Thursday, 28 February 2008

A third of mobile game downloads don't work

Earlier this month we heard that just 8.8% of customers in the USA and Europe were playing games they'd downloaded to their mobile phone - and last week we discovered that 50% of all application downloads failed to complete successfully. Now comes news that a third of mobile game downloads in the UK fail to work owing to compatibility issues - and only 15% of mobile gamers had never experienced a non-working game. The figures, which come from application developer GetJar, claim that over £29 million is spent every year on games that customers never play. The company blamed insufficient testing for the high failure rate. [Source: VNUnet.com]

O2 releases Q4 2007 results

Telef├│nica O2 Europe, the parent company of O2 in the UK, has released results for the quarter ended 31 December 2007. It says UK revenue grew by 7.8% in the fourth quarter and 18.7% for the full year; and that UK blended ARPU was up from £23.00 in Q4 2006 to £24.00 in Q4 2007. SMS messages were up 16% year-on-year across the group, with over 8 billion SMS messages sent during the quarter. The total mobile customer base is 38.26 million, 8.6% higher than 2006. The UK added 483,000 net customers in the quarter including 276,000 on contract, its highest number ever, thanks in part to the iPhone. And in other news O2 Ireland has confirmed it'll be the country's exclusive iPhone network from 14th March. The handset will be available via O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores from €399 for the 8GB model. [O2 figures press release, O2 Ireland press release]

Apple iPhone SDK due on 6th March 2008?

It sounds as though Apple will reveal its Software Development Kit for the iPhone on 6th March, a few days later than their previously-announced target of February. The SDK will enable software developers to create programs for the Apple iPhone; at the moment they're only able to build web-based programs. [Source: InformationWeek.com]

Vodafone buying in Bangladesh?

Vodafone is apparently talking about buying a 30% share in Bangladesh's second-largest mobile company, Aktel, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Worldwide mobile sales up 16% in 2007

Research company Gartner says worldwide sales of mobile phones to end-users exceeded 1.15 billion units in 2007, a 16% per cent increase from 2006. People in emerging markets buying their first phone, particularly in China and India, provided much of the growth. Sales in 2008 are expected to continue increasing but at a reduced rate of 10%. Nokia ended 2007 as the leading global manufacturer, achieving 40% of sales in Q4 and 37.8% for the entire year. [Press release]

Almost half of all UK drivers still texting behind the wheel

A survey of 2,000 Facebook users by the RAC Foundation has found that 45% of UK drivers use text messaging while driving. Texting while driving was found to be highest in London (53%) and lowest in Aberdeen (31%). The RAC Foundation recommends that drivers either mute or switch off their mobiles when driving to take away the temptation to read or reply to a text message whilst on the move. [RAC Foundation blog]

O2 joins Mobile Marketing Association

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), a global non-profit organisation dedicated to increasing marketing on mobile devices, has announced that it now has almost 600 member companies. 33 new members have recently joined, including O2. (Vodafone and T-Mobile are already members). The MMA says this signifies a growth in membership of over 350% in the past two years. [Press release]

Opera mobile browsers now using Google

Opera's mobile web browsers - Opera Mini and Opera Mobile - are are now using Google as their default search engine, replacing a year-old deal with Yahoo! - which, in turn, had replaced an earlier deal with Google. This new agreement, which takes effect from 1st March, will apply worldwide except for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. [Press release]

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Ofcom says O2 failed to hit 3G coverage target

Ofcom has told O2 that it's failed to meet its requirements for providing 3G coverage in the UK. All five networks running 3G services were required to offer 3G coverage to at least 80% of the UK population at the end of last year. Ofcom says 3, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone complied but O2 only covered 75.69% of the population, resulting in a shortfall equivalent to approximately 2.5 million people. Ofcom has told O2 that it must reach its obligation by the end of June 2008 or have its 3G licence term shortened by four months (ending in August 2021, not December 2021).

