Mobile phone thefts surging at gigs


According to detectives from the Met, some of London’s most prestigious venues are being targeted by gangs of pickpockets. What’s more, so bad has the problem become that at the recent reunions concerts from the Specials, 50 phones were purloined over two nights.

Apparently, gigs have become the new favoured spot for pickpockets because the crowds provide them with ample cover for their nefarious activities. Factor in the fact that the audiences these days brazenly display their phones throughout the gig when taking pictures, and it’s hard to think of somewhere where consumers are more vulnerable.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, its high-end mobiles that the thieves are targeting – not least because some have resale value in Eastern Europe of up to £1,000.

If you’re a regular gig-goer and own, for instance an iPhone or a BlackBerry, we suggest that now might be the time to consider taking out phone insurance. Or better yet, for one night only, dig out your battered, old mobile and take that with you instead.

My phone was stolen a few years ago while waiting for a night bus. And I can report that few things have ever given me as much satisfaction as palming the thieves off with a wheezing, spluttering old Nokia that I’d brought out with me for just such an eventuality.





Digital magazines to be sold on smartphones


The bare bones of a deal that will allow mobile phone owners to buy and download a range of well known magazines on their phones have been preliminarily agreed between a number of leading publishing houses.

Reports from the USA indicate that a deal between Time Inc, Conde Nast and Hearst will allow for the creation of a digital portal for smartphone users to browse and purchase the latest issues of magazines more commonly found on the shelves of newsagents.

According to a spokesperson, the store will be available across all of the popular platforms, which is likely to include versions for the iPhone and BlackBerry amongst others.

Although the deal is not finalised, speculation from industry experts hints at the likelihood of an imminent official announcement of the service, possibly within the next few weeks.

Wired, the popular technology magazine, is allegedly in the process of being adapted for mobile phone screens and should be one of the first titles available from the new store if the deal gets the go ahead.



Vodafone adds SMS retweets to Twitter offering


Vodafone has revamped its Twitter offering with a new option that allows customers to retweet friends’ posts using SMS messaging.

Up until now Vodafone customers could send and receive SMS Twitter updates, however the new service now lets them retweet posts using the same number.

In order to take advantage of the additional application, consumers are simply required to send an SMS using the format “RT twitter username” to 86444′. They will receive a email from the carrier to confirm that it is active.

Vodafone’s move comes after Orange this week announced a partnership with Twitter than will allow customers to upload and share photographs on the micro-blogging service via SMS.

The venture will also see Twitter incorporated into Orange’s Social Life mobile networking aggregator.

This effectively brings all people’s social networking profiles and activity into a single location and according to Orange allows “fast and simple access to Twitter without the need to download special software or pay extra for services”.



EU crackdown on mobile phone entertainment sites


An 18-month long investigation into sites selling mobile phone ringtones, screen savers and backgrounds identified that a total of 301 sites were in breach of EU laws safeguarding consumer rights.

Of the 301 accused, 54 were shut down completely, while a further 159 were forced into changing their operating rules in order to ensure compliance with the laws which govern the industry.

The 2008 Ringtone Sweep report highlighted the key points of contention. Sites which had vague or misleading advertising, hidden charges, expensive contracts and no clear point of contact for consumers were held to be amongst the worst offenders.

Sites which specifically targeted children with popular animated characters were also scrutinised and in some cases made to clarify their marketing in order to lower the risk of any unscrupulous exploitation of suggestible youngsters.

Meglena Kuneva, head of consumer protection at the EU, called for transparency in the pricing of ringtones and other mobile phone media in the future.

Mr Kuneva suggested that ringtone price comparison and healthy competition would allow the consumer to get the best deal.

The ringtone industry is worth over £600 million a year in Europe, accounting for 30 per cent of mobile content and continued regulation is needed to ensure consumer confidence and support.




Kids spend 36 minutes doing something their parents disapprove of



The average British child spends 130 minutes per day online, 36 of which are spent doing something their parents’ would disapprove of. The findings are part of a report commissioned by TalkTalk (, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes, among UK parents and their children aged 5-15.

The report shows that millions of British children run virtual rings around their parents – with one in four kids saying their mums and dads have absolutely no idea what they get up to online.

Further, that their parents would disapprove of 28% of their online activity – some 36 minutes per day – and peaking at 32% amongst over 10-11 year olds.

