Feet up! : mobile

4G Auction, or is it just another tax?

Disclaimer, I'm not an economist so some of this may be arrant bollocks, but, please read on...

In economics there's a term called the Laffer curve which describes the relationship between rates of taxation and the resulting level of government revenue received, for example a low tax rate may achieve a better return than a higher tax that restricts the incentive to perform an activity, equally a tax rate that is too low may not receive the maximum possible revenue.

My contention is that an auction of 4G spectrum to mobile network operators may effectively be on the wrong (high) side of this curve, the UK operators may also believe so, as the recent UK auction results suggest.

A simplistic view may be that the 4G license is effectively a license for the operators to print money - to some extent this is true (but that's where corporation tax should come into play) - but it ignores the reality of the costs of network rollout (even if in some cases this is little more than software upgrades to existing masts), and the fact that the operators are running their businesses in a competitive regulated non-monopoly environment. The operators need to recoup their auction costs, and this invariably involves higher costs to the consumer (in effect following yet another Laffer style curve). Whilst these higher costs will in themselves raise more taxation (VAT) for the government, they will restrict innovation, and in a global market this may have a far more serious impact on the economy and the eventual tax take.

In these financially interesting times, should the government be encouraging mobile innovation, or hamstringing it via higher costs? Does the UK want to take the lead in the global mobile market, or not? Just a thought...

[Wed, 20 Feb 2013 11:54] | [] | #

And we have a winner...

The winner of the ticket for Mobile 2.0 Europe is Moof! Very apt as he's the only English guy I know who can speak fluent Catalan (and a host of other languages). I'm sure he'll enjoy Mobile 2.0 Europe

So thanks again to Rudy for the ticket, looks like it's going to be a great event.

[Wed, 25 Jun 2008 08:41] | [] | #

Mobile 2.0 Europe; Do you want to go?

Mobile 2.0 Europe

Courtesy of Rudy De Waele I'm in the exceedingly lucky position to have a ticket for Mobile 2.0 Europe to give away (value € 299 + VAT).

If you want this ticket you can win it here. In the best tradition of online quizes I'll make this nice and easy, send me the names of two of the people speaking at Mobile 2.0 Europe, and I'll put your name in the hat. Last entry by 18:00 UTC tomorrow and I'll announce the winner shortly afterwards.

Valid entry methods: XMPP/Jabber/GTalk: jimh@jabber.org.uk Email: jim@feetup.org Twitter/Jaiku: JimH SMS: If you've got my number :-)


The Mobile 2.0 Conference is coming to Europe on July 4 in Barcelona, Spain. This one-day event focusing on the Mobile Web and Disruptive Mobile Innovation, is brought to you by dotopen and the Mobile 2.0 Organizing Committee: Daniel Appelquist, Gregory Gorman, Mike Rowehl, Peter Vesterbacka, and Rudy De Waele in partnership with ESADE.

The MOBILE 2.0 EUROPE conference brings together experts and thought leaders from all aspects of the mobile ecosystem, including startups, investors, mobilecarriers, device manufacturers, and mobile application developers and web technologists. The conference is an opportunity for companies to connect to industry leadership and startup innovation and broaden your C-level relationships.

The event will be held at the Espacio ESADE FORUM, Barcelona and will run from 9:00am to 6:00pm with a reception at the Espacio ESADE FORUM afterwards.

[Mon, 23 Jun 2008 13:23] | [] | #

Snowy Ericsson

SE Snowdome

Nice festive touch from Sony Ericsson, they've got a flash game you can use to make a custom snow dome and email it to a friend, it also appears to be available as a J2ME game for a number of Sony Ericsson phones, available for direct download from the game site or by visiting www.snowshake.com from your mobile phone (which was down when I tried it).

Verdict? "Bah humbug" or "Ho, ho, ho"? I reckon it's a hearty "Ho, ho ho!"

[Sun, 30 Dec 2007 09:09] | [] | #

Google Maps, give us the data!