New edition of 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's podcast of The Fonecast, a free weekly downloadable broadcast about the mobile industry (in partnership with Mobile News), is now available to download from TheFonecast.com. We talk to Paul Withers, the News Editor of Fone!, about cashback and other issues affecting dealers. There's a quick review of the new Onyx Liscio - and we take our usual look at the latest industry news and gossip. Each broadcast can be downloaded by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes, by visiting TheFonecast.com or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Mobile music sales going up; ringtones going down

A new report by Juniper Research says the total value of the global mobile music market is expected to exceed $17.5 billion (£8.8bn) by 2012. The report's author, Dr Windsor Holden, describes 2007 as the 'tipping point' for mobile music adoption and says rental music services & full-track downloads will drive the market in the future. He also says current prices for ringtones are unsustainable and the market for these services may have already peaked in a number of countries. Ringtones accounted for 62% of the mobile music market in 2007 but are expected to account for just 38% by 2012. China and the Far East region will account for around 43% of all mobile music sales per annum over the next five years. [Press release]

Nokia creates shape-shifting concept phone

Nokia has been working with the University of Cambridge to create a concept phone called Morph. Morph, which is currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, demonstrates how nanotechnology could be used to create a mobile device that is flexible and stretchable. The concept phone has self-cleaning panels and can be transformed from a standard candybar format into a bracelet. Nokia says elements of the Morph phone might start appearing on high-end phones within the next seven years. [Press release]

Monday, 25 February 2008

Unique Distribution CEO quits

Mobile News reports that Andy Tow, the CEO of Unique Distribution has left the company - and has been linked with a possible move to rival distributor Data Select.

Usability is slowing the adoption of new mobile services

Mobile data usability specialists Olista have published a report on the problems encountered by mobile users when accessing mobile content. Their findings are based on information over eleven million mobile users across five different mobile operators in the last quarter of 2007. The overall findings indicate that usability rather than price is slowing the adoption of new mobile data services. Over 70% of customers who signed up to content bundles didn't use any mobile content, which suggests that ease-of-use rather than price was the main factor for these users. 30% of users downloaded the same content over and over again, 50% of all application downloads failed to complete successfully while over 60% of video and music downloads were being made from sites that weren't operated by the networks themselves. In addition, 85% of mobile TV users abandoned the service after the first viewing. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

New mobile manufacturer launches in UK

UK-based Onyx has launched the Liscio mobile phone, a compact and lightweight music-playing handset that's available SIM-free directly from the manufacturer for £129.99. [Press release]

Vodafone and 3 lead the UK's mobile portals

A new research report from Strategy Analytics called "UK Mobile Portals: One Click Access and Simple Layout Enhance Experience" has taken a look at the mobile internet portals operated by the UK's networks. 3's Planet Three and Vodafone's Vodafone Live! both achieved a 4-star rating (presumably out of a maximum 5 stars) for their overall portal experience, with O2, Orange and T-Mobile all receiving a 3-star rating. 3 and Vodafone performed particularly well for portal discoverability, while Vodafone was commended for its News & Info service and 3 for its Mobile TV offering. Strategy Analytics said Full Track Music and Games downloads were significant areas of weakness in terms of user satisfaction across all networks.

Vodafone changes Marketing department structure

Vodafone is changing the structure of its Marketing department, according to a report on BrandRepublic.com. UK head of brand and marketing Dominic Chambers, who's been with Vodafone since 2004, is leaving the company and is understood not to have a new job lined up. Chief Marketing Officer Tim Yates is also losing his role, although he's said to be moving to a new position within Vodafone.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

China Mobile plans UK network?

The Inquirer reports on speculation that China Mobile, which is setting up a London-based regional office, could launch a mobile virtual network in the UK and other European countries.

