Friday, 28 December 2007

UK customer gets unexpected £27,322 mobile bill

Following a similar story from Canada (mentioned in our recent podcast and also on the BBC), we now hear in the Northern Echo that a factory worker from Darlington has run up a mobile phone bill in excess of £27,000. Ian Simpson has a mobile phone with Vodafone's "unlimited" internet browsing deal, but apparently he didn't realise that the contract only inclued browsing the web on his phone - not using his phone as a modem for his laptop.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

O2 talks about 3G iPhone has an article (also on MSNBC) about O2, the Apple iPhone and Matthew Key - O2's new CEO. He's quoted as "confident that O2 will also have an exclusive deal" for the 3G iPhone and "insists Vodafone could not muscle in and take the 3G iPhone in the UK".

Friday, 21 December 2007

Air France offers mobile usage on international flights

Air France has launched the world's first in-flight mobile phone service on an international flight. It's equipped its Airbus A318 aircraft with a system from OnAir, enabling customers to send and receive texts messages, picture messages and emails during a six-month test period. Calls will be permitted during the second half of the test. [Press release]

More SMS records forecast for New Year's Eve

Airwide Solutions, the company that worked with Vodafone to send the world's first text message, has forecast the number of SMS messages expected on 31st December 2007 and 1st January 2008. It expects the USA to send almost 730 million messages and the UK to send 280 million messages. However, China - which doesn't celebrate its New Year until February - will send more messages than both countries. An average day in China sees 1.6 billion texts sent. [Source:]

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Drivers could be jailed for holding mobiles

New guidelines from the Crown Prosecution Service say that drivers could face jail if they've been driving dangerously while using a mobile phone. [Source: BBC News]

3 and T-Mobile joining forces on 3G

T-Mobile and 3 have signed an agreement to combine their individual 3G networks, creating Britain's largest 3G (and HSDPA) network. The combined network is expected to provide almost complete population coverage for 3G services across Britain by the end of 2008. [Source: Press release]

2.3 trillion texts predicted for 2008

Researchers at Gartner reckon that 2.3 trillion messages will be sent worldwide in 2008, almost a 20% increase from this year's total of 1.9 trillion messages. Revenue from these messages will grow by 15.7% in 2008 to $60.2 billion (£30.4 billion). Western Europe is expected to send 215 billion of those messages - up from 202 billion in 2007.

Campaign to remove VAT from charity text donations

Giving to charity is usually VAT-free... but not if you donate by text message. That's why Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten is calling on the Government to allow charity-based texts to become VAT-free.

New edition of The Fonecast now online

This week it's the last podcast of 2007 from As well as our regular look at industry news from the last seven days, the team looks back at its predictions from 2006... and makes some new ones for 2008. In addition, we've reviewed the Samsung F210 music-playing handset. . Each weekly edition of 'The Fonecast' can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader or by using iTunes.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Zumobi launches free 'mobile widget' browser

In last week's podcast we mentioned a news story that suggested alternatives to traditional web browsers. This week Zumobi has launched a beta version of its mobile widget platform, which offers a simple way for people to check bite-sized pieces of information on the screen of their phone. The idea is rather like the on-screen ‘widgets’ that are part of the new Windows Vista platform. Zumobi is currently only available for Windows Mobile devices but is free to download from

Top mobile searches of 2007

Internet service provider AOL has published this year's most common searches from its mobile portal. Iraq was the most popular mobile search term of the year, followed by MySpace, iPhone, Games, Mail, Chat. Music, Facebook, Ringtones and eBay. [Sources:,]

Mobile gaming to hit $6 billion by 2011

The analysts at Understanding & Solutions say revenues from mobile games will rise from $3.6 billion this year to $6 billion (£3 million) by 2011, showing stronger growth (although admittedly a smaller market share) than console games and dedicated handheld devices.

And, on a similar subject, Nokia is officially relaunching its N-Gage mobile gaming platform this week. Instead of only being available on a dedicated handheld device, the new N-Gage service will be accessible on a range of compatible Nokia phones - starting with the new N81 handsets. [Sources:, Nokia blog]

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Palm could lose hundreds of employees

A report from (and confirmed by says PDA and phone manufacturer Palm is planning job cuts to its work force of around 1,200. It's not disclosed how many staff may go, but there are suggestions it could be in the hundreds.

