Wednesday, 31 December 2008

UK mobile networks to cut jobs?

The Guardian says the mobile phone industry is likely to cut thousands of jobs in the UK during early 2009, blaming competition and the economic slowdown.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Orange says mobile multimedia is more popular than ever

The latest Digital Media Index report from Orange (covering summer/autumn 2008) says that mobile data usage has almost doubled since the company's previous report, which covered November 2007 to January 2008. Sales of 3G mobile internet 'dongles' were up 2,139% since January, with 3G customer numbers rising 86%: 1.3 million people. Mobile search was up 30% and music downloads were up 10%. [Press release]

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Texperts taken over by kgb's 118118

New York-based kgb, the company behind directory enquiry service 118118, has taken over text message service Texperts. Texperts was previously known as 82ASK until rebranding in 2007. [Source: MarketWatch.com]

Friday, 26 December 2008

Google gives G1 phones as Christmas gifts

Google staff in the UK, the rest of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore and the USA are being given a G1 mobile phone instead of a Christmas bonus. The remaining 15% of staff in countries where the G1 won't work will still receive a cash payment. [Source: BrandRepublic.com]

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Germans use mobiles to control street lights

The village of Doerentrup in Germany is using mobile phones to save electricity and reduce carbon emissions. Street lamps are switched off at 9pm but local residents who've registered their mobile phones with the council can call a special access code to switch individual street lights on for 15 minutes. [Source: BBC News video, audio]

Monday, 22 December 2008

Mobile dealers sentenced for £1.6 million clawback fraud

Mobile phone dealers Jonathan Shulton and James Cahill have been convicted of fraud at Southwark Crown Court for their parts in a £1.6 million abuse of commission schemes. They'd claimed commission for connecting new customers and then liquidated their companies before networks had the opportunity to realise that the connections were fraudulent. Following a Serious Fraud Office investigation, Jonathan Shulton has been sentenced to a total of 27 months imprisonment, with James Cahill sentenced to a 240 hours community punishment order. [Press release]

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Motorola AURA goes on sale in UK

Motorola AURAMotorola's premium phone, the AURA, went on sale in London's Selfridges department store yesterday. It's the handset we previewed in our podcast at the end of October. Apparently there are only 10 available pre-Christmas. I wonder if they'll sell them all...

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Samsung plans Android device

Korean IT news website etnews.co.kr says Samsung has an Android-powered 'Google phone' planned for Q2 2009.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Panasonic to control Sanyo

Panasonic and Sanyo have said they've agreed to a "Capital and Business Alliance", which will result in Panasonic owning a controlling interest in Sanyo when everything's agreed. [Sanyo press release; Panasonic press release (pdf)]

More mobile ads seen via WiFi

This story seems almost inevitable to me, although it's been covered in fairly excitable terms elsewhere. Mobile advertising company AdMob says 8% of all advertisements it delivered to UK mobile devices in November were served via WiFi rather than over a conventional mobile network. That's up from 4% in August, with over half of the ads coming from Apple iPhone users. It's a similar story in the USA. [AdMob report (pdf)]

Mobile phone market expected to slow in 2009

No surprises here. Analysts at IDC say the mobile phone industry will ship fewer handsets in 2009 than it has in 2008. They predict total mobile phone volumes will be 1.9% lower in 2009, which is the first annual downturn since 2001. [Press release]

Ofcom publishes guidance about 'small print' charges

Regulator Ofcom has published guidance that tells communications providers how it thinks the law - the the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 - applies to any charges consumers may have to pay in addition to their regular bill. These charges are usually for not paying by direct debit, for receiving paper bills, for late payments or for leaving before a contract ends. Ofcom has also published a consumer guide that covers the same subject. Its guidance says charges for late payments and different payment methods should be limited to the cost of dealing with payments, charges for itemised billing shouldn't be more than £1.50 per bill and consumers who end contracts early should never have to pay more than the payments left under the contract. [Press release; Consumer guide (pdf)]

Thursday, 18 December 2008

17.5% of US homes are mobile only

The latest National Health Interview Survey from the USA shows that the number of homes with only mobile phones continues to grow. More than one out of every six homes in America (17.5%) only had mobiles when surveyed in the first six months of 2008, up 1.7% from the previous six months. [Source: cdc.gov]

Motorola freezes pensions and salaries to cut costs

Motorola is permanently freezing its US pension plans from March 2009 to cut costs, which means existing benefits will be preserved but there'll be no future benefits accrued from that date. It's also said many employees won't receive a salary increase in 2009, with co-CEOs Greg Brown and Sanjay Jha taking a 25% salary cut. [Press release]

New Ofcom head announced

Dr Colette Bowe has been chosen to replace David Currie as chairman of Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Dr Bowe began her career as an economist at the Department of Trade and Industry and is currently a Board Member of Axa Framlington, Morgan Stanley Bank International, Electra Private Equity and London & Continental Railways, as well as being Chairman of Council at Queen Mary College and a board member of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. She has been a member of the Ofcom Board since January 2008 and is a member of the Ofcom Audit Committee. Her appointment will now be formally scrutinised by the Business and CMS Select Committees. David Currie steps down from his role after Easter next year. [Press release]

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Data costs holding back mobile content growth

The cost of using mobile data is holding back growth in the European content market, according to mobile transaction company mBlox. They say UK consumers face charges of up to £10 to download a single song and recommend that networks adopt a ‘sender pays' business model to include data costs with purchases from their own online stores. [Press release]

Recession hits mobile spending in Europe

The mobile phone market in Western Europe stopped growing in Q3 2008, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics. Mobile data revenues continued to perform well but the voice market saw revenue growth slow more than expected, with revenue falling for some operators. [Press release]

Exclusive Orange iPhone banned in France

The Conseil de la concurrence, France's competition regulator, has suspended France Telecom's exclusive Apple iPhone 3G deal - which means the phone will also be available from the SFR and Bouygues Telecom networks from tomorrow. France Telecom apparently had a five-year deal with Apple to sell its iPhone on the Orange network in France, which was seen as damaging competition in the mobile phone market. [Sources: WashingtonPost.com; ArsTechnica.com]

Festive Mobile News podcast now online

The Mobile News podcast bids farewell to 2008 this week. We're taking our usual look at mobile industry headlines from the last seven days and we're also predicting what'll be making news next year. In addition, there's a look back at our predictions from 12 months ago. 3G iPhone on Vodafone, anyone?

As always, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

Mobile News podcast RSSThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Mobile security worth $889 million in 2011

Market research firm Infonetics Research says by 2011 mobile networks will have spent $889 million on security appliances and software to protect themselves. It says the increasing popularity of mobile data is driving investment in networks and data centres while an increasing number of security threats are driving the need for improved security. [Press release]

Mobile ticketing standard agreed by UK rail companies

Back in October we talked to Ben Whitaker from secure mobile applications company Masabi about tickets on mobile phones. The company has now announced that it's developed a new standard for secure barcode rail ticketing in conjunction with the Rail Settlement Plan, which is the ticketing organisation jointly owned by train and rail operating companies. The new open standard allows all mobile ticketing schemes to use a common barcode system and means they're able to start accepting a single mobile ticket on a journey involving multiple rail operators. [Press release]

We'll all be smartphone surfing in 2020

The Pew Internet & American Life Project­ (in partnership with Elon University), which surveys technology stakeholders and critics, says the mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people by 2020. Voice recognition and touch interfaces will be used much more for browsing than they are today. [Imagining the Internet, PDF report]

North Korea's mobile network launches

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - known to many as North Korea - has just launched its first official mobile phone service (as originally reported earlier this year). The 3G service currently just covers the capital, Pyongyang, although the network will be expanded to cover the rest of the country. [Sources: BWCS.com; WashingtonPost.com]

