Business mobile connectivity Net

Communications links for IT Directors all at sea

communications aboard Aurora uses Maritime Telecommunications NetworkI didn’t felt at all claustrophobic during my time on board the Aurora for the IT Directors Forum. This is partly because there is plenty of space but also because the schedule was so packed it didn’t give you time to think about such things.

I did manage to squeeze in a chat with the guy that ran the internet cafe. There is WiFi all over the ship but it isn’t something you would want to use for casual internet access because a) at around £100 an hour  it is expensive and b) there is only 750kbps to service the whole ship – that’s 2,100 passengers when full.

In order to preserve some quality of customer experience the Aurora limits the number of simultaneous users to 32.  At the time of writing I can’t get on so

End User mobile connectivity

Nokia gets ready for winter offensive

Bumped in to an old colleague (platform 1 Newark Northgate – location, not name of old colleague) who now has Nokia as his biggest customer. Pontificating that business might be slow I was surprised to hear otherwise.

Of course Nokia still does very well in developing parts of the world. His main excitement though was regarding “the big Microsoft launch” coming apparently at the end of October.

The view from the Nokia ecosystem is that this launch is going to be highly successful. Of course they need to believe this but the argument is that the product looks great and that Nokia is relatively unencumbered by patent litigation. The Finnish company holds many key core patents in the mobile technology space.

It sometimes feels as if the companies we support because they have developed technologies that have changed our lives are strangling each other in the court rooms. Everyone watching wishes they would just get on and continue to innovate.

Although they are currently not up there in the smart phone premier league I have never totally written Nokia off (almost have mind you). It looks as if the battalions are fuelling in the wooded hills around Helsinki preparing for a winter offensive. These days battles are fought in the full glare of the media and this is one where we will all have ringside seats.

Wallets at the ready…

4g Engineer mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

complexities under the mobile data bonnet and Ofcom delay to #LTE auction #4G #digitalbritain

Everyone Everywhere (pun intended) will have heard of Ofcom’s decision to re-enter consultation over the LTE or 4G mobile spectrum allocation. Issued late on Friday afternoon the statement regarding the delay caused by reopening the consultation has already attracted comments re “hiding bad news over the weekend”.

There were 64 responses that included the  A to W of stakeholders in the UK (nothing from  X, Y or Z). The  Association of Train Operating Companies was mainly concerned to ensure that good coverage at high, sustained download speeds is ensured along the whole of the GB mainline rail network. At the other end of the alphabet both the Welsh government and Wiltshire Council wanted better coverage in rural areas with the latter quoting a target figure of 99% of the population.

Straightforward right?

End User mobile connectivity olympics

That smell of rubber, the roar of the turbo-powered engine, smart phones and the Olympics

Tref in reception at the WIlliams F1 conference centreI attended a Telindus sponsored Consumerisation of the Workplace workshop on Tuesday on my way down to the Convergence Summit. Jean Marie Stas of Belgacom gave a talk about tablet adoption – his experiences seem to exactly reflect my own – especially when it comes to the wife always asking if she can borrow your iPad.

The workshop came up with a few interesting snippets. Firstly Cisco has stopped buying mobile phones  and just give staff vouchers so they can go and buy their own. They are apparently looking to do the same thing with tablets and PCs. This seems very much to be the way forward.

Some of the service providers around the table were reporting that there was a significant interest from many areas in BYOD, notably in the Financial Services market. Workers in this industry are highly paid and typically want all the latest gadgets which is at odds with the need to maintain security and compliance.

This correlates quite nicely with

4g Business mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

Ofcom delay in holding 4G spectrum auction will cost UK £100s millions report says

More pressure has been piled on Ofcom and the government by the publication of a report by the Open Digital Policy organisation suggesting that delays to the UK 4 G license auctions will cost the country dear. The delay to the auction has been caused by apparent threat of legal action by a number of carriers including O2.

ODP looked at the speed, capacity and coverage improvements next generation mobile broadband (known as 4G or LTE) is likely to bring, and estimated that over 37 million business hours per year could be saved from faster mobile data downloads if 4G mobile technology was to be deployed sooner than is currently planned.

Earlier this year I chaired a debate on mobile spectrum allocation at Portcullis House in Westminster. The issue of 4G spectrum allocation is a hot potato. The three largest mobile carriers O2, Vodafone and Everything Manyplaces, have existing voice bandwidth that they are being allowed to reuse for data. 3 does not so this delay will not only cost UK business but will likely have a deleterious effect on the number 4 operator (this is clearly a numbers game).

