Better, but not much

13 September, 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve contributed to this blog and a lot has happened not least of which an iPhone 4 acquisition which, from what I can see, is a faster, grown-up, very nicely engineered iPhone. But it’s not really all that different from what went before.

I’m still finding new features and figuring out if they are actually useful, I’m not sure voice control has a lot of merit but new apps like Layar are really pointing out what lies ahead with a combination of freely available data superimposed on a digitised view of the world shown on your little screen in real time.

What's over there, behind that idiot with the iPhone?

if I’d seen that suggested even 5 years ago I’d have not believed it would be possible, but seeing the world though a window which drops on information in real time dragged off the internet – on my phone for free – works today and I can see it catching-on fast.

On a more practical level I’d hate to take one apart but I bet it’s easier than the curved back models.  I spent a fascinating evening repairing one of those this week and I’m not planning to do that again for a very long time.

I’m normally pretty capable with a box of tools but the sheer scale of an iPhone assembly made me realise that my eyesight and dexterity are both starting to show their combined age.  Fortunately age and experience (stubbornness) finally triumphed over fiendish Californian ingenuity and the device lives again.

If you get an iPhone or iPod it is possible to fix a screen for the price of a decent pizza but trust one of these nice services who offer to do it for you, trust me it’s so worth it.


What a great big fuss!

11 June, 2010

I watched with interest as the news broke yesterday afternoon that O2 was to stop offering unlimited data to smartphone users, like AT&T has done in the US.

“This can’t be fair”, “I know people who only stick with O2 because the data is unlimited!” and so it went on.

No any more - it's for your own good!

The fact of the matter is that the mobile networks all struggle to keep up with the ludicrous volumes of data downloaded through mobile connections in the UK (mostly tethered to a laptop at home I have no doubt).  The BBC report I read said that 3% of O2’s customers are using 36% of the network’s data capacity! Capacity which you’ll probably know is borrowed from the voice traffic on the same network.  If you’ve ever wondered why mobile calls are harder to place and receive look no further than the nearest iPhone.

I use an iPhone for voice and data when I’m away from the office and warmly welcome actions which make the service better for the vast majority of users.

On the flip side the appetite for unlimited fully-mobile data at screaming-data-rates is a good sign for the industry. It will be satisfied when the networks are enhanced with the best that the next generation technology developers can provide, and it will probably give us a living for years to come.

All eyes on Spain

15 February, 2010

Well, it’s here again. MWC is back and ‘hooray for that’ say journalists and PRs – I don’t think so.

It has been fun watching all the Tweets from journos about being pestered by PRs, including the classic one last Friday afternoon from a harassed editor who was still being called by PRs to see if he had time for an interview. It is difficult though for a PR to know when to stop. Some journalists fill their diaries as soon as Christmas is over and others are Tweeting in the last week to say they are just looking to start booking in meetings. Dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

The first day has brought interesting industry news.  The popularity of Apple’s apps has led 24 of the other operators to get together to develop a single Apps platform that they can all incorporate into phones so that a rival Apps store can be created for use across many systems. With Apple having 3 billion downloads from its app store in the last 18 months they have a bit of catching up to do.

At least jealousy about Apple’s success has got them talking and producing an end product that will benefit consumers everywhere. It’s good to talk.

Who invited them?

15 January, 2010

I got an invoice from iTunes this morning in my in-box for a bunch of Russian related applications I didn’t want or order.

So slick your Russian granny can use it.

It will be interesting to see how well the system deals with, what on the face of it, what appears to be a good old fashioned data processing failure.

On the day 50,000 Vodafone iPhones hit the UK system, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something somewhere went a little bit wrong for one new Apple convert, and for me of course.

The way I see it I’m fairly safe, I can keep a secret and my details are secure on Apple’s service, my credit card provider isn’t phased – the software iTunes spat out somewhere in my name on someone else’s computer, is all DRM protected – so presumably there’s someone with a non-functioning copy of iGO my way GPS navigation and SolvoEd Deluxe English-Russian dictionary on their nice new iPhone, and right now they are giving Vodafone what for.