Lambeth uses Bluetooth to promote anti-gun campaign

The London borough of Lambeth has launched a new anti-gun campaign that’s sending its message to Bluetooth-enabled phones. The 60-second film can be received by any compatible mobile phone when it passes one of the borough’s special Bluetooth masts. [Source:]

Go-ahead for Sony Ericsson/Motorola and Nokia/Navteq deals

The European Commission has cleared the way for Sony Ericsson to sell 50% of its stake in UI Holdings - the company behind the UIQ interface - to Motorola. And, elsewhere in the world, NAVTEQ's shareholders have voted in favour of Nokia's takeover, with over 99% of votes at the special meeting in favour of the merger agreement. [EC PDF document, Navteq press release]

Mobile video messaging worth $10 billion in 5 years' time

The money made from mobile video messaging services is expected to rise by an average of 60% per year between now and 2012, according to ABI Research, hitting $10 billion (£4.9 billion) in 5 years' time. It says mobile video messaging is is in the right place to take advantage of increased mobile device capabilities and consumers’ desire to stay in touch using more than just voice. [Press release]

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

New edition of 'The Fonecast' podcast now online

This week the podcast team of Iain Graham, Mark Bridge and James Rosewell takes its regular look at news from the last seven days. Iain interviews Tom Erskine about the new "Nokia Comes With Music" service and Mark takes a look at the Giorgio Armani–Samsung luxury mobile phone. Each weekly broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader or by using iTunes - or simply click here to listen online. We're also available on the Mobile News web site, sponsored by 20:20 Logistics in association with the Nokia N95.

Changes at the top for O2 and 20:20

Telefonica, O2's parent company, has promoted its UK Chief Financial Officer Ronan Dunne to become CEO of the UK business. This follows Matthew Key's recent upward move from UK CEO to Chairman and Chief Executive of Telefónica O2 Europe.

Elsewhere, the 20:20 Group has appointed Meinie Oldersma as its new chief executive. He joins from technology distributor Ingram Micro and will replace Mark Ryan who left in October.

[Sources: O2 press release, Mobile News]

MAXroam universal SIM launches in UK

The MAXroam 'universal' SIM card has (finally) been launched. It's being sold via Maplin electronics stores as well as online. The service gives customers a national number in their home country and another number for the country they are traveling to. They can either forward their calls to their 'foreign' number or can record a voicemail message telling callers to call the new number. MAXroam can currently be used in over 160 countries around the world. [Press release]

Orange reveals mobile data growth

UK mobile network Orange has just released its second Digital Media Index, comparing digital mobile usage with its first survey from May 2007. The Orange Digital Media Index shows that:
  • Picture messaging has increased by 37%, with over 1 million photos uploaded from mobiles to online photo albums in August (although arguably this second statistic isn't "picture messaging"). So-called 'active' MMS users send an average 4.3 picture messages per month.
  • Text messaging has increased by 25% to a billion text messages sent per month, which is an average 71 per customer
  • Music downloads have increased by 15%
  • Games downloads have increased by 3.4%
Overall, the company says mobile data services account for nearly 22% of network revenue in the last nine months.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

iPhones are changing the online world (and now you can buy even more of them)

iPhone owners were responsible for nearly one out of every thousand web page views last month. has details of the latest Net Applications quarterly browser report, which shows that 0.09% of all web page views worldwide in November were made on the Apple iPhone - a device that's been available for less than six months. Microsoft's mobile browser has just two-thirds of that... and it's been around for ten years.

Meanwhile, reports that iPhone buyers in the UK and the USA are now able to buy five iPhones at once, as opposed to the original limit of two.

60 million texts to be sent from planes in 2010

Airline passengers will send over 60 million text messages in 2010, according to a study from Freesky Research. The report's author says many low-cost carriers are already introducing text and email services, which will prompt larger airlines to follow suit. [Press release on]

Nokia launches video service

Nokia has launched Medeo, a mobile video service that's available via

The streaming video service is funded by advertising, which means users only pay for their data connection. It promises "everything from red carpet news, interviews with your favourite TV and movie stars, film trailers, fashion and music" but is currently only available on Nokia Nseries and Eseries devices. Other Nokia devices that are capable of video streaming are expected to be supported shortly. [Press release]

Monday, 10 December 2007

China makes over 40% of the world’s mobiles

A report in PC World magazine – quoting China’s official press agency – says China’s 38 mobile phone manufacturers have produced around 500 million mobile phones this year, which is over 40% of the total number of handsets manufactured worldwide. Around 80% of the phones were exported.