62% of children admit to lying to their parents about their online behaviour, and they aren’t concerned about getting found out either, with 44% boasting that that they can hide any ‘unsuitable’ internet activity from their parents. Indeed 53% have erased their online footprint simply deleting their browser history.

The research also found that 44% of parents say they never check their child’s internet history to see what sites they have been visiting and 25% have no idea what security level their search engine’s content filter is set at.

Survey data comes from the TalkTalk Brighter Sparks campaign aimed at improving parents’ understanding and awareness of how to look after their kids online. Visitors to can take the eParent test and find out what kind of eParent they are and read the Brighter Sparks guide written by child psychologist and author of the Byron Review, Professor Tanya Byron.

Professor Tanya Byron says: “TalkTalk’s research reveals the predicament facing Britain’s parents. We know the internet is increasingly important in our children’s lives, but many parents are still deeply ignorant about what goes on online. Not surprisingly, too many of us panic and either try to ignore this new technology – allowing our kids to use it unsupervised – or ban our kids from using it entirely.

“With this new campaign I want to encourage parents to treat the internet as they would do any other element of looking after their kids. After all, the internet is a human creation, populated by people, and in this sense it’s no more or less inherently dangerous than the outside world.

“Think of the internet as like a swimming pool. You want your kids to learn how to swim, but you wouldn’t just throw them into the deep end – you’d go in with them to the shallow end, get them used to the water and wearing water wings. I believe applying such offline principles to the online world makes e-parenting much less daunting and provides a solid foundation for all parents.”

Tristia Clarke from TalkTalk said: “Our Brighter Sparks campaign is designed to provide our customers with common sense, practical parenting advice they can use regardless of how old or internet savvy their kids are.”

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T-Mobile admits data protection failure


It has emerged that networks competing with T-Mobile were sold personal information relating to thousands of T-Mobile customers in what has been heralded as the largest data violation of this type.

Millions of individual pieces of information were passed to brokers by a former employee of the network provider and details including contract expiration dates were then sold on to rival providers in return for significant remuneration.

Government watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) released news of the breach, explaining that the information was then used by rival networks to aid in their targeting of cold sales calls. Customers who were coming towards the end of their contract were targeted and attempts were made to persuade them to switch away from T-Mobile.

The ICO identified that the problem of the trade in personal data is fuelled by the commission culture that is prevalent across the mobile networks.

With employees earning a premium for signing up customers to long term contracts, the sales and marketing environment is seen to encourage underhand tactics such as the illegal purchasing of personal data from rivals.

T-Mobile was apparently unaware that the story was going to enter the public domain at such an early stage in the proceedings.

It is believed that T-Mobile was expecting coverage closer to the time when a court case could be brought against the guilty parties.

A T-Mobile spokesperson explained that the network had actively sought the help of the ICO after it became aware of evidence suggesting a former staff member had been involved in what is by any measure a serious data breach.

According to official network sources, T-Mobile has instigated further safeguards to ensure that this scandalous occurrence is not repeated.

ICO commissioner Christopher Graham said that he was taking steps towards prosecuting those responsible for the leak, viewing the amount of money involved in the subsequent deals as underlining the seriousness of the crime.

The ICO is hoping that this latest instance of data loss will allow it to change current legislation and to seek custodial sentences as well as fines for future instances.





Email could die out within 10 years



Email could die out as busy younger internet users develop a preference for shorter “one and done”-style messages – such as tweets and IM – that reach larger numbers of people in one fell swoop.

That’s the prediction of TalkTalk, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes, which even reckons email extinction could arrive in the next 10 years.

It conducted research of Britain’s internet habits with a social anthropologist from the University of Kent. The research found that Britain has over 2 million “First Lifers” – those in their late teens or early 20s – who are tech savvy but don’t like being stuck at a desk.

For First Lifers, email is going out of style – and fast. Barely half (51%) regularly use email anymore, with many young people instead opting for shorter communications like Twitter and Facebook updates to keep in the loop, supplemented by text messages, instant messaging when they’re out and about. They prefer these technologies as they enable them to contact whole groups of friends rather than individuals one at a time.

Interestingly it is the older generations that are now more likely to use email than any other group (98% of people aged 65+, 96% of 45-64 year-olds Vs. 87% of 25-34 year-olds, 86% of 15-24 year-olds) – showing that email is turning into “grey mail.”

