Thursday, 31 January 2008

Sat-nav company Garmin launches mobile phone

Following Nokia's move into mapping last year comes a mapping company's move into mobiles. GPS manufacturer Garmin International has launched the nuvifone, a touch-screen 3G mobile phone that also includes navigation features. One of those features is Google's local search capability, which sorts search results based on the user's current location. The nuvifone is expected to hit the shops in Autumn this year. [Press release]

Orange to drop DRM from mobile music

Orange plans to remove digital rights management (DRM) from its mobile phone music service, enabling users to play downloaded tracks on any compatible device. Orange development director Brenda O’Connell, who was being interviewed on, said it was the network's intention to drop DRM in 2008.

North Korea to get mobile phone service reports that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea - known to many as North Korea - is to launch a mobile phone service, with Egypt's Orascom Telecom providing the network. Orascom's subsidiary CHEO Technology, which is 25%-owned by the government's Post and Telecommunications Corporation, will run the country's only network for the next four years, with non-exclusive use then continuing for a further 21 years. The country currently only has a private mobile network, which is used in the capital (Pyongyang) by government officials. [PDF press release]

Samsung supports Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Samsung Mobile has announced it will be supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Trust throughout 2008. Mark Mitchinson, Vice President of Samsung Mobile UK and Ireland, chose the charity - for which he's running the London Marathon - because a colleague's daughter suffers from the disease. [Press release]

Blyk expands into Europe

Advertising-funded mobile phone network Blyk, which is currently available to 16-24 year olds in the UK, has announced that it's expanding into the Dutch market in partnership with Vodafone Netherlands. It's also said Goldman Sachs and IFIC will be new investors in the company. [Press release]

Mobile phones to be used for £295 billion of financial transactions by 2011

Mobile phone customers are expected to conduct over $587 billion (£295 billion) of financial transactions over the phone by 2011, according to a new report from Juniper Research. It says around 612 million customers worldwide will be using their phones to handle their money in 2011 with most using their phones for mobile banking, although 204 million users are expected to spend $22 billion in mobile payments.

Google phone due for launch (again)?

The gPhone rumours are back. This time, Marketing Week says there's speculation that Dell will launch a Google-branded phone in February.

Vodafone challenges Ofcom over number portability

Vodafone is taking Ofcom to court over the regulators plans to speed up mobile number portability (MNP) - the ability to move your mobile phone number to another network. The current time limit is being cut to two days this April, but Ofcom wants it cut to two hours from 2009. [Source:]

Google improves mobile web searches

The BBC reports that Google's improved mobile search service, which has been available in the USA since last year, is now also available in the UK. It combines news, photos and local information from conventional and mobile web sites, making it easier for mobile phone users to find whatever they're looking for. The new service will also remember the location that a user has previously searched for, helping Google provide tailored information for future searches.

Vodafone now has over 250 million customers worldwide

Vodafone has released a financial statement for the three months to 31st December 2007. It now has 252.3 million 'proportionate' customers worldwide - which include a percentage of customers from companies it has partial control of - and says it hasn't changed its outlook for the current year. Overall revenue is up 15.8% to £9.2 billion, with data revenue up 51.6%.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

This week's podcast from The Fonecast now online

This week's free podcast from takes its usual look at mobile industry news and gossip from the last 7 days. Iain Graham investigates the recent boom in mobile broadband and USB modems by talking to the Commercial Product Manager from Hugh Symons Telecom, and Mark Bridge reviews Motorola's new music phone - the MOTO U9. There's also a quick chat with Mark Sennett from Fone magazine about the publication's new website. As always, each weekly broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader or by using iTunes.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

O2 improves tariffs

O2 has improved all its 'pay monthly' tariffs, including the three dedicated iPhone tariffs. Existing Apple iPhone customers will be transferred to the new tariffs, which include more calls and texts within their monthly allowances.

They've also created a new unlimited flat-rate data tariff for £1 per day, which they describe thus: "As long as customers use our services as they are intended – for example, their fingers to text and their handset to browse – and do not affect quality for others, they can do as much as they like without having to worry. We believe we are the only company in the market to be so open around fair use**." Those two asterisks refer to an 'excessive use' policy that excludes business use, 'continuous' streaming, VoIP, file sharing and putting your SIM card in anything other than your O2 phone. And remember to only use your fingers to text, eh?
[Press release]

Ofcom talks about EU text and data roaming

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards has issued a statement about text and data roaming charges in Europe. He's particularly concerned about:
  • the cost of sending a text from abroad (an average 5.6p within the UK, compared to 21p when abroad),
  • the cost of using data abroad (an average £4.11 per MB based on last year's prices)
  • the practice of rounding up roamed voice calls to the first full minute.