Vodafone to drop cricket sponsorship

Vodafone is ending its 12-year sponsorship of the England cricket team following a review of its current activity, although it'll continue to work with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The cricket deal runs until January 2010. Other current Vodafone sponsorship activity includes the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team, driver Lewis Hamilton and music sponsorship via MTV. [Sources: Press release; BrandRepublic.com; Telegraph.co.uk]

In-flight texts from London to Moscow

bmi has become the first British airline to offer its passengers an in-flight communications service that includes text messages, email and internet browsing from mobile phones and PDAs. The service, supplied by OnAir, is being trialled for six months on an Airbus A320 aircraft operating between Heathrow and Moscow. [Press release]

Monday, 15 December 2008

It's a trillion-dollar industry

Cheer up, everyone. Annual revenue from mobile phone customers globally will exceed a trillion US dollars by 2013 (that's twelve zeroes), when there'll be more than 5.3 billion customers. In fact, by the end of 2013, revenue from mobile operators is expected to be up a third since the beginning of this year - and customer numbers will be up 56%. Needless to say, most of those new customers won't be coming from North America and Western Europe but from the Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin American markets. The figures - from Informa Telecoms & Media - also say voice revenue will make up the majority of that $1.03 trillion figure, although data revenue will more than double from $148 billion in 2007 to $347 billion in 2013. [Source: Telecoms.com]

Estonians to vote by mobile phone

Estonia's parliament has approved a law that makes Estonia the first country in the world to allow voting by mobile phone. The parliamentary elections in 2011 will be the first time the technology is used, although online votes were permitted last year. Estonia is already seen as an internet pioneer and has previously declared internet access to be a basic human right. [Sources: UPI.com; TMCnet.com]

Mobile social networking use will become less passive

Today's mobile social network users are mainly checking messages, updates and comments rather than posting photos or comments themselves, according to a recent study by ABI Research. However, the company says this pattern is changing as more consumers have access to smarter phones and social network applications that are easier to use. Currently over 60% of mobile social network users are mainly checking for messages or comments, with approximately 17% of users checking in at least once a day. [Press release]

The Key to Safe Driving?

Sounding rather similar to the Aegis Mobility service, Key2SafeDriving is a wireless device designed by the University of Utah that does its best to stop young people from driving while using their mobile phone. The Key2SafeDriving (k2sd) device holds the ignition key and puts the driver's phone into 'Driving Mode' when the key is released for use. This causes the phone to display a 'Stop' message and also prevents the phone from ringing when someone calls. [Press release via Media-Newswire.com]

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Nokia to launch 3G dongle in 2009

Nokia says it'll start selling its first 3G internet modem in early 2009, according to press reports. [Source: WashingtonPost.com]

Friday, 12 December 2008

Virgin Mobile "literally over the moon" with new text service

It's not often that I quote a press release verbatim. Here's one of those exceptions:

Virgin Mobile launch 'Texts into Space' service
ONE SMALL TEXT FOR MAN,ONE GIANT LEAP FOR VIRGIN MOBILE

Virgin Mobile today announce the launch of ‘Texts into Space’, a service which allows people to send their text declarations of love and affection into the unchartered territories of space where they will travel through the cosmos for all eternity.

Ever said ‘I'll love forever’? Well now you can prove it!

Launching just in time for Christmas this is a unique gift idea for any loved one. The texts are transmitted via a satellite Earth Station in Cornwall by SentForever.com. Once sent you can ensure your message will live on eternally, a concept that will surely touch the recipients heart.
The ‘text into space’ costs the price of a normal text and can be sent from any mobile phone by texting the desired message to the Virgin Mobile short code 80995. Then, for just £9.95, the message recipient will receive a formal ‘Certificate of Transmission’ from SentForever.com confirming the launch of the eternal message and details of how to track the message on the SentForever.com website as it continues to travel through time and space. Email updates are also available to alert the recipient as to when their message has passed key milestones.

Tim Dowling from Virgin Mobile said "We are quite literally over the moon at the thought of millions of wishes and messages of love being texted into space".

[Press release]

Name-calling for textlemmings

Here's the perfect antidote for our previous story. Professor Peter Norton from the University of Virginia says mobile phone users who walk into traffic while texting need to be given a derogatory name. He says it worked to dissuade jaywalkers - a term that entered the dictionary just ten years after it was devised - and wonders whether ‘textlemmings’ would work. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

itsmy.com mobile users need help on the street

itsmy.com warning signPublicity-seeking mobile social networking site itsmy.com says it wants to protect its users on the street - and it's therefore submitted the concept for a new "Watch out I'm an itsmy.com user not paying attention" road sign to the European Union. It says a survey of its users revealed that 64% had already bumped into someone else or fallen over something while surfing the mobile internet and walking. Of course, the signs will need to be fixed above head height... [Press release]

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Skyfire mobile browser hits UK

The free Skyfire mobile browser, which describes itself as "the only mobile browser that delivers both the speed and media-rich experience similar to the PC browser", is now available to UK customers. The current (beta) version runs on most Windows Mobile and Symbian devices. [Press blog]

3G laptops over-hyped according to report

The short-term importance of laptops and netbooks with built-in 3G or WIMAX capabilities has been significantly over-estimated, according to a new report from Disruptive Analysis. It says end-users currently favour external plug-in equipment, such as USB 'dongles', and will continue to do so for several years. However, it says devices with 'embedded' mobile broadband will eventually overtake separate modems, although not all wireless-equipped devices will have their built-in service activated. [Press release]

China Mobile is world's most valuable mobile operator brand

China Mobile is the world's most valuable mobile network brand, according to a report in Mobile Communications International magazine. It's estimated to be worth $30.79 billion, based on a number of factors including customer numbers and its predicted growth rate. Vodafone was second ($22.13 billion) and Verizon was third ($20.38 billion). [Source: Telecoms.com]

EC issues Mobile TV guidelines

The European Commission has published a set of guidelines to help the launch of Mobile Television services across Europe. It says regulators and governments should consider the quality of service when awarding licences and it recommends that non-proprietary technology is used so that DVB-H based Mobile TV services can work in every EU country. [Press release]

Adult mobile content market worth almost $5 billion in 5 years

Last week we were told that mobile betting was a recession-busting industry segment. This week Juniper Research says money spend on adult mobile video chat services will exceed $1 billion by 2011 - and the entire mobile adult content market will be worth £4.9 billion by 2013. Despite global economic conditions, the company says individual users' spending on video chat will be higher than previously forecast. Western Europe is and will remain the largest regional market for mobile adult services, followed by the Far East and China. Juniper Research [Press release]

Vodafone wants to buy Sat Nav company

Vodafone is offering 239 million Swedish kronas (around £20 million) to buy Wayfinder, a Swedish company that makes GPS-based mobile software. The deal is likely to be completed in January next year. [Sources: TheInquirer.net; VNUnet.com; Press release - not for Australia, Canada, Japan or South Africa!]

