Monday, November 20, 2006

Is this the next step forward for mobile billing?

When I first got a mobile phone it was a lovely big Siemens handset on One 2 One. What a great phone that was. The best thing about it was that my contract, which came in at around £20pm if I remember correctly, included free evening and weekend calls to any local numbers. I never worked out what exactly counted as local, but hammered the free calls to my heart's content (and brain's discontent, most likely).

The typical shape of mobile phone contracts has changed in the decade since I got that lovely big load of Siemens. Now, the providers like to slap monthly allowances on your free calls, to avoid the possibility of the free minutes being misused, as was supposedly common with the old One 2 One deals.

Now, 3 have introduced the first groundbreaking billing package for 3G phones, under the interesting (if slightly odd) moniker 'X'.

"X-Series customers will only pay a flat access fee on top of their basic subscription and then what’s free to use on the internet should be free to use on mobile broadband (subject to fair usage and international roaming conditions, of course)"

This is a bold step forward for a company which is still trying to claw market share away from its longer-established rivals. In theory, it should force the other networks to follow suit and drop their current per-megabyte charging.

As we well know, the mobile operators are in a bit of a sticky situation at the minute as regards 3G services, having paid the equivalent of £500 per customer for their licenses. That's £500 they need to make back from mobile phone users like your mum, who has probably just grasped texting and would never dream of watching television or managing her money via the internet facility on her phone.

That is not to say that the 3G services will not turn a profit in the future. As new generation of mobile phone users grows up with the notion of a mobile internet, usage is growing... just not at the rate needed by the operators.

Against this background, 3's move seems like a logical and innovative step, which their competitors will have to match in the near future. It may remove some of the potential profit from offering 3G services, but a change in user habits is the only way the phone companies can hope to get any of their £22 billion investment in the technology back.

Monday, November 13, 2006

We are gathered here today...

My Nokia 6630 is on its last legs.

Despite having 3G Speed, a 1.3 megapixel camera, 10 MB of internal dynamic memory with hot swap 64 MB Reduced Size MultiMediaCard (MMC), up to 1 hour video recording time and a Web browser with improved HTML support, the poxy thing is creaking sadly to the big pawn shop in the sky.

I must admit, despite our long relationship (almost 2 years) I have never been especially fond of the phone, with its pocket-filling dimensions and general asthetic impairments. It seemed so futuristic when I first picked it up from a Vodafone store... 3G? Yowsers. 1.3 Megapixels? Fab. Weight and dimensions of a young ox? Not so good.

The real trouble started about 3 months ago when I tried to use the fabled camera. Instead of allowing me to make the usual home made smut with my (now ex) girlfriend, up came a message saying 'system error'. Now, anyone with even the loosest relationship with techology knows that these are bad words to see.

The camera has not worked since. Worse, though, is the fact that all of my old photos and videos have also been deleted. This is very bad news, especially as I no longer have a girlfriend for company. (Off topic for a minute, but ex-girlfriend related, a number of these postings on Craigslist cracked me up)

So, what is the first thing a right-minded (and newly single) young chap would do in this situation? Try and salvage the address book, that's what. Luckily, my names and numbers were not touched in the Nokia memory rout. Great, I thought, let's get them backed up onto the computer. While this involves using Nokia PC Suite - officially the most shocking piece of software ever created - I have known it to work in the past and have a relatively recent list of names and numbers (lacking any post-girlfriend totty, it must be noted) to fall back on.

Did the bastard work?

What do you think?

Another system error left me feeling well and truly at the mercy of the technology that is there to help.

This means I have an evening in prospect of copying down all my names and numbers into an address book, which is not the best way to spend a Monday evening, all things considered.

So here I am blogging!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Motorola SLVR L7e

Yippee. Motorola have released a new handset and it's not a RAZR!

No, instead it's another SLVR.

It seems the mighty Motorola is struggling to come up with anything even related to an original handset after having led the market for the past couple of years. The Mobile Gazette is rather more eloquent on the subject than I could ever hope to be.

It seems to me that the biggest breakthrough in recent handset design has been by LG, with their increasingly popular Chocolate phone, which can be seen attached to the ears of everyone from celebrities to the Croydon facelift brigade. LG has done brilliantly to break into the big boy's club of Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and Samsung. People are generally very loyal to a brand of mobile phone... far more so than to any particular network. Smaller brands find it very difficult to break into the market, you just have to look at the Benq Siemens debacle for proof of that.