He points out that some networks have reduced their prices since the data was produced, but he says he'll be talking to the European Regulators Group and the European Commission if networks don't make further cuts.

Official iPhone figures from Germany reports that T-Mobile Germany has released details of its Apple iPhone sales. It's sold 70,000 iPhones since the handset launched in November, which is being compared with unofficial reports of 70,000 sold in France on the France Telecom network and 200,000 in the UK on O2.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Nokia buys software company

Nokia is buying Norwegian software company Trolltech to speed up its own software development. The deal, which will cost Nokia around £78 million, will make it easier for Nokia to create software that will run on mobile devices and desktop PCs. [Press release]

Ringtone drum medley

Italian drummer Andrea Vadrucci has posted a YouTube video of his Nokia ringtone medley. Impressive.

[Originally spotted on]

60% of UK mobile users just talk and text

Research by SNAPin Software has found that 60% of UK mobile phone users only call & text on their handsets and have no interest in other services. 29% of people said they were put off because they were confused about charging, while 18% couldn't be bothered to read the manual. Among those people who did use other features, the camera was the most popular choice - used by around 30% of them. Internet and email use was just 12%, and navigation was 3%. The researchers contacted almost 2,000 adults in December last year. Meanwhile in Japan, the communications ministry says it supports a proposed exam for mobile phone specialists who'd be able to explain complicated functions and tariffs. [Sources:;;]

Nokia row continues in Germany

Nokia's plans to close its Bochum factory in Germany have led to officials checking whether the company has received too much state subsidy. Subsidies were based on the total number of employees at the factory, with a spokesman for the economy ministry suggesting that Nokia had hired 14% fewer employees than they'd originally promised. Other press reports say Nokia's management board had been discussing problems with the plant for over 4 years. [Source: AFP via Google]

Mobile industry has a record Q4 2007

Analysts at IDC say 334 million mobile phones were produced worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2007 - a new industry record - although overall growth during 2007 has slowed slightly. 1.144 billion devices were shipped in 2007, which represents year-on-year growth of 12.4%. Nokia was the leading manufacturer, with Samsung overtaking Motorola to move into second place. Sony Ericsson was fourth and LG was fifth. [Press release]

Arun Sarin profile in The Times

The Times carries a profile of Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin ahead of the company's trading update on Thursday. It also mentions "speculation now that having retrieved his reputation after the horror days of 2006, Mr Sarin, who is 54, will retire".

Friday, 25 January 2008

£32,000 of iPhones stolen

119 Apple iPhones worth over £32,000 have been stolen from an O2 store in Basildon, reports Mobile (quoted in

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Nokia announces Q4 2007 figures with 40% market share

Following on the heels of Samsung and Sony Ericsson, Nokia has just released its fourth quarter figures for 2007 - and says it now has a 40% share of the world's mobile phone market (up from 39% in the third quarter).

It sold 133.5 million handsets during those three months, up 27% on Q4 2006. Net profit was up 44% quarter-on-quarter to €1.835 billion (£1.37 billion).

Motorola has also released quarterly figures, but they seem to be heading in the other direction - profits have dropped and mobile device sales are down.

YouTube increases availability to mobile users

The full catalogue of videos from is being made available to almost any mobile phone users with 3G connectivity and the ability to watch 'streamed' video. A scaled-down version is currently offered to many mobile users. The company is also testing software that'll make it easier to upload videos from mobile phones to YouTube. [Source:]

UK mobiles sent to Russia for funeral

Mobile phone recycling is gaining popularity - but a UK company has a different idea about dealing with 'dead' mobile phones. Mobile Fun, a UK-based ringtone company, is sending mobile phones to Russia for a formal burial service in the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly. For an additional £5, your old mobile phone can send a farewell text message from Russia to your new mobile. [Sources: PR Newswire;]