Nokia Comes With Music DRM can be beaten

There are reports that Tunebite, a €19.90 software package, is able to circumvent the Digital Rights Management used by Nokia's 'unlimited' Comes With Music service. Tunebite plays music at high speed and then copies them to a non-encrypted file, so it doesn't actually 'crack' the DRM encryption. [Source: ElectricPig.co.uk]

Sony Ericsson plans Android phone

Sony Ericsson has joined the Open Handset Alliance and says it plans to develop a handset based on Google's Android platform. Vodafone has also joined the group, describing its move as "a logical step in our mobile internet journey". [Sony Ericsson press release; OHA press release]

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Ofcom says messaging revenue is falling as volume increases

Ofcom has just published its Telecommunications Market Data Update for the second quarter of 2008. It says the number of SMS and MMS messages sent was 4.8% higher than in the previous quarter. although messaging revenue fell by 1.7% over the same period. Total mobile revenue across the four mobile operators in the survey (Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile) increased by 1.2% compared to the previous quarter, driven by a 1.9% increase in revenue from calls and other charges. [Press release]

This week's Mobile News podcast now online

This week's Mobile News podcast talks to Chris Caudle of the Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association. He tells us why he's not happy with O2... and how he sees the industry coping with 2009. We also preview the Kogan Agora Pro and take our usual look at mobile industry headlines from the last seven days. As always, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

Mobile News podcast RSSThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Monday, 8 December 2008

Vodafone launches mobile money transfer scheme

Vodafone is testing an international mobile money transfer service in partnership with Safaricom and Western Union. The service will let people in the UK send money from selected Western Union outlets (currently just in Reading... and no, I don't know how large Berkshire's ex-pat Kenyan community is) directly to Safaricom mobile customers in Kenya. People receiving money can use their funds in a variety of ways, including withdrawing it via participating agents in Kenya or forwarding it on to another mobile phone user. The new scheme builds on the success of Vodafone and Safaricom's existing M-PESA service in Kenya. [Press release]

Police investigate SIM sales following Mumbai attacks

Police in India have arrested two men - Tauseef Rehman and Mukhtar Ahmed - and charged them with fraud and conspiracy for using a false identity card to purchase 22 SIM cards. The cards were used by terrorists in Mumbai to make mobile phone calls during their attacks last month. [Source: NYTimes.com]

Carphone co-founder quits

David Ross, who co-founded The Carphone Warehouse, has resigned after admitting that he'd used his shares to guarantee personal loans. Although none of the loans are in default and Mr Ross doesn't currently plan to sell any of the shares, he has broken stock exchange rules by not admitting his actions. Mr Ross owns almost 20% of the company's shares. [Sources: Press release; Telegraph.co.uk; ManagementToday.co.uk]

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Kevin Spacey to headline Mobile World Congress

The headline speaker - or, at least, one of the headline speakers - at next year's GSM Association Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is Kevin Spacey. Yes, the Academy award-winning actor and director. He'll be talking about mobile entertainment and hosting the MOFILM Mobile Short Film Festival, described as the world’s first global mobile film festival. [Press release]

Amsterdam blames city centre decay on brothels and phone shops

It's not just Amsterdam's well-known brothels and marijuana cafes that are causing problems in the city centre. Council officials plan to close many of the city's brothels and sex shops to reduce organised crime... and they say some phone shops, mini-supermarkets and souvenir shops will also be shut down as they're related to the decay of the city centre. [Source: BBC News]

Truphone on your iPod Touch

Mobile VoIP company Truphone has announced a free software download that turns an iPod Touch into a phone. With an optional microphone adaptor, it lets users make calls to other Truphone customers. The company says it'll soon add the ability to make and receive calls to and from fixed-line phones. [Truphone blog]

Mobile social networkers love their mobiles(!)

Social networking site itsmy.com has conducted a survey that shows how much its 2.5 million members rely on their mobiles (although it's only published results from its 15,000 most-active users worldwide). 95% from the USA and 96% from the UK use the mobile as main means of communication with loved ones... and the average user browses through 160 mobile internet pages per day. [Press release]

Friday, 5 December 2008

SMS is still king for mobile data revenue

Portio Research says text messaging will still be the leading revenue-generator from mobile data for several years. Volume and revenue are both expected to continue growing through the current economic downturn, with the whole mobile messaging industry - currently worth $130 billion - predicted to be worth $224 billion by 2013. The company also says that the number of mobile email users worldwide will quadruple from approximately a quarter of a billion users in 2008 to over a billion users by the end of 2013 - and mobile instant messaging users will increase from 111 million users worldwide in 2008 to 867 million users by the end of 2013. [Press release]

Mobile phones affect lab rat memory

Experiments at the Division of Neurosurgery in Sweden's Lund University have revealed that rats exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a week for over a year results in the rats being less successful with memory tests. The tests involved rats being released into a box and showing interest in the objects it contained; rats exposed to mobile phone radiation were less interested than the 'control' rats. [Sources: Press release (Swedish); idw-online.de]

Smartphone sales slowing

Research and advisory company Gartner says smartphone sales have slowed to their lowest year-on-year growth rate since it started tracking the industry. 36.5 million smartphones were sold to end-users worldwide in the third quarter of 2008, which is an 11.5% increase from the same period in 2007. Nokia maintained its market leadership with 42.4% of market share - down 3% from 2007 - with RIM and Apple taking second and third place respectively. [Press release]

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Top-up your phone from your online bank

OneVu, which provides online bill payments for the UK, says it's preparing to launch mobile phone top-up facility available for internet bank users. The service is expected to be available from Spring 2009. [Press release]

New Android-powered phone planned for January

Australia's Kogan Technologies has announced the Kogan Agora and the Kogan Agora Pro, which will start shipping from 29th January. They'll be the world's second and third Android-powered mobile phones, following the HTC-designed T-Mobile G1. Prices start from AU$299 (around £133) SIM-free. [Kogan blog]

Hands-free calls in cars add 5 metres to stopping distance

Here's a story that echoes last week's warning about distracting hands-free conversations. Psychology researchers led by Dr Melina Kunar at the University of Warwick have published a research paper that shows mobile phone conversations impair reaction time by an average of 212 milliseconds, which equates to an extra 5.7 metres braking distance for a car travelling at 60 miles an hour. In addition, drivers using their phones suffer 83% more errors than those driving without the distraction of a mobile phone conversation. Listening to a story made very little difference to the test participants' response times or accuracy. [Press release]

HTC buys design company

Handset manufacturer HTC has bought San Francisco-based One & Company Design. One & Co had previously worked with HTC to create the Touch Diamond. [Press release]

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Mobile betting to beat recession

Bets placed via mobile phones will double in 2009 to hit $3.6 billion (£2.4 billion), according to Juniper Research. Three-quarters of the money will come from traditional bookmaker-style betting, with with casino-type gambling the second-largest sector. 30% of all bets worldwide will come from the UK, although this will drop to 8% by 2013 as usage in other countries increases. [Press release]

Mobile usage hasn't changed for 5 years

Research from connectivity specialist AppTrigger reveals that 57% of UK adults and 30% of North Americans say they've not changed the way in which they use mobiles since 2003. Voice calls and text messages are still the main applications. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

Land Rover to launch mobile phones

Land Rover and Sonim Technologies are launching a range of co-branded mobile phones. The rugged products, which will come in an eco-friendly packaging, will be available from the middle of next year. [Press release]

T-Mobile launches free ad-funded games

T-Mobile has become the first network in the UK to offer free games that are funded by advertising. Customers can access at least one new game per week by watching two advertisements before starting the game and two adverts after the game has finished. [Press release]

French mobile costs cut by regulator

ARCEP, the French telecoms regulator, is cutting wholesale mobile termination rates by around 2 Euro cents per minute from next summer - and again the following year - with consumer call charges expected to fall as a result. [Sources: ARCEP pdf (French); BWCS.com]

Mobile dog tracker launched by Orange and Retrieva

Hey - it's our third dog story this year! Tracking company Retrieva has just launched its Tracking and Anti-theft dog collar in association with Orange. The collar combines GPS, GSM and RFID technologies; there's a home base station that lets you know if your dog leaves home and an Orange SIM to send alerts if the collar is removed. You can also track your dog on your mobile phone if it goes missing... and there's even a panic alarm for isolated dog walkers. The system will be launched soon with an iniial cost of £250 and an ongoing £9.99 a month. [Press release]