Ofcom, the UK regulatory authority tasked with

Business Cloud mobile connectivity security

Mobile Working Report — CoIT and BYOD Trends

mobile,working,report,CoIT,Consumersiation,IT,BYOD,Bring,Your,Own,Device,TimicoThe mobile communications market has for years been characterised as a commodity space. Selling mobile services was largely a matter of who offers the best price.  The rise of the smart phone and the pursuant growth in mobile data is changing this.

Price is still important but these devices are so expensive that the amount of hard cash people (consumers) are willing to spend on their mobile contract has grown considerably. I know this from first hand experience having a 19 year old student son who spends not an insubstantial amount of his monthly budget on an iPhone4 contract.

This in turn is a source of angst for businesses who have not traditionally provided the bulk of their staff with top of the range handsets. Unless you have been in a media vacuum over the last six months you will know that this has led to a phenomenon known as Consumerisation of IT and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution.

I have written about this before. As a provider of mobile services

End User phones

Importance of good web design – effect on a sales campaign

BlackBerry,technical,support,contract,UK,TimicoInteresting to see the importance of good web design in action. We have been running a campaign to sell BlackBerry Technical support. Despite not being trendy anymore many businesses out there use BlackBerry and we sell support.

Initially we were seeing quite a bit of interest but not seeing page views convert to new business. The old landing page was too much like a brochure with not enough “call to action”.

This was changed and we have immediately seen a substantial increase in business taken via the web. Over time we are going to systematically evolve our whole web strategy taking on board lessons learnt.

End User phones

Who wants an iPhone5? or Apple smart phone market share could reach 44%?

An apple - grown in my back garden at home

Following yesterday’s Apple iPhone5 stunt we conducted a huge1 survey of Newark mobile phone users to find out how many of them would want to buy the gadget when it goes on sale. The results are as follows:

No  I’m happy with my current phone (49%)

Maybe but not for a while (20%)

Yes  can’t wait (16%)

Maybe  I’ll wait and see confirmed specs (8%)

No  I hate Apple (8%)

1A massive total of 51 people responded to the survey which was exclusively conducted on the Timico intranet. This is the biggest ever survey of its kind conducted by Timico at Timico for Timico. However I thought the results were too exciting to keep inside Timico so I’m sharing them with y’all.

If Apple want to send an iPhone5 demo model over before the launch I have an 11 year old who is totally unhappy with his newish Nokia N97 with occasionally working touch screen (ungrateful wretch).

Wouldn’t touch it myself though.  I’m one of the 49% who are content with their lot – in my case a Samsung Galaxy S2.

Interestingly Wikipedia tells us that Apple had 18.5% share of the smart phone market in Q2 11 which isn’t a million miles adrift from our “Yes can’t wait” number. Presumably their research is somewhat more scientific than mine 🙂 .

The 44% market share forecast comes from the total of yes and maybes, in case you didn’t get that – somewhat tongue in cheek I know but in keeping with the rest of this post.

End User phones

Statistics suggest that Apple staff must lose many phones a year #iPhone5

You don’t need this blog to tell you that hot news this morning is that an Apple employee has gone and lost an iPhone5 prototype in a Mexican Restaurant in San Fransisco.  This is almost not news because it is becoming a regular occurrence – it happened before with a previous version of the iPhone.

This is quite timely because at Timico we have been studying mobile handset security issues at work. We talked to directors of 200 companies in the SMB sector and found that 76% of businesses had staff who had lost company mobile phones in any given year. Unsurprisingly the bigger the company the more likely they were to lose more phones.

If you extrapolate our data to a company the size of Apple then the chances are their staff lose thousands of iPhones (assuming any other device would be heresy) a year. Statistically someone with a new iPhone prototype is bound to lose it at some stage though you would have thought they would take a little more care. I guess the euphoria of being in an elite band of iPhone testers leaves you a little more than light headed.

Our survey came up with lots more interesting stats which I will be writing more about over the next week or two so watch this space 🙂

Lots more coverage on the iPhone5 loss here, here and here.

Business phones

Google buys Motorola Mobility – will Microsoft follow suit with Nokia?

We do live in exciting times. The acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google turns the pressure on Nokia/Microsoft. Don’t have a crystal ball but it isn’t hard to imagine Microsoft acquiring Nokia leaving us, with Apple, a three horse race.