Mark Schmid from TalkTalk said: “Email has been the dominant mode of communication over the internet for the past 20 years, but that doesn’t mean it always will be. Increasingly people want to send quick, short messages reaching many people in one go, and there are now better ways of doing that than via email. Based on the trends we’re seeing now, email could well be on its last legs by the end of the next decade.”

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Dell confirms plans for Android mobile phone


Dell has confirmed it is preparing to launch an Android mobile phone, although has yet to indicated if it will ever appear in Europe.

An announcement from technology giant revealed that the Dell Mini 3 smartphone will initially go on sale in Brazil and China on the Claro and China Mobile networks respectively.

Dell did not name a concrete release date for these territories, however, and has yet to announce whether it harbours plans to release it in the US and Europe.

The company was similarly tight-lipped over specifications of the handset, but if rumours are to be believed it will be home to a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a 3.2 megapixel camera and expandable memory via a microSD card slot.

Android mobiles have proved one of the major successes of the last 12 months, prompting a rush of handset manufacturers to enter the market for phone using Google’s operating system.

Phones that have proved particularly popular with consumers include the HTC Magic and Hero models.


3 confronts Orange over network coverage claims


Although co-operation will be required from all of the UK’s major mobile networks if the next generation of high-speed mobile networking is to be properly implemented, a dispute has arisen over current-generation 3G coverage levels.

3 has accused Orange of misleading advertising after a recent marketing campaign claimed it was able to provide 3G coverage for 93 per cent of the population.

Until recently, 3 had been widely regarded as the operator with the most prolific 3G networking coverage and its 91% coverage claim had been a major selling point used to attract new customers.

Obviously Orange’s new figures would push 3 into second place, but 3 have now cried foul play and called in the Advertising Standards Authority to provide an independent evaluation of the issue.

The problem stems from the way in which 3 believes Orange to be calculating its coverage levels. 3 stated that its own method of coverage calculation is not fraudulent and that it could use a different method employed by other industry bodies to come up with a coverage figure closer to 95 per cent.

However, this alternate method would not increase its coverage in real terms. 3 is ahead of its competitors if the raw numbers of 3G base stations are considered, with over 9000 masts compared to Orange’s 7500.

Orange responded to the accusations by stating that its own figures are drawn up in opposition to recent 91 per cent coverage statistics released by 3. According to Orange, it can now provide 3G connectivity to nearly 94 per cent of the population, which places it firmly ahead of 3 if its figures and coverage calculation methods are upheld.

Industry commentators have reacted with a certain amount of scepticism to the quarrel. This story broke on the same day that Orange became only the second UK network to offer the Apple iPhone to UK customers on pay monthly contracts.

It is alleged that this dispute will cast a shadow over what should have been a celebratory day for Orange.

The iPhone is continuing to cause controversy and debate in the UK mobile market. Vodafone has announced that it will begin to offer the iPhone from next year in an attempt to regain some traction in a market that has become dominated by O2 and to a lesser extent Orange and T-Mobile.

The stagnation of the mature UK market combined with the growing demand for 3G coverage in order to support the needs of the latest generation of smartphones seems to be driving a wedge between networks at a time when some collaboration may be sorely needed.


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Nokia recalls faulty mobile chargers


Mobile manufacturing giant Nokia, which enjoys close to 40% market share in today’s mobile phone market, has had to recall thousands of mobile phone chargers sold between April 13th and October 25th 2009.

The affected units are hazardous because the plastic covering which houses the internal components could come loose and expose the user to dangerous electrical currents.

The result of the failure of the device would be a potentially fatal electric shock, which has understandably given rise to consumer concern.

According to the Nokia website, the affected units were produced by third party manufacturer BYD. The affected models will have the code AC-3U, AC-3E or AC-4U displayed in the top right corner of their information label.

The name of the manufacturer should also be clearly visible on the label. Detailed diagrams and help can be found on the Nokia website.

The faulty chargers may have been sold to customers as part of a new phone bundle, or may have been purchased separately as a replacement for an older device. As such, the number of people affected could be considerable and all Nokia customers are urged to check their chargers if they were purchased within the affected time period.

Nokia-branded chargers produced by other manufacturers, or those purchased outside of the designated problem period remain unaffected and can be used safely.

Customers who have unknowingly purchased the faulty chargers are of course eligible for a free replacement as part of Nokia’s charger exchange program. You will need to visit the Nokia website if you are affected, wherein you can order your replacement. Information including the model number and an identification number, both of which can be found on the faulty chargers, will be needed before the exchange can take place.




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