Sunday, 30 March 2008

EC to investigate Nokia/Navteq merger

The European Commission has opened an investigation into Nokia’s plans to buy American digital map supplier Navteq for $8.1 billion. The deal was announced last year. The EC says it’s concerned whether the merger would increase the costs for other companies that provide mobile navigation services. A decision will be made by 8th August 2008. [Source:]

Friday, 28 March 2008

50% European mobile broadband penetration within five years

50% of Europeans will be using mobile broadband services by 2012. That's the surprising headline from a report by management consultants Arthur D. Little and investment company Exane BNP Paribas. They also forecast that 20% of this mobile broadband traffic could be carried through fixed networks as the result of partnerships between mobile and fixed-line companies to handle network capacity. [Arthur D Little press release]

Thursday, 27 March 2008

3G iPhone announcement in June?

There's speculation that a 3G version of the Apple iPhone could be announced in June when the existing 2.5G version is given its promised "iPhone 2.0" software update. Market research firm Gartner says Apple has already asked an Asian manufacturer to produce 10 million 3G devices. It's also been reported that Japanese manufacturer Aiphone has recently come to a friendly agreement that will allow Apple to use the iPhone brand in Japan, which is a country that largely uses 3G technology for its mobile handsets. [Source:,]

Over half a billion music mobiles shipped in 2007

Researchers at MultiMedia Intelligence say almost 300 million more music phones were sold last year than stand-alone personal music players. Worldwide music phone shipments exceeded 500 million units in 2007. They also report that the global mobile music content market of ringtones, ringback tones, streaming audio and full-track downloads) will hit $6 billion this year. By 2011, they estimate that half of all mobile phones will be music phones, which they define as having a memory expansion slot and the ability to play music. [Sources:,]

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Motorola to split its mobile phone business

Motorola has said it's going to split its mobile phone business away from its Broadband & Mobility Solutions business next year, creating two separate companies. It says it expects the new Mobile Devices business will be well-positioned to regain market leadership as a focused, independent company. [Press release]

Ofcom plans for mobile phones on UK aircraft

Ofcom has said it plans to enable airlines to offer mobile phone services on UK-registered aircraft if they wish to do so. Aircraft operators will need to apply for a Mobile Communications on Aircraft (MCA) licence, although there'll be no additional charge. The equipment will confirm to technical specifications that have already been agreed by the Electronic Communications Committee of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations and the European Electronic Telecommunications Standards Institute. The European Aviation Safety Agency, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport will also need to approve any plans before mobile phones are permitted on aircraft. [Press statement]

New Mobile News podcast now online

This week's free podcast about the mobile industry (produced by for Mobile News) is now available to download. We take our usual look at the latest mobile industry news, including a special interview with Andy Tow who's now at Data Select. There's also a quick look at the Fly SLT100 mobile phone and a reminder about last week's competition. Each broadcast can be downloaded by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes, by visiting or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Mobile messaging to hit $212 billion by 2013

Mobile messaging will be worth $212 billion (£106 billion) worldwide by 2013, according to ABI Research. This is expected from a combination of increased SMS usage in the Americas, mobile email growth, the increase in mobile subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region and social networking in nearly all regions. [Press release]

Friday, 21 March 2008

One in three handsets to be a smartphone by 2013

Researchers at ABI Research say the smart phone market will treble from 10% of mobile phone purchases in 2007 to 31% in 2013. A new report from ABI explains the predicted growth by pointing to the networks' drive to increase data revenue and the trend among manufacturers to equip more phones with 'smart' operating systems. [Press release]

Mobile phone call authorised on commercial flight

The world’s first authorised mobile phone call on a commercial flight took place yesterday on Emirates flight EK751 flying between Dubai and Casablanca. The call used equipment from AeroMobile and was approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the United Arab Emirates-based General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). aviation. Dubai-based Emirates says passengers will be asked to switch their mobiles to “silent” mode during flights. The airline’s cabin crew will be in full control of the mobile phone system, which allows calls and text messages, throughout flights. Currently there's only one aircraft - an Airbus A340-300 - that's using the system, although a second Emirates aircraft, a Boeing 777-300, has already been installed with the AeroMobile system and will be in operation soon. [AeroMobile press release]

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Orange launches ad-funded download trial

Orange is launching an ad-funded download service on its Orange World mobile internet service. 800,000 Orange customers in the UK will be able to download music to their phone at a discounted rate or completely free. The three-month trial will display advertising banners while customers download their music from a choice of 500 tracks. Advertising company ScreenTonic, which was bought by Microsoft last year, is managing the banner ads for the campaign. In addition, Orange says it's done a deal with film website to allow customers to download short films for £1.