GMM iconI've been playing with the new beta of Google Maps for Mobile on the E61for a week or so, and it's been rather amusing with its pseudo-gps based on cell mast locations.

Amusing however isn't really the most appropriate adjective to describe what should be a useful application. But, in this case it is the most apt. In my experience the location finding is very hit and miss, as it appears that Google only has GSM mast location data for Orange UK, so if you've got a nice fat 3G signal Google Maps has nfi where you are. This makes me wonder if Google are using an elderly (public?) database for mast location, after all Orange's 3G network has been live for 4 years or so. Perhaps this situation will improve a little when Google start to use more user contributed data - if your phone has a GPS, Google collect location and mast data, and hopefully update their database.

Additionally as a reliable app (if we ignore the surreal nature of a location aware app that has no idea where you are), Google Maps falls well short, just disappearing when put into the background, or exiting if it loses a network connection. Hello? The real world has tunnels and valleys where you might just have no signal...

Perhaps the most disappointing feature of Google Maps for Mobile is that Google are building a huge database of mast locations with our help, but the only way to access it is through their application. This type of data is crying out to be open licensed in the spirit of FreeThePostCode, OpenAerialMap or OpenStreetMap. Why can't Google do the decent thing here, are they really evil?

[Tue, 11 Dec 2007 19:36] | [] | #


A few months of using the Nokia E61 has got me musing about the role of Wi-Fi in a phone. Do you need or want Wi-Fi in your phone? On the face of it, being able to surf the web, download music, make free VOIP phone calls etc at no cost from your own or other free hotspots sounds too good to be true. I've been using Wi-Fi on my phone for a while, and the old adage "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" can apply.

Here are the perceived advantages that Wi-Fi on a phone might allow you to take advantage of:

1. Faster data speeds

On the face of it, yes, 54 Mbps is faster than the fastest 3G technology currently deployed. But, that's just the maximum possible speed between your phone and the Wi-Fi router, if that router is sharing a 500 kbps dsl line with a load of other users you'd actually be better off using 3G. There's also the issue of range and coverage, the frequency band that Wi-Fi uses is quite congested and is easily blocked by walls, I actually have coverage in more of my house from my telco's 3G masts than my own Wi-Fi router.

Still, on those rare events when you have a nice fat Wi-Fi signal and you need to copy some big files like music, videos or podcasts to your phone, Wi-Fi can be handy. But, for general web surfing the speed advantages of Wi-Fi over a 3G signal are barely perceptable.

2. Use of free hotspots

Do these really exist in sufficient quantity to make use of Wi-Fi when you're out and about worthwhile? That's not what I've found, sure I know a couple of bars and coffee shops with free Wi-Fi, but I know far far more places that don't have free Wi-Fi, but do have good 3G coverage. Frankly if you're not in a basement, you're likely to have usable phone coverage pretty much anywhere in Europe.

3. Free phone calls with VOIP

If you use a service like Gizmo or Truphone with your Wi-Fi phone you can get free or very cheap phone calls, but whilst you're making these calls you're not using a "mobile" phone. If you walk too far away from the Wi-Fi hotspot you're using the call will just drop. Technologies like handing over a call to the next cell just don't exist in the world of Wi-Fi. Plus, when you're not connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot incoming calls to your VOIP phone number will be diverted or sent to voicemail (possibly at a cost to you). What good is a mobile phone that can't take incoming calls?

4. Free data

I can't dispute this one, if you're connected to a free Wi-Fi hotspot, you can download content onto your phone with no data costs. But, most mobile phones don't have a hard disk or the battery life to really take full advantage of this "free data", and unlimited usage data tariffs effectively give you free data over your 3G connection anyway.


So are there other downsides to having Wi-Fi on your phone? Unfortunately yes, battery life is probably the main one, Steve Jobs might try to kid you that 3G is a real battery hog, but Europe has had 3G phones for years, and all the evidence points to Wi-Fi chipsets being far thirstier in power usage than 3G. The only case when 3G chipsets are power hungry is in very poor coverage when the phone is hunting for available signals on both 2G and 3G bands, which frankly is a rare occurence in Europe.