The interesting question is what happens to the other phone vendors? It becomes increasingly difficult to imaging RIM, HP and any other vendor with their own OS making any headway in this market and the pure hardware vendors (in this case) such as HTC and Samsung must be concerned despite the placatory noises coming out of Google. I guess if nothing else it will heighten their need to maintain competitiveness which is good.

Motorola brings huge benefits to Google: a large patent portfolio, hardware nouse and a resource of developers. I recently took a look at Motorola’s Xoom (online only – there is a limit to how many gadgets I can afford to buy and I’m not ready to buy another tablet yet) and it looked like a good first attempt.  I’m looking forward to seeing the products that come out of this acquisition and I would think that the staff at Motorola Mobile are on a high.

End User mobile connectivity

Mobile data usage – phone versus tablet

I use a couple of SIMs on a day to day basis – phone and iPad. The phone is always with me whereas the iPad is not.  The iPad is also more likely to be used in an area where there is WiFi. Needless to say if WiFi is available this gets used in preference to 3G in any case – longer battery life, faster and cheaper connectivity.

The usage patterns are as follows:

Month/device May iPad May phone June  iPad June Phone
Bandwidth usage (Bytes) 320,270,336 1,241,365,504 262,217,728 662,842,368
Days out of office 6 7

Clearly the phone gets used more than the iPad for accessing data. There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between days out of the office and usage though not that this small sample is particularly scientific. My days out are usually to London and typically I will leave my ancient laptop technology behind in favour of the tablet – lighter and good enough for most uses though not for any serious work.

It looks as if I am using between 1Gig and 1.5Gig of mobile data a month which is hugely more than the average of 200Megs (according to TMobile in January when they slashed usage allowances from 3Gigs to 500Megs). I may not be the average user but this must surely be the way of things to come.

datacentre End User phones

Smartphones: Samsung Galaxy S2 vs. HTC Desire HD

HTC Desire HDPeople who know suggested I should move phone operations from HTC Desire HD to Samsung Galaxy S2 so I have. My main motivation (and you have to take this as read) is not to just have the latest and greatest gadget. Things are moving so quickly in the tech world that I need to stay in touch with the art of the possible. It would also be a good exercise in seeing how easy it was to do the migration.

In reading this post you have to consider that I am not a gadget freak and I don’t spend my life understanding the nuances of different versions of OS or processor hardware specifications. I may therefore make mistakes in setting up a new phone that the geek would not but in this I can’t be any different to most people. My other criterion for success is that I shouldn’t have to rtfm, ie have to look something up in the online support.

I have two benchmarks for comparison – the HTC Desire HD and the iPad both of which broke new ground for me.  iPad was very easy to set up but has clear deficiencies and the HTC represented a learning curve in smartphone tech.

The features I use most on the HTC are Tweetdeck, Dropbox, camera, voice recorder, internet and gallery, mail, calendar, sms and foursquare with a smattering of Bambuser,and ESPN (seasonally) thrown in. I use the internet rather than plugins to access Facebook (keep in touch with my kids) and LinkedIn (rarely) as I haven’t found these plug ins to be much cop. For some reason I don’t use the phone for Empire Avenue and I’m actually currently struggling to get my brain round why I might want to access that particular network.

So in moving from HTC Android to Samsung Android it would be useful for me to see how seamless

Apps End User phones

migration from one smartphone to another #HTCDesireHD #SamsungGalaxyS2

Jfyi I am moving operations from the HTC Desire HD to a Samsung Galaxy S2 (I’m just so with it!). This is going to generate a blog post over the next few days because in my mind this should be a straightforward migration but I’m finding this is not totally the case.  I am also coming across User Interface differences that in themselves are not major but are interesting in that they show that there is definitely some differentiation in this market other than just processor speed, pixel count and battery life.

I’m sure that the Apple fanbois out there will snort in contempt at such issues but all I can say is their blissful state of “Jobs dependence” comes at a price that many are not prepared to pay. More anon 🙂

End User phones

Retro moments – Apple MessagePad2000

The Apple MessagePad 2000

After yesterday’s ministerial round table on IPv6 I chaired an ITSPA meeting on Number Portability. Tim Ward fromTim Ward compares Apple MessagePad 2000 with iPad Neustar wowed us all by unveiling his Apple MessagePad2000. There were few of us in the meeting old enough to remember it.

This museum piece is based on the Apple Newton platform first released in 1993. Tim’s version harks back to 1997 which coincidentally is when Apple dropped support for the platform. He still uses it today instead of using paper – fair enough.