SpinVox raises $100 million

Voicemail-to-text company SpinVox says it's raised over $100 million in its latest funding round, putting an end to the flotation rumours. Co-founder and CEO Christina Domecq said "Closing this funding round is an exceptional achievement given the current state of the global financial markets. We are delighted to have this group of institutional investors join the company." The new investors, which include GLG Partners, Goldman Sachs, BlueMountain and Toscafund Asset Management, join existing investors including Martin Hughes of Tosca Fund, Charles Dunstone of The Carphone Warehouse and Peter Wood, the founder of Direct Line; along with ABN Amro, Gartmore and Allen & Co. [Press release]

Carphone sells Swiss shops

The Carphone Warehouse has agreed a deal to transfer all of its 'Phone House' mobile phone shops and retail employees in Switzerland to Swisscom AG from 1st May. The company's fixed-line and insurance business will continue to be run by The Carphone Warehouse. There are currently 62 Phone House stores in Switzerland and 110 Swisscom outlets. [Sources: press release,]

Dell smartphone getting closer

Computer manufacturer Dell is close to announcing a Windows Mobile smartphone, according to news reports. It's said to be working closely with Taiwan-based electronics company Foxconn. [Sources:,,]

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Sony Ericsson warns that sales are slowing

Sony Ericsson says "moderating sales growth of mobile phone units is expected to negatively impact net sales and net income before tax for the first quarter of 2008." In particular, it's selling fewer mid-to-high end phones and has suffered component shortages for some mid-priced phones. Sales for the first quarter of 2008 are expected to be lower than those in 2007, although the company says it still aims to be one of the world's top three manufacturers by 2011. Its first quarterly report for 2008 will be published in April. [Source: press release]

China Mobile profits up by 31.9%

China Mobile has just released its annual results for 2007:
  • Turnover reached £25 billion, up 20.9%
  • Profit of over £6 billion, up 31.9%
  • Total subscribers exceeded 360 million, up 22.6%


UK number portability group publishes first report

UKPorting, the industry body that is working towards the two-hour mobile number porting time mandated by Ofcom for September 2009, has published its first report. It says the project is going well but it lacks resources, which could affect its ability to complete its work on time. Future updates will be published monthly.

New podcast from 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's downloadable podcast about the mobile industry (from in partnership with Mobile News), is now available to download from Iain Graham, Mark Bridge and James Rosewell take a look at the latest mobile industry news and gossip, including a special review of the Mobile News Awards 2008. In addition, there's a quick look at the new Sony Ericsson Xperia X1... and there's even a competition at the end of the show. Each broadcast can be downloaded by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes, by visiting or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Ofcom proposes clampdown on mobile mis-selling

Ofcom is proposing a change to the law surrounding mis-selling mobile phone services. Its proposal covers customers being given incorrect information, 'slamming' (where consumers are committed to a new contract without their consent) and cashback schemes.

The new rules will require mobile service providers:

  • not to engage in dishonest, misleading or deceptive conduct and to ensure that those selling their products and services do not mis-sell;
  • to make sure the customer is authorised to, and intends to, enter into a contract;
  • to make sure customers get the information they need when they buy the product;
  • to ensure that the terms and conditions of all sales incentives offered by their retailers are not unreasonable; and
  • to carry out due diligence and checks to ensure the soundness of their retailers.

Ofcom says these new rules - if implemented - will let them formally investigate complaints and impose sanctions for breaches of the regulations. They'd like feedback on their proposal by 29 April 2008.

