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.


MWC 2009

16 February, 2009


So Mobile World Congress has started. Time, once again, to see the great and the good telling us where the future lies. Frankly, we represent quite a few of the companies at the show.

I think I’d undermine my blogging integrity if I said which ones I think are going to be game-changers. Obviously the answer is ‘all of the ones we represent’.

Those of us that have remained in the UK are still there, after a manner of speaking. Being a game bunch, we frequently volunteer for modeling duties, keeping our clients’ photography costs down. Our faces loom over proceedings from a series of larger-than-life posters. Be warned.

Given all the talk about the economy, rumours that stand numbers are down, and the number of journalists that aren’t going, I’d be fascinated to hear how it all turns out.

On a totally unrelated topic, I noticed a fascinating bit of news this morning. Apparently the team behind thepiratebay.org is being prosecuted by the Swedish government for copyright infringement. On one level this makes me quite sad. I love the idea of the net as being like a wild west frontier. On the other hand the wild west got people shot to bits.

On another level I find myself thinking ‘what did they expect’? The argument of most peer-to-peer websites is that they never actually host the content; just carry other people’s trackers. But you wouldn’t get away with murder just because you only told the blind man where to point the gun.

I think the writing’s on the wall.


Google Android (HTC G1) vs. Apple iPhone

25 September, 2008

Well, the claws are out.

I saw a very interesting review today from Eric Zehman of the new Google Android OS running on its first handset, the HTC G1. He also rather kindly offers some video footage of the interface and hardware to provide context.

I highlighted this article because it tallies most with my own views. It also cuts right to the heart of the Apple-vs.-everyone-else debate.

Eric mentions the G1 in the same breath as Nokia’s N-series, Palm, Blackberry and the Apple iPhone. But let’s not beat about the bush. For personal use at least there’s only one competitor; the iPhone. And as far as I’m concerned, the iPhone wins.

There’s little to seperate these two phones in price. But Apple, once again, has pipped everyone to the post in the usability stakes, at the cost of making a completely closed system. The G1 totally lacks Multitouch. Also, without significant multimedia capabilities, the G1 is little more than the first phone that Google could get onto the market. Good browsing is nice, but shouldn’t we expect this by now?

I reckon Eric is right to say that open source OS’s are where the future lies. It’ll probably be a matter of weeks before we see a more highly-specced phone come out. And thank god someone else is using decent, capacitance-based screens! That has felt like a long-time-coming.

I anticipate that the price of these devices is going to crash over the next year. And then Apple is going to have to do something *amazing* to its iPhone to encourage buyers to continue subsidising Apple’s development costs. Gaming perhaps? It’s already moved in that direction.

Until then, I, at least, would still opt for the iPhone as the better option. But I suspect that, were I to fork out my own money for it, I’d regret it when a slew of cheaper, better Android-based phones come out in six months.

Grandparents and mobile phones

9 September, 2008

Over the weekend my granddad dropped by my parent’s house with a problem. Now this happens more often than not – from issues tuning in his TV, to getting the free DVD from the Sunday paper to play. This time the problem was with the digital photo frame we had brought him for Christmas. Despite his best efforts he could not fathom where the USB key went on the frame, having tried every socket to no avail he resorted to asking my sister for help. Cue my sister removing the cover from the USB key and one slightly embarrassed grandparent.

Now stereotypically speaking the elderly and technology are not the best of friends, I’m sure you’ve all had to explain something similar to an elderly friend or relative, and the Christmas I was nominated to explain to (the same) grandparent how to operate his new mobile was, to say the least, a test of patience.

At EML we deal with the cutting edge of technology, from the latest wireless devices to the chips they are made on – but in 50 years time am I going to be any better at operating (what is to me) a simple consumer product like a mobile? Back in my granddad’s youth I’m sure he was fully capable of working the latest technology much to the bewilderment of his grandparents. Now of course I grew up with computers and similar technology, but I honestly believe that in my old age I will be just as clueless, and will have equally exasperated grandchildren explaining what is to them, the most simple of technological tasks.

Now oddly I’m quite looking forward to this. What say you? Do you think that you’ll always be tech-savvy? Or will it eventually overtake you?

Head them off at the pass boys…

24 June, 2008

Today’s news that Nokia is buying out the mobile handset OS company Symbian must surely rank as one of this year’s most significant events in the telco space.

In the same release several of the mobile industry’s biggest players announced their intention to form the ‘Symbian Foundation’ to collectively develop a unified open-source operating system.

Having spent years competing in the Mobile OS space, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, DOCOMO and Motorola have all announced that they will donate their software (Symbian, S60, UIQ, MOAP) to the cause. Let’s just repeat that; four of the biggest companies in the mobile space, who invested years and millions of dollars into their software, are now ostensibly giving away their intellectual property to all-and-sundry.

So what motive is driving this unprecedented level of co-operation between the mobile giants? No-one’s going to sacrifice that much intellectual capital unless they stand to lose even more actual capital somewhere else. Something’s got their goose.

The big-players are surely trying to head-off some common threat. I think the BBC is incorrect to assume that this threat would be Android’s open-source Mobile OS ‘Android’ I think it’s more likely to be Apple.

Though the Symbian foundation is open to all, it seems unlikely Apple would join. Apple has always differentiated itself by providing in-house, innovative and fiercely-guarded software. Moreover, Apple is rapidly stealing the wind from the big player’s sails with the iPhone’s funky, sexy interface.

This should be an interesting fight.

The research money-go-round, and round

3 April, 2008

One of my colleagues alerted me to a Daily Telegraph piece last week on another brain tumour caused by mobile phones study. What – another one I thought, is there another grant up for grabs? It turned out to be a reasonably balanced piece of journalism by Robert Uhlig highlighting a study from Sweden published by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Once upon a time when mobiles were the size of blenders, an analogue cellular standard called NMT was used in Sweden (among other places). Some remote parts of Africa still use NMT but the rest of us use unrelated digital technology and have done since the 90s. Two points struck me about this story – The European Journal of Cancer Prevention, as Mr Uhlig quite rightly says, published the study – it’s a web-based publisher of material, that’s all it does – more librarian than interested informed commentator. And the study’s leader is a well-known serial-researcher in this surprisingly lucrative part of the research market. It’s a shame when a respected national paper makes headline news again from the research money-go-round, raising the anxiety levels of ordinary people in the process.

So, not quite in the same league as a piece The Times was once duped in to writing – about a person ‘allergic to technology’ who could only shop in establishments with manual tills and could watch black and white TV but not colour TV – (sorry I can’t find a link but at the time I wrote to The Editor in alarm) – but sadly not a million miles away.

Bad Jeremy

13 March, 2008

I’ve been shaken back in to the blogsphere by (poor old) journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson, and the various news items related to him being photographed by some fame-seeking do-gooder while he was driving and using his mobile phone – at the same time, imagine that? I’ll admit I was once involved, on behalf of a client, in campaigning to have the mobiles-while-driving legislation eased, to allow business users of mobile radio equipment a level of exemption – but on the whole it’s a good law.

I’m not agitated by the current adverts either – good strong messaging – drive while you are on the phone and you risk death – you can’t argue with that. What bugs me is that Clarkson, just because he’s recognised, potentially gets prosecuted, not because he’s naughty, but because he’s famous and naughty.


Every day I see dozens of idiots on the phone (and driving) but I don’t know who they are and neither does anyone else so they escape. What’s next? Photos of celebrities driving in bus-lanes? Photos of celebrities dropping litter being emailed to local councils? I predict Clarkson gets off, and he gets some extra press-clippings this month.