Tag: UK

Orange UK: Mobile Broadband Roars!

Orange UK, one of the large carriers in the country with 15.8m mobile subscribers, has released its “Fifth Digital Media Index”, containing a set of interesting numbers on the data uptake on their network, and it makes for intriguing reading!

The carrier recorded a whopping 4,125% (!) increase in data use over dongles using their mobile network in the last 12 months with dongle subscriptions growing by 504%. Data use from handset increased by 108% and that, I might add, without the help of the iPhone (which is exclusive to O2 in the UK). The increase from dongles will be connected to a big push this offering has seen in the UK (as in other countries) over the past period. Carriers have been and are promoting these aggressively, helping uptake of mobile broadband significantly.
Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Music and video downloads increased both by 38%.
  • Games only grew by 8% (but at least they grew; anecdotally, some other carriers recorded sometimes dramatic drops in take-up) to a total of 770,000 downloaded games, which equates to a market share of 23% of all UK games downloads (the total UK games market would hence be 3.35m downloads for the year with Orange claiming top spot). From the top 10 downloaded games in 2008, 8 were part of the carrier’s embed programme, which shows – again – that users appear more comfortable if they can try it out before (embedded games normally are trial versions).
  • Social network use over mobile increased by 129% in page impressions per month and 48% in unique users. The monthly average number of pages per user was 397. In terms of popularity of social networks, Orange’s Mark Watt-Jones (@MWJ) fed us additional bits via the Twittersphere: Facebook dominates, Bebo is significant, MySpace less so and Twitter grows very quickly (what was the Oprah moment in the UK?)
  • An average of 386,000 GB of data have been transferred via dongles and handsets per month.
  • Mobile search grew by 120% with 45% of the results being “off-portal”, i.e. outside Orange’s domains.
  • Good old SMS still looking good, too: 19% growth with 1.7bn sent every month.
Another key point Mark brought us via Twitter: 99% of access to social network sites came from non-smartphones. This is quite noteworthy indeed as it arguably shows that mobile data usage now transcends beyond the power users on sophisticated handsets and also that content leads the uptake: give people compelling content, and they’ll use it. Mobile data for the masses seems to have arrived!

Blyk's CEO speaks

I post on Blyk, and the next day its CEO rushes to give an interview… Was he upset about what he read and unleashed a PR storm to rescue his company to fight sentiment of the blogosphere? Perhaps, perhaps not. Well, maybe not. On the merits, there is nothing dramatically new but it is worth mentioning, I guess, nonetheless. Judge by yourself.

Blyk gets money

I know I have been depriving you lately (the day-job demanding more of my nightly attention than I would like) but this is remarkable: Blyk, the ad-funded MVNO, which I have covered previously (here and here), raised – financial crisis or not – a rather substantial amount from its existing investors, namely €40m (which apparently translates into $50.4m). Now, do they not read my blog? Or do I not get it (as Blyk’s UK MD would probably suggest).

Blyk has by now collected 200,000 subscribers and wants to roll out internationally, namely in Germany (as if the cut-throat market there, including Aldi and Tschibo’s money-scraper MVNOs, wouldn’t be enough), Spain and Belgium, which would constitute decent growth. My concerns over the financial viability still stand though (cf. here): I cannot see them making money from this longer term (unless you mean the really, really long term; then it might work). And perhaps, just perhaps, the words of Blyk’s CEO, Ala-Pietala, who noted (which MoCoNews somewhat fittingly called “ominous”) that Blyk also felt the impact of the world’s financial situation, point that way, too. Is that to say that they might have got money but they don’t make any (or not enough)? Do I get it after all?

O2 gets iPhone in UK – good or bad?

“US customer satisfaction is off the charts”. These were the words of Steve Jobs on the iPhone, adding he was keen to bring this to UK consumers as well. Now, he would say that, wouldn’t he? The lucky (!?) operator to grab it is O2 UK. Why? “We got to pick the carrier that felt most like home, and that’s O2”, says Mr Jobs.

From 9 November 2007 onwards, the iPhone will be available at a cost of 269 pounds which, converted to c. $540, is substantially more than the comparable price in the US (but then, the UK price includes 17.5% VAT, whilst the US price apparently did not include sales tax). From 35 pounds per month (but tied into an 18-month contract), you get an all-you-can-eat data service that also gives you free access to 7,500 Wi-Fi “the Cloud” hotspots in the UK. This is small consolation for the fact that – rather disappointingly – Apple does not offer a 3G version of the iPhone for the European release but is still running on EDGE; O2 is reported to have been working on upgrading its EDGE network in the UK, which is another addition of cost to what already seems to being a costly deal (since you wouldn’t normally have to add this to a 3G-capable network). Also, it looks as if it was not unlimited after all: O2 said that “1,400 internet pages per day would break the deal as part of fair usage agreement.” Over Wi-Fi, too? Why?

The remarkable spin abilities of Mr Jobs were again on show when he explained the reason for not adding 3G Here‘s what he said: “The chipsets work well apart from power. They’re real power hogs. Most phones now have battery lives of 2-3 hours and that’s due to these very power-hungry 3G chipsets. Our phone has 8 hours of talktime life. That’s really important when you start to use the internet and want to use the phone to listen to music. We’ve got to see the battery lives for 3G get back up into the 5+ hour range. Hopefully we’ll see that late next year. Rather than cut the battery life, we’ve included Wi-Fi and sandwiched 3G between Edge and a more efficient Wi-Fi.” So in effect it is better to have 8 hours of battery life because your browsing takes longer than on 3G? Hmmmm…

The one thing everyone is really curious about is whether those recent speculation that O2 offered a whopping 40% revenue share on airtime (AT&T offered 10% USA). Sadly though, nothing has been confirmed to that end although the 10% seem more likely (and it is in itself a continuation of the small revolution Apple triggered with that deal in the US).

And, yes, I want one…

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