Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Importance of Backing Up

If you have ever had the misfortune to lose data from your computer you will have experienced people telling you that you really should backup your data. While this is great advice it is very bad timing, by this point you are left in no doubt about the importance of securing your data! There are two main methods of backing up: online and offline both of which we will cover in this post.


Online backup is the most straightforward method as it is easier to automate than offline backup. There are lots of companies which offer online backup for business as well as those offering solutions for individuals. Backing up your data online is safer than using offline devices such as portable hard drives which people often store alongside their computer. Once set up online backup software runs in the background which means that it doesn't rely on you to remember to back up.


For most individuals offline backup normally takes the form of an external hard drive. For businesses offline backup normally takes the form of a shared drive or network (although is is arguably not entirely 'offline'). This means that should your computer fail you will still be able to recover your files.

Which ever method you chose it is well worth having a plan for how you keep your data secure. These days we spend more and more time online and using our computers. Most people have a digital camera and listen to mp3s meaning that we now have more to lose than ever before.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Video: Introducting Word Lens

Word Lens is an augmented reality app which "instantly translates printed words from one language to another using the video camera on your iPhone". A lot of AR apps are really interesting but too slow and buggy to use for anything other than showing off in the pub. If Word Lens works as well as it appears to in this video then it is the exception to this rule. Just imagine being on holiday and having your iPhone translate signs and menus for you in real time!

you can get Word Lens from the App store.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Mobile Broadband Spend up 40%

A new report published by Nokia Siemens shows that monthly spend has increased significantly between 2009 and 2010. The average monthly spend on mobile broadband in Britain, France, Germany and Spain has increased by 40% year on year. The monthly spend is a good indicator of growth as it measure actual usage of new and existing mobile broadband customers.

Nokia Siemens attributed the rise in spend to two factors: "Increased usage of mobile broadband among existing customers and higher penetration of the service in market segments with more disposable income." Bundled offers such as the many free laptop deals are also likely to be an important factor.

The report also found that a quarter of those who do not currently use mobile broadband have considered signing up. 31% of current users with a mobile connection intended to access the internet via mobile broadband more often. Depending on these user's contract this may involve an increased monthly spend.

Interestingly only 27% of those polled accessed the internet via desktop and standard laptop devices, a third of subscribers used a netbook or mini laptop. 25% used smartphones such as the iPhone and HTC Desire or other smart devices such as the new Apple iPad.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Making Your Eco Mark with Your Mobile and Broadband

With so much emphasis today on mobile phone technology and service, increasingly better phones and better services for them, it’s important that we learn how to use our mobile phones in a way that is environmentally responsible and careful. As mobile technology becomes more and more a part of our lives, we are responsible to make sure that we are doing as little damage as possible to our planet when using this technology or discarding older models.

There are many ways to be green about our mobile phone use. Some of them will be more plausible for your situation and personality, others less so. Do what you can even if it seems like very little. If everyone does their part, no matter how small, not only will the world be a better place, but it will last for a lot longer as well. Here are some tips for greener mobile and broadband technology use.

That’s right; we’ll start off with a no brainer. When your phone becomes old or you just have to have that new gadget recently released in stores, recycle the one you won’t be using anymore. This doesn’t have to mean giving it away to a homeless person or melting it down for parts. Recycling your old phone could involve good, hard cash! Try looking up your model on Envirofone to see how much it would be worth if you put it back on the market. Reselling your phone is just as green a way to recycle it as any, and the benefits can be even greener.

Alternatively, if there’s a problem with your SIM card or you need to change your number for some reason, see if you can keep your old handset and buy only a new SIM card. This cuts down on your consumption of raw materials and is a great, environmentally conscious way to save money.

Energy Monitoring
Monitor your use of energy with a website such as Electricity Monitor. You can compare products and choose the ones that use the least energy and allow you to leave as tiny a carbon footprint as possible. If your mobile phone uses too much energy, find out if you can cut the amount down a bit by changing your settings, or see if you can afford to invest in a mobile phone that uses less energy.

Green Apps
Really, apps for your smartphone that will somehow make you greener? Ranging from ideas and tips for a greener lifestyle and directories of the most environmentally conscious businesses in your area to product scanners to help you check the environmental impact of any product before buying it, green apps can be an essential way to make your lifestyle more environmentally healthy. There is also an app to help you avoid overcharging your smartphone, which could lead to unnecessary energy usage, and an app to help you become a better, more environmentally conscious driver. There is a full list of Green Apps over at Techcrunch.