IMPDA proposes cashback changes

The Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association has published a proposal document called "Managing Change - Securing the Future" as part of its bid to change the way networks and dealers handle 'cashback' promotions. There's also an interview with the IMPDA's Chris Caudle in this week's edition of The Fonecast. [IMPDA PDF document]

Number of mobile companies will decline says T-Mobile boss

The number of mobile phone operators will decline in the long-term, according to Hamid Akhavan, the chairman of T-Mobile International. In an interview with Die Welt he said "In Europe, we assume that only five or six big mobile phone companies will earn money in the long-term. In Asia and the US, it is a similar number." There are currently around 50 operators in Europe. [Source: Forbes.com]

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

'Smart phones' are the preferred choice for games

Smart phones are the preferred choice for electronic games, according to a new study released by Magmic Games and the Information Solutions Group. 51% of respondents said they played games on their smart phone, more than on any other type of gaming platform (including PCs and home consoles). Among women, the figure was 60%. 90% of people said that gaming on a smartphone was better than using traditional phones, while 91% of smart phone gamers said they would be unlikely to switch back to using a standard phone for entertainment. [Press release]

Phones 4U buying Dial-a-Phone

Phones 4u is to buy Dial-a-Phone, which sells mobile phones online at http://www.dialaphone.co.uk/ and http://www.mobileexpress.co.uk/ and through a London-based telesales operation. 4u Group CEO Tim Whiting said “Dial-a-Phone’s strong brand and high level of expertise in the direct market are a perfect complement to Phones 4u’s brand and strength on the High Street. Combining the Dial-a-Phone business with the Phones 4u direct operation will significantly increase our share of the direct mobile phone market. We are looking forward to welcoming Dial-a-Phone to the 4u Group and believe it will play a significant part in the continued expansion of our mobile phone distribution business.” Cellular-News.com reports that Dial-a-Phone is being sold for £9 million. [PDF press release]

Adult Mobile Video Chat services expected to grow dramatically

Adult Video Chat Services on mobile phones are expected to make $1.5 billion worldwide by 2012, according to a report from Juniper Research. The company says that adoption levels are currently low but that the average monthly spend is up to 20 times higher than for other adult services. They estimate that 33% of all money from adult services will come from video chat by 2012, compared with 8% in 2007. [Sources: Telecoms.com, Juniper Research]

GSM security could be breached this year

It may soon be relatively easy to crack the encryption technology that protects GSM calls, according to researchers at a security conference in the USA. Although weaknesses in the GSM encryption technology have been known about for almost ten years, the cost of hardware - estimated to be over $1 million - and the lack of software has prevented any practical attacks. However, researchers David Hulton and Steve Miller say it'll soon be possible to spend less than $1500 on equipment and still have a 95% chance of cracking a phone call within an hour. Calls needn't be intercepted 'live' but can be recorded and decrypted later. [Sources: WashingtonPost.com; ComputerWorld.com]

New podcast from 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's edition of 'The Fonecast', our weekly podcast about the mobile industry (in partnership with Mobile News), is now available to download from TheFonecast.com. As well as our usual look at the latest news and gossip, we talk to Chris Caudle from the Independent Mobile Phone Dealers Association about his organisation's plans to resolve cashback problems. And in addition we take a quick look at the Samsung G810. Each broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Turn your Nokia smartphone into a WiFi hotspot

Here's a clever idea. Finish company Joikusoft has created JoikuSpot, free mobile software that turns a Symbian S60 smartphone (such as a Nokia Nseries device) into a WiFi hotspot. Quite simply, the phone will share its 3G network connection using its WLAN connection. [PDF press release]

Mobile media set free by doubleTwist

doubleTwist Corporation has announced the creation of doubleTwist desktop, a free downloadable program that helps users share, enjoy and synchronise their personal media between different devices or friends. They've also created a similar Facebook application called "Twist me!" - with compatibility between the Sony PlayStation Portable, Nokia Nseries devices, Sony Ericsson Walkman and Cybershot phones, LG Viewty and Windows Mobile smartphones. The company, co-founded by Jon Lech Johansen (who became known as DVD Jon when he 'cracked' DVD copy protection), says its mission is to enable consumers to enjoy their digital media on the widest possible range of devices. [PDF press release]

