French iPhone discount war heading for the UK?


In the run up to Christmas the availability of the iPhone on multiple networks has inspired some competition in France to discount the phone as much as possible and many are speculating that a similar situation could soon occur in the UK.

A court ruling forced the ending of Apple’s exclusivity deal with Orange in the French mobile market, allowing competitors SFR and Bouygues to start selling the popular smartphone. Orange consequently cut £81 from the cost of the iPhone 3G 16GB in order to compete.

Compared to the current UK prices the French networks are all underselling one another and our own domestic networks. These prices are of course in addition to the mandatory fixed term contract of around £35, but that is to be expected in any region.

In the New Year Orange, Vodafone, Tesco and O2 will all be offering the iPhone to UK customers and many expect the pricing strategies of these networks to fall in line with their French contemporaries as they all try and court new customers with offers of the cheapest iPhone deals around.






Compare all deals on Apple here.


Consumer poll puts iPhone on top in USA


Research by advertising and marketing analyst firm Nielsen has ranked smartphones by market share in the US and Apple’s iPhone has managed to muscle its way to the top of the pile.

This is the first time that the iPhone has been able to supplant BlackBerry smartphones produced by Canadian manufacturer Research in Motion as the most popular mobile.

Based on mobile phones sold between January and October 2009 the BlackBerry 8300 was knocked into second place with 3.7 per cent of the market.

The iPhone has recently been found to have surpassed the popularity of the Windows Mobile platform in a separate piece of research. Whilst 7 million people used WM phones in October, over 9 million people made use of iPhones.

The survey showed that most mobile users in the USA access the online search engine Google above all other sites, with GMail and Yahoo’s web mail services trailing behind. YouTube was understandably ranked as the most popular video streaming service for mobile users.






Compare all deals on Apple here.


O2 iPhone customers suffer from data disconnection problems

peoples-phone-o2-bubblesMobile internet access for customers of the network provider O2 has been patchy recently and O2 has now admitted that it is having issues with its network which are causing the lack of connectivity for 3G users (including iPhone and Palm Pre owners).

When first asked to explain the problems, O2 refused to go into detail, but later contacted the media with a fuller explanation.

The issue is partly linked into the high volume of data traffic currently experienced by the O2 network, but the main problem has been caused by the system which allocates IP addresses to O2 customers when they want to get online.

The main area affected appears to be concentrated in and around London and given the significant proportion of mobile data activity which is accounted for by the capital the problems caused by the outages are likely to be suffered by a significant percentage of O2 users.

This news of the impact in London is at odds with the official reports from O2 which suggest that the problems are not limited to a specific area.

It has been the large proportion of iPhone-owning O2 customers who have drawn attention to the various failings of the network throughout the last year, although this latest incident is having an impact on all O2 customers regardless as to phone model.




New manufacturer to enter Android smartphone market

peoples-phone-androidAlthough it currently produces optical media players for home cinema systems, Oppo is throwing its hat into the smartphone ring with a new mobile that will use the Google Android platform and feature some unique abilities.

The phone itself is expected to launch in February next year and will sport a multi-touch 3.5 inch display and a full QWERTY keypad hidden beneath, in similar fashion to the N97 or Motorola Milestone.

The quirkiest of the Oppo phone’s features include LED lights which sit in a line along the edge of the mobile phone and allow the user to quickly see information relating to current weather conditions.

The LEDs will indicate temperature, humidity and the date and many have reacted with puzzlement to this slightly odd focus on the climate.

The Oppo phone is set to become available in a range of colours from pink to black, with commentators already making comparisons between its stylings and those of the two year old LG Viewty.



Phone thief caught after call slip-up


A jury at a court in Lincoln took less than half an hour to convict a man accused of stealing a mobile phone after it emerged that he had been caught because he gave away his personal details, including his address, to his victim just hours after the robbery took place.

24 year old Peter Gamblin, who was a former professional Billiards player, was apparently arrogant enough to tell his victim exactly who he was when they called up their stolen phone to confront him.

Although Mr Gamblin denied taking the phone, claiming to have been at his sister’s residence at the time, the evidence against him was overwhelming.

The judge told the apparently brash thief that he should expect to receive a custodial sentence when he returns to court in early 2010. For the moment Mr Gamblin has been bailed to await his fate.

Of the thousands of mobile phones that are stolen every year in the UK, this is one of the few cases that has resulted in a conviction and is remarkable because of the circumstances surrounding the thief’s arrest.





Green campaigners push for mobile warning label


Ongoing studies into the environmental impact of mobile phone use are turning up new evidence as to their potentially damaging components which can be harmful to the environment and to people if they are misused. Several cities and councils are investigating the possibility of introducing warning labels on new mobiles.

The chemical substances contained within batteries used by modern mobile phones are hazardous and statistics show that mobile phones are starting to take up a significant proportion of waste recycling resources when they are no longer of use.

If a mobile phone is improperly disposed of, these chemical agents seep into the soil and eventually end up in our drinking water. As a result, the government and recycling campaigners are aiming to alert more members of the public as to the dangers presented by the poor disposal of mobiles.

Warning labels on mobiles in the future could potentially detail the precise levels of any harmful chemicals contained within and the damage that these could do if not correctly handled and disposed of. Some are also debating as to whether to include details of the level of radiation emitted by mobiles on the labels and others are considering an attempt to ban the advertising of mobile phones to young children who are considered to be most at risk from the radiation.



Mobile phone users do not mind ads for free content


The Spotify model of allowing mobile phone users to access internet content and services for free and subsidising the service with revenue from advertising would prove popular among UK consumers, a new study has shown.

