Look at the chart above and you'll see two things happening. First, Apple has overtaken Symbian to become the top smartphone platform in the UK (with a 27 percent market share). And secondly, Android has grown 634 percent year-over-year to shoot into second place, with less than half a percentage point keeping it from the top spot (other reports already place it ahead). As you might expect, much of that growth isn't coming from folks switching from one smartphone to the other, but from new smartphone users -- Comscore found that 42 percent of all mobile users in the UK used a smartphone in May of this year, compared to just 27 percent a year ago. Of course, that also means that 58 percent of UK cellphone users are still potential smartphone users (to say nothing of those that still don't have a cellphone at all), so there's certainly still plenty up for grabs for all involved.
sourceComscore Data Mine

Tesco will become the first UK supermarket to offer customers free Wi-Fi in its stores.

The new service will allow smartphone, tablet and laptop users to surf the internet while browsing the aisles for their weekly shop at no cost.

The move follows US chains such as Starbucks and McDonalds, which currently offer Wi-Fi 'hotspots' at many of their UK locations, and is part of Tesco’s strategy to adapt to the changing shopping habits of its customers.

A Tesco spokeswoman told Mobile: ‘We are currently running trials for the new service in four of our stores and if it proved successful it will then be rolled out quickly across all our UK chains.’

Source: Mobile Today

BT has folded the Ribbit internet call management service into its Onevoice business offering, combining functionality equivalent to Google Voice with the backing of a proper telecommunications company.

BT bought Silicon Valley-based Ribbit for $105m almost two years ago, but integrating the service into BT's corporate offering has taken a while, during which time Ribbit has only been available to individual beta testers. Now BT plans testing with corporate customers over the summer and a general launch before the end of the year.

Ribbit provides not only a single number for incoming and outgoing calls, integrating with existing VoIP services where necessary, but also an open API. This allows companies to create their own applications for integrating with those cloud-based systems that are so popular these days.

BT also reckons companies can save a fortune by routing calls over VoIP connections when out of the office, and get access to the full exchange functionality too. So no excuses remain for failing to dial into the conference call while travelling.

Ribbit also integrates with mobiles, offering custom applications for the iPhone, among others, and is capable of integrating with any network and handling incoming and outgoing calls on any handset (using call forwarding).

So basically Ribbit Onevoice has everything Google is offering with Google Voice, but it's backed by a telecommunications company which will integrate it with your existing systems. BT also won't listen into your communications for demographic profiling purposes. The catch is that the service costs money. ®

Source: The Register

BBC told to delay iPhone apps

Trust to review corporation's plans for news and sport smartphone apps after protests from newspaper publishers

bbc iphone app

The BBC News smartphone app was due to launch next month. Photograph: BBC

The launch of BBC News and BBC Sport smartphone applications is to be delayed, after the BBC Trust heeded industry calls for it to review the corporation's apps proposals.

Today the BBC Trust has informed the corporation's management that it plans to assess the plans for a series of apps for smartphones including the iPhone and BlackBerry.

The trust said it had also asked for the launch of the first apps to be delayed. The BBC had been planning to launch its BBC News app next month and a BBC Sport app in May. There are also plans for an iPlayer app.

When it unveiled the app proposals in February, BBC management argued that the new mobile content offerings were an extension of existing services and are "plainly not a new content service and therefore doesn't need to tbe regulated as such".

However, earlier this month the Newspapers Publishers Association, which represents UK national newspaper groups, appealed to the BBC Trust arguing that the corporation's apps plans would undermine commercial organisations' ability to establish economic models on smartphones.

"There remains some uncertainty about the potential significance of whether it [the BBC's plans] constitutes a change of service," said a spokeswoman for the BBC Trust today.

The BBC Trust added it had moved to look into the plans "following representations from the industry". The trust will now look at four areas: the financial implications, the impact on "users and others"; how long the activity will last; and the extent to which the change would "involve the BBC in a new area of untested activity".

However, the BBC Trust is not, at this stage, looking to launch a full public value test into the proposed smartphone services.

Source: The Guardian

O2’s CTO Derek McManus on mobile data exceeding voice traffic, the limitations of 3G and the hopes for the data-capabilities of 4G

Could demand for mobile broadband services bring the airwaves to a halt? That is the question on most expert’s lips after it emerged that, for the first time, more data is passing over mobile phone networks than voice.

The tipping point came in December, according to figures from Ericsson, and is being widely attributed to people checking email being joined by social media users sending messages, posting updates and communicating with their ‘buddies’ while on the move.