German truck driver escapes 'driving with a mobile' offence

A German lorry driver has escaped a penalty for driving while holding a mobile phone - because he wasn't making a call, just using it to keep his ear warm. Walter Klein told a court in Hamm that he'd just recharged the phone and was using its warmth to sooth his earache. He produced an itemised telephone bill that showed he hadn't been using the phone when he was stopped by police. [Source:]

Ofcom and EU announce Mobile TV plans

Telecomms regulator Ofcom has said it’s going to auction the so-called L band of frequencies that run from 1452 to 1492MHz in the middle of the GSM spectrum. The EU has suggested that the spectrum should be reserved for mobile TV, although Ofcom hasn’t set any such criteria on the auction. The L band sale will probably take place at the end of April and – as well as being useful for Mobile TV services – is also likely to appeal to companies looking to offer satellite digital radio and broadband wireless access. A couple of days after this announcement came news that the European Commission was officially endorsing DVB-H as the recommended Mobile TV standard for all its members.

Carphone Warehouse and Handango sign deal

Smartphone software provider Handango has just announced a distribution deal with The Carphone Warehouse. Handango applications will be sold through Carphone Warehouse stores in the UK, starting with a special software package for the BlackBerry Pearl.

More customers using mobile shopping and mobile banking

A study from Harris Interactive says that mobile phone users are increasingly comfortable making banking and purchase transactions while on-the-go. 16% of mobile phone customers in the USA already use mobile banking services, with over half of these people using the services at least once a week. When it comes to shopping, about 25% of people with mobile access to the internet use their devices to buy goods and services online via a credit card. The biggest concern was security, with 66% being apprehensive about sending financial information online.

There are three types of mobile customer

American research firm InsightExpress says that mobile phone subscribers can be grouped into three distinct profiles according to their behaviour. 15% of users are Mobile Pioneers, who are first to adopt new features. Most of them are under 35, male and single. Mobile Wannabes make up 25% of all users. They’re not as confident about new features but would like to use them more, they’re mainly over 35 and they generally don’t have smartphones. Finally, 60% of all users are Mobile Traditionalists, who stick to talk and text. Two thirds of this group are over 35 years old.

iPhone update already hacked?

Last week on The Fonecast we were talking about the new iPhone update that’s scheduled for June. This week there are reports in Wired magazine that it’s already been unlocked by a group of software hackers called the iPhone Dev Team. Apparently the hacked version of iPhone 2.0 will allow customers to run any software on the phone and will keep the phones unlocked even if the customer receives a software update from Apple.

Vodafone to cut 450 jobs

Vodafone says it's going to cut 450 management jobs, mainly from its Newbury HQ, and will create 460 new retail, sales and service positions. The company says this will help it focus on data sales and other services. It's also planning to add an extra 30 jobs to its online business. [Source:,]

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Vodafone's Indian court case postponed

Vodafone's challenge to its $2 billion tax bill at the Bombay High Court has been postponed until 23rd June 2008. Vodafone pointed out that the relevant section of Indian law was currently being amended, with the changes applying retrospectively. The case has now been deferred until after the law is changed, giving Vodafone time to file an amended petition. [Source:]

New podcast from 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's free podcast of The Fonecast, a weekly downloadable broadcast about the mobile phone industry (in partnership with Mobile News), is now available to download from As usual, Iain Graham, Mark Bridge and James Rosewell provide their regular weekly look at the latest headlines and rumours. Freelance journalist Steve Gold explains the benefits of selling mobile email for dealers, and the Samsung SGH-F110 miCoach handset comes under the team's spotlight. Each broadcast can be downloaded by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes, by visiting or from the Mobile News website.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

O2 man moves to Virgin Mobile

Former O2 UK general manager of channel support Ian Driver, who left his previous role in November last year, has been appointed to Virgin Mobile's indirect sales channel. [Source: Mobile News]

Spinvox considering flotation

Voicemail-to-text company Spinvox is said to be considering a stock market flotation as one of its options for raising funds. The five-year-old company now operates in seven countries and expects its sales to increase from from £40 million this year to £100 million in 2009. [Source: Sunday Times]

Networks see lack of profitability for mobile data

Mobile network operators expect to lose profitability on mobile data before long, according to a report on ZDNet from a Next Generation Mobile Networks meeting. Senior executives are quoted as saying the popularity of flat-rate mobile data tariffs means usage is set to increase at a greater rate than revenue. Networks also want to reduce the number of new base stations they need.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Vodafone goes to court in India over $2 billion tax bill

Vodafone is going to be at the Mumbai High Court this week, opposing a case by the Indian tax authorities that says the company is liable for around $2 billion in taxes following its acquisition of the Hutchison Essar network last year. Vodafone says it isn't liable to pay capital gains tax on behalf of Hutchison because the transaction didn't involve any Indian businesses. It says the deal took place between a Dutch-owned Vodafone company and a Cayman Island-based organisation owned by Hutchison. [Source:]

O2 and Vodafone in 'best employer' top 20

O2 and Vodafone both feature in the 2008 Sunday Times "20 Best Big Companies to Work For" survey. O2 - at 6th place - is the highest-ranked telecommunications company, despite dropping from 5th place last year. Vodafone is also in the top 20, dropping two places from last year's number 15 to 17th place. However, neither company ranks in the overall top 100. Top big company was financial advisory group KPMG, while overall top employer was central heating company Heat.