Supplier Scrutiny
Do a bit of research on the various service providers available in your area to see which ones have the best record of concern for the environment. The best way to reward green companies is with your business and, although this may sometimes even cost a little more than sticking with the polluting conglomerate monopolies of the world, the peace of mind that you get in exchange, along with the knowledge that you are doing your part to save the planet, will be more than worth the extra expense.

Better Broadband

Find partnerships and businesses offering broadband services that donate part of their proceeds to charity. You can find one of our top overall picks at Companies that are environmentally conscious not only donate a portion of their proceeds to green charities but also find ways to cut down their energy usage and provide quality services with the least amount of damage as possible done to nature. Many of these offer packages that include a pledge from their company to donate a certain amount to saving the environment. Some also offer on their website helpful tips for lessening your impact on the environment, recycling programs, information about their charity programs, lists of awards they have won, and more.

Guest post by James Helliwell of Broadband Expert

Friday, 24 September 2010

10 iPhone Apps for London Visitors

Visiting central London can be akin to planning a military exercise - parking spaces, tube closures, choosing a show or a restaurant - whether you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Londoner or a first-time tourist, information is always your friend!

Here are 10 iPhone apps to make your life a little easier. All are free unless stated otherwise, click on the name of the App to open it in iTunes.

Tube Map

Don’t be lost before your London journey has even begun with this scrollable tube map and route planner. App includes updates on line delays and will find the nearest tube station to where you are. No network connection is required to use the map – handy when you’re 100ft underground!

Park-up London

If you’re bold enough to drive into central London, this nifty parking guide will give you the ‘battleground’ advantage. App comes with details of over 10,000 parking places, including car parks, street parking, disabled and motorcycle bays. Hours and costs are visible for each location, as are the rates of vehicle crime. £2.99

London Journey Planner

Plan your best route around town with this London journey planner. View maps of your location and destination, browse suggested routes and get updates on the various TFL (Transport for London) services, including Tube, Rail, DLR, Bus, Coach and River. 59p

London Cycle

Get on your Boris Bike with this feature-packed app that will help you make the most of the London cycle-hire scheme. Find cycle stations, safe directions and real time information about whether a station is full or empty. App comes with rental timer and alarm, giving you time to re-dock before those unpleasant extra charges apply.

London Shophound

Napoleon famously called the UK a nation of shopkeepers. With thousands of stores, from bric-a-brac to haute couture, London is the undisputed retail capital. This app gives you the insider info on more than 130 of the city’s best shops, including fashion, food and drink and books & music, illustrated with colour photos. Time to get bargain hunting! £1.19

Time Out London

Looking for a restaurant or a place to chill? This free listings guide has information on hundreds of bars, restaurants and events. Find out what’s going on in the city, and put a wealth of entertainment possibilities at your fingertips. Sponsored by Smirnoff, you must be 18 or older to use the app.


Don’t be caught short London again, with this brilliant map of free luxury toilets. Why spend 30p at a railway station when there could be a free super-loo in the ground floor of the department store right across the street? Over 300 free super-loos have been catalogued for your convenience, with quick directions from your current location!

Street Museum

Get an old perspective on contemporary London, with an app that lets you look through the window of time. Select your destination and see the same location appear on your screen in an historic image from the Museum of London archives. Tap the info button for historical facts and delve a little deeper into the story of one of the world’s fastest changing cities.

London Walks

With over 60 walks to choose from, and an easy-to-follow audio guide, this app proves that using a little shoe leather is definitely the best way to discover the city. However, if you just feel like having a coffee instead, you can enjoy a virtual walk from the comfort of your own phone! £1.19

London Taxi

Based on the TFL Taxi Tariff and estimated traffic congestion, this handy app calculates the fare, time and route for your London taxi journeys. Calculate a taxi fare between any 2 points and see the distance of your trip. Preset London points include tube and train stations - particularly useful for making those late trains home! 59p

Guest post by Ben Piper of UK Tickets.
Please get in contact if you are interested in adding a guest post.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Blackberry to Release NewTouch Screen Smartphone

Research In Motion have announced a new Blackberry smartphone which does away with the traditional Blackberry design in favour of a touch screen. Blackberry's previous touch screen device the Storm received some mixed reviews with some complaining about the device's ease of use. The Torch 9800 (yes, Torch not Touch) will have a 3.2 inch touch screen albeit with a slide out keyboard also.

