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Another day, another normob frustrated by unethical sales droids, misleading management and unsupportive customer support staff...

Ross (or "Space Cowboy", as he's known on MySpace) posted this heartfelt account of his frustrating experience:

3 mobile broadband at PC world (Beware)

This new mobile broadband offer from PC world looks great i say to myself as im shopping in PC world this thur, but whats the catch free laptop with mobile broad band with 5gig download limit sounds to good to be true.

So i ask a member of staff for some information, It all seems straight forward and fair and still a good offer (The main point to consider is the staff member explained to me that internet browsing was free 24 hours a day just like home broadband, and that there was a lengthy cancellation period).

It was late and i was impressed so i decided to sign up then but it being PC world none of the laptops on display that i wanted was in stock. So i shopped around the next day and found PC world with 3 was the best offer, so i went back signed up and was told again that surfing was unlimited i also convinced a friend of the offer (Sorry Phil) and he signed being told the same thing about web browsing.

I got home that night and was pleased as punch with the service. The laptop was great (Compaq) and the internet was exceptional (much better than expected i thought it would be patchy) with good speeds reaching 130Kbs on one download not bad considering. Although when i looked i was supplied with no information on price plans, cancellation terms and most unbelievable they didn't include me with my copy of the contract.

All was good until Mon 48 hours after activation and i get a message from 3 stating i had used up all my internet allowances. What the hell i think that can't be possible, i had only downloaded about 2.5gig of data i should still have 2.5gig left. So i removed the dongle modem and contacted 3 for an explanation.

In all fairness to 3 they got back to me very quickly although it was not helpful. The individual was friendly enough and helpfully informed me that not only web browsing but simply being connected to the internet is taken from your usage. I couldn't believe it three members of staff had lied about the service, this i explained but the 3 contact simply said they were wrong and offered no solution. Then i asked how the hell i had used 2.5gig even if i was connected and viewing web pages for 48 hours straight i wouldn't use up that amount, He simply replied i had used a large amount, i asked on what to which he said i should register with 3 and they will display all information on the website.

I went back on the internet to register with three and had another message from them stating i now owed £10.35 (had no supplied information on how to register and nothing clear on the site). How is that even possible i had the modem in the box and the laptop closed down and only 2 hours had passed. I was fummin mad and contacted 3 again (but i have always been polite and reasonable during all communications)

I explained all the above and was offered no explanation or solution. I stated i was happy with the internet service and would be happy to continue the contract if we could start from fresh with me being in full possession of the information on the service and an explanation on my internet usage (not unreasonable i thought), this option was completely ignored and i was told it couldn't be done (im sure they could if they cared). So i explained i was still in my cooling of period and i want to cancel. I was them informed that they couldn't cancel my contract i would have to contact PC world, I was suspicious as the contract was with 3 but 3 explained that PC world had miss sold me the agreement and the fault was with them.

Now where have I heard that old chestnut before? Ah yes, Phones4U, Carphone Warehouse and, erm, PC World...
I'm sure Three were correct in pushing the customer back to PCW for a solution but, certainly from a normob perspective, it's Three's terms and conditions that have been 'inaccurately' (to put it generously) communicated -- isn't it quite reasonable to expect them to sort out the problem with PCW? After all, the 'mud' from this episode will stick to both Three and PC World, regardless.

I'm more than a little amazed that Ross was able to get online at all with his new dongle without registering it first with Three, let alone be able to use his 5GB data allowance surfing the web over the weekend...
So after that phone call i go to the PC world were i bought the service and again explained the above (To three different members of staff before i got the line manager). I explained how it was miss advertised and the lack of supplied information. Well guess what surprise surprise they refused to take it back completely ignoring and discounting the lies that were told to sell the contract. I was told that the contract was with 3 and had nothing to do with them they were just the agents, i was only informed that there was only a three day cancellation period again after being told by PC world that i had a fortnight (Arrrrrrrrg !!)