Apple MessagePad 2000The MessagePad didn’t suffer from Y2K issues but funnily enough had a Y2010 problem. Fortunately there are still enthusiast developers around that support it and there is a patch for the bug. These early versions of the iPad (bit of a stretch I know) have held their value well with good condition versions selling for around £400! That’s not far off the price of an iPad.

I did note that the MessagePad2000 doesn’t support flash either. This particular one is still in daily use and is set to last for another few years yet. Nice one Tim:)

Apps End User mobile connectivity

PC games and how to stop playing them #SpaceInvaders #Galaxions#Solitaire #AngryBirds #XBox #Marconi #Nokia

I was totally astonished a few years ago when I found out how big the market had become for what was then PC games.  I couldn’t understand it – mainly because I very rarely indulge in playing them myself. It was only when I realised how much the kids (ie me) spend on XBox games that it sank in.

This lunchtime I saw someone playing “Angry Birds” on his mobile handset & said the only game I ever really played (Space Invaders and Galaxions aside) was Solitaire and that except for the occasional trip down memory lane I even gave that up many years ago.

It  was only then that I understood why.  15 – 20 years ago I worked for Marconi. Such was the morale in that place that people used to spend whole afternoons playing Solitaire. We got very very good at Solitaire. My record was below 100 seconds. This was a skill built up over long hours of practice.

Then one day someone did it in less than 90 seconds. He had the perfect hand.  All the cards fell right and every click was a winner! This had the effect of stopping everyone in the office from playing – it was the hand of a lifetime that we were never going to beat. It cured me and I have only played Solitaire a half a dozen times since.

All I need now is to figure out how to stop the kids from playing!

On a similar but different note I was talking with a mobile application vendor this morning. He said that of his  12 Tier 1 carrier customers only 2 were asking for support for Nokia and Windows Phone 7 and one of them was in an Eastern European market that had little smartphone penetration! Uhoh. Lots of people are already cured of Nokia it seems though we are still waiting for the big “final push” (enter melodrama stage left).

PS In my book Space Invaders remains the best ever electronic game. Screenshots are courtesy  Wikipedia

Business mobile connectivity

Nokia cancels 2011 – short term outlook not good apparently

Bit of a dramatic statement that. 2011 cancelled by Nokia.  What they have done is decided not to publish any more forecasts for this year because apparently their sales  numbers are so bad.

The cavalry is on the way and if they strain their ears they can hear the sound of the bugle blowing the charge. However they haven’t arrived yet.

There is a long way to go and in order to succeed Microsoft will have to throw huge amounts of cash at the problem with no guarantees of a win.  It is interesting to watch this play out and I’m glad its not my money.

As I write Nokia stock is down 14.76% on the day. More here on ZDnet.

Business mobile connectivity

sms going nowhere? – that’ll be everything everywhere

On the tenth of May I sent pal @deanelwood an sms – did he want a beer after work?  He didn’t reply.  Hmm I thought. Poor guy must either be in hospital in intensive care or away on holiday and is offline – after all everybody needs to switch off sometimes.

He got the sms yesterday – that’s 16 days later. Mine was not the only delayed one which was somewhat of  relief. He told me that the delays are apparently down to network integration issues at Everything Everywhere.  I’m sure they will get it fixed but this does leave them open to quips such as “nothing anywhere”:)

Business mobile connectivity ofcom Regs

#DEAPPG spectrum mobile broadband #digitalbritain #finalthirdfirst #4G #LTE #ofcom

How do you cram a debate on the future of mobile services, data roaming and spectrum into an hour and a half? At last night’s Digital Economy All Party Political Group at Portcullis House in Westminster we made a pretty good job of it with a panel consisting of Hugh Davies, Director of Corporate Affairs for mobile network 3,Brian Williamson of Plum Consulting, Ruy Pinto of Inmarsat and Raj Sivalingham of Intellect.

This debate was hot on the heels of last week’s successful back bench motion by Rory Stewart, MP (Penrith and Cumbria) which called upon Ofcom to specify 98% mobile broadband coverage in the 4G auction in 2012.

3 stated that this is doable with existing base station infrastructure provided they received suitable low frequency spectrum allocation in the auction. O2 and Vodafone have already been reallocated spectrum out of their existing 900 and 1800MHz 3G licenses.

End User mobile connectivity

Crazy confused world of the mobile deal

I was chatting to someone earlier who took out a new contract with O2 for a Samsung Galaxy S2. £149.99 for the phone plus £13.50 a month for a 24 month contract with 50 minutes and 250 texts. He also got £150 cashback off, the initial referring site.