Vodafone faces Indian tax bill

Mumbai's High Court has said Vodafone should have put aside £1.35 million in tax following its Hutchison Essar takeover deal last year. The proceedings started in June; Vodafone now says it'll appeal to the Indian Supreme Court. [Source: TimesOnline.co.uk]

New Mobile News podcast now online

In this week's Mobile News podcast we're talking to Kari Rantanen, who's director of sales and marketing for Nokia's new Smart Home Program. There's also our usual look at mobile industry headlines from the last seven days and a quick preview of the young-at-heart Samsung Tobi handset. As always, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

Mobile News podcast RSSThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Charge your mobile by talking

Researchers have found a type of piezoelectric material that can create electrical power from the pressure waves formed when you talk. It could result in a mobile phone that recharges as you use it. [Source: MotherJones.com]

Electronics slowdown closes Tantalum mine

Work at the world's largest tantalum mine in Australia has been suspended, with the global financial crisis and the resulting downturn in demand for consumer electronics being blamed. Tantalum is used for producing capacitors that are used in many electronic products including mobile phones, digital cameras, gaming consoles and computers. [Press release (pdf)]

Monday, 1 December 2008

5th anniversary of hands-free law marked by RoSPA

RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, is reminding motorists about the risks of making a call or texting at the wheel five years after it became illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. The law was introduced in Britain on 1st December 2003 but casualty statistics reveal there were 25 fatal accidents, 64 serious accidents and 259 other accidents on Britain’s roads last year in which a driver using a mobile phone was recorded as a contributory factor. They also point to research that shows using a mobile phone at the wheel – whether hand-held or hands-free – makes you four times more likely to have an accident. [Press release]

Vodafone chasing German cable TV company?

Vodafone is apparently thinking about acquiring Germany’s largest cable company Kabel Deutschland. Vodafone already offers fixed-line and broadband services via Arcor; buying Kabel Deutschland would enable it to offer fixed-line, broadband, mobile and TV services in Germany. [Sources: RapidTVNews.com; BroadbandTVNews.com]

O2 to scrap "rules of engagement" blocking dealer upgrades

It's reported that O2 is going to scrap its "rules of engagement" from 5th January 2009. The rules, which have been applied in various forms since October, stopped dealers from upgrading O2 customers. [Source: Mobile News issue 428]

Hands-free conversations are more distracting than talking to passengers

The December issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, which is published by the American Psychological Association, says drivers make more mistakes when talking on a mobile phone than when talking to passengers. The study looked at 41 mostly young adult drivers paired with 41 friends. The results of the experiment, which was conducted using a driving simulator, showed that mobile phone users were more likely to drift in their lane, kept a greater distance between their car and the car in front, and were four times more likely to miss pulling off the highway at the rest area. Passenger conversation barely affected these three measures. In addition, the passengers took an active role in helping the driver, often talking about surrounding traffic. [Press release; PDF of article]

Virgin Mobile announces flat-rate web deal

Virgin Mobile has said it's launching a flat-rate mobile internet deal next week. From 8th December, customers in the UK will be able to browse mobile internet sites for 30p a day on 'pay monthly' and prepay tariffs. (Exceeding the 25MB 'fair usage' cap will incur additional charges). There'll also be a new Virgin Media branded portal featuring Yahoo’s oneSearch service. We interviewed Virgin Mobile MD Graeme Oxby in October for the Mobile News podcast -more details are here. [Press release; promotional site]

O2 launches universal energy-saving charger

Hot on the heels of the recent cross-manufacturer charger rating system, O2 says it's become the first UK network to launch an energy-efficient universal mobile phone charger. The £14.99 O2 Universal Charger claims to cut energy consumption by as much as 70% compared to standard mobile phone chargers by reducing charge to the mobile phone once the battery is fully charged - even if the charger is left switched on in a plug socket. The company says the energy saved by all phones using the O2 Universal Charger would be enough to make over 7 billion cups of tea - the equivalent of £31 million - or, from an environmental perspective, could save the equivalent carbon emissions of over 36,000 cars per annum. Mind you, at the moment it'll only work with Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson devices. And the cost of buying universal chargers for all of the estimated 73 million mobiles in the UK would be £1.094 billion. [Press release]

O2 cuts mobile broadband prices for prepay users

O2 has priced its new prepay USB broadband modem at £29.99, with data charges starting at £2 a day for 500MB, rising to £7.50 a week for 1GB or £15 a month for 3GB. It's describing it as the "UK’s leading priced mobile broadband Pay & Go service". The deal also includes unlimited access to over 6,000 WiFi hotspots across the UK through The Cloud. [Press release]

Wireless technology promises better battery life

An engineering student at Canada's Carleton University has demonstrated that wireless technology can be used to prolong battery life. His prototype device connects a mobile phone's antenna with the rest of the phone's circuity by using a wireless link instead of conventional wires. Atif Shamim estimates that his module consumes 12 times less power than the traditional, wired-transmitter module and is also much simpler in design. A paper about his invention has already been commended at the European Wireless Technology Conference. [Carleton University news]

Friday, 28 November 2008

LG partners with F1

LG Electronics has become a Global Partner and a Technology Partner of Formula 1 motor racing, which means it'll be able to offer the 'official Mobile Phone of Formula 1' for the next five years. LG had previously sponsored ITV's F1 coverage. [Sources: Press release; BrandRepublic.com]

Smarter phones mean more security risks

Mobile messaging company Airwide Solutions says European mobile phone customers are now receiving 21.3% more unwanted text messages than they did last year - with France suffering a 61.3% increase. [Press release]

EC moves closer to capping 'roaming' SMS charges

As anticipated, the Council of EU Telecoms Ministers has endorsed the European Commission's plans to reduce consumer charges for sending text messages and downloading data via mobile phones while 'roaming' abroad in the EU. If the plans (known as the Roaming II Agreement) are passed by the European Parliament in spring they could become law next summer. The EC's proposal includes:
  • capping the cost of sending a text message at 11 Euro cents (excluding VAT),
  • automatically sending an text message explaining the charges when you travel abroad,
  • offering a pre-set limit for roamed data charges from 2010,
  • further reducing the cost of 'roaming' voice calls in 2009 and 2010,
  • introducing per-second billing after 30 seconds for all calls made, and
  • introducing per-second billing for all calls received.
[Press release 1; Press release 2]

Samsung launches BizBee business phone range

Samsung has launched a new European business smartphone brand called 'BizBee'. It says BizBee products will be targeted at business people who need all-in-one connectivity, email, a QWERTY keyboard and increased productivity. The first BizBee phone is the Samsung i780, which was announced earlier this year but will now come with Windows Mobile 6.1. [Source: BusinessWire.com]

13% of us rely on mobiles to find the way

In a Nokia press release that's full of comedy facts - more people get lost in London than anywhere else in the world, one in three Londoners deliberately gives people the wrong directions, 10% of Spaniards consider a sense of direction matures with age, the average person wastes 13 minutes when they get lost - there's some mobile-related stuff as well. Apparently 13% of people now use a mobile phone as their main navigation tool. [Press release]

Control your home with a Nokia phone

Nokia is developing a 'smart home' platform - the Nokia Home Control Center - that'll let users monitor and control their home via mobile phone or PC. Consumers can monitor and control their electricity usage and security systems, either from within the home or remotely. The first products are expected by the end of 2009. [Press release]

Nokia leaves Japan (almost)

Nokia says the current economic climate has caused it to leave Japan. It'll stop selling most phones and will end marketing activities in Japan, although a number of researchers will remain and the company will continue selling its luxuty Vertu phones. Nokia currently has around 1% of the handset market in Japan. [Source: Forbes.com]

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Microsoft Zune phone rumours return

The rumours that Microsoft is planning a Zune-branded music-playing mobile phone seem to have more substance these days, according to a report from CNBC.