Mobile game downloads are static

More people are playing mobile games than ever before, although the percentage of people downloading a new game hasn't increased in the last year, according to figures from M:Metrics. Nearly three-quarters of game-playing customers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States (surveyed in December 2007) played a game that was pre-installed. Just 8.8% of customers played a game they had downloaded to their phone (up a mere 0.1% from the previous year) and only 3.3% of mobile customers in the USA and Europe downloaded a game in December 2007 (compared with 3.6% in December 2006). [Source: Cellular-News.com]

Vodafone and Orange update network sharing deal

Vodafone and Orange, which announced plans to work together last year, have issued a new statement listing their joint aims. As well as saving money they plan to:
  • begin sharing 2G and 3G mobile mast sites this year
  • jointly improve network coverage in the UK
  • cut the number of mast sites by 15% in the first two years

[Vodafone press release]

Vodafone to sponsor Derby for 'final year'

Vodafone has said that it will sponsor the 2008 Derby at Epsom Downs Racecourse on Saturday 7th June for one final year. It had decided not to renew its sponsorship for this year but has agreed to return because no new sponsor has been found. Vodafone will also sponsor the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, which will move to the Saturday. The remaining races over the two-day festival will be split between other sponsors. Rumours of Vodafone's plans appeared in newspapers last week.

Monday, 18 February 2008

10% of all Apple iPhones in China?

BWCS.com reports figures from In-Stat and China Mobile that claim there are at least 400,000 unlocked iPhones in China. According to China Mobile, around 0.4 million customers were connecting to its networks using unlocked iPhones at the end of 2007. Around 4 million iPhones have been sold since the product was launched.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Vodafone returning to Derby?

Vodafone could return to sponsor the Derby in June, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The company pulled out of horse-racing sponsorship last year after a 13-year association with the Derby. Apparently racecourse officials are talking to Vodafone about a one-year deal for the event, which doesn't currently have a new backer.

Regulator warns young people about SMS scams

25,000 mobile phone customers aged 18-24 have been sent a message from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) telling them they might have won £1,000 in cash. It was followed by a second message letting them know the message was part of a warning about scams. The original text said: Urgent! U may have won £1k cash with '2 Good 2 B True'. The follow-up message promoted SMSus, a new text message service from premium rate regulator PhonepayPlus, which allows users to text details of a premium rate number or shortcode they are suspicious about to 76787. They'll then be told the cost of using the premium rate number, details of the service provider and how to contact them. The service is free for most people but will cost no more than 12p. [Sources: BBC News, PhonepayPlus PDF press release]

Friday, 15 February 2008

Entertainers speak at Mobile World Congress

Robert Redford, Isabella Rossellini and will.i.am have all been at the Mobile World Congress talking about mobile phones as entertainment devices. Robert Redford and Isabella Rossellini both said mobiles are the ideal platform for short films, while will.i.am said the mobile industry will produce the Michael Jacksons and Madonnas of tomorrow. [Sources: HollywoodReporter.com, Billboard.biz]

Mobile phone use linked to salivary gland tumours

Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, a physician, epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, has found a link between mobile phone usage and the development of tumours in the salivary gland. Her findings, which are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, show that heavy mobile phone use increased the risk of developing a tumour by around 50%. The study investigated nearly 500 Israelis who had been diagnosed with tumours of the salivary gland and about 1,300 healthy control subjects. [Source: ScienceDaily.com]

Vodafone has Europe's highest-paid CEO

A study from global management consultancy Hay Group says that Vodafone's Arun Sarin is Europe's highest-paid CEO. It calculated the total value of his financial rewards as €11.37 million (about £8.5 million) as of September 2007, consisting of around £3.5 million salary and bonus plus £5 million in long-term incentives. [Sources: Cellular-News.com, Hay Group pdf]

Vodafone appoints ex-Microsoft man as web chief

Vodafone has hired Pieter Knook, previously Senior Vice President of Microsoft’s Mobile business, to the new role of Director of Internet Services. It says the new Vodafone Internet Services division will focus on the provision and delivery of distinctive consumer web services such as IP communications, mobile internet access and selected content categories, through mobile devices. Mr Knook will report to Frank Rovekamp, Vodafone's Global Chief Marketing Officer.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Google says mobile search is getting bigger (and it doesn't plan a gPhone)