He promptly sold the Galaxy on eBay for £465 – don’t ask me why people buy these on eBay over the odds when a PAYG SIM free version new is £400. Take a look – there are similar bids ongoing.

This person then bought a brand new iPhone 4G off a pal coming back from the USA on holiday for £300.

The upshot is a new iPhone costing him £8.67 a month compared with the £304.99 plus £18.50 a month he would have to pay for a new iPhone contract (ok he gets fewer minutes and texts in his bundle but he is ok with that).

Not everyone has a friend that can bring them back a phone from the USA but I have to say the mobile world is getting crazier by the day.

Engineer mobile connectivity security

Android security flaw

If nobody else reads this blog then at least I have the staff at Timico who are always throwing up suggestions for posts. This morning it was about an Android security flaw where, according to the University of ULM, older versions of the OS are vulnerable to hacks that can steal your data.

Sky News reports that only the latest phones with system version 2.3.4 have had the leak plugged, meaning that 99.7% of handsets could be targeted. I parked the idea until I had finished my slides for next week’s AGM then lo and behold my own Android phone offered me a firmware upgrade. I am now safely running version 2.3.4 thanks to HTC and Android. Good timing I thought:)

It is worth thinking about though as the consumerisation of the workplace gathers pace. How many Android phones are used by staff in your office that might have this vulnerability? It would seem that the case for managing personal smart phones in the offices grows daily. This isn’t something you will necessarily want to leave to chance.

Business phones

Nokia knocked off top spot in WE smartphone sales – ducks not lined up – IDC

look out for that cliff edge

In June 2008 I wrote that the writing was on the wall for Nokia. However in August of that year I got myself an E71 and saw that it was good. I note that by June of 2010 I was using a Nokia N97 which at the time I thought was the best phone I had ever had. Although it was targeted at consumers I couldn’t see why business users would not want it.

By November 2010 I had ditched the N97 for a HTC Desire HD. Symbian for Android. Old world for brave new world. Now the HTC is the best phone I ever had – this is a continuing saga.

According to IDC whilst Nokia remains #1 globally for smartphones in Western Europe the Finnish company has slipped into second place behind Samsung.

In a quarter that showed a 76% year on year growth for smartphone shipments Nokia suffered a 10% decline. Samsung grew only 5% and HTC a whopping 271%, admittedly from a much smaller base.

This isn’t really an “I told you so” post and of course it is about operating systems these days not handsets. It is however interesting to be able to read the historical blog posts and be both a spectator and participant in this game.

You would think there have been enough case studies on companies disappearing off the map having been left behind in technological revolutions for modern day participants to see problems coming a long way off. For Nokia the cliff edge is perilously close with only a fence built by Microsoft between them and oblivion (breaking up on the rocks/watery grave etc). Would you bet on the Microsoft fence?

PS the imagination is running riot here with a severe risk of winning an award for most clichés used in a blog post. I could also have used “one last window of opportunity” when describing the Nokia/Microsoft relationship.

Any further appropriate clichés left as comments will be appreciated. No prizes – just points 🙂

PPS header photo is something to do with having your ducks lined up (ok I know they are probably geese but it isn’t Christmas yet)

Apps Business mobile connectivity security

Big endorsement from RIM re consumerisation of the workplace “problem” #iOS #Android

RIM has announced plans to extend its BlackBerry Enterprise Solution to the support of non RIM devices. This means that Android and Apple phones and tablets will be able to be incorporated in the RIM device management and security environment.

This is a timely announcement and follows a piece1 that I wrote a few weeks ago regarding the problem of consumerisation of the workplace.  RIM also says that it is responding to requests from its enterprise customers and that its target market is enterprises and government organisations.

There is a huge market outside these sectors. RIM has highlighted the problem but by focusing on big business is leaving the door open for others to play in the small and medium sized enterprise space.

It is interesting that RIM does not mention Microsoft in its press release. Presumably it sees Windows as a totally separate/mutually exclusive  environment.  I wouldn’t bet on that.

1 I’m not of course saying that the RIM announcement is in response to my article – we are clearly just thinking along the same lines:)

PS the RIM PR seems to have disappeared from their website for some reason. I happen to still have the copy which I have, for your delight and delectation, replicated below:

End User mobile connectivity social networking

Location – Foursquare, the Isle of Man and Apple #deappg

harbour lights in Douglas IoM

Last week as the Isle of Man Steam Packet ferry approached Douglas harbour I “checked in” on Foursquare to a location called the “Sea Terminal”. I also uploaded a lovely picture of the watery reflections of the multicolour harbour lights. Beautiful it was.