Spending on mobiles will affect other business comms

Analysys Mason says business spending on voice services is moving to mobile - much like the consumer telecomms market. In Western Europe, enterprise mobile voice spend is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1% while enterprise fixed voice spend is expected to decline at a CAGR of 15%. It also says the current global financial situation may accelerate mobile substitution and fixed/mobile convergence because businesses are unwilling to pay the relatively high cost of desk phones. [Analysis Mason news insight]

Vodafone CEO wants his company to react more quickly

In an interview with the Financial Times, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao says he wants the company to become faster at responding to customers’ needs and competitors’ initiatives.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

EC decision on data roaming charges expected soon

The EC's plans for a cap on European data 'roaming' charges are expected to be agreed tomorrow, according to the International Herald Tribune. It says cross-border text message charges could to drop to 11 Euro cents (about 10.6p incl. VAT) from July 2009 - and there could be a similarly dramatic drop in data usage, too.

Wireless traffic could increase tenfold

Mobile network operators in developed regions should be ready for a tenfold increase in wireless network traffic by 2015, according to a new report from Analysys Mason. Its Wireless network traffic 2008–2015 report says data traffic is quickly overtaking voice, driven by factors that include USB modems, smartphones, affordable pricing and bigger downloads. Developed regions are expected to account for just 25% of mobile phone users by 2015 but will generate 65% of total global wireless network traffic. The average mobile user is expected to use eight times more data by 2015, rising from the current figure of 56MB per month to 455MB per month... although one forecast says this could be as much as a 23-fold increase, depending on circumstances. [Press release]

El Paso is the top town for texting in the US

Scarborough Research says El Paso in Texas is the top US city for text messaging, with 57% of mobile phone users sending texts - compared with a national average of 48%. Residents of Grand Rapids, Missouri, are least likely to send text messages. Apparently texters are more likely to be young and from Hispanic or African-American backgrounds, which the research company says helps to explain the geographic results. Texters also spend more on their mobile bills, play more sports, shop online and love technology more than other people. [PDF press release]

Mobile phones can damage your soul

"Vatican Warns That Mobile Phones Threaten the Soul". That's the headline, although Father Federico Lombardi, who runs the Vatican press office, wasn't quite that specific. He's warned people that modern life isn't leaving time for us to look after the spiritual dimension of our lives - and says mobile phones and the internet probably make it more difficult. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

Apple iPhone TV ad banned by ASA

Following T-Mobile's knuckle-rapping last week, Apple is the latest company to have its mobile phone advertising criticised by the ASA. TV advertising for the Apple iPhone 3G described the handset as offering the internet "really fast", showing pages loading in a fraction of a second. The ASA said the on-screen visuals, in conjunction with the repeated use of the claim "really fast", were likely to lead viewers to believe that the device actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the ad - but it doesn't. [ASA adjudication]

Mobile News podcast now available to download

This week's Mobile News podcast takes its regular look at industry headlines from the last seven days. There's a preview of the tough new Sonim XP3... and we'll be time-travelling back to 2006 to see how the industry's changed. As usual, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

Mobile News podcast RSSThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Carphone not selling Hugh Symons

The Carphone Warehouse has decided not to sell Hugh Symons Communications. It put HSC on the market earlier this year but says it's now growing and is essential to Carphone’s operations. [Source: Mobile News]

Apple sued over iPhone browser

Law firm Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro has filed a patent infringement lawsuit on behalf of EMG Technology against Apple, accusing Apple of infringing US Patent 7,441,196 in the way the iPhone navigates the internet. The patent covers internet content reformatted to XML; the format used by the iPhone and other mobile devices. [Sources: MarketWatch.com; TheRegister.co.uk]

Operators could make $52 billion from mobile content in 2013

Juniper Research says mobile network operators could make $52 billion from mobile content by 2013 - up from $23 billion in 2008 - but only if they make major changes to their business models. It says they must emphasise 'shared value creation’ to avoid becoming seen as ‘dumb pipes’ in the future. The total global mobile content market is expected to be worth $167 billion by 2013. [Press release]

Mobiles to be made illegal in Scottish prisons

Ministers in Scotland have taken the first step towards outlawing mobile phones in prisons. The aim is to prevent mobiles being used for drug dealing or for organising criminal activities. From next month, possession of a mobile phone or SIM card in prison will become an offence - as will attempting to pass these items to offenders in prison. The Scottish Prison Service will also introduce mobile phone 'signal blockers' to stop mobiles from working. [Press release]

Mobile internet increasingly popular

Researchers at Nielsen say the number of British people accessing the internet via their mobile phones has increased 25% from Q2 to Q3 2008, rising from 5.8 million to 7.3 million. In contrast, PC-based internet use increased 3% from 34.3 million to 35.3 million. Google is the most popular PC-based web site, while the most popular mobile internet site is BBC News, with 1.7 million British visitors (24% of mobile internet consumers) every month. [Sources: PDF press release; Telecoms.com; TotalTele.com]

1 million T-Mobile G1 phones shipped this year

HTC says it expects to have shipped 1 million T-Mobile G1 handsets (and 3 million HTC Touch Diamond devices) by the end of 2008. The company's CEO denied rumours that it's been affected by the global economic slow-down and is planning to lay off staff. [Source: DigiTimes.com]

Monday, 24 November 2008

Mobile phones that shout for help

The Washington Post has an entertaining story about the ways that stolen mobile phones can 'report' a thief.

Cashback complaints have fallen, says Ofcom

Ofcom has published a new report called The Consumer Experience 2008, which reveals that complaints about mobile phone cashback deals have fallen from a peak of more than 600 per month in September 2007 to fewer than 70 per month in September 2008. It's also revealed that more consumers are contacting Ofcom about fixed line mis-selling and silent calls than any other telecoms issue. In addition, Ofcom revealed that consumers are increasingly aware of the number of different fixed line and mobile suppliers. 62% of consumers are aware of three or more fixed line suppliers and 89% are aware of three or more mobile providers (compared to 55% and 85% in 2007). That means 11% of people aren't aware of all five UK mobile networks. [Press release]

Saturday, 22 November 2008

BlackBerry MySpace application hits 400,000 downloads in a week

Social network MySpace and BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion have announced record download numbers of the 'MySpace for BlackBerry' application in its first week of availability. There have been more than 400,000 downloads since the application’s launch on 13th November, which apparently represents an all-time high for both MySpace and RIM in terms of first-week application downloads. In that first week, users have sent and received more than 15 million messages and published over two million updates. [Press release]

Vodafone keeping Verizon stake

­Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has said the company will hang on to its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless for now, although it's open-minded about the future. He's also confirmed that the company is interested in the Nigerian market. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

Friday, 21 November 2008

Jailed VAT fraudster ordered to sell helicopter

Craig Johnson, who is serving 12-and-a-half years in prison for his part in a multi-million pound mobile phone related VAT fraud, has been ordered to repay £26 million to the UK government. It means he'll need to sell his helicopter, his stately home and several luxury cars. He faces an additional 10 years in prison if he doesn't repay the money: £8m within the next 12 months and the remainder within a further year. [Source: BBC News]

Yahoo launches voice-enabled mobile search in UK

Following April's USA launch, Yahoo has launched its voice-enabled oneSearch mobile service in the UK. Instead of using a keyboard, users can speak their internet search queries. It's currently available on some BlackBerry devices and Nokia S60 phones. [Source: ZDNet.co.uk]

Ofcom report shows UK top for mobile broadband coverage

Ofcom has published its third annual International Communications Market Report, which looks at take-up, availability and use of broadband, landlines, mobiles, TV and radio in a number of countries. Some of the key mobile-related points include:

  • HSDPA mobile broadband availability covers 87% of the UK population; the highest of all 16 countries surveyed.
  • In all of the countries covered by the report, total mobile revenues last year were higher than fixed-line voice and broadband combined.
  • Mobile call volumes grew by 21% in the UK during 2007. However, increases in call volumes have not been matched by corresponding increases in retail revenue.
  • Text messaging volumes increased by 36% in the UK, 90% in Poland and over 100% in the US and Canada.