In a survey conducted by KPMG, 40 per cent of mobile phone users polled said they would prefer to watch advertisements and get free music rather than pay for songs. Meanwhile, 28 per cent of the sample said that they would be happy with advertisements were they to be offered free instant messaging.

The results suggest that the advertising-subsidised model which has most recently been used in Spotify will be more and more prevalent among mobile phone content providers in years to come.

Tudor Aw, partner at KPMG, commented: “This willingness to view adverts in exchange for free content is good news for advertisers and is perhaps a pointer in the ongoing debate over whether advertising or subscription is the right revenue model.”

Further interesting trends discovered by the poll were that the things that UK mobile phone owners are most willing to pay for were navigation tools and music. Over a third of the sample had bought one or the other of these for their handset during the last year. Conversely, online banking via handsets appears to be stymied by fears over security, with nearly seven in ten confessing that this had dissuaded them.

Mr Aw added: “When considering how best to monetise mobile services, it is important for mobile service providers to be aware that there are notable differences in how consumers wish to access different mobile services.

“Social networking – another big area of focus for mobile providers – is not a service people are prepared to pay for.”

News of the findings comes at a time when the battleground for market share in the mobile phone sector is seeing more and more official application stores being launched in a bid to rival the iPhone App Store. It is thought that the marketplaces do not yield huge profits for manufacturers, with 70 per cent of the revenue from the sale of an app on Nokia’s Ovi Store going to the developer. However, handset makers are aware that they must offer the stores to retain consumer interest in their mobile phones.

Currently, all these sites include a selection of paid-for and free applications withe none using the Spotify model. With many having been unveiled very recently or still yet to appear, it is debatable when the practice of advertisements subsiding content will arrive at app stores any time soon.

Other key players who have launched application stores or are planning such offerings include Palm which is to unveil a store to support its Palm Pre phone and Google. The search engine’s Android market opened towards the end of last year to coincide with the launch of the first-ever Android-powered phone the T-Mobile G1.




Ofcom report ranks Brits as top texters


The popularity of mobile phones and digital television in the UK has been confirmed after figures released by Ofcom show that we are the most prolific senders of SMS texts and also watch the most television when compared to our European neighbours.

Although average TV viewing time per day has risen to 3.8 hours amongst UK residents, the report criticises the broadband speeds to which the majority have access. Less than ten per cent of homes can connect at speeds of more than 8Mbps and mobile broadband is doing little to alleviate the situation.

If UK averages for TV viewing times are compared to those in the US we are slightly less addicted, with Americans watching nearly an hour more television on average each day.

There are those who are sceptical as to the impact of the trends identified by the results. Texting and TV viewing may be on the rise, but whether this is having positive or negative effects on our society and culture is an entirely different matter.



Apple counters Nokia lawsuit with its own allegations


After Nokia instigated a lawsuit against Apple amid claims that the Californian firm had violated several of its copyrighted technologies without proper recognition or licensing, Apple has returned the favour with its own lawsuit making similar allegations.

According to Apple’s new suit, Nokia is currently violating a total of 13 patents relating to technology that is currently in use within the iPhone.

The majority are centred around the operating of the touchscreen interface in relation to scrolling, scaling and rotation and Apple hopes that the court will throw out Nokia’s suit which it claims is unfair.

A spokesperson for Apple said that its competitors would have to create their own methods for emulating Apple’s success rather than resorting to wholesale patent infringement by copying current Apple technologies.

Apple also continues to deny Nokia’s assertion that it is infringing on several patents held by the hitherto dominant mobile manufacturer. Apple is currently the highest profile target of Nokia’s campaign which outlines ten common mobile technologies over which it claims ownership and for which other manufacturers would require a license if they wish to reproduce them in their own mobile phones.

Both sides are seeking remuneration to cover the cost of their legal fees as well as compensation for any of their technologies that they believe have been used unlawfully.




Check all deals on Apple here and all deals on Nokia here.





Christmas lights could cause broadband slowdown



Around 100,000 internet users could see their broadband speeds slowed down or interfered with by their Christmas tree lights – that’s the warning from TalkTalk, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes.

TalkTalk’s research of customers’ homes has found that in-home lighting and wiring can interfere with wireless signals and reduce broadband speeds, regardless of their ISP, by up to 1 meg on a typical 4 meg broadband connection. And the biggest problem at this time of year is the lights on people’s Christmas trees.

The broadband firm estimates that last year it alone received thousands of calls from customers over the festive period complaining about slower than normal broadband speeds. It says a significant percentage of these complaints were due to interference from Christmas lights.

If this figure were applied across the broadband industry, TalkTalk estimates it would mean around 100,000 people’s connections are affected each Yuletide.

To educate its 4 million customers TalkTalk is now issuing guidance on how best to avoid the impact on their web surfing experience.

Sylvain Thevenot from TalkTalk said: “Most people think their broadband speed is affected by how far they are from the telephone exchange, but there are a number of other important factors that have a big impact too. Interference from domestic lighting and wiring is a major problem across the broadband industry and at this time of year Christmas lights tend to aggravate it.

“To keep your broadband running smoothly and speedily, we recommend you keep your Christmas lights as far away from your broadband router and computer as possible, and only buy lighting with the CE mark from reputable brands. We also recommend people avoid having their lights flashing as in some cases this can interfere with the wireless connection.”
TalkTalk also offers its customers a Tune Up Kit, including an iPlate which blocks signal interference in their wireless broadband, to ensure faster speeds.



Check the latest TalkTalk broadband deals here.