Then as I got into the car to drive off the ferry I received a text message telling me I had just run up £17.02 (ex VAT) on data roaming charges. Ooo! That was before I had even set foot on the Isle of Man. The notion that I might leave data roaming switched on for the week was out of the question.

I was fortunate in having free WiFi where I was staying. I did however occasionally switch on roaming in order to check in at various Foursquare locations and am now proud to announce that I am Mayor of Peel Breakwater, Fenella Beach and The Grove.

Uhuh! So what do I hear?

mobile connectivity

iPad iPad2 and youporn blocking

Took my iPad to dinner last night to demo our new multi-tenant APN service (called Mobile Access Management). It was a little bit of a strange feeling waving the iPad3G in the air to show that the firewall was blocking  I was demonstrating how an IT manager could apply internet access polices to mobile devices in the same way as they do for standard office based users.

The screenshot that comes up when a banned site is accessed looks like this. In this case it is our office Fortigate firewall but it could be any similar device. I did feel a little  self conscious doing this demo because of course it will show up on our logs but hey, what he heck… 🙂

The header photo shows an iPad with an iPad2 laid on top of it (thanks to Chris Green). Click on any of the photos to enlarge. I have to say that not being an Apple fanboi I won’t be rushing out to buy one.


Apps Business Cloud mobile connectivity

Security and Personal Mobile Devices: Consumerisation of the Workplace

How does a business cope with the proliferation of personal mobile devices in the office? Not just mobiles, but laptops and tablet computers too? The problem is not new, but it is growing.

Not so long ago consumers would peer in through the smoked glass panoramic windows of business to admire and envy the tools that were available to those inside. Access to the internet was for most people above a certain age first experienced at work. Their first PC, first mobile phone, first email, first mobile email! The list is a long one.

Today’s workplace is totally different. Staff bring in the toys they use at home and often frown or laugh at their employer’s old fashioned proffering. IT departments now gaze back out through the self-same floor to ceiling windows with reverse envy and spend their time worrying about the security of their network.

A study of a small business

I recently did some work with a UK company on their communications and cloud strategy. The company provided 67 of their 115 employees with a mobile phone; 50 BlackBerrys and 17 mid-range Nokias.

30 staff also carried with them their own personal mobiles. Of the 30, eight people also received a company phone and actually used their own phones for business purposes in preference to those supplied by the employer. A further seven staff who were not given company mobiles used their own phones to pick up company email making a total of 15 out of 30 personal mobiles that were used for work purposes.

Business mobile connectivity

Retail Business Technology Expo – notes and observations on mobile devices

Gave a talk on the evolution of retail technology into the cloud at the Retail Business Technology Expo at Earl’s Court yesterday. It was a joint presentation with my friend Umar Bajwa, Head of IT at the Murphy Oil Corporation (Murco) in the UK.

Afterwards we walked around the exhibits and it was a real pleasure to be with someone as knowledgeable as Umar (pictured right)  in the retail technology space.

A few things struck me. Talking with the exhibitors they were happy with the way the show was going. Plenty of leads which means plenty of retailers out there  looking at investing for growth in their business.

Secondly was the number of exhibit stands offering booze. Engineers in the internet space like to party but they do it after hours (and into the wee small hours – not me of course who cant take the pace anymore) but retailers seem to go at it all day!!

empty beer bottles littered stands at Retail Business Technology Expo

Wine, beers and even champagne seemed to be flowing pretty freely. I did come away with a bag of pick and mix sweets for the kids.

Finally, and the real purpose of this post, was the realization that mobile technology and smartphones and tablets in particular were starting to permeate this world. It is odd that in a retail environment that is primarily interested in cutting costs as low as they can go people seem to think nothing of spending £500 on a tablet for the shop.

I asked one exhibitor what shops do about the security of these devices. “What do you do to stop them being stolen?”  “We don’t” came the reply.  “We just sell them another tablet when the other one gets nicked”!!

And people will steal these things. Umar Bajwa was able to relate stories of people walking into fuel retailers, leaning over the counter and stealing the card processing terminal. “They are trying to figure out how the terminals work so they can come back and steal credit card information” .

This is going to be an issue that the retail industry will have to get to grips with if smart phones and tabs are going be commonplace tools for this market. I am particularly interested in this subject – how to manage your diverse mobile estate. If anyone wants to engage in a dialogue on or offline please get in touch.