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

This week's free podcast now online

This week's free podcast from takes its usual look at the latest industry news and gossip from the last 7 days, including an interview with Adrian Foot of 'The Phone Shop' about the controversy surrounding 3's alleged advice to its dealers. We also review the Nokia N82 and James Rosewell investigates unlocking & firmware upgrades. As always, each weekly broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader or by using iTunes.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Mobile instant messaging to triple in six years

Instant messaging on mobiles is expected to grow from 8 % of mobile phone users in Europe (26.7 million subscribers) in 2007 to 24% (80 million subscribers) by 2013, according to a new report from Forrester Research. The company talked to 22,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Sweden and the UK are expected to lead the increase, with 31% of UK subscribers and 35% of Swedesh subscribers using mobile IM by 2013. [Press release]

Mobile phone with rollable screen

Polymer Vision, a company based in the Netherlands, has announced the creation of a mobile phone with a rollable screen. The 115g Readius has a 5-inch monochrome display, yet takes up no more room than a conventional handset (115mm x 57mm x 21mm). It's a 3G HSDPA device that'll be demonstrated in Barcelona next month and will be available later this year. [Additional source: Reuters]

Disney ready for Japanese MVNO launch

Walt Disney, which closed its American virtual mobile network and decided not to enter the UK market, says it is launching Disney Mobile in Japan on 1st March in partnership with Softbank. Three Sharp mobile phones, each with a silhouette of Mickey Mouse, will be available. The service is expected to target young adults, not children. [Sources:,, AFP/Google,]

Zumobi partners with Microsoft

Zumobi, which offers a widget-based interface for mobile web browsing, has announced a partnership that'll see its interface distributed on Windows Mobile devices. The service, which we first mentioned in December last year, is currently only available to customers in the USA. [Press release]

Monday, 21 January 2008

Mobiles could be disturbing our sleep

Mobile phones could stop you from getting a decent night's sleep, according to research from Sweden's Karolinska Institute and Wayne State University in the USA. The study suggested that radiation could cause insomnia and headaches, although it's been likened to a similar effect as drinking a cup of coffee. [Source: BBC News]

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Mobile phones and contracts feature twice in consumer complaint 'top 5'

Consumer Direct, the UK government-funded advice service, has revealed the top ten complaints it had to deal with in 2007. At the top of the list of over 1.5 million calls and emails came second-hand cars bought from independent dealers - also top of the 2006 list - with mobile phone contracts moving up the list to 2nd place. TVs were in 3rd place, with mobile phone equipment in 4th place - over 50,000 complaints about mobile phones in total. [Press release]

Mobile shoppers have 'enough choices' in the US

A new study from web analytics company Compete says most mobile phone purchasers in the USA have enough choices. A total of 59% said their chosen network had sufficient devices, services or applications. In addition, 75% said price was the most important consideration when selectng a phone, with 69% most concerned about customer service. However, 32% said they had increasing difficulty finding the right mobile phone. [Press release]

Samsung sells 41% more phones in Q4 2007

In similar report to Sony Ericsson's news, Samsung sold 41% more phones in the fourth-quarter of 2007 than in 2006 but made less money. The average selling price of phones sell and operating profit was down about 1% quarter-on-quarter. [Sources:; Samsung PDF document]

Sony Ericsson selling more phones for less money

Sony Ericsson says it sold 18% more phones in the fourth quarter of 2007 than in 2006, but its net profit fell by 17% due to higher operating costs. Even so, the profit figure was higher than expected by many analysts. The company sold over 100 million handsets in 2007. [Source: Sony Ericsson press release;]

iPhone sales figures

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been talking about the Apple iPhone at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. This year - unlike last year's launch announcment - was pretty low-key, with a revelation that Apple sells an average of 20,000 iPhones per day on average and has just exceeded 4 million worldwide sales. News from the UK isn't so good, with rumours that O2 missed its target of 200,000 within the first two months. [Sources:;]

Email is most-wanted mobile service

UK online usability company Webcredible has published a survey that's shown email to be the most-popular mobile service, followed by social networking. Over a thousand users were asked "Which service would you use on your mobile if speed and quality weren't an issue?"
33% said that email would be their number one priority, with social networking receiving 25% of the votes, 20% wanting local information and 13% saying they'd use travel and route planning services. In 5th place was online shopping, with 9% of the votes.

