Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Would You Browse for Furniture on your Phone?

Every company now seems to feel like they should have a Twitter account and an iPhone app. Where they were once hesitant about going online they are now desperate to appear cool by mastering the latest social networking craze or spending all their money on a fancy website. Having refused to get online until people stopped coming into their shops they are now reaching out via the web and learning fun phrases like Web 2.0, the Tipping Point and Crowd Sourcing.

Both House of Frasier and Ikea have released versions of their 2010 catalogs as iPhone apps. The apps let you browse through what is available in store although it is not actually possible to buy products via the Ikea one (Ikea only deliver to certain areas so online sales aren't their strong point). A lot of the items these companies sell would need to be seen in person (you wouldn't buy a sofa without seeing it) but the apps aim to give customers 'inspiration'.

Some have questioned the usefulness of a phone application when it comes to selling furniture. Bill Westerman, CTO of Create with Context believes that it is unlikely to be cost effective: "The enormous cost of development won’t always be financially sensible. The aim of any app is to tap into customer loyalty, keep shoppers interested in the brand and ultimately make money."

Most people in the UK wont have the ability to use an iPhone application so perhaps retailers would be better off trying to make a really great mobile site. Mobile sites are getting more hits than ever before as more and more phones become able to access the web. A great mobile site would need to be accessible to those with slower connections or at least have high and low bandwidth versions.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Mobile Broadband News on Facebook

Mobile Broadband News now has a Facebook page! To keep up to date with new posts just visit Mobile Broadband News on Facebook and click 'Become a fan'. All new posts will now be shown on Facebook as well as here.

You can also follow me on Twitter @Broadband news to see when new posts are published and join in the discussion, I am also on Identi.ca here.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch via, you can email me via my Google Profile here.

Thanks for reading,

Simon Grant.

Monday, 14 December 2009

41 Percent Say That Mobile Broadband is their Main Connection

Considering that mobile broadband has a reputation as a supplementary technology it comes as quite a surprise that 41% of people who took part in a recent Ofcom poll said that it provided their main connection to the internet. Mobile broadband is typically thought of as an additional way of connecting for those on the move but this has clearly changed.

Most mobile broadband users aren't as mobile as you may imagine, infact 78% predominantly use their dongles at home. This shows us that many mobile broadband users do not have a fixed line connection. The benefits of a mobile broadband dongle go beyond portability particularly for those who do not have a phone line or are looking to save money.

According to Ofcom thosed aged 15-34 are most likely to solely use mobile broadband with 1/10 having a contract. Less well off household are also going for the mobile option with those earning less than £11,500 per year often opting for mobile broadband only. Mobile broadband is clearly maintaining its popularity and looks set to overtake fixed line connections by the end of the year.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Online Music Streaming Becoming Increasingly Popular

Once upon a time it would take longer to download a song from the internet than it would to actually play the song. Thankfully things have come a long way since then and music streaming is an everyday reality rather than a far of dream. its safe to say that the internet has had a massive impact on how we buy (or not) and discover music. It has also opened up the possibilities when it comes to how we listen to music.

These days even some pay as you go phones come with music downloads (although the less said about Nokia's Comes With Music the better). Most internet users stream music from Youtube even if they don't subscribe to any online radio stations. A recent study by Rajar has investigated the usage of online radio and found that its popularity is rising rapidly. Last month alone in the UK 4.5 million people listened to online radio compared to 2.9 million in October of last year.

Rajar's Measurement of Internet Delivered Audio Services (Midas) report also showed that listening to podcasts and to listen-again services such as the BBC iPlayer was also growing, but at a reduced pace.

One of the most popular online radio services is Spotify who allow users to stream millions of tracks in exchange for either listening to adverts or paying a monthly subscription. Spotify has some major flaws (its search function is basic at best and discovering new music is a struggle) but it allows you to choose what you listen to which means that it is under your control. Ideally Spotify would take some tips from Last.fm in order to become an interactive community.

Its clear to see why Spotify would be more popular than traditional radio, whatever you listen to chances are you will find something you like on Spotify. In this sense it caters for a much larger potential user base than any commercial radio station could without needing to appeal to everyone. What Spotify really needs in some user interaction so that it is easier to find new artists which are relevant to your tastes and get recommendations from people who like the same things you do.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Skype Launches Live Streaming Experiment

In a bid to publicize the ability of their software to make traditional phone calls as well as instant message Skype have employed a man to sit in a deserted part of Spain and answer calls via Skype. A live stream of the event is also available (play the video below and the live stream is then displayed).

Skype users are able to contact 27 year old Rob Cavazos via the website www.phoneboxexperiment.com which also features a live stream (it looks windy in Spain today!) Calls can be made by anyone with credit on their Skype account.

Skype were inspired by the Mojave phone booth which was referred to as the loneliest phonebox in the world before it was removed in 2000. The phone, which was 15 miles from the nearest highway, became an early internet sensation and would regularly receive calls from around the world.

Skype is the most well known of the various VOIP (voice over IP) applications and the most popular with 521 million user accounts in operation. Recent advances have included the Skype Mobile as well as a mobile application available for download here.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Londoners Leave 10,000 Mobile Phones in Taxis Per Month

According to a survey commissioned by Credant Technologies each month sees around 10,000 mobile phones left behind in London Taxi cabs. The worst month for phone losses is December as people are more likely to be inebriated enough to not notice their phone slipping out of their pocket. Presumably the reduction in the size of mobile phones make them easier to lose these days.

Many people are lucky enough to be reunited with their phones by a friendly taxi driver. Other will find that the next fare has taken their device never to be seen again. Loosing your mobile phone can be a real hassle and also a cause of concern due to the amount of personal data the average phone contains. If you are a user of pay as you go phones you may loose all your credit as well as your handset. If you have insurance you will be able to get a new handset but what about its contents?

Chances are your mobile phone contains hundreds of photographs, emails and even music tracks that could easily be lost. Even if you have your data backed up at home you are likely to worry about who has your data and what they intend to do with it. If you access social networking sites from your phone its best not to save your passwords unless you want to see somebody else updating your Facebook page. Similarly it is best to log out of applications such as Skype mobile and other IM providers.

The best way to avoid these issues (other than not forgetting your phone) is to keep your phone locked and use a password for access. This also has the benefit of not letting you use your phone unless you are sober enough to put in a password - not more drunk texts! It is also possible to lock or encrypt your memory card so that the data stored on it is safe. There are now applications available which allow you to remotely lock your phone by text message.