying I didn’t like 24 month contracts. He then explained that Ofcom-something-or-other blah-blah all other operators do 24-month contracts. Something like that.

I declined.

He then suggested a SIM-only approach. Good thinking, I thought. However this time I was way ahead of him.

“I’ve actually just got one from Three,” I cut in.

Silence.

He began explaining how SIM-only contracts worked. I cut in again and tried to explain that I had physically attended a Three store on Sunday (hello Aronn who served me!) and picked up an £15/month unlimited data SIM. I also extended one of the other lines.

So I was fine, thank you.

“So you don’t want a phone?” asked the dejected chap. I felt for him.

“No, thank you.”

“What about for a family member?” he asked, once more. Five stars for persistence.

“No, thank you, I’m fine.”

And then I threw in a spanner. (This is for the Three executives who I know are reading. And also for the team over at Vodafone, O2 and EE to do some good old cackles over their afternoon espressos.)

“I do actually need one of the SIMs I bought to be activated….” I said, leaving a pause for effect.

“… But,” I continued, “I doubt you’ll be able to help me with that, right? I’ll need to phone someone else, right?”

The chap responded as I expected: “Yes, you will need to phone customer services.”

Expectations met: Total fucking shit.

I thoroughly admire the operation at Three, I really do. I am massively in favour of the new approach they’ve been leading recently (inclusive 0800 calls, USA roaming included, no price plan hikes during your contract and so on.) Their data network is excellent.

But their CRM is a pile of bollocks.

What, seriously is the point, in PAYING for someone to PHONE me — a “valued” customer (as the chap from the Indian call centre pointed out) to interrupt my day, to try and flog me something, when a) I’ve already been pre-flogged (at the weekend) and b) when the bod you’ve asked to call me isn’t given the capabilities to actually help me.

Shitty shitty shitty double shit. He couldn’t even transfer me? Let’s be clear: He obviously has the system credentials to be able to create new customer orders — so it can’t be asking too much to give the chap access to actually help me with other queries? I wouldn’t have minded if he said, “No look sorry I don’t have access, but let me transfer you right now…”

Heh. It’s amazingly bad. I love it, it’s so bad.

I will phone the Three customer services when I can summon the courage as I need to get this nano SIM card activated.

I am amazed that they keep on with their CRM calls.

By my reckoning, I should be getting hammered with sales calls from their 0800 358 number range in about 90 days. If you don’t answer the system just keeps on calling… so I should expect that to begin once more probably November 10th/11th. Something to look forward to, eh? ;-)

Here, for the avoidance of doubt, is the growing chronicle of my Three CRM experiences. It seems they’ve moved from an annual call to a quarterly call.

– August 11, 2014, This post
– May 13, 2014: It’s that time again: Three’s CRM is calling me twice a day now
– May 10-20, 2013: [I’d just joined RBS so I don’t think I even had the time of day to look at my mobile]
– May 21, 2012: “Three tried to flog me some stuff today
– May 10, 2011: “Three UK: Fascinating example of a missed sales opportunity

Author: "Ewan" Tags: "News, 3, call centre, indian, Three"
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