Wi-Fi configuration can also be a pain on some phones, connecting to open Wi-Fi access points is an easy enough task, but entering the 16 or so digits and letter of a WEP or WPA key to access a closed access point on a phone's keypad can be rather trying.


So, would I demand Wi-Fi on my next phone? No, but if it was there, I'd certainly use it. There are other more important features for me on a mobile phone, but Wi-Fi can be useful.

[Tue, 09 Oct 2007 22:26] | [] | #

An Interesting Day

So, an interesting day in mobile, one non-event and three fascinating developments.

First off, the shiny new Nokia E51 yet another solid looking, high performance, yet subtle, business oriented S60 smartphone from Nokia, in a pocket friendly package too (cost and size). S60 finally appears ready to take a serious chunk of Nokia's mid-range phones.

Adsense mobile made easy: So you've got a web site (with Adsense) and you want a mobile version? There's at least two routes, one's tough, you've got to learn about mobile, and re-develop your site to work on a swath of different browsers. Or, you can take the easy route, and let Russ's mobile chops do the heavy lifting with Mowser. Sure, there's plenty of other transcoders out there, but many are as poor as Google's and you'd be better off giving them a miss. One killer advantage of the others for Mowser? It now understands Adsense and Adsense mobile ads, so it'll automatically place your Adsense mobile ads on the transcoded versions of your pages if you had Adsense on the "normal" versions. Of course, if you want something better like AdMob ads on your mobile pages, it'll do those instead. Smart and easy, I'll pick both, thanks Russ!

Vodafone Portugal launches their first HSUPA mobile broadband service. It's only 7.2 Mbps downlink and 1.4 Mbps uplink currently (more later), but please try to stop me from laughing when people say EDGE is fast.

And now to the non-event, the iPhone has reached the UK. Gosh, overpriced 2G phone, lets all run out and buy one...

Maybe we're more cynical this side of the pond, but Steve's infamous Jedi Mind Tricks (aka lies and bullshit) don't seem to work too well over here. Gustaf points out that we're quite familiar with 3G phones (it's four and half years since the UK's first 3G network rolled out) and battery life is fine thanks (I believe my E61 has better battery life than that quoted for the iPhone despite a smaller battery), whilst Tarek shows that the iPhone's price is far from compelling, something like 920 GBP for the iPhone (over 18 months) versus 190 GBP for the iPod Touch - in other words 730 GBP (1460 US$) for a 2G chipset? You're having a laugh...

[Tue, 18 Sep 2007 23:48] | [] | #

How much juice is in your battery?

Idle musings the other day about just how much energy there is in my phone's battery, quite a lot I surmised. But, to put it into perspective, how many litres of petrol is it equivalent to?

First off, my phone has a monster battery compared to many mobile phones, 1500 mAh at 5.7 V, here's how it breaks down in terms of energy.

1500 mAh at 5.7 V = 8.55 Wh
8.55 * 3600 = 30780 J

To put that into perspective, that's almost energy to bring 100 g of water to the boil from 25 °C - Specific heat capacity of water is 4.181 J / g / K - in an ideal loss-less World. So, not quite enough to make a cup of tea, but still a bit more than I expected.

Onto the meat of the matter, how many litres of petrol is that?

In a nutshell, not many. Petrol (gasoline if you prefer) contains about 34.6 megajoules per litre (MJ/l), so our "powerful" phone battery is equivalent to 0.9 ml, or less than a fifth of a teaspoon of petrol. Bring on the fuel cells!

[Fri, 07 Sep 2007 17:58] | [] | #

First N81 Spy Shots

Nokia Go Play logo

There you go, in the background of the picture above you might just see a Nokia N81, near the large Nokia Go Play logo on the old Billingsgate market. It's literally straight across the river from my office, so I'll be waving at Nokia all day.