I was really beginning to lose my ragg and i asked if "3 says your responsible and you say they are what the hell am i supposed to do" and the manager simply repeated that i will have to contact 3. So i asked if he could contacted them for me to sort it out to which he replied that he couldn't (I could of punched him), if your acting as 3 agents why would you not be able to communicate with them , your acting as a middle man it is your job to communicate between customer and provider. This he simply choose to ignore and reiterate that he couldn't contact 3 (Lies, lies, lies (They didn't even offer to supply me with my contract what a dick)).

So i have contacted 3 for a third time and guess what they are saying to go to the dealers that they cant cancel my contract or help in any way. all these people do is pass the problem off to another department.

I will get back with the results but don't hold your breath and don't shop at PC world or trust what the staff says its just lies. Three has terrible service.

I expect that the deceitful PC World manager (and quite possible Three's Customer Support crew) are hoping that this normob will go home and write it off to experience: another bloody awful and expensive, mismanaged rip-off from the combined forces of incompetent computer retailing and unhelpful mobile broadband providers.

Unfortunately for them, at least, Ross has already let all his contacts on MySpace know what he thinks of his treatment at the hands of Three and PC World, and he's started posting his account on broadband forums (which is where I picked up the thread).
He's also already contacted his local Trading Standards office (to report the mis-selling angle) and his local newspaper in an effort to gather support.

His next steps are probably stern letters to the CEOs of Dixons Group and Hutchison 3G UK. And maybe a colourful sandwich board to attract some attention outside his local PC World shop.

Any other ideas?

O2 rebrand cock-up shock!

Just who do these pillocks think they're fooling?

First up is exciting news from the PR department (courtesy of MobileToday):

O2 is spending £5m refreshing its brand, which will include a change to the ‘it’s your O2 – see what you can do’ strapline introduced in May 2006, and made famous by Sean Bean’s unique delivery.

O2’s new brand brief that ‘a more connected world is a better world’ will be reflected in the new strapline ‘we’re better, connected’, although once again it will be delivered by Sean Bean.

The new brand was unveiled this week through a wide range of media advertising including TV, outdoor, cinema and online.

Sally Cowdry, marketing director for O2 UK said: ‘We’ve had incredible success with the O2 brand over the past six years, quickly establishing it as a leading UK brand.

‘But we need to keep the brand fresh, reflecting changing market conditions and customer priorities.

‘Customers are very much at the heart of our business but the role of O2 in their lives is changing. So our focus is now on empowering and enabling them to better connect to people and things that matter.’

Compare that with The Register's news that many (if not most) O2 customers on 3G tariffs don't even receive 3G speeds:
O2 has admitted its 3G customers are limited to 128Kb/s connections, with business users being automatically upgraded to 384Kb/s if they are deemed to warrant it.

3G connection speeds are highly variable, so establishing that the network has imposed a speed limit isn't as easy as it might appear, even though O2 users have long suspected they are being restricted.

384Kb/s is the technical limit of 3G technology, without resorting to HSPDA, but topping out at 128Kb/s is something of an embarrassment for a 3G network. Not that using HSDPA will help the O2 customer, depending on the "profile" O2 has decided to assign to them they might still find themselves allocated only 128Kb/sec.

O2 hasn't been able to explain how they decide who gets which profile, but they did give us a statement explaining that "O2 provides data speeds of 128Kb/s as standard to all 3G customers. Profiles of corporate customers who require higher speeds are modified so that they can benefit from speeds of 384Kb/s." With HSDPA the top speed should be even faster, assuming one is in the right profile group.

The network operator is quite careful on its website to describe 3G as a "high speed network" and makes no promises about specific connection speeds. In fact, the company tells us, 128Kb/s is all punters can expect from 3G, with 384Kb/se being a premium service only available to a select few.

Customers wanting the higher speed connection can, apparently, simply ask for it when they buy their phone, or give O2 a call - though the company declined to provide us with a suitable number or procedure for changing, or finding out, one's profile.

