Wednesday, 31 December 2008

UK mobile networks to cut jobs?

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

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Orange says mobile multimedia is more popular than ever

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

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Texperts taken over by kgb's 118118

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

Friday, 26 December 2008

Google gives G1 phones as Christmas gifts

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Germans use mobiles to control street lights

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

Monday, 22 December 2008

Mobile dealers sentenced for £1.6 million clawback fraud

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

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Motorola AURA goes on sale in UK

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

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Samsung plans Android device

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

Friday, 19 December 2008

Panasonic to control Sanyo

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

More mobile ads seen via WiFi

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

Mobile phone market expected to slow in 2009

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

Ofcom publishes guidance about 'small print' charges

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

Thursday, 18 December 2008

17.5% of US homes are mobile only

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

Motorola freezes pensions and salaries to cut costs

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

New Ofcom head announced

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

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Data costs holding back mobile content growth

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

Recession hits mobile spending in Europe

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

Exclusive Orange iPhone banned in France

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

Festive Mobile News podcast now online

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Mobile security worth $889 million in 2011

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

Mobile ticketing standard agreed by UK rail companies

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

We'll all be smartphone surfing in 2020

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

North Korea's mobile network launches

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

Vodafone to drop cricket sponsorship

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

In-flight texts from London to Moscow

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

Monday, 15 December 2008

It's a trillion-dollar industry

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

Estonians to vote by mobile phone

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

Mobile social networking use will become less passive

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

The Key to Safe Driving?

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

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Nokia to launch 3G dongle in 2009

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

Friday, 12 December 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Press release]

Name-calling for textlemmings

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

itsmy.com mobile users need help on the street

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

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Skyfire mobile browser hits UK

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

3G laptops over-hyped according to report

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

China Mobile is world's most valuable mobile operator brand

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

EC issues Mobile TV guidelines

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

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

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

Vodafone wants to buy Sat Nav company

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

Nokia Comes With Music DRM can be beaten

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

Sony Ericsson plans Android phone

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

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Ofcom says messaging revenue is falling as volume increases

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

This week's Mobile News podcast now online

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

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

Monday, 8 December 2008

Vodafone launches mobile money transfer scheme

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

Police investigate SIM sales following Mumbai attacks

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

Carphone co-founder quits

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

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Kevin Spacey to headline Mobile World Congress

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

Amsterdam blames city centre decay on brothels and phone shops

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

Truphone on your iPod Touch

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

Mobile social networkers love their mobiles(!)

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

Friday, 5 December 2008

SMS is still king for mobile data revenue

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

Mobile phones affect lab rat memory

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

Smartphone sales slowing

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

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Top-up your phone from your online bank

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

New Android-powered phone planned for January

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

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

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

HTC buys design company

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

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Mobile betting to beat recession

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

Mobile usage hasn't changed for 5 years

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

Land Rover to launch mobile phones

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

T-Mobile launches free ad-funded games

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

French mobile costs cut by regulator

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

Mobile dog tracker launched by Orange and Retrieva

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

Vodafone faces Indian tax bill

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

New Mobile News podcast now online

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

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

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Charge your mobile by talking

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

Electronics slowdown closes Tantalum mine

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

Monday, 1 December 2008

5th anniversary of hands-free law marked by RoSPA

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

Vodafone chasing German cable TV company?

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

O2 to scrap "rules of engagement" blocking dealer upgrades

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

Hands-free conversations are more distracting than talking to passengers

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

Virgin Mobile announces flat-rate web deal

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

O2 launches universal energy-saving charger

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

O2 cuts mobile broadband prices for prepay users

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

Wireless technology promises better battery life

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