[Ofcom report]

Sony Ericsson UK MD moves to Jawbone

Sony Ericsson UK Managing Director John Harber is leaving to join Bluetooth headset company Jawbone. He'd been in his current role for almost three years and had worked at Sony Ericsson since the early 1990s. He'll be replaced in January by Sony Ericsson UK Sales Director Nathan Vautier. [Source: Mobile News]

Nokia puts IBM Lotus Notes email on S60 phones

Nokia and IBM have announced that IBM Lotus Notes will now be supported on many Nokia S60-based mobile phones from December. It means that users of Nokia S60 3rd Edition devices can access corporate email via Lotus Domino Server software - giving them real-time access to email, calendar, address book, diary and to-do list data. Nokia says this collaboration means nearly 90% of business email can be accessed with Nokia devices without the need to purchase additional servers, third-party software or licenses. [Press release]

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The perfect phone call lasts for 9 minutes and 36 seconds

The ideal phone conversation should last for 9 minutes and 36 seconds, covering family news, personal problems, work, current affairs and the weather, according to new research from the Post Office. And during that call, you'll spend 102 seconds laughing plus 12 seconds in silence. [Source: Telegraph.co.uk]

Mobile TV worth $10 billion by 2013?

Last month we mentioned a study from Juniper Research that said most people with mobiles capable of receiving broadcast TV would only use free-to-air broadcasts and wouldn’t pay for premium services. They estimated revenue from mobile TV users in 2013 would be $2.7 billion. But the latest report from Informa Telecoms & Media says mobile TV revenue could hit US$10 billion in 2013 because we’ll see on-screen advertising taking over from the current subscription model. As you’d probably expect, the strongest growth is anticipated in South Korea and Japan. [Source: Telecoms.com]

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Worst mobile content of 2008

Yes, I was right - it's time to start the reviews. FierceWireless has published its "Mobile Content Turkeys of 2008" list, which features John McCain Themed Content, Mobile TV, Bad Licensing Deals, Mobile Messaging Addiction and Dumb iPhone Applications.

Mobile gaming worth $10 billion by 2013

Juniper Research says the retail value of the global mobile games market is expected to rise from $5.4bn in 2008 to more than $10bn in 2013, although the potential for growth in many key markets is being dampened by poor marketing and limited on-portal revenue share for publishers. They say the Apple iPhone could end up being a popular choice for game publishers due to the revenue share offered by Apple, which could see the end of Java games. In addition, the volume of paid-for mobile game downloads has flatlined across North America and Western Europe - a phenomenon that was reported in February by M:Metrics. [Press release]

T-Mobile ad criticised by ASA

T-Mobile's "You won't find more minutes for £30. Guaranteed." press ad and brochure have had complaints upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority following an objection from Hutchison 3G, which has a tariff offering up to 1100 voice minutes for £27. A similar complaint about T-Mobile's TV ads was not upheld because it challenged consumers to "See if you can find more minutes for £30". [ASA adjudication]

Blyk raises money and cuts costs

Ad-funded virtual mobile network Blyk raises says it's raised an additional €40 million to support its operations, although it's also cutting costs and is streamlining the organisation. Blyk launched in the UK in September 2007, attracting over 200,000 members in its first year. It's currently working with 180 brands and plans to have and 200 brands using the service by the end of 2008. [Press release]

Mobile Phones of the Year 2008

Hey heck, it's time for reviews of 2008 and annual awards. At least, that's what consumer web site Reevoo is telling us. Its top five highest-rated mobile phones of 2008 are the BlackBerry Bold 9000, the Sony Ericsson W980i, the Apple iPhone 3G, the Samsung F480 Tocco and the Sony Ericsson K660i. The top phone for Christmas - based on ratings in the last 30 days - is the Nokia N96. [Press release]

Mobile manufacturers agree rating system for chargers

LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have launched an energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to choose the most energy-saving devices. The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for those consuming the most energy. Ratings will be shown on each manufacturer's web site. [Nokia press release]

New Mobile News podcast now available

In this week's Mobile News podcast we take our usual irreverent look at the week's industry news headlines. There's also a discussion about how the credit crunch is affecting the mobile industry and a preview of the INQ1 'Facebook phone'. As always, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

Mobile News podcast RSSThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

JCB Toughphone awarded Guinness World Record

­The JCB Toughphone is officially the world’s toughest mobile phone, according to Guinness World Records. The phone was dropped 3.25 metres onto concrete and carried on working without sustaining any cracks or dents. [Source: ElectricPig.tv]

Samsung being sued twice

Samsung is under attack from two different directions. Memory chip maker Spansion is taking legal action against Samsung, claiming that Samsung's memory chips violate Spansion's patents. This doesn't just affect Samsung products but also devices from other manufacturers, including music players, mobile phones and digital cameras. Meanwhile Kodak is suing Samsung and LG over patents that it says are being violated by camera phones. [Sources: Cellular-News.com; WashingtonPost.com]

GSM Association wants mobiles to be NFC-equipped from next year

The GSM Association has said it wants full NFC functionality - the ability to use 'touch payment' systems - built into commercially-available mobile handsets from mid-2009. This would let the phone communicate with contactless readers to provide credit and debit payments, turning it into a 'mobile wallet'. The organisation says delivering mobile payment services efficiently and cost-effectively means device manufacturers need to make sure the vast majority of handsets incorporate Near Field Communications features as standard. [Press release]

Most mobile users would view ads to cut bills

Business software company Transverse has published new research that says 61% of mobile phone users (in the USA) would view advertising on their phones if it meant their monthly bills were less. The figure varied according to the level of discount, with 56% happy to view ads for a discount of between 25 and 50%. In addition, 46% of users said this level of discount was enough of an incentive to provide access to their usage patterns. Users under the age of 35 were most receptive to the idea of discounts for viewing mobile advertising. [Press release]

World's fastest smartphone

Taiwan-based ASUS has announced the ASUS P565, a smartphone that contains an 800MHz processor - making it the fastest-running smartphone in the world. It has a 2.8-inch touch-sensitive display and uses Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional. [Press release]

Carphone confirms broadband business review

The Carphone Warehouse has published its half-year results. Excluding figures from Best Buy Europe, which now manages the Retail and Distribution business, group revenues were £697 million compared to £711 million in the same period last year. The biggest surprise - or not, depending on whether you heard the rumours at the weekend - was that the board is reviewing the Group’s structure, which may lead to the retail and broadband businesses being separated. They'll tell us more in Spring 2009. [Press release]

Monday, 17 November 2008

New Marketing Director at Phones 4U

Russell Braterman has joined Phones 4U from Unilever as Marketing Director, replacing Jim Slater who left at the end of August. [Source: Mobile News]

Mobile Industry Review empties its cupboard for charity

Well done to the bloggers at Mobile Industry Review for giving away the contents of their goodie cupboard in a charity-funding prize draw. Donations are split between Childline and the United Nations Foundation, with prizes including an assortment of mobile phones, accessories and services. The draw takes place on 10th December 2008; tickets are £5 each.

Barack Obama to give up his BlackBerry?