The competing operators we've spoken to don't offer such a tiered service. Once they had stopped laughing at O2's stance they all agreed that 3G should mean speeds of up to 384Kb/s for everyone, and that's what they provide, dependent on network coverage and local environment.

News of the limit should, however, be welcomed by iPhone users. They have been much derided for lacking high-speed 3G technology, while in reality their Edge connections could easily be out-performing O2's idea of what a 3G network is capable of.

Still, I'm sure a new strapline will make all the difference...

The irrepressible Spinvox blogger, James Whatley’s (that’s Whatleydude, to the universe) didn’t have a great Friday.
His, erm, 'robustly-used' phone stopped working and naturally, as a “Vodafone’s ‘best care’ program” member, he expected it to be replaced quickly and without any hassle.
Of course, if everything had been straightforward, it wouldn’t warrant some comment from me.  So, as you'll have guessed, it all went pear-shaped.

You can read James' entertaining tearjerker over on SMS Text News (probably the mobile world’s most widely-read, and massively influential blog…) but, for continuity's sake, here's the final gasp:

If I don’t have a new N95 by the end of the weekend, or at least, on its way to me by the end of the weekend – as I said at the beginning of this post – I’m going to 3.

And I’ll tell every soul that I ever sold onto Vodafone that they made a mistake and that Vodafone don’t care about their customers, nor do they care for their (outsourced) insurance – that’s not worth the paper it is written on.

Fantastic stuff! 

So, to cut a long story short, everthing worked out very well in the end, with James getting a brand-spanking new, 8GB N95 in his hand, as he put it:
"Just shy of 12hrs since the original article went live."

The ‘oil on the cogs’ was Vodafone's Amy Rose, who added this comment to the post:

Good afternoon.

Thought I’d drop a quick note in response to some of the comments on the blog, mainly to give a good representative of what I do.

I work for Vodafone and run an online team who are centred around forums, blogs and social media. As well as supporting our own customer forum - we also trawl the internet looking for Vodafone customers that have posted on an external sites looking for help.

I have a mixed team of people working for me all from Customer Management background.

I’d like to think that my team and I provide the same level of service for all customers we find, and that James’ experience is not a unique one. It’s a shame that people do have to revert to forums and blogs looking for help, and in the ideal world all queries would be resolved on 1st contact. In reality, we know that doesn’t always happen so my team has a 2nd chance of delivering a great experience and restoring some faith.

With blogs, we do rely of Google content searches picking up on the key word ‘Vodafone’ so that we’re alerted of the new blog that has been written. This is how we came across James’ blog so promptly.

I was pleased to be able to help James, and I’m hoping to see that my team continue with the same approach moving forward.

All the best

Posted by Amy Rose on March 17th, 2008 at 4:05 pm.

(From SMS Text News)

Now it's great that James got his well-used, Mk1 phone replaced with one of the newer versions. (It’s funny how losing access to our gizmos makes us addicts geeks so crabby?)
And the delivery was probably about as quick as it's gets, without booking it in first. (I guess no insurance would pay out on a claim that could be forecast and avoided!)
And it's true that nothing exceptional was done except speed up the process. 

But that’s the big news and the reason I’m tapping away:
Amy’s team actually want to sort out customers’ problems.

And that’s an open offer of assistance, y’know like real customer service?
Which is fucking brilliant! 
If it work’s, it'll be a great move by Vodafone.

I’d hazard a guess that dealing with the FIT team is a whole lot less stressful than the usual call centres, and probably a lot more efficient for VF too.  And the boost in customer morale will prove invaluable. 
If it works…

I’ll put aside my scepticism for now and give full credit to VF for opening this up — damn, that’s the second time I’ve praised VF this week!
An extended outreach for the net?  I hope it takes off!

Next time I meet up with a (justifiably) pissed-off VF customer, I'll see if I can put the two of them together. And report back on the experience.

Apple, RM Battle Shapes Up

Apple took 28 percent share of the fast growing U.S. converged device (smart phone) market in the fourth quarter of 2007, behind Research in Motion’s 41percent, but a long way ahead of third placed Palm at nine percent, say Canalys researchers.