Blackberry's market share has been falling recently as they struggle to compete with Android Smartphones and the iPhone 4. Whilst Blackberry have always had great messaging features they have found it difficult to shift the image of a company that creates devices that are functional rather than fun.

The shift to a larger touch screen reflects the changing usage patterns brought about by the shift to 3g smart phones. Modern phones need provide a great web surfing experience in order to appeal to users and that can't be done with a small screen. A recent survey found that 50% of Blackberry users were 'interested' in buying an iPhone or Android device when their contract ended.

RIM are hoping that this device will be an iPhone killer (personally I don't think we're going to see one for quite some time). Avi Greengart of Current Analysis thinks that the device will be popular with users of previous RIM devices: "If you're a BlackBerry fan and you're looking for a great browsing experience and a better touch interface without losing the BlackBerry experience, the Torch will make many fans very happy."

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Ofcom Chief Warns About Overloaded Mobile Networks

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show Ofcom chief Ed Richards warned that UK Mobile networks are reaching full capacity. He said that those in rural Wales are likely to suffer if the demand for mobile broadband and internet enabled smart phones continues to rise.

The rise in mobile broadband has overtaken all estimates in the years since it was introduced and now the popularity of smart phones is likely to add to the problems of the already oversubscribed networks. Only a small part of the digital spectrum is currently allocated to mobile broadband. This has left networks struggling to provide the bandwidth to support their customers needs.

“UK users are now seeing the beginnings of a capacity pinch, as data-enabled smartphones and dongles chew through media-rich websites and process more background traffic. But while demand is booming – mobile data usage has grown by more than 1,800% in the UK in the past two years – the frequencies, or spectrum, upon which it and so many other similar services are carried have not.
The laws of physics prevent us from inventing or acquiring new spectrum, but we can release spectrum used for other services.”

The statement by Richards follows the news that the Government's Digital Britain plan has been delayed by three years. The original plan was to provide "broadband for all" by 2012 but the data has been revised following cuts in funding. Richards feels that a larger section of the spectrum needs to be allocated to broadband.

“The switch to all-digital television, completed first here in Wales in March, has freed up some hugely important spectrum that could be used to increase the availability of very fast mobile broadband throughout Wales,” he said. I am absolutely clear that we need to get on and release this, something Ofcom has tried to do in the teeth of fierce resistance from existing mobile operators.

For consumers everywhere, the risk is of a slowing of innovation, and a possible reversal of the downward price pressure. And for users in rural Wales it could mean fewer options for solving their connectivity problems.”

Thursday, 1 July 2010

EU Caps Mobile Data Roaming Rates

handy little iPhoneImage by Leeks via Flickr

It's a common story: holidaymaker uses the internet on their mobile phone whilst abroad then discovers that they have been charged hundreds of pounds for downloading too much data. Every year it seems that hundreds of travelers are caught out and end up paying huge amounts for what they thought was included in their regular bill. Whilst unlimited* data plans are now the norm most providers charge extra for using mobile internet overseas.

One British student studying abroad in Spain ran up a bill of €9,000 for just one month of data roaming while a German tourist reported being charged €46,000 for downloading a TV programme while holidaying in France. Last year, one Irish holidaymaker ran up a bill of €200 when using his iPhone as a satnav in France.

The EU has now stepped in and reportedly 'capped' roaming charges. The truth is slightly more complicated, usage will be limited to €50 after which the customer's connection will be cut off. The connection can be reinstated and higher or lower limits can also be chosen. £40 is still quite a lot to be spending on top of a standard monthly subscription. The maximum charge per mb is also being reduced from €1 to 80 cent.

Hopefully reductions in mobile roaming costs will continue to fall over the forthcoming years. Since 2005 costs have already fallen by 73% as internet use on mobile phones become more widespread. This is great news for consumers who are now used to having internet access at all times via smart phones.

Having an internet enabled phone abroad can be a real help particularly a if it's a smart phone with Applications. Being able to look up car hire information and see your location on Google Maps plus having applications such as the Lonely Planet guide makes things much more straight-forward. It's nice to know that you won't be shocked by an excessive bill on your return home.