Friday, 7 March 2008

iPlayer for iPhone

A beta version of the BBC iPlayer is now available for the Apple iPhone. [Source: BBC blog]

Entertainment software is 2007's most-popular download

Smartphone software company Handango says entertainment products were last year's most-popular choice of download. Handango says entertainment software accounted for 17% of its 2007 sales - moving to the top of 2007's list from third place in 2006 - with business and professional content dropping from 18% in 2006 to 16% in 2007. [Press release]

New mobile photo blog service launched

A mobile photo blogging service called NowThen has been launched by UK-based Blinkx. Photos can be stored online and sent to any number of people for the price of a standard MMS message. [Source:]

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Apple reveals iPhone software development kit

Pretty much as expected, Apple has revealed the iPhone SDK: a software package that will enable application developers to create programs for the Apple iPhone. The iPhone developer tools are based on the company's existing 'Cocoa' tools for developing Mac software. Developers can download a free version of the beta iPhone software development kit, although the full version of the kit will not be available until June. In addition, Apple announced a deal with Microsoft that will soon enable iPhones to work with Microsoft's Exchange business email software. It also said business iPhone users will be able to access virtual private networks, which allows companies to give their staff mobile access to internal computer systems. [Sources:,]

Americans love their mobile phones

Pew Research, which provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world, has just released a new study that says the majority of all Americans are part of a wireless, mobile population. In a December 2007 survey they found that 58% of adult Americans had used a mobile phone or PDA for non-voice data activity - and 41% of adult Americans had logged onto the internet with a wireless laptop connection or a handheld device. Overall, this gave a total of 62% using digital mobile services. When asked how hard it would be to give up a specific type of technology, the majority said it would be their mobile phone, followed by the internet, TV, and fixed-line telephone. In 2o06, the number one technology was fixed-line phone, followed by TV and then mobile.

Lamp-posts get padding to protect texters

Spot the publicity stunt. Lamp-posts in London's Brick Lane have been padded to protect mobile phone users from 'walking and texting' injuries. The experiment has been arranged by the Living Streets charity after research by directory enquiries company 118 118 found that 10% of us had hurt ourselves while looking at a mobile phone screen. [Sources:,,]

Hiccup for Virgin's mobile plans in India

The Virgin Group's new mobile phone partnership with Tata Indicom (announced last week) could be illegal, according to the Cellular Operators Association of India. Tata has just launched a mobile phone service using the Virgin brand. Mobile Virtual Networks - buying mobile services from a network and then reselling them - are not permitted in India, although Virgin insists it is running a franchise, not a MVNO. The Indian Department of Telecommunication is apparently investigating the complaint. [Sources:; original PDF press release]

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

2.6 billion mobile tickets by 2011

Over 2.6 billion tickets worth almost $87 billion (£43 billion) will be sent to mobile phones by 2011, according to a new study from Juniper Research. The main users of the new technology are expected to be transport and entertainment organisations, with on-screen barcodes and Near Field Communication devices both being used. [Press release]

Mobile advertising is working

A new report from Nielsen Mobile reveals that 23% of mobile customers in the USA have seen mobile advertising in the past 30 days - and half of those people have responded to the ad. Nielsen Mobile's Mobile Advertising Report also says text messaging is the most popular way of responding to ads, with 26% of those who saw an advertisement having responded at least once via SMS. The 13 to 17 age group was most likely to remember mobile ads. [Sources:, Reuters,]

New edition of 'The Fonecast' now online

This week's free edition of The Fonecast, a weekly downloadable podcast about the mobile industry (in partnership with Mobile News), is now available to download from Our main feature is an interview with Jez Harris about the new Orange commission clawback changes that'll affect dealers. There's a quick look at the new Sony Ericsson C902 Cyber-shot camera phone - and you'll also discover the latest mobile industry news and gossip. Each broadcast can be downloaded by including us in your RSS reader, by using iTunes, by visiting or by visiting the Mobile News website.