An interview on FT.com with Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations, says that mobile search is growing beyond expectations, citing high usage on Apple's iPhone as an example. He says the iPhone is responsible for 50 times more mobile searches than any rival handset, suggesting that the number of mobile web searches will overtake PC-based internet searches in the next few years if the trend continues. He added that Google was unlikely to build its own mobile phone and that it was aiming for “every phone to be a Google phone” by getting Google's Android operating system on multiple devices.

Mobile TV viewers are switching off

New research carried out by M:Metrics for Tellabs has shown that the number of current mobile TV users is growing... but the number of people who've stopped using the service is growing faster. Current users in Europe and North America grew by 36% last year, while former mobile TV users grew by 68%. The UK had the highest proportion of ex-users (from a total of 34,000 surveyed in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the USA) saying that quality and reliability were their reasons for ditching the service. The study claimed that networks could make an extra $270 million if they sorted out quality and reliability issues. [Tellabs press release]

Mobile search boomed during last year's airport strikes

December's delays and strikes at UK airports led to a large number of customers using their mobile phones for flight information, according to the latest quarterly search figures from m-spatial. Their Mobile Local Search Index for Q4 2007 shows that searches for airport information rose 33 places to become as the seventh most popular search category. In fact, the number of searches for airport information in Q4 was almost as many as the rest of 2007 put together. The top three rankings are unchanged from 2006 - cinema, train information and fast food - as are the top three brands (Cineworld, Odeon and Tesco), although mobile phone services also jumpedup the charts, moving up 26 places to eighth. [PDF press release]

2008 not the year of the mobile internet

This year will be an interesting year of development for the internet but it won't be the year of mobile, according to a report at Mad.co.uk from MediaTel’s The Future of Online. Adam Freeman, commercial director at Guardian News & Media, is quoted as saying the mobile internet is "a fantastic opportunity to build on, but it’s not ready yet". Similarly, Richard Firminger, regional sales director for Northern Europe at Yahoo!, said mobile access to the web needed to improve.

Vodafone welcomes China Mobile to LTE trials - but there's no rush to implement it

China Mobile has joined Vodafone and Verizon's trial of LTE (Long Term Evolution), the "4G" technology that offers faster mobile data services. However, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin has said his company will wait for LTE to mature before it commits to the technology. He also called for research and development in the competing WiMAX system to be merged with work on LTE. [Sources: CNNMoney.com, Forbes.com]

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

TV 'Terminators' campaign uses personalised video messages

TV channel Virgin 1 is promoting the new "Terminators: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" TV show with a personalised mobile video campaign. The campaign, describes as a "media first", encurages people to visit www.terminate-a-mate.com and text their friends with a warning that "terminators are nearby". The friend is then sent a text message that can be followed up with a personalised video message including their name and a map of their location. [Source: BrandRepublic.com]


New podcast from 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's downloadable podcast from TheFonecast.com has a special report from Mobile News online editor Mark Sennett at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Iain Graham and Mark Bridge take their usual look at industry news and gossip, along with a quick review of the new LG KF600. Each broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes or by visiting the Mobile News website.

GSMA Launches Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse

One of the attention-grabbing stories from this week's Mobile World Congress (and mentioned in this week's podcast) is the GSM Association's launch of Mobile Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Content. As the name suggests, it aims to block child sexual abuse content from the mobile internet. The Alliance has been founded by the GSMA (the mobile industry's international trade association), Hutchison 3G Europe, mobilkom austria, Orange FT Group, Telecom Italia, Telefonica/02, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, T-Mobile Group, Vodafone Group and dotMobi. Members will block access to inappropriate sites, will remove inappropriate content posted on their own pages and will encourage customers to report online child sexual abuse content. [Press release]

Vodafone CEO rejects EU call for data price cuts

Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin has said it's inappropriate for European Commissioner Viviane Reding to be threatening mobile operators with price controls if they don't cut their text message charges for 'roaming' customers abroad. He's quoted in the International Herald Tribune as saying "You do retail price regulation where the market is not functioning. But I have not seen any evidence that that is the case in the EU". EC spokesman Martin Selmayr responded "The commission sees strong indications that the market as regards international data roaming is not well functioning at the moment. Commissioner Reding trusts that Mr. Sarin and his colleagues will bring the house in order by themselves. Otherwise, the current lack of cooperation will have to be remedied by regulatory means."