Never mind his plans to change the world... the current story on everyone's lips is the likelihood that US President-elect Barack Obama is going to stop using a BlackBerry when he takes office. Despite wearing the device on his belt during much of his election campaign and frequently sending messages to friends, he's likely to ditch mobile email when he takes office in January. Not only is security a risk, his messages would all be recorded under the Presidential Records Act. But he wouldn't be the first president to stop using personal email. Current president George W Bush sent his friends an email before entering the White House eight years ago, explaining that he was going to stop corresponding in cyberspace because he didn't want to risk any private conversations being published. [Source: NYTimes.com]

Customers happy to pay extra for decent cameras on mobiles

Research company Strategy Analytics says consumers in the USA and Western Europe are most willing to pay extra for a camera on their mobile phone. Over 60% of all respondents said they'd be willing to pay extra for a quality camera on their mobile. Other popular options included a video camera, music player and removable memory cards. Customers aged 35 and older were less willing to pay extra than younger consumers. [Press release]

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Carphone planning to sell TalkTalk?

There are reports that The Carphone Warehouse is soon going to announce plans to split its fixed-line phone and broadband business from the rest of the company. It's expected that the split will take place towards the end of next year. [Sources: TimesOnline.co.uk; Telegraph.co.uk]

Just 2% of iPhone users don't touch data services

Research company Nielsen has calculated there are 3.6 million mobile subscribers (aged 13+) actively using an Apple iPhone in the USA, with 98% of customers using at least one data service. [Source: wirelessandmobilenews.com]

Smartphones are driving customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with mobile phones is increasing in the USA as smartphones become more popular. The link between the two bas been made by J.D. Power and Associates, which has just published its latest Wireless Mobile Phone Evaluation Study. They measured customer satisfaction by looking at design, operation, features, durability and battery life. Their results showed that average prices have risen because of the increased popularity of smartphones and other highly-featured phones. Customers are also spending more per month - yet overall satisfaction has improved significantly and is higher among younger handset owners who are more inclined to own feature-rich phones. [Press release]

Nokia says mobile industry is slowing down

Nokia says the current global economic situation means the mobile industry will ship fewer devices in the fourth quarter of 2008 than previously expected. In addition, mobile device volume will be down in 2009 compared to 2008. Nokia estimates that around 330 million mobile devices will be shipped worldwide in Q4 2008, up from the estimated 310 million produced in the third quarter of 2008 but resulting in an annual figure of 1.24 billion devices instead of the previously estimated 1.26 billion. [Press release]

Friday, 14 November 2008

O2's parent publishes Q3 results

Telefónica, which owns O2 in the UK, says its profits for the third quarter of 2008 were down 50% year-on-year... although it's worth noting that last year's figure included the sale of television company Endemol. In the UK, O2's revenue was up 8.7% and a record-breaking 277,593 'contract' customers had been added. [Sources: Telefonica press release; FT.com; Bloomberg.com]

Thursday, 13 November 2008

200 million people will have used mobile coupons within 5 years

Juniper Research has estimated that 200 million people will have received promotional coupons on their mobile phones by 2013. The company says the market is currently most advanced in Japan and Korea but mobile coupons are becoming an increasingly popular tool for restaurants, entertainment and shopping in the USA and Europe. [Press release]

Sky to run own advertising on mobile TV

In a contrast to the recent story about Channel 4 dropping its mobile advertising, Sky is to start selling its own advertising on its mobile TV channels offered via T-Mobile and Vodafone in the UK. [Source: NMA.co.uk]

Mobile Marketing Association finds increased interest in mobile marketing

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has published its Annual Mobile Attitude and Usage Study, which shows there's increasing interest in - and usage of - mobile marketing services. It says a quarter of mobile users in the US and Western Europe are interested in mobile marketing, with interest levels even higher in Asia Pacific and Latin American markets. In all regions, text-to-win and interactive voting campaigns are the most common examples of mobile marketing in which mobile users have participated. [Source: MarketWatch.com]

3 launches Facebook phone

As expected, 3 has announced the INQ1 - the 'Facebook phone' - today. It's the first phone from Hutchison-backed INQ and includes a number of social networking and communication services: Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Last.fm and RSS feeds. There's a 3.2 megapixel camera, too. The INQ1 will be available free on a 'pay monthly' contract from £15 per month, which will include unlimited Facebook, Skype, Windows Live Messenger and web access, plus 75 minutes of calls to other networks, unlimited texts, unlimited email and unlimited free 3-to-3 calls (subject to 'fair use' terms). [Press release]

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

EC looking at VoIP blocking by mobile networks

The European Commission has asked mobile phone networks whether (and how) they're blocking VoIP calls - voice calls over the internet. The action is thought to be the prelude to a possible formal investigation. [Source: IHT.com]

Mobile News podcast now online

This week the Mobile News podcast talks to Faisal Sheikh of 'Fone Doctors' about the current state of retailing. There's a preview of the Sony Ericsson W705 Walkman and the team's usual off-beat look at industry headlines from the last seven days. As always, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

RSS feedThe Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Text bug revealed in T-Mobile G1 phone

The BBC and Wired.com have reported on a (potentially amusing) bug that affects the T-Mobile G1 mobile phone. Typing the word "reboot" in a text message soon after restarting the device causes the phone to... reboot. UK users should receive an update by tomorrow.

Facebook hits 15 million mobile users

Facebook says that it now has 15 million mobile users worldwide - that's three times more than they started with at the beginning of 2008. [Facebook blog]

Mobile Messaging continues to grow

ABI Research says there's no sign of a slow-down in the growth of Mobile Messaging Services despite the current tough economic times. They reckon global revenue from mobile messaging services will grow from $151 billion this year to over $212 billion by 2013. [Press release]

Channel 4 drops mobile ad sales

Channel 4 is shutting down its mobile advertising sales business at the end of the year. The company, which is also closing its interactive TV advertising at the same time, produces a 20-minute mobile TV compilation of popular shows. This compilation currently includes commercials but, from 31st December, will no longer carry any advertising. [Source: BrandRepublic.com]

Vodafone publishes half-year report

Vodafone has published its half-yearly figures (April - September 2008), which show that Group revenue is up 17.1% to £19.9 billion, data revenue is up 48.6% to £1.4 billion and European revenue is up 14.3%. Profits, however, were down 34% to £2.17 billion. Chief Executive Vittorio Colao says the company plans to improve operational performance through customer value enhancement and by cutting £1 billion of costs. [Press release]

Monday, 10 November 2008

Ofcom ends Phones 4U investigation

Ofcom has closed its 6-month investigation into the activities of Phones 4U after persuading the retailer to change its handset return policy, its chequeback terms and its sales practices. It says Phones 4U had been acting in a way that breached aspects of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and the Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations 1988. [Ofcom bulletin]

Nokia considering unlimited game and video services?