Apple also finished ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, whose share was 21 percent in the quarter.

Globally, converged device shipments rose 60 percent to hit 115 million in 2007. U.S. sales doubled.

Nokia remained the global market leader, shipping 60.5 million smart phones, while RIM shipments grew 112 percent to 12.2 million.
Globally, Symbian operating system devices had 67 percent share, followed by Microsoft on 13 percent and RIM with 10 percent.

Apple claims that nearly 70 percent of all mobile Internet traffic is generated by iPhone users. Executives at Google, meanwhile, have confirmed the basis thesis: iPhone users surf the Web way beyond anything seen up to this point.

On the other hand, RIM points out that nearly two thirds of its 12 million BlackBerry subscribers in December 2007 were government or corporate customers.

The observation is that as the smart phone market continues to grow rapidly, the dynamics of the U.S. market--as distinct from the global markets--are shaping up, in part, as Apple going "up market" to enterprises and RIM going "down market" to consumers. That's not to dismiss Microsoft-powered or Nokia devices, but simply to illustrate a dynamic.

We have a market likely to take new shape as devices and users expand beyond the original base of "mobile email" addicts. The iPhone has shown there is a new class of user who uses mobile email but also surfs the Web and uses the mobile Internet in ways we haven't seen before. That's going to get designers moving in different directions as the various segments start to emerge. For some users the current iPhone or BlackBerry interfaces still will work. For others, something else might emerge.

Personally, I like the ability to swap SIMs between devices, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. I like to be able to change my own batteries, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. Small things, of course, but real barriers to me getting rid of my BlackBerry. Other choices will have to be made by music or video afficianados.

Source: Gary Kim, Editor in Chief of IP Business magazine

Hotspot vendor The Cloud says the iPhone is making a “huge difference” to its data traffic, while it’s also looking to the future and thinking about possibilities with WiMAX. We spoke to Owen Geddes, Development Director at The Cloud, about the Wi-Fi hotspot market going forward. He told us that devices are a crucial component for ease of access. “It doesn’t matter what you do with the networks.

"At the end of the day if the devices aren’t there - the devices with the right sort of interface - you’re going to get absolutely nowhere. And again, [the] iPhone is making a huge difference to the user experience."

Geddes said that Apple had gained by initially removing operators from the way the iPhone was developed, especially its user experience. “It’s very much an Apple product, he said. It’s very different from everything else on the market.”

Speaking about the impact of iPhone traffic, Geddes said it was “very obvious” that take up of hotspot access increased: “Certainly data increases. We see an enormous amount of YouTube across our network from iPhones. We just don’t see that from other devices…because it is so easy to use.”

Hotspots to support WiMAX devices?

And when we quizzed Geddes about the future impact of WiMAX on out-and-about internet access, he said The Cloud would be keeping tabs on development, especially with Intel implementing native WiMAX support within the next edition of the Centrino platform. “[We] will absolutely be involved in that space,” said Geddes. “We see our business evolving onto other areas including WiMAX. In the end, the user will [do things] the way that they want in a much more open model.”

However, he warned that the technology needs to become established in more devices first, “WiMAX doesn’t really happen until it’s integrated in more mobile-orientated devices. For the same reason Wi-Fi [has] only really started to happen in the mobile market with devices like the iPhone. There’s a clear difference between the business traveller market which is PC-orientated and the consumer market which is driven by smaller devices.”

“It’s going to be very interesting to watch that space.”

Geddes also said that services would become more integrated – at least that’s how it would seem to the end use. “They don’t have to worry if they’re connected via cellular or WiMAX,” he added.

He also stressed the importance of intelligent devices, able to make informed decisions about whether to connect using cellular, Wi-Fi or other technologies depending on what was cheapest or best for the user’s needs. “Something we’re doing later this year is releasing some technology into the market that will actually select networks and authenticate you onto a variety of networks. Geddes added that it would “also work hand in hand with the cellular [provider] pf that device” to select the best method. “Whether that’s The Cloud or somebody else - from our perspective it’s [about] a better service for the end user that’s absolutely vital.”

