Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Which way will mobiles go?

It was interesting to read in the paper about one expert's theory that the human race is in the process of evolvig into a ruling class and a sub-species of shorter, less intelligent folk. While it turns out the 'expert' proposed this theory for the fabled institute of scientific excellence that is Bravo TV, you've got to wonder whether he may have a point.

To use a mobile phone metaphor: we all started out as those clunky phones which MPs/prominent businessmen/James Bond had in their cars from the 1960s. Those genetically superior Vikings at Nokia defined the populist mobile phone in the mid-nineties with the 5110 and 6110. The introduction of the 9 series was the genesis of modern business phones and saw the mobile market properly split for the first time as larger, clunkier phones with many more features were created for the business market. The decade since has seen two major types of phone develop (here's the point): the pretty, lightweight and feature-free phone aimed at texting teenagers and the heavyweight business machine, a la blackberry, psalm etc. There are hybirds, but these are not the most popular phones by anyone's standards.

Personally, I reckon that the human race will destroy itself long before we have a chance to divide into superior and inferior sub-strands - the evidence for this is all around us. Also, random factors will always crop up that stop the beautiful/intelligent types breeding with each other. For example, the national lottery. You can bet that lottery winners are able to punch well above their weight with the opposite sex, purely because of the downright attractiveness of a pile of cash.

Either way, sub-species should be the least of our worries. First should be global warming, while a close second should be Watford's survival in the Premiership. Up the Horns!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Phones 4 U Exclusive Vodafone Deal

The annnouncement that Vodafone will be dealing exclusively with Phones 4 U seems like a bit of a funny one. The reason given - that Phones 4 U appeals to the younger market Vodafone craves - makes sense in a way, but I can't see any justification for NOT selling through as many outlets as possible. Also, the exclusive deal only applies to contract phones, which aren't really there for the younger market anyway.

Back in the day, Vodafone was the unquestioned king of UK mobile providers. Now, with the third generation licenses, reception issues with rivals are no longer relevant as they were and it's all about service and cost. I personally had difficulty with Voda when they worked with Singlepoint and in the months following their purchase of the company. I upgraded my phone and kept the same contract, but they knocked off my rolled-over free minutes and sent me a stinker of a bill. The problem was sorted reasonably quickly, but it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place and I did have to navigate through several layers of customer service advisor to get anything fixed.

While the Carphone Warehouse insists the announcement will do no great damage to profits (apparantly only 10% of their business involves Voda contracts), the BBC have reported that Carphone shares took a hammering in the aftermath of the announcement.

To me, it seems like a good time to pick up Carphone shares. Yes, they've taken a hammering and yes the Voda announcement is bad news (at least in the short term), but they have the most respected mobile communications brand out there (hence a royal warrant) and the Talk Talk internet project is in the process of revolutionising broadband, giving the company a huge client base to woo in the future.