The potentially alarming point for the mobile phone networks is that this has been achieved with an estimated 400m mobile broadband users around the world, compared to 4bn voice users.

O2’s iPhone experience

Certainly Derek McManus, CTO of O2 confirms that data now exceeds voice on its 3G network and that this has been a long term development he has witnessed through the past two years, pretty much since the network signed a two year exclusive for the iPhone which ended in January this year.

“As the exclusive provider of the iPhone for 2 years, we have unrivalled insight into changing customer behaviour and the impact of intensive mobile applications,” he says.

“We experienced a 20-fold increase in data on our network over the last twelve months. And traffic continues to double every four months.”

This raises many challenges for any network, he points out, and not just in dealing with the extra traffic. One of the challenges is ensuring infrastructure and systems can cope with short, sharp and rapid burst of demands for data which are very different from voice conversations.

“The challenge is not limited to increased demand,” McManus says.

“Data services like Facebook and Twitter generate multiple and concurrent requests to the data network (once every eight seconds) – we call them ‘chatty’ applications.

We are suitably building ahead of this curve by adapting our network and cleverly focussing network investment. The issue of mobile coverage is no longer about simply covering the land mass with mobile masts to meet a percentage target, but rather about depth and quality of experience.

Bigger ‘pipes’ and ‘processes’

Hence, the future, McManus believes, is going to be dominated by the twin challenges of not only moving from 3G to 4G but also developing infrastructure which is suited to the short, rapid burst data requests made en-masse by mobile apps.

“In terms of the immediate future of 3G networks, our priority is to re-dimension infrastructure in anticipation of changing customer behaviour,” McManus explains.

“We’re challenging the industry (including our infrastructure partners) to develop solutions that will suitably support the behaviour of mobile apps. It is no longer just about ‘volume’ (making the pipe bigger) but about the ‘process’ of data handling.

“More long term is the evolution of new technologies, such as 4G. We are currently running ongoing 4G (or LTE – Long Term Evolution) trials with Huawei, which offer speeds up to 150Mbps. Incredibly, our modest 4G trial network in Slough already has the data carrying capacity of the entire live 3G network, which illustrates the vast step change expected of this next generation of technology.”

Source: Sean Hargrave for Samknows Broadband)

Android Crowding Apple, RIM

Google's Android operating system will see the largest growth rate of the three mobile platforms this year, research firm says.

Antone Gonsalves writes in InformationWeek:

As the U.S. smartphone market grows this year, Apple and Research in Motion will see their shares fall as phones built with Google's Android operating system attract a growing number of users, a research firm says.
RIM's BlackBerry will hold on to its leadership position in the U.S. this year, while Apple's iPhone is expected to remain in second place, Canalys reported Friday. Android phones, however, will see the largest growth rate, 169.2%.

Manufacturers will ship 65.1 million smartphones this year, a 38% increase over 2009, according to Canalys. Many consumers buying smartphones for the first time are expected to favor Android phones that are less expensive than the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Lower-priced Android phones will help drive market share of the platform to 18.9% from 9.7% this year, Canalys said. On the other hand, the BlackBerry's share will fall to 43% year over year from 49.2%, while the iPhone's share drops to 21.3% from 23.1%.

Of the major smartphone platforms, only Microsoft's Windows Phone is expected to see a drop in the number of units shipped. That's because Microsoft is not scheduled to ship its upcoming Windows Phone 7 until shortly before the holiday season.

"Windows Phone 7 Series represents a major improvement to the platform that was badly needed from Microsoft," Canalys analyst Chris Jones, said in a statement. "However, the delay between announcement and expected commercial availability in Q4 2010 will make this year a tough one."

Shipments of Windows Phone-based smartphones are expected to fall 1.3% year over year to 4.7 million units. Nevertheless, the devices will account for 10.1% of the market, coming in third behind the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Approval has been granted for the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in the UK by the EU. The approval was conditional on an amendment to the network sharing agreement between T-Mobile and Three as the EU were concerned that the merger could threaten the viability of Three, the smallest mobile network operator in the UK.

The other concession was that the combined network would have to give up 25% of its mobile spectrum within the 1800MHz band. Without doing so, the 60MHz contiguous spectrum held would be significantly larger than any of the other networks giving it the ability to run LTE, the next generation of mobile broadband services, at the best possible speeds within the current spectrum.

In light of these concessions, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have withdrawn their request to review the case, giving a green light for the merger to go ahead. This will create the UK's largest mobile network with a market share of around 37%.

Source: Thinkbroadband

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