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Mobile ad success to be measured in UK

The UK's mobile phone networks are testing a ratings system to let advertisers know how well their ads are working. The system - part of the GSMA's Mobile Advertising Programme - will provide information about groups of customers surfing on the mobile internet, what they are looking at and when they're browsing. Information will be collected and checked by an independent third-party organisation in a similar way to the BARB TV viewing figures or the RAJAR radio ratings system. [Sources: The Times, Brand Republic]

A quarter of mobile users on social networks in 5 years?

Almost one quarter of all mobile phone users could be using mobile-based social network services within the next five years, according to forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media. It says 50 million people were using these services at the end of 2007, which is approximately 2.3% per cent of all mobile users worldwide. By 2012, they say the figure will be anywhere between 12.5% and 23%. [Source: Telecoms.com]

Orange and T-Mobile plan new UK mobile TV service

Orange and T-Mobile have said they'll test a new mobile TV service in London during the second half of this year. It'll use the TDtv standard, transmitting up to 24 high-resolution television channels to TDtv-equipped handsets. TVtv uses spare capacity on the 3G network without affecting existing voice and data services. [Orange press release]

Nokia reveals recycled phone

Nokia's CEO has revealed a concept handset that's made from recycled materials. The phone - known as remade - was shown during his speech at the Mobile World Congress. It is constructed from metals reclaimed from aluminum cans, plastics from drink bottles and rubber key mats from old car tyres. [Nokia press bulletin board]

Yahoo! and Google sign mobile search deals

Yahoo! been named as T-Mobile's new mobile search provider in northern and central Europe, replacing the network's previous deal with Google. Google, meanwhile, has come to an agreement for its search application to be added to Nokia devices including the new Nokia N96.

Microsoft buys Danger

Microsoft has bought Danger Inc., the software company behind the Sidekick (or 'Hiptop') consumer-focussed smart phone. [Press release]

Monday, 11 February 2008

Mobile location-based social networking service launches

A new location-based social networking service has been launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It's called GyPSii and adds location-based searching to the usual combination of people, places, information and events. GyPSii can be downloaded to Windows Mobile phones, BlackBerry devices and the Nokia N95, N73, N82 & 6110 Navigator. [Press release]

EU tells networks to cut roaming data costs by summer 2008

Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, has said she want to see the 'roaming' charges for text messages and data usage cut by 1st July 2008. In a discussion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona she said "sending a text message or downloading data on a mobile phone while in another EU country should not be substantially more expensive for consumers" than doing the same on their 'home' network. [Source: Forbes.com]

Dolby goes mobile

Dolby Laboratories, the company that's been improving audio equipment for the last 40 years, has just announced Dolby Mobile. It's a new audio-processing technology that brings rich, vibrant surround sound to films, music and TV shows on mobile phones and portable media players. The first products with Dolby Mobile technology are the Sharp SH905i and SH905iTV, which are now available to customers on the NTT DoCoMo network in Japan. [Press release]

O2 trials femtocells in UK

O2 is working with NEC Europe to test the use of femtocells in the UK. Femtocells are low-powered base stations that connect to a home broadband service, offering improved coverage indoors. Testing started this month, with plans for expansion this summer and a commercial launch in 2009. NEC says up to 70-80% of 3G voice and services are used indoors, making femtocells a practical solution to coverage problems. Vodafone has announced a similar trial, working with Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei in Spain. [O2 press release; Vodafone press release]

MMS starting to follow rapid growth of text messages?