3D Games on the HTC Desire

Video by Memmx

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Top 5 Free Mobile Travel Apps

These day I wouldn't dream of traveling without my mobile phone although I rarely use it to make calls. Built in GPS means that I almost never get lost (unless I stray out of reach of a decent signal) and my collection of Travel apps keep me amused and informed.

An internet enabled mobile phone is also a great guide book and reference tool. Wondering when that Cathedral was built? Looking for a cheap place to eat? Need to work out a currency conversion? Google has all the answers and more.

Below are 5 of the best mobile Apps for travelers all of which are free to download and use. Some of these Apps are available on other platforms, if not there are likely to be alternatives. If you have anything else to add please do so in the comments.

1. Flightview [iPhone] [Blackberry] [Web]

Flightview lets you keep up to date with flight schedules, weather conditions and the status of your flight. Enter your Airport code (LDN, JFK e.t.c) and your flight number for real time information.
"Receive alerts concerning flight status changes, flight delays, flight cancellations and gate assignment changes, whether your app is open or closed. Use the Notes feature to add car hire and hotel reservation numbers, and other important trip information."

2. Google Maps App [web] [mobile]

The most used feature of my phone when I travel, Google Maps lets you see where you are when combined with the built in GPS which most Smart Phones now have. You can find directions and follow your progress on the map in real time. Use the search feature to locate cash points, coffee shops and train stations. You can also read customer reviews of restaurants and hotels to help you make up your mind.

3. Wi-Fi Finder [Web] [iPhone]

Its pretty obvious what this one does but why? Well roaming data rates can be extortionate so using Wifi can save you a lot of money on your return. Also if you happen own a iPod or non 3G iPad then you are reliant on a Wifi connection to get online. If you can find a free Hotspot then it is a much better option than visiting a cyber cafe.

4. Urbanspoon [iPhone]

Urban spoon helps you to choose where to eat which is particularly useful when you find yourself in a new city with no local knowledge. The user interface is a pleasure to use, simply select a location, a type of cuisine and a price range then shake to see what is suggested. If you don't like what come up then just shake again until you get a satisfactory answer.

5. AccuWeather [iPhone]

Being away from home it can be difficult to keep up to date with the weather forecast. When you are traveling the chances are you will be outside a lot of the time and therefore will need to dress appropriately. The AcuuWeather app using you location and gives you a fairly reliable indication of the approaching weather conditions.

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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Labour Details Broadband Plan

Yesterday Labour released their 2010 Manifesto in anticipation of the forthcoming election. With the election on the horizon the main political parties all seem hesitant to use the 't' word. Considering the unpopular nature of Labour's proposed 'Broadband Tax' I was interested in seeing if this was mentioned at all.

The Tax is to return should Labour win the election with 50p per month being charged to all homes with landline connections. This is needed, Labour says, in order to cover the cost of providing broadband for all. The Manifesto (PDF link) states that:

Britain must be a world leader in the development of broadband. We are investing in the most ambitious plan of any industrialised country to ensure a digital Britain for all, extending access to every home and business. We will reach the long-term vision of superfast broadband for all through a public-private partnership in three stages:

* first, giving virtually every household in the country a broadband service of at least two megabits per second [2Mbps] by 2012;

* second, making possible superfast broadband for the vast majority of Britain in partnership with private operators, with Government investing over £1 billion in the next seven years;

* and lastly reaching the final ten per cent using satellites and mobile broadband.

The proposed tax would generate £175m per year to improve the coverage and infrastructure of the current broadband system. The 10% of people who live in areas which cannot be reached by normal broadband will be able to connect using mobile broadband. The problem with this theory is that, whilst mobile broadband coverage has improved a great deal, the areas which are not covered are likely to be the remote rural areas which are also not covered by normal broadband.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

News Round Up

Sorry for the recent lack of updates I have been too busy to spend as much time as I would like posting. I lieu of a full post here are some links to interesting articles I have read over the last week or so. There has been a lot of talk lately about the future of Broadband so there is lots to talk about!

  • Mobile Phone company MTS, are to release thermoresistant SIM cards which are able to withstand temperatures from -40 to +105C. Handy if you live in some kind of freezing wasteland/ scorching desert.
  • Ferrets are key to bridging the digital divide between cities and rural areas according to one Broadband provider. (Check the byline date)
  • Broadband 'to reduce the gap between internet and TV'. Will the computer screen become the new television screen?
  • Gordon Brown want high speed Broadband to 'prevent a digital divide' and yet Labour are trying to rush the Digital Economy Bill through through Parliament before the election.
  • Ofcom wants cheaper mobile phone calls and easier network switching. In particular they may force providers to make cross-network calls cheaper.
  • Bangladesh has blocked 1.5 million mobile numbers and tightened regulations for buying and selling SIM cards in order to prevent mobile related crime.