I have to admit that I had to squint to see the phone, but never mind we should see it a bit more clearly tomorrow, when we might also see the Nokia N82, and perhaps the N95 variants (8GB and US 3G). Perhaps the biggest story in the long term though is going to be the rumoured music store. There's already some fuss about this in the UK with Orange throwing their minimal weight around, and threatening to provide a shoddier service than usual, I'm not quite sure how this is a compelling proposition for Nokia or Orange's customers, but welcome to the wacky world of operators...

Perhaps my favourite commentary on Orange's hissy fit is from the guys at techype:

"If Orange's music channel really only sells 100,000 tracks a month to the many millions of Orange customers with their millions of MP3-enabled devices, I think Orange should just do the decent thing and take the channel round the back of the barn with a shotgun."

Which might rather ruin the thrilling prospect of an exclusive blue N81 from Orange, erm, yawn.

The All About Symbian folks suspect that the N-Gage brand is going to be finally fully launched after the Nokia mutterings and promises of the last few years (anyone else remember the N-Gage games ported onto the N93 a few years back?), so look out for games keys on various devices and a slew more announcements from games publishers, on the revamped All About N-Gage site.

[Tue, 28 Aug 2007 22:11] | [] | #

The summer of Symbian IRC love

IRC Hacks book, front cover

First off the new boy of S60 IRC mIRGGI is starting to turn into a much more mature product, it's not as slick as WirelessIRC yet, but it offers other functionality and more importantly is currently the only native S60 3rd edition client.

Onto UIQ, the venerable Quirc is still the Daddy on UIQ2, and it looks like a UIQ3 port is on the cards very shortly, as Quirc author Bowman has recently obtained a Sony Ericsson P1i.

And back to S60, the surprise news of the week is that the classic WirelessIRC is due for a new release in the next week or so, for S60 3rd edition! For an app that's been barely touched since the heady days of the Nokia 7650 and 3650 this is quite a surprise.

I've been chatting with the author (over irc of course), and he seems optimistic and excited about the new version. I used to love WirelessIRC, and I was concerned about the fate of the previous version, but I've been assured the new version won't turn into abandonware again. The previous reasons were that he got snowed under developing other Mobileways products, and that GPRS data plans in Germany used to be stupidly expensive to be online all the time, so he couldn't afford to scratch his own itch.

New features in WirelessIRC include a revolutionary UI, (configurable) auto-posting of urls to your del.icio.us account, /away and /me messages can be sent to Twitter, and a bundle of othe interesting looking functionality. It sounds like there are a few other features in the pipeline, such as a link manager, and del.icio.us <-> phone bookmarks synch. Logging (and possibly auto-posting to your blog or to a webdav dir) is currently being considered, my impression is that he's very open to feedback and ideas.

Oh, and irc on the iPhone? Yeah, it might be posible via some web app (cgi:irc perhaps) I guess, but who cares?

[Fri, 17 Aug 2007 23:08] | [] | #

N800 with WiMax

So the rumour mill is throbbing again with tales of a WiMax equipped Nokia N800, curious stuff on many levels. Now I like the N800, but not enough to buy one from my own pocket, and perhaps that's crucial, because I'm probably very close to the target demographic, young(ish), tech-savvy, gadget-loving, Linux-using, Ubuntu-following, open-source fan (thrist-quenching, ever-fizzing. No, don't go there). So, if I can't get excited enough to actually buy what appears to be a good match for some of my device requirements, how can Nokia present this device to the public and sell it in quantity?

However, perhaps the general public are not the niche that the N800 (and its children) are aimed at, sure each iteration has been a little slicker, a little more - dare I say it - user friendly, but at the end of the day it is still almost a technology demonstrator, a true child of Nokia's 7700 and 7710. The news that the N800's user interface technology (Maemo) is being rolled into the most user friendly Linux distribution Ubuntu, is another nudge towards the mainstream, but it's still a long way from being a device for your Gran.