Source: Dan Grabham at TechRadar.

S60 not a Touch on the iPhone

Came across a witty and incisive demolition of Nokia's stumbling over the touchscreen interface on Techype. You know it's going to be an interesting and entertaining read from the first paragraph:

S60 + Touch = ...?

Sadly, when the answer to that equation was shown, there were no surprises - if you hack a touchscreen onto a badly designed mess of a UI, you get a badly designed mess of a UI which can be controlled with touch. The iPhone experience was not a game changer in Finland after all.

After a full and frank examination of the S40 and S60 platforms (and landed a laudable sideswipe at the marketing profession), Raddedas moves in for the kill:

Nokia's S60 platform is confusing, obscure, constantly changing and always hugely underpowered and unresponsive, with software to do everything you might ever want to do, but after moving round the menus quite a lot you'll probably give up trying to find out how and just use it as a rather slow poor phone.

Nokia's S60 Touch seems to extend this experience by allowing you to move round the same menus with your finger smearing the screen.


It will take a massive sales hit to understand that this approach will not, in the long term, work out. They must innovate and diversify into handsets that are once again fun and/or efficient to use; even S40 is creaking under the weight of the features loaded into it now. Sadly Nokia have such huge sales volumes that they can coast for a long time without realising this, and their customers will be all the poorer because of it.

Couldn't agree more but I shan't be holding my breath...

Mobile Today reports:

O2 today entered the UK mobile advertising market with a new service allowing brands to target the operator’s mobile customer base. The new service on O2 Active will enable brands to deliver both display advertising and advertising-funded content models to specific audiences.

For the first time in the mobile industry, advertisers can be provided with the tools to measure how effective their campaigns are and which audiences react well to their adverts.

Advertiser's microsites will be zero rated so that customers who click through will not incur any data charges while they are browsing on these sites.

While Nokia have announced, almost breathlessly, their "premier mobile advertising network":
Nokia enables advertisers to place ads on high quality and brand-safe publisher and operator mobile Web pages, as well as Nokia properties, representing an unprecedented global consumer reach - more than 100 million mobile consumers around the globe.

Not wishing to, erm, "pour" on their parade but we've been here before, with the desktop battles for eyeballs. And similarly it'll doubtless prove difficult enough getting zillions of consumers to visit the ad-laden portals, let alone persuading them of a reason to click on the adverts.

Without a compelling motivation, it could all become mobile marketing's wet-dream. Not that you'd notice from this blinkered puff:
Sally Cowdry, O2 marketing director said: ‘Mobile advertising is the advertiser's holy grail, combining a high resolution screen in every pocket with a customer database which has the power to deliver messages to exactly the people you want.

‘This new service will provide a boost to the market while at the same time ensuring advertising is relevant and non intrusive for our customers.’

Non intrusive advertising?
I reckon they'll need to make it squeeze your balls so hard that you'll simply have to click on the bloody ad!

Shame that neither company find time to mention the enormous (and potentially useful) opportunities of advertising within applications ("can't find that address? Click here to order a CityWide cab now") or LBS ("after all those calls, you deserve a Starbucks - there's one around the next corner").

Research from Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software shows that customer defection rates (aka ‘churn’) within the mobile telecoms sector have risen from 33.4% in 2005 to 38.6% in 2007 – an increase of 15.3%.

Having studied the phenomenon of churn in Britain for the past four years, the 2007 edition of the Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software Customer Churn Report decided to collect data that compare and contrast the situation in key European economies and in the US. A representative sample of over 1,000 consumers in each country was interviewed by email and telephone questionnaire.