The UK's Mobile Data Association says MMS traffic in the UK is starting to increase dramatically. It points out that text messages hit '1 billion a year' after 6 years - and that picture messages are at around 50% of that figure after 5 years, despite only half of all mobiles having cameras. 57 million picture messages were sent last December, an increase of 55% from December 2006. In addition, almost 17 million UK mobile users (23% of all customers) accessed the internet from their mobile phones in December. [Sources: ITPro.co.uk, Sky News via Yahoo]

Data charges cut in Europe

Three European mobile operators - 3, KPN and Play - have said they'll cut their roaming charge for data usage to 25 Euro cents per MB from 1 March 2008. They're responsible for five brands in a total of 10 countries (KPN in the Netherlands, BASE in Belgium, E-Plus in Germany, Play in Poland and 3 in Britain, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Denmark), which covers over 295 million customers (around 60% of the EU). Meanwhile, Vodafone said it's preparing to cut its costs later this year. The cuts follow comments by EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding, who'd said she wanted to see text and data charges reduced this year. [Sources: TheRegister.co.uk, Guardian.co.uk, Reuters.co.uk]

Friday, 8 February 2008

House of Lords committee rejects plans for new EU Telecoms regulator

The House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union has said that existing EU legislation for telecommunications appears to work - and is not persuaded that the European Commission's proposal to establish an EU regulator for the telecommunications sector is necessary. [Select Committee report]

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Smart phone shipments up 53% last year

New market data from analyst firm Canalys shows that 118 million 'smart phones' were shipped worldwide in 2007, up 53% on 2006. 67% of all devices used the Symbian operating system, followed by Microsoft with 13% and RIM (BlackBerry) on 10%. Nokia and RIM retained their number one (52.9%) and number two (11.4%) manufacturer positions from 2006, with Apple moving in to third place - despite its limited geographic coverage - with a 6.5% market share, putting it fractionally ahead of Motorola. [Press release]

Specify your own mobile phone

The curiously-named zzzPhone.com has just launched, offering individually-built customised mobile phones that are created by an American company with assembly plants in China. They claim to provide unlocked, tri-band phones at factory-direct low prices yet with more features than the Nokia N95 and Apple iPhone. Apparently the three 'z's in zzzPhone represent the Chinese characters for 'personal', 'exclusive', and 'expert': ZiJi de, Zhuan You de and Zhuan jia de.

Apple launches 16GB iPhone

Apple has launched a 16GB iPhone in the USA, doubling the device's memory for an extra $100. The 16GB model retails for $499, joining the $399 8GB model. UK price for the 16GB version is £329.00. Meanwhile, Unstrung.com wonders whether Apple will announce their 3G device at next week's Mobile World Congress.

Germany wants Nokia subsidies back

Nokia's plans to close its German manufacturing plant have prompted the state of North-Rhine Westphalia to ask for €41.3 million (£30.8 million) in corporate subsidies from 1999 to be returned. Nokia says it is "astonished" and describes the claim as "without merit". [Nokia press release]

The majority of the world's population will soon have a mobile phone

The number of mobile phone users around the world will overtake the number of non-users in the next few months, according to a report from the United Nations International Telecommunication Union. Eight years ago, only 12% of the global population had a mobile phone. The ITU said the estimated figure of 3.3 billion subscribers was taken from operator figures and didn't take into account people who had more than one phone, unused accounts or people who shared their phone. Meanwhile, Telecom Trends International says the number of mobile subscriptions has gone well over three billion, but the number of users is 2.6 billion because many users have multiple devices or use multiple SIM cards. They reckon global mobile subscriptions will reach five billion by 2014, with 4.1 billion users. [Sources: AP via Google, Cellular-News.com]

Mobile calls to overtake fixed-line calls this year

The volume of voice calls on mobile phone networks will soon exceed that on traditional fixed networks in Western Europe, says according to a new report from Analysys Research. It says mobile calls will overtake fixed-line calls in the UK and generally in Western Europe by the end of this summer. Mobile voice usage has already surpassed fixed voice in France, although Italy isn't expected to experience this until 2009, with Germany following in 2010. [Press release]

BT Fusion on the way out?