More pics from the show below including one of excellent the jazz trio from the after show champagne  party – I told you they large it up in retail 🙂






Apps Business internet mobile connectivity

Job Vacancy – Domestic CIO, Davies household

Tower of London

At the Cisco Manged Services Seminar yesterday at the Tower of London Chris Lewis, GVP International Telecoms and Networking, IDC introduced the concept of the domestic CIO. This was new to me (ok I’m probably behind the times) but it certainly struck a chord.

There are so many aspects of life in the office that are now present at home. In the Davies household we have 8 active SIMs supporting 5 smartphones, an iPad, a dongle and a battered old Nokia that my wife uses (her decision). Some of these SIMS are pay as you go and some are contract. We have a mix of Vodafone, O2 and Orange.  This isn’t necessarily an efficient way of working. If this was a business scenario we would harmonize onto a single network and group bundle. We would also have managed backups of the directories.

7 out of the 8 mobile devices also support wifi as do the 2 laptops, 4 desktop PCs and the XBox. In an ideal world we would have a home password management system, changing the password on a regular basis.

When it comes to passwords we use them for online banking, shopping with M&S, eBay, Tesco online, EastCoast trains,  Superbreak,, iTunes, Travelodge. We also have passwords for Twitter, Facebook, gmail, telegraph online, and I’m sure many other portals I’ve forgotten about and some I’ve never heard of.  How do we keep track of them all?

I operate a calendar that synchronizes on my phone, iPad and laptop. My wife uses a paper calendar on the kitchen wall that doesn’t synch with mine other than via an ad hoc manual process known in the Davies household as “diarising”.  This does sometime lead to clashes – “OMG who’s going to pick so and so up from the friend’s party” or “we can’t already be going out because we have just been invited somewhere else for dinner”. Plenty of room for improvement here.

Then there’s the IT support, “the internet isn’t working”, “yes it is I’m on it”, “why isn’t my document printing”, “we have run out of ink”, “can I have your credit card number please dad” !!!

Chris Lewis was right. I need a Domestic CIO. I don’t want to do it. Interested parties should apply in line through the usual channels. Hours 24x7x365 (no you can’t have Christmas Day off – that is one of the busiest days of the year for a Domestic CIO). Salary on application.

PS the Tower of London is a great day out for the family. Have your PA coordinate a trip there or mention it to your Domestic CIO.


End User net neutrality phones piracy

BBC iPlayer on iPad and Android – high quality – blessing or bandwidthbuster & what about the TV license? :)

iPlayer running on iPad and Adnroid HTC Desire HD

The twitterstream was full of references to the new iPlayer App for iPad and Android this morning so I naturally dived in and downloaded. I have to say the experience is top quality on both. The colours are great and the TV is very watchable on both size screens.

What really came into my mind though was not the fact that I now had a new app on my devices but the fact that this was yet another driver for bandwidth use and also the question of the TV license.

Cisco internet growth forecast

The chart on the right is Cisco’s growth forecast for internet bandwidth use – a 4x growth between 2009 and 2014. Much of this as you can see is driven by video. The Y axis legend is in ExaBytes/Month!

A one of the World’s best content provider the BBC really is one of the drivers of this (Ok YouTube et al are also contributors) and making iPlayer easier to access on more and more devices adds to the proliferation. Of course this also adds to the pressures on ISP networks and fuels the NetNeutrality debate butthat is not for this post. Grown up ISPs will manage their way through.

The debate about the TV License fee is however another issue. The BBC has said that it is not going after non license payers watching using iPlayer online:

“Well, the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small. The chances are if you want to watch BBC TV programmes via catch-up over the web, you are also watching some BBC programmes at other times, live or time-shifted, via a TV set, and will already have a TV licence. ”

This situation will possibly change quite quickly over the next few years.

You only need a license if you are watching live TV which the BBC is now promoting using the iPlayer App. My question is whether the BBC is able to identify online users? The chances are they will only have an IP address to go at which is going to raise the same issues as we currently see with the Digital Economy Act and the RightsHolder industries (of which the BBC is a member). Unless that is the BBC has some spyware embedded in its iPlayer App that somehow records data on who is using it – via  iTunes username perhaps?!

The other notweworthy point is that apps like this are also fuelling the demand for newer faster smart phones. The iPlayer App for Android needs a fast processor to run Flash. It will inevitably evolve towards more and more HD content which will use more and more bandwdth and need faster and faster processors etc etc etc.

We do live in interesting times. BBC statement on iPlayer here.  BBC position on TV License for online streaming here. Header photo (click to see more) is of iPlayer App running on both iPad and HTC Desire HD (Android).