Monday, 22 March 2010

PM Pledges to Provide Fast Broadband for all by 2020

Gordon Brown is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday in which he will promise to provide high speed broadband for every house in the country by 2020. The PM is expected to equate broadband with "the electricity of the digital age" and suggest that speeds of over 50mb are to be provided for all.

The idea of 'broadband for all' is not a new one, the Government's Digital Britain Report was published in June 2009 and recommended providing high speeds for all. As I wrote back in July "They believe that broadband is essential for everyone from school children to big business in order to strengthen the economy and reduce poverty. Children from homes without an internet connection tend to get, on average, lower grades. Businesses need fast connections in order to compete with the global market."

If Labour win the next election they plan to create a 'broadband tax' in order to raise money to improve the country's broadband infrastructure. The tax, which has be opposed by the Tories, will take the form of a 50p per month levy on landlines. The PM expects this tax to raise between £175m and £200m per year. Given the easy availability of contract SIMs this could be yet another nail in the coffin of fixed line services.

The Government also plans to move public services online giving each person in the UK a personal webpage from which they will apply for Passports, submit tax claims and claim housing benefit etc. This plan would save the government millions of pounds although it would also result in lost jobs and potential lack of data security.

"Faster broadband speeds will bring new, cheaper, more personalised and more effective public services to people. It will bring games and entertainment options with new levels of sophistication. So one vision for Digital Britain would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived. And this will mean a massive penalty in economic development to those who are denied access because of a failure of government to rise to the challenge where markets fail. The alternative is our vision: ensuring, not simply hoping for, universal coverage."
Gordon Brown

It is not yet clear how Mr Brown intends to provide 'broadband for all'. Previous plans have included expanding mobile broadband coverage to include deprived rural areas, given the speeds expected to be promised mobile broadband alone would not be enough.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Signing Up For The 3G iPad Service Information

The iPad prelaunch was a rousing success as far as Apple is concerned. Some 91,000 iPads were pre-ordered on the first day, and market analysts are estimating that Apple will see as much as 500,000 iPads pre-ordered before April 3rd. This coming after they aired their first commercial during the Oscars. If some weren’t interested in an iPad before you saw that commercial, likely their opinion changed pretty quickly. Apple does a good job of polishing their commercials as much as they do their devices. Needless to say, iPad case and accessory makers are frothing at the mouth over this new devices potential.

Along with the launch of the iPad pre-order, Apple also let leak more information about their 3G iPad tablets and how the data service would work. Apparently the 3G iPad tablets aren’t going to be available until later in April. The Wi-Fi on the iPad will support 802.11n for optimal performance. There will be two 3G broadband plans available through AT&T, one allowing up to 250 MB of data for $14.99 and the other allowing unlimited data for $29.99. Apple has made it as easy as pie to spend your money on the service as well- you will be able to sign up for the service directly on your iPad with an easy sign up screen in your preferences. There appears to be no contract necessary so you can cancel at any time, so if you will need more data because you will be traveling, just upgrade your account or enroll on the go. Customers who have the limited plan will get alerts when their allotted credit has 20%, 10%, and 0% remaining. In addition to getting the 3G service users will also get access to AT&T’s 20,000 other Wi-Fi hotspots.

For that price, even we are considering getting a 3G enabled iPad. We’ve tried using our iPhone as a complete replacement for a laptop computer while on the go, and it almost (but not quite) fills that gap. However, Apple’s new tablet has a real possibility of replacing a laptop completely when traveling and on the go, all you need are a couple additional accessories for the iPad like a bluetooth keyboard and iPad stand or cover. If you live a jet set life and are often on the go, then this gem is going to be a real life saver!

Contributed by our friends at iPad Accessories who are the premier source for iPad accessory information on the web. Check out their latest post on the Best Accessories For iPad you will want to think about buying to accompany your newest gem!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Mobile Networks Competing for Apple iPad Exclusivity

When Apple launched their latest device, the iPad many were quick to mock. The name and the size of the device seemed comical to most of us and yet interest in the iPad is high and it will no doubt sell like hot cakes. Suddenly people are looking down at their iPhones and iPods and deciding that they are lacking in size, what they really need is some kind of tablet device in a sleek black case without a removable battery.