EU to look at roaming charges for data and text messages

The European Commission says its flat-rate roaming tariff has been implemented smoothly - and it's now going to look at other mobile services. It describes prices for SMS and data roaming services as 'remaining high with a very diverse pattern across Member States'. The Commission will report at the end of 2008 on whether the charges for these services need to be regulated. Mobile network O2 has just announced a cut of up to 80% in its international data charges. [EU press release; O2 press release]

Third-biggest US network to cut jobs

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest mobile network in the USA, says it needs to lose around 4,000 members of staff in 2008 and will close around 125 of its retail shops plus around 4,000 third-party distribution points in a bid to save up to $800 million a year. [Press release]

UK mobile customers could be wasting £8 billion a year

Online financial comparison website says mobile phone customers could be wasting £8 billion a year because they don't know enough about their tariffs. The company said users often don't know how much they use their phone or many minutes or texts are included in their monthly package, which could result in an individual customer paying £130 too much in a year. One in seven customers didn't know how many free minutes they had, while one in six didn't know how many texts were included in their monthly line rental. [Source: BBC News]

Friday, 18 January 2008

No big surprises at The Carphone Warehouse

The Carphone Warehouse has issued its third quarter trading update for the thirteen weeks to the end of December 2007. No, it's not said it's being bought by Best Buy. No, it's not said it's being bought by Vodafone. No, there's no sign of a partnership with Apple. Revenue is up 14%, which is slightly less than its previous forecast, and its outlook for the full year is unchanged. So much for the rumours...
[Source: Carphone Warehouse PDF document]

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Vivendi still waiting for Vodafone to sell

Entertainment company Vivendi has said it wants to buy Vodafone's minority stake in French mobile network SFR. Vivendi's chairman, Jean-Bernard Lévy, said “I am not campaigning, just waiting pat­ient­ly as there will be an opp­ortunity one day even if they tell me they would like to keep it”. Vivendi currently owns 56% of SFR, with Vodafone owning 44%. [Source:]

Vodafone and O2 reject Ofcom plans

The Guardian reports that Vodafone and O2 have both objected to Ofcom's plans to claim back part of the 900Mhz radio spectrum - used since the 1980s by the two mobile phone networks - and sell it for 3G services.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

New Mobile News podcast now online

The team from has just released this week's podcast for Mobile News. Iain Graham and Mark Bridge take their usual look at the week's industry headlines, James Rosewell comments about 3's recent activity and Mainline's Stephen Spillett is interviewed about the distributor's new marketing activity for dealers.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Nokia closing German factory

Nokia has said it will stop making mobile devices in Germany and will close its Bochum site by mid-2008. Around 2,300 Nokia employees will be affected by this decision. Manufacturing will be moved to other European Nokia sites that are more cost-competitive. Two German MPs have already said they're responding by boycotting the Nokia brand. [Sources: Press release;]

Up to 20% of phone users listen to mobile music

An average of 10.7% of mobile phone customers across the USA and Western Europe are listening to music on their handsets, according to a report from M:Metrics. Listenership ranged from 5.7% in the United States to 20% in Spain. As you'd probably expect, most people are 'sideloading' - sharing music from their PCs or acquiring it from friends - and not downloading it directly to their phones. The report says an average 83% of mobile music is shared. [Press release via]

Monday, 14 January 2008

Glasgow to get mobile phone and WiFi on its subway

The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has announced plans to offer mobile phone and WiFi coverage on the Glasgow subway network. The service will be installed by UK company Arqiva and will cover all fifteen of the subway network's stations. Testing starts at Buchanan Street station later this month.

Mobile marketing to grow over ten times by 2013

ABI Research says mobile marketing has taken off in Western Europe and is now beginning to grow in North America. It says revenue from the industry, which was worth $1.8 billion worldwide in 2007, will grow to over $24 billion in 2013.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Orange man strengthens management team with former colleagues

Tom Alexander, the new CEO of Orange UK, has appointed three new people to his management team. Mr Alexander, who was CEO of Virgin Mobile, has hired Andrew Ralston, the former customer relations director at Virgin Mobile, to be his new chief operations officer. Former Virgin Mobile operations director Gerry McQuade becomes Orange UK’s chief development officer, with Steven Day, who’d been Virgin Mobile's head of corporate affairs, becoming Orange's chief of staff and communications. [Sources: Press release,, Mobile News]

Thursday, 10 January 2008

T-Mobile offers free WiFi to 3G customers

T-Mobile is offering free WiFi access to customers who choose one of the company's Web'n'Walk data tariffs (costing from £12.50 extra per month). The WiFi access will be available from any of T-Mobile's WiFi HotSpots in the UK, which includes most Starbucks coffee shops. [Source: Press release]

Movies on phones

Director David Lynch doesn't think you can experience films on phones...