The Daily Telegraph reports that BT is no longer promoting Fusion, its fixed/mobile convergence service. Customers can use the BT Fusion handset as a home phone (on WiFi via their home broadband ), with it switching automatically to Vodafone's mobile network or using BT WiFi hotspots outside the home. However, the newspaper says only 45,000 people have subscribed, rather than the millions forecast.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

New mobile phone podcast now online

This week's downloadable podcast from TheFonecast.com takes its usual look at mobile industry news and gossip from the last 7 days, with a special focus from James Rosewell on the proposed Microsoft and Yahoo! deal. Iain Graham talks to Faisal Sheikh from Fone Doctors about the problems with faulty phones, and Mark Bridge takes a look at Garmin's n┼▒vifone. Each weekly broadcast can be downloaded automatically by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Mobiles "don't increase tumour risk"

The BBC reports that research from Tokyo Women's Medical University appears to show no additional risk of brain tumours from using mobile phones. The study, which is reported in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at at total of 1005 people.

Nokia releases N-Gage platform

Nokia's N-Gage gaming platform has been released, with Nokia N81 users able to download a pre-release version of the software. [Sources: BBC News, N-Gage.com]

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

UK mobile users haven't moved on since 2003

A study by telecom connectivity specialist AppTrigger has shown that 57% of UK mobile phone owners use their phone for the same things they did in 2003 - although 74% believe the services have improved. [Press release]

Monday, 4 February 2008

Hands-free law isn't working, say road safety experts

The Local Authority Road Safety Officers' Association (LARSOA) has carried out a poll on the effectiveness of the UK's "hands-free" legislation. A year ago, the penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving was increased (from £30 and no penalty points) to £60 with three penalty points. All 185 LARSOA members were asked whether they thought the legislation had been effective. Although 100% of members agreed with the legislation, 75% of members didn't think it had been effective. LARSOA is encouraging drivers to switch off their mobile phones when they get in the car and to make use of voicemail. [Press release]

Send a text to spend a penny

Finland's equivalent of the UK Highways Agency has started locking roadside toilets in isolated areas to prevent vandalism. However, customers can still use them, thanks to text messages. All you do is text the Finnish word for “open” to a special code and the door will unlock automatically. Mobile numbers will be stored for a short while, which will increase the possibility of tracing any vandals. The service is charged as a standard text message. [Source: Cellular-News.com]

Survey claims "lack of trust in digital age"

A survey from online backup company Mobyko.com reveals that almost 80% of UK web users wouldn't put their mobile number on social networking websites. In addition, 10% of people said they often check their partner's mobile phone without permission. [Press release]

O2 and 3 to merge user-generated video services

O2 and 3 have said they're going to combine their existing user-generated video services in the UK. 3's SeeMeTV and O2's LookAtMe! will become a new service called EyeVibe and will now be available to any UK mobile phone user. The service will continue to pay users when their clips are downloaded; the two individual sites have currently seen 32 million video downloads, earning over £800,000 for users who have submitted over 60,000 clips. [O2 press release]

Friday, 1 February 2008

Motorola may separate its mobile phone business

Motorola has said it is "exploring the structural and strategic realignment of its businesses to better equip its Mobile Devices business to recapture global market leadership and to enhance shareholder value", which may involve separating its mobile division from the rest of the company. Greg Brown, Motorola's CEO, said “We are exploring ways in which our Mobile Devices Business can accelerate its recovery and retain and attract talent while enabling our shareholders to realize the value of this great franchise.” [Press release]

Carphone takeover rumours still around

Carphone Warehouse shares rose by 8.1% on Thursday, ending the day at 328.5p as the top gainer in the FTSE100. It's apparently because of the returning rumour that US retailer Best Buy is interested in a takeover. The companies currently work together in the USA. [Source: Scotsman.com]