So there's the N800, a great tech toy, but not quite ready for the mainstream yet. Then add in WiMax. WiMax - the WiFi-utopian's network technology of choice. WiMax is almost invisible in Europe, where the mobile variant is widely seen as a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, it appears to offer little that HSDPA/HSUPA can't already provide, apart from the cost and inconvenience of rolling out yet another network. Rui probably puts it best:

"WiMax is still getting soundly trounced by HSDPA in Europe. Lacking regulatory framework, competitive equipment and (most of all) actual solutions to existing problems, it is pretty much stuck in the mud. I expect that to change, but not just yet."

Apparently on a greenfield site WiMax is cheaper to roll out than HSDPA/HSUPA, with a slightly lower mast count, but the only parts of the world without significant HSDPA coverage already are the third world, and the US.

So N800 with WiMax, it looks like we're back to technology demonstrator status, no?

[Thu, 16 Aug 2007 08:33] | [] | #

Carnival of the Mobilists 86

Carnival logo

So the carnival has come full circle again, and returned back to where it started in 2005. Carnival of the Mobilists 86 is up on MobHappy and Carlo presents the latest and greatest in mobile news, reviews, and analysis. Quite a good round up this week, less of the Mobile 2.0 nonsense that's cursed it recently, well worth a read.

Next week's Carnival will come from Andrew Orlowski's favourite drooling blogger, the fluffy pink Nokia-loving Darla Mack!

[Tue, 14 Aug 2007 18:41] | [/CoM] | #

New smartphones from Motorola?

Motorola are holding a webcast at 10am EST today where Motorola Presents the Mobile Experience.

So, what can we expect? There is a lot of speculation that they may introduce a range of 3G UIQ smartphones using the market leading Symbian operating system as follow-ups to the recent Motorola RIZR Z8 and the earlier A1000 and A925 smartphones.

Given the reports of 30fps video playing phones, we can assume that the expected devices are smartphones and not yet another re-hash of the mid-range RAZR.

More commentary on this issue over at unrumor.com

[Tue, 15 May 2007 12:35] | [] | #

Beware the Ides ...

... of March CeBit!

Germany's uber-techfair CeBit kicks off today in Hannover on this ominous date in Roman history, what can we expect on the mobile front? Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola showed their hands recently at 3GSM (and CTIA is only weeks away), so perhaps CeBit is a good chance for the smaller guys to surprise us. Personally, I'm expecting more operator announcements, will we see the first pan-european flat-rate data deal announced? I'd like to think so, remember we live in interesting times!

[Thu, 15 Mar 2007 08:21] | [] | #

Are Operators adding Value?

That's a contentious point, I'm sure they think they're adding value, but many people are beginning to question what exactly the operator does to make life better, here are some examples:

To add some further context, my experience with Orange and their modifications to my Nokia 6680's firmware certainly have me wondering who all this added value to suppose to benefit. It certainly doesn't appear to be me, and it is my phone after all, my property.

Quick summary of Orange's anti-benefits in their firmware changes: I'm stuck with their ugly and unmodifiable home screen, which disables Nokia's active standby screen, said home screen gives me easy access to a selection of apps that I rarely use, hogs memory (a big issue on the 6680) and crashes from time to time. Also because I've got Orange's firmware Nokia's firmware update won't allow me to upgrade my phone to the latest generic firmware, instead I'm stuck with something a little elderly and buggy.

What else do Orange provide? Oh, an email service, wow that's really useful, it's not like I've not got an email address already. I've always wanted to have a memorable email address like joe-anon83754@cheapskate.customer.email.orange.co.uk

Oh, and here's another thought, my 6680 was cheap, because I signed a one year contract, so the real price was spread over 12 monthly payments. Now, if this was some sort of real hire purchase or credit deal, my monthly bill would drop after I'd paid back the loan subsidy, you can guess what happens with Orange can't you...