The cheaper iPad models will, like the iPod touch, only connect to the internet via a Wifi connection. The higher end models will connect via 3G and will therefore require a contract iPad SIM card and a data contract. This has lead to a lot of interest from some of the UKs biggest mobile phone providers who want to sell the iPad. Apple executives are apparently in the country currently meeting with representatives from O2, Orange and Vodafone in order to decide who will be in on the launch.

It is not yet clear if any of the providers will have exclusive dibs on the iPad, although they would no doubt be more than happy to sign an exclusive deal. It is more likely that Apple will choose several of the big suppliers in order to maximize exposure and create competition. With Apple likely to take up to 30% of data revenues (as they do with the iPhone) the margins will be slim but the potential exposure will be great.

Whilst the interest in the iPad was inevitable (chuck an Apple logo on anything and it'll sell) it seems to be an indication of where things are headed. There appears to be a split in the mobile devices available between smart phones/ mobile computers and more basic pay as you go type phones. Most providers now offer free SIM card at one end of the spectrum and very high tech devices at the other end.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Skype Mobile App Comes to the Nokia Ovi Store

Nokia's Ovi store was launched in May 2009 and provides Nokia users with access to a variety of free and paid Apps. While it isn't as popular or as extensive as Apple's App store it has been a success and has recently hit 1.5 million downloads a day according to their in-house stats. The increasing sales of Symbian based smartphones has been credited with doubling the amount of monthly registrations during February.

The Ovi Store's latest release is a version of the Skype mobile application for Symbian devices. Whilst this application has been available previously it is expected that it's presence in the Ovi store will lead to an increase in downloads. Skype are hoping that by including their software in the store for free they will be able to increase their popularity amongst the 200 million smartphone users worldwide.

Using Skype's VOIP (Voice Over IP) software to circumnavigate calling cost is not a new idea. Three already offer a dedicated Skype Mobile called the Skypephone S2 and the mobile software is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices. As consumers demand more from devices and tariffs the idea of paying a premium for calls seems less acceptable. With free minutes and VOIP calling it increasingly feels like we are paying for the device rather than our usage.

The fact that mobile phone providers are so happy for their subscribers to use the software shows that they are embracing the changing usage patterns of mobile devices. It seems likely that in the future we wont be carrying around a phone but a mobile computer with the ability to make phone calls. If you compare the early mobile phones with current smart phones you could even say that this has already happened.

Hands On With The HTC Legend

HTC are set to release their Legend smart phone in Europe next month (April). The Legend is an updated version of the Hero, and features a case made from a single block of aluminum. Despite this the phone has a removable battery (take that Apple!), it is also slimmer than the Hero.

The Legend is set to feature:

* 3.2 inch HVGA capacitive multi-touch display
* Android 2.1 OS
* 5MP camera with autofocus and LED flash
* Bluetooth
* Accelerometer
* Optical trackpad
* Wi-Fi
* 3.5mm headset jack
* Compass
* FM radio

The video preview below comes courtesy of IntoMobile.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Changing Face of Mobile Contracts

It used to be the case that mobile phone contracts lasted 12 months but these days most providers are keen to get you signed up for 18 or 24 months. This makes choosing the right handset and network very important as it can be a big commitment. When selecting a mobile phone we are aware that it's style or function may start to become outdated towards the end of our contract. The benefits of longer contracts for the provider are straightforward: they get more money from you and can rely on your custom for longer. There are also benefits for the consumer which are clear if you compare your first mobile phone to your current model.

The technology available now means that our phone can be used to take (surprisingly high quality) photographs, browse the internet and watch television online. We also have inbuilt GPS and video calling functionality. The handsets we use are worth a lot more than they used to be yet most contracts don't require a fee upfront for the phone. Despite all the increases in handset quality most of us still get a free handset as long as we sign a contract of 12 months or longer. It is also worth pointing out that the amount of minutes and text messages we are allocated tends to increase each year whilst the cost of calls tends to fall. My current contract allows to unlimited text messages and calls to those on the same network.