They were asked (1) whether they had switched supplier over the previous year in each of a number of sectors; (2) how likely they were to switch over the coming year; and (3) what the principal reason for switching was/is.
The overall results toppled a number of pieces of received wisdom. The primary findings of the research are as follows:-

  • Britain is the customer defection capital of the West (22% churn per annum), possibly because of its crowded geography, its national wealth per capita, and its high levels of deregulation across all sectors studied.
  • Mobile telecoms retain the highest average customer churn at 38.6%

  • The industries experiencing the highest levels of growth in customer defection rates since 2005 are supermarkets and general insurance providers, with both seeing a 7.6% point increase in churn rates. Both of these, however, look small compared to the 15.3% increase seen in mobile churn.

  • The three key reasons why people change supplier are consistent across Europe and the US. These are, not being recognised as a valuable customer (all countries average: 55%); unhelpful staff (47%); and ineffective call centres (42%).
According to Group 1, the findings indicate that the UK consumer is becoming more mobile and that companies’ retention strategies need to improve to deal with this phenomenon.

“The world is becoming generally more mobile and less loyal,” says Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software VP, International Marketing, Andrew Greenyer. “Yet despite all the effort and investment going into customer retention and loyalty, the effective strategies implemented by well known success story companies are not yet the norm.

Commenting specifically on mobile churn, Greenyer says:
“Mobile Telecoms remains a very fluid area. Here, strong brands are evidently having an effect, with the issue of content provision likely to be a key factor in future churn (or indeed inertia) patterns. 3G provision has initially disappointed consumers, leading to massive churn. Nevertheless, the sector is so volatile that this situation may easily reverse after its initial customer relationship difficulties.

“The US experiences far lower rates of churn, but this probably reflects the closer link in North America between cellphone carrier and handset. In Europe, the two are independent of one another, allowing the SIM card to be fairly portable between models. However, this also helps network operators use attractive handset ranges to persuade customers to switch. Also, number portability is relatively new in the US. The UK got portability in 1998, Spain and Sweden in 2000, and Italy in 2001. Americans didn't get it until the end of 2003.

“Finally, there are the factors of overall mobile penetration and pre-paid penetration. Mobile penetration in Europe now exceeds 100%, with 666 million connections. The US has 70% cellphone penetration compared with over 80% in France, more than 100% or more in Germany, Spain and the UK, and over 120% in mobile-mad Italy. 25% of US cellphone users switch plans each year. However, there will only be 40 million pre-paid customers in the US in 2009 (17% of forecast total market). This compares with over 50% pre-paid penetration in Europe, and pre-paid churn is on average three times higher than post-paid.”

Source: Mobile Marketing Magazine

Do you want fries with that?

Engadget reports:

Guess what? It's yet another rock bottom sale day for Toshiba's HD-A3 HD DVD player. This time it's Amazon serving up the HD-A3 with 7 HD DVD titles and free shipping for just $129. The deal combines the extended 5 HD DVD "perfect offer" with Warner Bros' 300 and Universal's The Bourne Identity HD DVD titles thrown in for kicks. That's two extra discs and $21 less than the official $150 dealio. Crazy, we know.
Can you smell the desperation in the air?

Just about hidden by the announcement of the latest release of Google’s iPhone client suite, was this amazing statistic: over the Christmas period Google received more hits from iPhones than S60 users.

In Google betting big on mobile market,’s Elinor Mills writes:
On Christmas Day thousands of people opened up boxes with something cool and functional inside and wasted no time logging onto through their brand new iPhones.

As a result of those gifts, the number of global queries to Google's search site from iPhones surpassed the number of queries from people using market-leading Symbian-based phones for the first time. Google calls it the "Christmas cross-over."

That is huge given the fact that the number of iPhone units shipped is tiny compared to the number of Symbian-based phones out there. The cross-over only lasted a few days or so, but it shows the impact the iPhone is having on the telecommunications industry and provides a glimpse into its future market potential for the Web.

"It's about usage, not just units," Vic Gundotra, vice president of mobile and developer at Google said. "The data proves that people are using the browser on the iPhone."

Maybe the countless millions of Nokia smartphone users tend to be more likely to use a computer when at home than those with iPhones? Perhaps the burst in traffic was from proud iPhone users enthusiastically showing off it’s potential to friends and relatives? Even taking these factors into account, the impact this incredible “rush” to the mobile internet could be enormous.