(NB: Some strong language!)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Camera-based mobile motion detector coming to UK

American company GestureTek says it will bring its 'EyeMobile' camera-based motion control to mobile phones in the UK. The company, which is part-owned by O2's parent Telefonica, uses the cameras in mobile phones to detect movements and convert them to commands on the phone. [Source:]

First iPhone virus discovered

Anti-virus company F-Secure reports that a malicious software package has been created for unlocked iPhones. It's been described as a "low-risk threat" created by an "11-year-old kid playing with XML files".

3 signs UK MVNO deal

The UK's first virtual network using 3 has been agreed between Hutchison 3G and telecomms distributor Gamma Telecom. Gamma Telecom is going to offer its own-branded service for small to medium-sized businesses via the company's independent resellers. Gamma currently offers fixed-line services to over 500,000 UK customers. [Source:]

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Flat-rate mobile music services to boom

Mobile music services that offer unlimited music downloads for a flat subscription fee will soon provide most of the money made from original recordings, according to a new report from Juniper Research. It says the market for subscription-based music rental services will reach $3.3 billion by 2012, overtaking the conventional download market. Total revenues from 'paid for' and 'rental' music will increase from $960 million in 2007 to $6.1 billion in 2012.
[Source: press release]

Man reports mobile phone 'theft' with phone still in pocket

The BBC has an amusing story from South Africa. Police in Pretoria say that a man walked into a police station to report that his mobile phone had been stolen at gunpoint. He gave the make, model and mobile number of the phone to a detective, who called the number of the phone at the end of the interview. The phone then rang in the man's pocket.

Happy Birthday Bluetooth

Bluetooth wireless technology is 10 years old this week.

Yahoo! revamps 'Go' and invites third-party developers

Yahoo! is planning to help software developers put their applications on mobile phones. It’s opening up the Yahoo! Go mobile internet service to third-party developers, allowing them to create small 'widget' programs that’ll work on a variety of handsets without the need to write a new program for each device. In addition, the company has enhanced the service -now Yahoo! Go 3.0 Beta. [Source: Press releases and BBC News]

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Mobile phone sat-nav to overtake dedicated devices

Navigation using mobile phones is going to dominate the GPS sat nav market, according to a new report from Telematics Research Group. Although around 30 million personal navigation devices were sold worldwide in 2007, handset manufacturers also sold 20 million navigation-enabled phones. TRG reckons that navigation-enabled phone sales will overtake dedicated navigation device sales in 2009 - and will lead to a total of 500 million units being sold in 2015. [PDF press release]

Friday, 4 January 2008

Tiscali to launch mobile service

Broadband company Tiscali is planning to introduce a SIM-only mobile phone service at the end of the year, according to the Daily Telegraph. The service will be based on ToucanMobile, which Tiscali acquired in 2007.

Carphone takeover rumours return

Rumours of a Carphone Warehouse takeover have returned, with Vodafone and Best Buy - both suggested in the summer as potential bidders - still in the frame. [Source: Mobile News]

Thursday, 3 January 2008

People prefer to say thank you by text

A survey from O2 suggests that people are more inclined to send a text message to say ‘thank you’ after Christmas than to write a card or a letter. Apparently 7% of us don't say thank you at all - but, of those who do, 48% said they'd chosen to text, while 36% preferred the spoken word (either face-to-face or by phone) and just 16% said they'd write. [Source: O2 press release]

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Nokia delays N-Gage

Nokia has delayed the launch of its N-Gage gaming platform, which had already moved from November to December 2007. [Source: N-Gage blog]

British press speculates on Sarin's pay

There's been quite a bit of press speculation about the amount of money heading towards Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin. The company's share price has lept by around a third in 2007, which has prompted suggestions he's likely to receive around £45 million in a combination of share options and performance-related pay. [Source:]