More TV related stuff:

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV

TV detector vans – the truth

Boring TV & better things to do.

End User phones

The HTC Desire HD – Android review two months in a step up from my old Nokia N97

phonebox in snow in Lincoln Bailgate

I get asked what I think of my Android phone – I seem to have a wave of friends whose contracts are now up and are looking to move (predominantly from a Nokia!)

My first observation is that the moves are typically away from a Nokia and the question is Apple or Android? A second observation is that none of the phones being considered are cheap and people are signing up to spending £850 or so over two years, including the bundle, on a handset that they are almost certain to want to churn at the end of their contract. Such is the pace of development. That’s the equivalent of buying a new 42″ plasma/LCD TV every year!

My two month old HTC Desire HD is the best phone I have ever had. Before that I had a Nokia N97 which was also at the time the best phone I had ever had but the HTC is streets ahead of it.

The biggest leap forward is in usability. Everything is intuitive and easy. Next is the huge range of apps you can download for the device. This is not unique to Android but it is collectively for the industry a big step up from where we were before. There may well have been apps available for older generation handsets but today it is more natural for people to use them. If anything the difficulty is trying to decide which app to use – there are just so many of them.

The apps are also better designed for their environment. For example on the N97 I had a Facebook App that used to give me problems when leaving the house. The device didn’t easily switch from WiFi to 3G and the Facebook app kept complaining about “not having a connection to the network” – a nuisance when I had just set off in the car and didn’t want to fiddle about with the phone. It was easier for me to use the 3G connection most of the time rather than keep switching back and fore from WiFi.

On the HTC Desire HD this is never a problem. It isn’t a problem on the iPad either so I imagine this is a “generational” improvement in software. Using 3G does pose battery life problems though so I do take real steps to prevent this, normally by keeping the phone disconnected from any data network unless I particularly need to use it. With careful management the battery lasts me a whole day and if I know I am going to be “hammering” the phone I take advantage of any opportunity to recharge it.

The Apps I use are TweetDeck, Voice Recorder, Mail, Camera, Messages, Search, Gallery, Internet, Four Square and AudioBoo. I also have Skype on there but more from the notion that I feel I ought to have it than because I really use it. In fact I very regularly use all but Skype and AudioBoo and I’m planning on doing more audio posts.

It isn’t a phone anymore. It is clearly a personal communicator – it’s just that the PC acronym has already been taken.

If I had to make a criticism it is that the sound quality of the HTC Desire HD doesn’t match up to the quality of the rest of the device. The speakers don’t anyway. When I use the headset it is great. Also because it is a touch screen phone I sometimes find that my cheek has “ended” a conversation.

The only other gripe is not phone specific and that is the spelling auto-correction sometimes leads me to including words that I didn’t mean so send in a tweet or text. The benefits of the function outweigh the problems and I am happy to live with the added overhead of having to check what I have a written before sending.

From a parental perspective I fear that a new bar has been set in terms of a child’s expectation of a mobile phone. It’s all about money these days. Whilst I realise that I make a living out of technology, part of me yearns back to the days of my youth where nobody had a mobile, the internet hadn’t been invented and I used to put two pence in the phone box outside school to call my mum to come and pick me up from cricket/rugby etc. In fact I didn’t even need to spend the money because as soon as the pips went mum knew I was at that phone box.

Of course I could always become a monk! Click on the header photo and you will see a boy waiting outside a phonebox in the snow for his mum to pick him up. I suppose there are benefits to technology :). He should have used his Android! (he does have a HTC running Windows mobile 6.5 and an iPod Touch!!)

End User phones

What went wrong with the Samsung Galaxy tab?

Richar Wright of Timico discusses Samsung Galaxy tab with Apple CEO Steve Jobs

STOP PRESS – Richard Wright reverts to iPad from Samsung Galaxy tab

Back in the dim and distant days before Christmas 2010 I wrote a post describing how Timico sales manager Richard Wright had switched from the iPad to the Samsung Galaxy tab. Well gadget freak Richard has switched back!

With echoes of the Consumer Electronics Show still swirling around the ether with tales of 26 new tablets on view I thought I would find out why the sudden reversion. Richard’s feedback is provided below:

  • Android Marketplace did not have as much choice
  • A few apps he used on iPad either weren’t available or not written as well. This was especially true when it came to “sharing” eg Stumbleupon – the iPad app shares very easily but with Android he had to download a 3rd party app called Facebook share – also Stumbleupon just puts the url in.