There are suggestions that Nokia's "Comes With Music" unlimited music service could be expanded to offer unlimited games or movie downloads in the near future. [Sources: NMA.co.uk; NokNok.tv]

Mobile phones used for traffic monitoring

Nokia and the University of California have just launched the Mobile Millennium project, which combines anonymous GPS information from mobile phones with data from existing traffic sensors. From today, any San Francisco Bay Area resident will be able to automatically submit and receive traffic information between the San Francisco Bay Area and the Lake Tahoe ski area, either on compatible smartphones or iusing a PC browser. [PDF fact sheet]

Sunday, 9 November 2008

iPhone 2.2 software to allow over-the-air podcast downloads

Apparently the new Apple iPhone software version 2.2 will allow you to download podcasts 'over the air' instead of needing to synchronise with iTunes on a computer. When it does, you'll find our iTunes feed by clicking here. [Source: AppleInsider.com]

EC plans mobile TV action soon

In an interview with EurActiv.com, European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding has said the EC will soon 'fix the rules' for mobile television in Europe.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Avenir MD moving to Vodafone

Tanny Price, the UK MD of distributor Avenir Telecom, is leaving to take a senior channel role at Vodafone. She's been in her current role for over four years and has worked at Avenir for over 10 years. [Source: Mobile News]

Friday, 7 November 2008

Cashback dealer declared insolvent

First Contact Mobiles, which was based in Leeds but did most of its business online,has been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Companies Investigation Branch of the Insolvency Service. The company encouraged customers to connect mobile phones by promising 'cashback' deals but failed to pay. It also failed to keep records of the amounts involved, which could exceed £250,000. [Press release]

Austrian mobile networks criticise EU roaming caps

Mobilkom Austria, T-Mobile Austria and Orange (Austria) have published research that shows the EC's capping of 'roaming' costs has led to significant losses and no significant increase in usage. They say the roaming regulation is having a negative effect on Austria's mobile industry. [Sources: Telecoms.com; TradingMarkets.com]

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Mobile gambling wagers to hit $27.5 billion by 2013

The research just keeps coming. Juniper Research say mobile betting will be worth $27.5 billion (£17.5 million) by 2013. They reckon mobile operators are much more interested in offering betting services and accepting advertising from betting companies than they were last year. [Press release]

Global smartphone sales up 28%

More research from Canalys. These figures say smartphone shipments have risen 27.9% worldwide (from Q3 2007 to Q3 2008), hitting 39.9 million. This means smartphones now represent around 13% of the total mobile phone market, up 2% from the previous quarter. Nokia has retained its market lead, but its share has been eaten into by Apple and BlackBerry devices. [Press release]

GPS-equipped smartphones outsell other navigation devices

Researchers at Canalys say GPS smartphones have overtaken the number of stand-alone Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs) shipped in the Europe, Middle East and Asia. They've calculated that EMEA shipments of PNDs in Q3 2008 fell to 4.3 million, down half a million from the previous quarter, while shipments of smartphones with integrated GPS more than doubled to 10.4 million. [Press release]

82 million location-aware mobile social networkers by 2013

Research company ABI Research says there'll be 82 million people using location-based mobile social networking services by 2013. [Press release]

Motorola UK boss leaves

Motorola UK General Manager Jim Michel is reported to have left the company following a restructure. [Source: Mobile News]

Vodafone takes control in South Africa

Vodafone has confirmed that its acquisition of an additional 15% stake in Vodacom, taking Vodafone's shareholding from 50% to 65%, has been approved by the government of South Africa. [Press release]

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Smartphones driving increased mobile search

This is probably another of those "it's obvious when you think about it" reports. Researchers at The Kelsey Group have linked the increased purchase of 'smart' mobile devices with an increase in searches - particularly for local information - from mobiles. They say 18.9% of mobile customers in the USA now use a smartphone, with 49.2% of all respondents planning to buy a smart mobile device within the next two years. In the last six months, 17.6% of US mobile users have downloaded or looked at maps or directions (up from 10.8% in 2007), 15.6% have searched online for products or services in their local area (up from 9.8% in 2007), 14.3% have searched online products or services outside their local area (up from 6.4% in 2007), 13.7% have searched for entertainment information (up from 8.2% in 2007) and 9.6% have connected with a online social network (up from 3.4% in 2007). [Press release]

Mobile News podcast now online

The new edition of the Mobile News podcast is now available to download. Iain Graham talks to John Fannon about T-Mobile's recent channel review and its plans to change dealer commission payments. Mark Bridge and James Rosewell join Iain to discuss the latest mobile industry headlines - and there's a quick preview of the Samsung M8800 Pixon cameraphone. As usual, you can download or listen free at TheFonecast.com and on the Mobile News website... and you'll find us on iTunes and via RSS too.

The Mobile News podcast is presented and produced by Iain Graham, James Rosewell and Mark Bridge at TheFonecast.com

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

T-Mobile launches UK femtocell trial

T-Mobile is running a femtocell trial in the UK, Germany and Poland, according to a report on Unstrung.com.

Mobile advertising awareness up 33% this year

A study from social networking site Limbo.com in association with research company GfK has revealed that mobile advertising awareness in the USA grew 33% since January (compared to a 6% growth in mobile phone usage). Nearly four out of ten Americans with a mobile - 104 million people - recalled seeing advertising on the device between July and September 2008. [Source: MarketWatch.com]

Top websites aren't coping with mobile browsing

Mobile web company Bango has just completed a survey of the top 20 websites (according to the amount of PC-based traffic, as surveyed by Nielsen Online). They found that half of the sites didn't work well on mobile phones, even though 5% of website visitors are estimated to come from mobile devices. In addition, many online businesses didn't know how much mobile traffic was hitting their PC-focussed site. [Press release; Bango blog]

Tiscali broadband being bought by Sky?

After interest from a number of telecomms companies - including Vodafone and The Carphone Warehouse - it looks as though Tiscali's UK broadband customer base will be sold to BSkyB. [Source: TimesOnline.co.uk]

Monday, 3 November 2008

LG and Microsoft working together

LG Electronics and Microsoft have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that'll see them working together on mobile convergence. They will collaborate on research & development, marketing, applications and services. [Press release]

Robber caught after swapping mobile with victim

A 21 year-old man has been jailed for six months after stealing a mobile phone and handing over his own phone as compensation. Eneas Tanyongana from Harlow was arrested within hours of his offence. He 'd robbed his 16-year-old victim on a train in Hertfordshire, threatening to stab him if he didn’t hand over his mobile phone. When the boy asked what he was supposed to do without a phone, Tanyongana handed over his own phone, complete with contact details and photos. Police investigators used the information contained in Tanyongana’s phone to identify and arrest him. The victim's phone was recovered and CCTV footage was used to link the attacker to two other robberies. [Press release]

Mobile advertising claims are inflated, says report

Researchers at CCS Insight say the success of mobile advertising in Europe is being exaggerated and advertisers will only spend a fraction of their budgets trying to reach people through their mobiles. It says mobile advertising revenue in Europe over the next two will total less than 430 million Euro. However, it points out that people take more notice of mobile ads than advertising on TV or PC, which means the potential market is huge. [Source: TelecomTV.com]

Friday, 31 October 2008

Mobile phone market shows effects of global financial crisis

Research company IDC says the global financial crisis is being felt by the mobile phone industry, with sales down significantly in the third quarter of 2008. Their figures show that manufacturers shipped 299 million handsets in Q3 2008, up 3.2% from last year but down 0.4% from the previous quarter. Historically, the third quarter has seen an increase as manufacturers prepare for Christmas. Average selling prices for mobiles have also begun to drop. Nokia leads the list of mobile manufacturers with a 39.4% market share, Samsung is second with 17.3%, Sony Ericsson has moved up to third place with 8.6%, Motorola is fourth with 8.5% and LG is fifth with 7.7%. Strategy Analytics has calculated similar figures; they say 303 million cellphones were shipped worldwide in Q3 2008, up 5% year-on-year, which is the industry’s weakest growth rate since 2002. [IDC press release; Strategy Analytics report]

10% of mobile broadband customers say they were mis-sold

In the week that Vodafone was criticised by the ASA for its "light years ahead" mobile broadband advertisement and 3 admitted problems with its mobile broadband service, O2 has published research that says over one in ten mobile broadband users feel that they were mis-sold. The main source of irritation is the cost of the service, with nearly a third complaining that the ongoing cost was higher than expected. One-fifth were upset that they were unable to use mobile broadband where they wanted it despite being told that there would be coverage - and 13 per cent were frustrated there was no returns guarantee if the service wasn’t right for them. Needless to say there's a sales message in here. O2 has revamped its mobile broadband offering by cutting costs, creating a new coverage checker and offering a 50-day Happiness Guarantee. [Press release]