There are of course cheaper options for those who are unwilling to pay a monthly fee. Pay as you go phones are still popular particularly with those wanting to spend less per month. Pay as you go users are not obliged to sign up for a particular length of time so they can jump ship whenever they want. Pay monthly SIM only deals are also available for those who also have a handset they are willing to stick with but who want a better price for calls.

What ever contract you choose you cannot argue that there isn't enough choice. Now, more than ever before we are able to decide what we want and how much we are willing to pay for it.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Facebook and Google Top Mobile Internet Usage Charts

The GMSA and comScore have released the results of their first Mobile Media Metrics report. The report aims to investigate mobile internet usage including which sites are visited and by how many users. The first report has shown some very interesting usage patterns and statistics. Below is a quote from the GSMA explain how the data is collated:

"The GSMA Mobile Media Metrics service is based on anonymised, census-level data for mobile Internet usage across mobile networks, which is augmented with demographic data that has been collected with the consent of a representative sample of mobile Internet users. The Mobile Media Metrics service provides a rich, aggregated view of mobile Internet usage behaviour, enabling market-level analysis of site visitation and engagement metrics, such as page views, time spent on specific sites, and device types and features."

The report discovered that last December about 25% of the UK population accessed the internet via a mobile phone. This is quite a staggering statistic but doesn't come as a huge surprise when you consider that around a fifth of mobile phone subscribers (i.e those on a contract rather than those with a pay as you go mobiles) have a 'smart phone'.

The bulk of the traffic analyzed was unsurprisingly either to Facebook or Google sites. Below is a chart detailing the top 10 sites in terms of minutes spent online via mobile devices (via this Guardian article):

1 Facebook 2.2 bn
2 Google 396m
3 Microsoft Sites 166m
4 Orange Sites 139m
5 AOL (and Bebo) 106m
6 Apple 104m
7 Vodafone 89m
8 BBC sites 84m
9 Flirtomatic 55m
10 Yahoo 49m

Facebook's hits accounted for over a third of all internet visits via mobile phones although the presence of Google at #2 shows that users are going beyond sites they already know.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The State of the Internet

Here, for your reading please, is an interesting infographic about the state of the Internet in 2009. The data and fancy graphics are by Focus.

Edit: the image will not embed properly in Blogger so click here to view it.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Samsung Lauches First Dual-SIM Handset

Samsung have announced the forthcoming release of their first dual-SIM mobile handset this week. The handset which has been given the snappy title 'B5722' will be the first phone to combine a touch screen with duel SIM capabilities. It will be fist released in India but Samsung will no doubt be planning a worldwide release within 2010.

"The phone boasts of features like a decent 3.2 mega pixel camera, 30 MB memory (expandable to 8 GB with SD card) and a very respectable 14 hours of talk and a 20 day standby time. The B5722 is a GSM+GSM dual SIM phone and the user will be able to use two GSM SIM cards in a single phone. Users can switch from one SIM to another without having to switch off the handset."

The benefits of being able to use two SIMs in one device will be clear to anyone who uses a phone, such as the Nokia E71 which uses multiple 'profiles'. Those with a work phone and a personal handset will also be able to benefit from combining devices. With the proliferation of free SIM card offers and deals with different monthly usages means that using two contract SIMs could be a great money saver also.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Nokia X6 Aims to Rival the iPhone

Nokia have released more details about their upcoming handset the X6 which aims to take back some of the smartphone market from other handsets such as the iPhone. The X6 is a touch screen device with audio, video and gaming features which will be marketed as an all round entertainment portal. It has the ability to stream television content via a 3g internet connection along with the normal music playing capabilities.

Nokia are apparently ready to launch their biggest ever marketing campaign in support of the X6 including television spots using the tag line 'Come Get Entertained'. It is clear that Nokia are keen to make a big splash with the X6 and that they are hoping it will be as popular as the iPhone.

As with their other devices Nokia are linking the X6 with their Ovi store with a 'Comes With Music' package. Considering the the CWM service only managed to entice 23,000 users by April 2009, I'm surprised that they are still advertising it.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Rise of the Second Handset

It can be hard to predict sales numbers of gadgets and mobile phones, sometimes a handset can take off and become much more popular than expected. It is clear why some phones are more popular than other, the user interface on the iPhone for instance has made it very popular even (or perhaps especially) with the less technically minded consumer.