Miguel Helft spells it out in Google Sees Surge in iPhone Traffic for the New York Times:

The data is striking because the iPhone, an Apple product, accounts for just 2 percent of smartphones worldwide, according to IDC, a market research firm. Phones powered by Symbian make up 63 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, while those powered by Microsoft's Windows Mobile have 11 percent and those running the BlackBerry system have 10 percent.

It’s no surprise to learn that Google’s development team have been working at fever pitch to produce the slick, approachable and visually stunning iPhone-only applications. Miguel paraphrases Vic Gundotra:

Google, which developed the first version of Grand Prix in six weeks, is introducing a new version on Monday, just six weeks after the first one. That is a speed of development not previously possible on mobile phones, he said.

It has the feel of a gold rush to me: both exciting and a little edgy.

Why so?

Given the prospects of future growth, how will Google allocate their terribly clever people between projects for the iPhone, the Symbian family and presumably Android? Neither interview with Google’s Vic Gundotra contained a hint of current or future S60 development. And only the vaguest: "This app will work great on Android."

I’d been hoping that later this Spring Google would reveal some gorgeous S60 mashup of SocialStream, GoogleTalk and Jaiku with a smattering of MyLocation thrown in for fun. Or maybe even a sexy java version of Grand Prix but now I’m beginning to wonder what’s in store for us S60 hordes.

Somebody tell me to pull myself together?

This is really great news -- fancy the most popular mass-market (read: downmarket) comic in the UK evangelise cutting edge, mobile technology?

I'm hardly suprised that major companies are falling over themselves to get on board. Are News International producing all this inhouse or are there some superheroes lurking behind the project?

New Sun service merges print with mobile video

The Sun newpaper’s new mobile content service has achieved early success with around 11,000 users registered so far.

The barcode-based technology enables users to scan their mobile phone over pages of the newspaper, which in turn uploads relevant information onto the device. For example, a football fan could read a match report and use the technology to upload video highlights of the game.

Readers must download a piece of software onto their mobile to use the service, but new Nokia handsets come with it pre-installed. The application uses a barcode technology called QR (quick response) code.

It is thought that 3 has so far been the most active network in the uptake of the technology, with Orange also known to be interested. 

Ian Samuel, group head of mobile advertising for News International, said: ‘There is an educational process that needs to be done. In the next few months we’re looking to do another pull-out (supplement in The Sun) to further inform people on how to use QR codes.’

The Sun hopes the service will help to boost printed editorial and advertising content in the publication, and help print to become a more profitable medium.

The format has already proved popular with advertisers
 - Ladbrokes, Sky and Twentieth Century Fox have already signed up. The Sun is looking for more advertisers and says the service has generated significant interest from other parties.

From Mobile Today


Now we know that an album can still be very successful despite widespread (and encouraged) filesharing. I hope Trent Reznor, and more especially, the RIAA/IFPI) are listening carefully...

Radiohead top UK album chart

Thom Yorke proved right about physical 'artefact'

Radiohead's In Rainbows has climbed straight to the top of the UK album chart in the week following its physical release on CD and vinyl, apparently proving frontman Thom Yorke right in his assertion that fans want a tangible "object".

The album was released online last October on a "pay-what-you-like" basis (ie, generally nothing, according to reports), but Yorke last week dismissed the idea of not backing a net release with a hard copy as "stark raving mad".

He said: "We didn't want it to be a big announcement about 'everything's over except the internet, the internet's the future', 'cause that's utter rubbish. And it's really important to have an artefact as well, as they call it, an object.

The object in question is either a bog-standard CD or a deluxe "diskbox" containing In Rainbows on CD and two 12-in vinyl disks, plus an "enhanced" CD, lyrics, digital snaps, and other goodies - all for £40. The downloadable version of the album is no longer available. ®

Source: El Reg

Blue MonsterSteve Hodson notes Robert Cringely’s prediction that Steve Balmer (as well as Bill Gates) will leave Microsoft during 2008 with some enthusiasm:

All I can say for this one is I sure frikken hope that of all of his crystal balling that this one actually comes true. I don’t care if he flunks out on every other one as long as this vision of Ballmer comes true - and it couldn’t happen soon enough.