Now perhaps I'm being unfair to Orange, and they do have some hefty payments to make to the UK government to pay for their 3G licenses (another stealth tax on the UK public?), and none of the UK operators offer any better services (dare I say cartel?). But, it's really not a great situation for the consumer, and when you see initiatives such as a Vodafone specific version of S60 I can hardly get too excited.

Are lock-in, restricted functionality, and price-gouging the best they can offer?

[Tue, 27 Feb 2007 20:53] | [] | #

Enter the slab

Nokia E61Just like Gustaf I've got a shiny new phone.

Possibly not the ideal phone for me, but it's certainly very interesting and posing plenty of food for thought. Gustaf and I are throwing together some lists of setup information and gripes and moans over on the old wiki, feel free to join in, we might be getting some stuff completely wrong, or there might be an easy way to resolve our moans!

Whilst we're busy retraining our thumbs to remember qwerty, Rafe snagged a new phone too, remind me to push the lucky sod under a bus next time I see him...

[Wed, 24 Jan 2007 21:28] | [] | #

Stupid people and mobile phones

Idiot on the line

This one is almost another entry for MobHappy's stupid criminals category, however the drunken chav doing the ape impressions from a 25kV power cable isn't doing stupid things with a phone, he's just doing stupid things in front of a camera phone. Whoops...

Fortunately his antics only cost him a suspended four-month jail sentence, a 120-day curfew order and £60 costs. The price would have been far higher if the power had been on.

[Tue, 21 Nov 2006 20:49] | [] | #

Carnival 49

Michael Mace has done a great job with this week's Carnival of the Mobilists over at his Mobile Opportunity site. Be sure to read it and take the Mobilists survey, and congrats to Krisse from All About Symbian for the post of the week.

Next week the carnival comes to MobHappy.

[Sat, 21 Oct 2006 07:57] | [/CoM] | #

Smartphone Show 2006

It’s nearly here!

After last year’s Symbian Smartphone show where the much leaked Sony Ericsson P990 finally got a public airing and Nokia released the first three Eseries devices in a surprise move, what have we got in store this year?

New UIQ phones? I’d like to hope so, but given the time to market for the P990 you have to question Sony Ericsson’s commitment. New Eseries phones? Possibly, it’s been quite a while since the fifth and latest Eseries device the Nokia E50 was announced, however now that Nokia have a comprehensive range of Eseries devices, do they need to confuse businesses with a bigger range? This isn’t the fashion following world of consumer and multimedia devices. So quite possibly no new phones will be announced, maybe that’s no big problem, as by my reckoning there are at least 4 or 5 announced Symbian phones that aren’t shipping yet and there’ll be plenty more under development. The only likely Eseries devices might be the rumoured E80 and E90 communicators, but I think that’s a long shot.

Software wise, I think we’re almost going to see a Telco2.0 focus, VoIP and data heavy apps are going to dominate. The signs are that Skype are likely to release their Symbian client at last, a year ago I’d have expected them to need operator support, but given they’re now the 3rd largest global telco in terms of user numbers I think they’ve got plenty of clout to push this product out. Symbian’s Smartphone Radio “podcasts” give a heavy nod towards the major themes the keynote speakers will be attacking, it’s going to be fun!

Anything else? Well it’s full-on party season, what with the AAS Pub meet, Symbians ‘secret’ party and Swedish beers plus plenty of other smaller private bashes that clash with these events, d’oh!

[Thu, 12 Oct 2006 20:47] | [] | #

Carnival 48

It's been a while since I wrote about the Carnival of the Mobilists, but it's still going strong, very strong to be honest. This week's event, hosted by Helen Keegan, is one of my favourites to date. Carnival 48 has a great range of posts, with the top post being a superb monologue about how a UK mobile consumer feels about the operators' not so compelling offerings. Great stuff.

If you want to take part in the Carnival of the Mobilists, follow the simple instructions on the main site.

[Wed, 11 Oct 2006 22:47] | [/CoM] | #

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