Vodafone buys Irish fixed-line and broadband company

Vodafone has bought Irish fixed-line and broadband company Perlico, which has 62,500 customers. Perlico will continue to operate as a separate brand, with a Perlico virtual network expected in early 2008. [Source: Mobile News]

Friday, 7 December 2007

3 offers unlimited music for 49p a day

Mobile network 3 has launched Non Stop Music, offering a 'streamed' music service that gives customers unlimited access to a choice of eight different music stations for just 49p for 24 hours. Each station is on a 4-hour loop. It's not the first network to offer a service to compete with traditional radio broadcasts: both Vodafone and O2 launched streamed online music 18 months ago. [Press release]

Happy Birthday SMS

SMS - the 'short message service' that's become better known as simply 'texting' - was 15 years old this week. The world's first text message was sent on 3rd December 1992 by Neil Papworth, an engineer at Airwide Solutions, to Richard Jarvis at Vodafone. The message read "Happy Christmas". [Sources: Airwide Solutions press release,]

"Indestructible" mobile phone launched

American mobile manufacturer Sonim Technologies has just launched the Sonim XP1 mobile phone in Europe. It's a military-spec handset that's been described as "indestructable" and comes with an unconditional three-year warranty. [Press release]

30% of music retail will be mobile by 2011

13% of the money made by music retailers currently comes from mobile phones, according to a new report from research company Understanding and Solutions. They say it’ll probably hit 30% by 2011, with Japan and the USA expected to lead the way. [PDF document]

Free Truphone calls via Facebook

Mobile VoIP service Truphone has created a Facebook application that lets other Facebook users call Facebook's Truphone customers via the web site. The service is free to callers and is currently free for the recipient as well. [Press release]

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Better mobile 'browser' options required

Jupiter Research says better mobile alternatives to a conventional web browser would encourage people to use internet services while on the move. The company says mobile users want certain information available at a glance and don't need the equivalent of a desktop PC's browser most of the time. It also mentions price as another issue for mobile users. [Source:]

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Nokia hits the headlines twice

A couple of interesting stories from Nokia today. Firstly, the company is buying Avvenu - an online service that lets you use your mobile phone to look at files that are on your PC... even if the PC is switched off. It's also announced "Comes With Music", which will include the option of a year's downloadable music on new Nokia phones. The music will still be available when the year ends - even if the customer doesn't buy a new subscription.

T-Mobile defeats Vodafone injunction in Germany

A German court has ruled that T-Mobile is allowed to sell 'locked' versions of the Apple iPhone on its network, although it must unlock them at the customer's request when the contract ends. The ruling comes a week after a temporary injunction was applied as a result of Vodafone's claim that the deal breached German competition laws. T-Mobile had been selling unlocked iPhones as an interim measure. [Sources:,,]

Monday, 3 December 2007

3 taking rivals to court

3 is taking Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile to the High Court this week, claiming its rivals have colluded to dissuade potential new customers from transferring their numbers. 3 is currently the UK’s 5th largest network, with around 7% of the national subscriber base. It is suing for up to £250 million, although there are suggestions it has little proof and is ‘fishing’ for information. [Source:]

Changes at Motorola

Handset manufacturer Motorola says CEO Ed Zander will step down on 1st January, although he’ll remain as chairman until the annual shareholders’ meeting in May 2008. President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Brown will become the new CEO. Mr Zander’s been under pressure for several months, most recently after a poor quarter in which Motorola's profits fell by 94% and handset sales fell 36%.

There are also changes afoot in the UK. Jim Michel, Motorola’s UK and Ireland general manager, says the company is reviewing its choice of distributors and is unlikely to maintain relationships with all five current distribution partners. It’s concerned about grey market stock and also says the market is shrinking. [Sources:,, Mobile News]

Microsoft acquires (another) social networking company

Microsoft has acquired WebFives, a social networking company based in Seattle. The service, which can be accessed via PC or mobile phone, lets users create blogs that include videos, music and photos. The company has clearly been bought because of its technology because the WebFive service has said it'll close down at the end of the year. [Source:]