Recently a lot of very cheap handsets have become surprisingly popular. The rise of the Smart Phone has meant that most of us have mobile which are capable of web browsing, high quality photos and easy email integration. These phones have become fairly cheap on pay monthly contracts so why are people buying cheap handsets all of a sudden? There have always been people who only want a very basic mobile to make occasional calls but what explains the big rise in sales we have recently seen?

The key is that a large proportion of those buying the bargain handsets also own a fancy Smart Phone as well. These handsets are being used as a cheap back up in situations where the user's main handset has either gone AWOL or is is danger of being damaged. The prevalence of free SIM cards and SIM only deals means that a temporary phone is cheap and easy to set up.

Those going on a night out or even a day out (mountain biking etc) can take a cheap handset with them rather than risking breaking their main mobile phone. The back up can contain their main SIM card or a pay as you go one with a bit of credit on it. If the second handset gets damaged you just take out the SIM card and ditch the casing. Many of us already have an old handset lying around which saves the £20 or so needed for a new one.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Does Your Camera Need a Mobile Broadband Connection

Once upon a time you could only connect to the internet with a computer and the most mobile broadband got was moving your PC to the other side of the office. Next came wifi which allowed you to connect anywhere within your own home or even at the local coffee house. These days most people have a mobile phones capable of internet browsing with them at all times so that they can tweet after every bowl movement.

Now that we have the technology to enable small, portable devices to connect at relatively high speeds we can think about what else could be online. The benefits of internet enabled ebook readers are obvious but do you need your fridge to be online? Despite the risks of the Chinese government hacking into your kitchen devices there could be benefits- it could let you know if the temperature changes or if you need to throw out that cheese that is going green.

The number of mobile broadband enabled devices is expected to increase by a factor of 55 by the year 2014. This is likely to cause issues as the mobile broadband infrastructure wasn't built for this amount of traffic. If the infrastructure can be improved we might find that there are a lot of applications for internet enabled devices.

One of the most obvious devices crying out for a broadband connection is the humble digital camera. At the moment cameras are one step behind mobile phones in the it isn't possible to upload your photo directly once you have taken it (although some can handle a wifi connection). The question is are consumers going to pay a monthly fee to have their camera connected to the internet? Will they be able to choose from different providers? Perhaps we will end up paying a monthly fee for all of our devices (hopefully on an unlimited tariff).

Monday, 11 January 2010

Could Mobile Phones Support Economic Growth in Developing Countries?

At the recent CES 2010 show in Las Vegas Nokia's chief Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo suggested that mobile phones could help to improve the lives of those in developing countries. At first this statement seems a bit strange as we often think of mobile phones a a luxury rather than a necessity but it isn't perhaps as far-fetched as it might first seem. The suggestion is that mobile phones can benefit those who live in areas without the necessary infrastructure which we associate with a high quality of life.

40 percent of the world population don't have access to banking with micro-banking via mobile devices this figure could be greatly reduced. There is also the potential to increase literacy and eduction via mobile phones. Imagine if there had been an automated Tsunami warning system which updated people via mobile phones during the boxing day Tsunami of 2004. Imagine if families in remote rural location could be in contact with doctors instantly when someone fell ill.

I wont go into great detail here but one you start to think of mobile devices as mini-computers and a way of keeping in touch across great distances the possibilities are endless. The production costs of basic level phones are low and free SIM cards or pay as you go contracts offer a low cost option. The Skype Mobile on Three lets users communicate free of charge via VOIP so topping up isn't even an issue. The communication infrastructure in developing countries may be lacking but as they are currently the biggest growth market this is set to change.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Just What I Don't Need: A Dishwaser Proof Mobile Phone

Most mobile phones are at least a bit waterproof as you will know if you have ever made a phone call in the rain. Some phones can even survive falling in a river (or more often a pint of beer) as long as you don't turn them on until they have dried out. Now there is a new phone which can supposedly survive inside a dishwasher.

Quite why you would need to put your phone in the dishwasher is not clear but the latest handset by Seal Shield can cope if you chuck it in there for fun. Seal Shield specialize in making things waterproof including keyboards, TV remotes and (presumably computer) mice. The phone was launched at CES 2010 (the Consumer Electronics Show).

The cell phone is attractive in a rugged adventurous kind of way (like me) and is clearly built to throw around and drop in puddles. It is similar looking to the Sonim XP1and will probably appeal to a similar demographic. A spokesman for Seal Shield suggested that the washable gadget is ideal for the germophobic as it can be easily washed.