Google Gears goes mobile

Google has created a mobile version of Google Gears, which allows customers to use online services when there's no internet connection. The mobile version, which currently only works on Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices, will let people keep using web services even when there's no mobile coverage. [Google blog]

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Acer buying Glofiish smart phone manufacturer E-Ten

I.T. manufacturer Acer has said it plans to buy PDA and smart phone manufacturer E-Ten for NT$9 billion (around £146 million). Both companies are based in Taiwan. E-Ten is best known for its Glofiish handset range, although has also made products for other companies. [Press release]

No VAT for charity texts

Donations made to charity via premium-rated text messages are not subject to VAT. That's the response from the Treasury following a campaign by Vir2 Ltd, an SMS-based marketing company, and Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten. [Press release]

Mobile users not taking security precautions

Online security company F-Secure says over three-quarters of mobile phone users are aware that their mobile devices can be infected by viruses via Bluetooth but don't have any security software. Researchers contacted 1,169 mobile users in January across the USA, Canada, UK, France and Germany. On average, 28% of respondents said they used their mobile device to access the internet, with 86% saying they had no mobile security. The UK was above average for internet access, with 47% of users going online with their mobile device. When it came to security, only 21% of users regarded Bluetooth connections safe and 15% said WiFi connections were safe.

Vodafone demonstrates image-based web search

The New York Times reports that Vodafone has been demonstrating Otello, its image-based internet search engine, at the CeBIT technology show. Instead of entering words, users send a picture from their mobile phone and receive information about the image. However, Reuters points out that the service failed to identify German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Microsoft and Nokia working together

Nokia says it plans to bring the Microsoft Silverlight enhanced browsing service to its Symbian-powered S60 menu system, as well as Series 40 devices and Nokia Internet tablets. Microsoft Silverlight is a cross-platform browser plug-in that allows a variety of multimedia features to run within a standard web browser. [ press release]

Yahoo! announces new mobile internet service

Yahoo! has announced a new mobile service called onePlace, which organises personalised information using your mobile phone's browser. Everything is kept up to date automatically, whether news feeds, websites, videos, images, email or search queries. The Yahoo! onePlace content management service is expected to launch by summer 2008. [PDF press release]

Monday, 3 March 2008

Mitsubishi to leave mobile phone industry

Mitsubishi Electric has said it'll stop developing and producing mobile phones due to declining market profitability in Japan - after 25 years of handset manufacturing. The company currently provides handsets to Japan's NTT DoCoMo. [PDF press release]

Ofcom updates Sitefinder cell site database

Ofcom has reached an agreement with 3, O2, Orange, Vodafone, Airwave and Network Rail (but not T-Mobile) to publish the location of GSM, TETRA and UMTS mobile phone base stations on its Sitefinder web site. The regulator says it anticipates a High Court hearing about its legal obligation to reveal full details of the database, which led to the networks withdrawing their support last year.

3G Apple iPhone in June 2008?

There could be a 3G version of Apple's iPhone on sale in June, according to a variety of recent reports. Most of the speculation centres on German chip maker Infineon Technologies, which makes parts for the current iPhone and is said to be swapping its EDGE manufacturing for 3G. [Sources:,]

T-Mobile blocking access to Nokia's Ovi service?

T-Mobile could stop selling any Nokia handsets that offer access to Nokia's Ovi online multimedia service, according to a report in German magazine WirtschaftsWoche. T-Mobile Germany is reported to have dropped 5 Nokia phones from its range in the last five weeks, currently offering 10 Nokia phones - none of which support Ovi services. The two companies are apparently in negotiations about Ovi. [Source:]

Sunday, 2 March 2008

4G customers to exceed 90 million by 2013

There'll be more than 90 million people using 4G technology for their mobile services by 2013, according to ABI Research.

Yet another excessive data bill

The Sunday Times reports on a Vodafone customer who ended up with a £11,000 bill after downloading episodes of the TV sitcom Friends via a mobile phone. The customer's wife started downloading the programmes while in the UK but, when the download was still in progress, her husband travelled to Germany. The download automatically resumed at international rates when the customer connected to the network in Germany.