3 UK announces 1 billion instant messages since launch

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3 UK today announces that over one billion instant messages have been sent across its network since it launched instant messaging services a year ago.
 
3 was the first and is the only mobile operator to offer IM services on its network in the UK and provides customers with an identical messaging experience to the one they are used to on their PC – allowing them to see the presence of their contacts and exchange messages from their phone.
 
Since 3 launched Windows Live MessengerTM exclusively on August 1 last year followed by Yahoo!TM Messenger in August 2007, an average of more than 100 million messages have been sent and received each month. Its success highlights that mobile internet communication is becoming a part of everyday life for 3 customers.
 
3’s Director of Product Management, Fergal Walker said: ‘The volume of messages being sent proves mobile IM services are a massive success. Our customers love being able to chat to friends wherever they are for as long as they want, even after they have shut down their PC.’
 
3 was awarded Best Mobile Messaging Service for Windows Live MessengerTM at the GSM Awards held earlier this year, which judges described as ‘one the best uses of mobile broadband’.

 
 

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Post Office moves into broadband market to target previously excluded audiences

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The Post Office®, part of the Royal Mail Group, is launching a new, national broadband service on Monday 29 October, specifically designed to attract late adopters of broadband services and those looking for a better, fairer and easier broadband option.

On 1 October 2011, Ofcom officially took over regulation of the UK’s postal services from the previous regulator Postcomm. Ofcom is responsible for safeguarding the UK’s Universal Service Obligation on postal services. OFCOM has predicted that broadband uptake is set to rise by up to 80 per cent by 2012 . According to their research, the over-50s and cash economy represents an untapped high value market, valued by the Post Office® at £478 million.

Post Office® Broadband is a unique, reassuringly easy to use service providing national coverage at a universal price, avoiding now common ‘rural surcharges’ imposed by most other ISPs. Users will also have the option to pay for the service in cash at any of the 14,000 Post Offices® nationwide, a payment alternative not offered by any other nationwide ISP.

As one of the UK’s most trusted brands with an unparalleled high street presence, the Post Office® is well-placed to maximise this opportunity over the next five years.

The new services are primarily targeted at the ‘NETSKI’ generation of 50-65 year olds with a high disposable income who are going online for the first time – and customers wanting to pre-pay in cash.

Two high quality, fast broadband packages are available from the Post Office®, offering users headline speeds of up to 8MB. Broadband Standard and Broadband Extra can also be bundled with the existing Post Office® HomePhone service. Subscribers will be able to simply plug in and go while technical support from UK call centres will be on hand 24/7.

A five year deal with BT Wholesale’s network guarantees Post Office® Broadband a national reach – from John O’Groats to Lands End – of over 99.6 per cent of the country, while network support, kit maintenance and back office support is also provided by BT. This infrastructure supports the Post Office®’s commitment to provide its users with a reliable and fair broadband service.

Alan Cook, managing director of the Post Office®, said: “Until now, some significant groups in society have missed out on all the internet has to offer purely because broadband is perceived as a complicated luxury. With the support of BT, we are now able to open up a new range of products and services to these groups with a better, fairer and easier to use broadband service that reflects the trust that older customers, in particular, have in the ‘People’s Post Office®’.

“This new addition to our telecoms product portfolio follows the launch of our HomePhone service in 2005 and will help to secure the future success of the Post Office® branch network.”
The new broadband services will be backed by a £9 million marketing campaign across TV, national print and online media, as well as in-branch. The campaign will feature reformed boyband, Westlife, and will break from 28 October 2007.

Current broadband uptake figures show that over 60 per cent, that’s over 15 million, households in the UK, now have an internet connection, and broadband take up by the UK public has been faster than that of any other new technology over the past five years.

Between now and 2012, up to 80 per cent of the UK population is expected to have broadband . Research conducted by the Post Office® shows that, by 2010, half of the additions to the broadband market will come from the ‘silver surfer’ demographic. Despite being late adopters, the over 50s already account for 25 per cent of the UK online population and 30 per cent of all time spent on the internet is by this age group. However, the Post Office® has identified over six million potential users from older and cash-dependent groups who remain offline due to confusion surrounding what existing ISPs are offering and perceived complications to signing up.

 

EBay posts loss on Skype charges

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EBay has reported a quarterly loss of $936m (£459m), caused by its previously announced admission that it paid too much for internet phone firm Skype.
 
The online auction house said this month it would have to take a $900m charge due to overvaluing Skype, which it bought for $2.6bn in 2005.
 
However, eBay’s results still beat market targets, as its revenues for the three months to 30 September soared. Its third quarter revenues rose 30% from a year earlier to $1.89bn.
 
Excluding the Skype charge and other one-off factors, eBay’s profits would have soared 53%. EBay president and chief executive Meg Whitman said it was the first time the company had reported a loss since the second quarter of 1999.
 
“But the steps we took… and moving to new management was completely the right thing to do,” she said.
 
Analyst Jordan Rohan, of RBC Capital Markets, said that, Skype aside, “everything looks fine”. “It seems like everything is under control but the Skype write off reminds you that eBay is not infallible.”

Ebay cuts back its value of Skype

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EBay has conceded that it paid too much for internet telephony service Skype – dramatically writing down the value of its investment.
 
The online auction firm said Skype was worth $900m (£450m) less than it paid for it and set aside $530m to meet future pay-outs to some shareholders. Together that amounts to a loss of value of $1.43bn, compared to the $2.6bn price paid for Skype in 2005.
 
Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have quit as executives.
 
“I think this is a testament that the Skype franchise is not worth as much as eBay originally thought,” said Youssef Squali of the brokerage Jeffries & Co.
 
Skype generated only $90m in revenue in the three months to the end of June, eBay said.
At the time of the purchase, eBay had said it may pay up to $1.7bn on top of the $2.6bn, depending on performance.
News that this would not happen sent its shares up 1.6% to an 18-month closing high. Analysts said that this also reflected the greater flexibility eBay may now have, following the change in personnel.
 
However, eBay said it might pay Skype shareholders another $195m, but only if it sells 50% or more of Skype before the end of March 2008. Mr Zennstrom, who was chief executive of Skype, will become non-executive chairman and is expected to spend more time on other projects.
 
After the Skype sale, he and Mr Friis founded an online video company called Joost.com.
 
Joost, which had previously only been available by invitation, made its software freely available on Monday.
 
Analysts said that while Skype had not made a lot of money, eBay itself remained a strong business. “If you take Skype out of the equation, the rest of the eBay business seems to be doing great again,” said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Steve Weinstein. “EBay management has found ways to re-accelerate the core (auctions) market. Lots of its businesses are doing extremely well.”