That’s how it’s supposed to work, that’s the up-side of DRM and secure web services right?

What’s that… you’ll believe it when you see it?

Maybe I’ll let you know – anyway welcome-aboard Vodafone types!

Good time for mobiles

17 November, 2009

As I am busy drumming up interest in the Cellular 25 event at the Science Museum in January, I have become extra-aware of what is happening in the mobile world.

So, I was particularly taken last week by the story that 10 million of us Brits are surfing the internet on our mobiles and downloading apps is the second-fastest growing activity. This tops emailing, texting and picture messaging.  At the same time this Nielsen report also stated that only one in seven handsets is a smartphone – long way to go then.

Also interesting is that Apple now make more money per phone than Nokia does, although Nokia still tops the sellers with 44% of the market.

Perhaps the best news of all is the Wallace and Gromit cartoon download for iPhones – I know what I’m doing this lunchtime.

Mobiles, where would we be without them.

Will Digital Britain ever get off the ground?

27 August, 2009

The Digital Britain report is turning into a laughing stock. It was supposed to be a visionary report outlining Britain’s digital future and how these services would be provided, but it turned out to promise broadband speeds a fraction of those being delivered in the rest of the western world and has now been sidetracked by the debate over file sharing.

The one over-riding conclusion from both parts of this debate is that the UK government doesn’t understand the internet, the way it works, the way people use it or the way the technology behind it works. Trying to force modern broadband speeds down outdated copper is like trying to kit out a mini to race in Formula One. Yes you can make it go very quickly compared to its previous speed, but nowhere near quick enough and it will soon get left behind by the rest. The clients and journalists we have spoken to about this are of the same opinion as most of the industry, the UK needs fibre rolled out and it needs to aim for higher than a pathetic 2Mb/s.

The latest row over file sharing is just bewildering. I’m sure the fact that Lord Mandelson has spent time on holiday with the anti-file sharing community is nothing to do with it, but suggesting we cut people off makes little sense. On one hand the report describes broadband as almost a basic human right, and now they’re talking about taking it away if someone using the connection downloads a few songs.

The report needs the support of the ISP and wider technology community – and so far it has alienated the ISPs with the proposed bill to cut off file sharers, and alienated the wider technology community by failing to deliver the fibre infrastructure this country needs. The ISPs will have to do a lot of work to monitor and identify illegal file sharers and then cutting them off will lose them money – so where is the motivation?

I saw a great comment on a blog the other week that summed it up perfectly -“If someone sends a stolen DVD through the post, do we expect Royal Mail to take action?”

Yes illegal file sharing does cost the entertainment industry a lot of money, but there are much better way to deal with it than to go around cutting off people’s internet connection when there’s a good chance they did nothing wrong.

The government needs to re-think the whole report and stop getting sidetracked by one relatively minor topic, otherwise this report will never get taken seriously and the UK will fall even further behind the rest of the world.


Wi-Fi allergy or promotional stunt?

24 July, 2009

There is a time and place for sympathy and empathy and this isn’t it.  When a colleague asked me if I’d blogged on a wireless scare story recently, and sent me two links from the Telegraph about a chap called Steve Miller, I had to have a little scoot-about.

Wi-Fi fried my hamster...

Wi-Fi fried my hamster...

There’s no evidence of commercial sponsorship on this one, other than the mention of his need to carry a Wi-Fi detector, [where can I get me one of those must-have items?] so all I can surmise is that DJ Steve’s Ibiza days are becoming infrequent and his ‘Afterlife’ stage-name needed some profile points?

Well as a PR stunt, job done – well done everybody.   But The Mail and The Sun, come on!  The times when anyone took this sort of nonsense seriously have pretty much gone – please stick to stories which are really tricky to pick holes in.

Thanks to Ian Douglas at the Telegraph for a good critique.