Ballmer has become a blight on Microsoft and the sooner he takes a long walk off of a short pier all the better for the company. Now while Robert didn’t want to go out on a limb and complication the law of averages for this prediction by suggestion who would replace the sweating doofus I have two possibilities that could really make things interesting.

Steve Clayton

Hugh MacLeod

Chances of happening - slim to none but damn it would sure make for an interesting company in the aftermath.

I guess that either of the guys would probably present the company in a better light than Ballmer. Maybe Hugh’s Blue Monster will end up as the official Microsoft emblem!?
Now that would be a sight!

Source: WinExtra

Will the iPhone lead to the mass-adoption of the mobile internet?
Online usage of the iPhone (as detected by websites) seems to be doing very well but I have difficulty seeing anything like the US adoption rates being mirrored here in the UK.

Google has predicted that the Apple iPhone will be the catalyst for mobile internet to open up in 2008.

The search engine also expects that the collapse of so-called walled gardens on operator portals to accelerate usage further. It will bring its Android project to the market next year, with ‘openness’ for developers the key.

Speaking to Mobile, Shannon Maher, a senior director at Google, said: ‘2007 has been a big year for the emergence of the mobile web. The highlight of the year has undoubtedly been the iPhone, with its combination of search, mapping, images, and videos integrated into the communications capability of a phone, proving that the right combination of a well-engineered device and reliable services can deliver an exciting new set of experiences to consumers.’

He added: ‘For us, the most exciting part of the iPhone is the experience of browsing on a mobile phone, enabled by it's compliance to web standards. The Safari browser on the iPhone has enabled new ways of delivering and consuming data on a mobile device.

‘Twelve months ago, very few people were talking about openness in mobile; now it's difficult to pick up a newspaper without seeing some mention of it. That trend looks set to continue in 2008. We think that this is important for innovation, and will ultimately benefit the users of mobile services.’

‘One last exciting point that continues to be proven out is the effectiveness of highly targeted advertisements on mobile devices. Poorly targeted ads are spam and will not be accepted on a device as personal as a mobile phone. However, when targeted and relevant, advertising is a key piece of information that can improve the user experience greatly. Our initial trials in this area have shown, for instance, that a well-targeted search ad for a local product or service is likely to be precisely what the user wants when conducting a search on a mobile device, and, as such, are extremely valuable to the user and the advertiser.

‘We believe mobile devices represent the future of the internet, and the field is still nascent. There's still a lot of unrealised opportunity in the mobile internet.’

Source: Mobile Today

O2 enjoyed a major spike in iPhone sales in the week before Christmas, after disappointing sales from the much-hyped 9 November launch.

Most stores are believed to have missed iPhone targets by some distance, with a typical-sized O2 store selling just one iPhone per week. However, that appeared to change in the final seven days, with O2 staff reporting a big upturn, with many stores selling one per day, and even more in large city centre stores.

One O2 source said: ‘It seemed like people started buying them even if they were already in a contract, especially as they realised they wouldn’t start being billed until they registered online.’

O2 staff said that despite the moderate interest there was a much lower percentage of returns on the iPhone than had been anticipated.

Carphone staff were less bullish on iPhone sales, reporting plenty of interest in the device, but with a very low rate converting into sales, with the price tag being the main stumbling block.

One Carphone staffer said: ‘The iPhone was poor. We work in one of the bigger stores in our area and only sold one or two over the Christmas period. Our target last week was to sell 36 and we only sold one.’

A price cut is rumoured to be taking place in the coming months to bring the cost of the iPhone down from £270, or an improvement in the tariff to give more value than the 600 minutes and 500 texts for £45 currently offered.

Source: Mobile Today


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