Posts Tagged ‘Three’

3 throws its iPad hat in the ring

While 3UK’s CEO practically ruled out bidding to sell Apple’s iPad direct, with the mobile operator’s strength firmly rooted in data, it always seemed likely that they would offer up tariffs targeted at the device.

And that’s precisely what’s happened.

Announced today but available on the 28th of May (Friday) when the iPad officially launches this side of the pond, two dedicated tariffs are on offer with support for the micro SIM card required by the device. What’s more, 3UK appear to be coming in cheaper – quite a lot cheaper in some cases – than the other three major carriers.

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Hands-on review: 3's INQ Chat 3G – Twitter, Facebook, Skype and more

Picture 2Back in August, I was pretty bullish when Hutchison-owned INQ announced the INQ Chat 3G, a follow-up to the INQ1, the company’s so-called Facebook phone.

The updated device adopts a BlackBerry-esque form-factor in favor of the INQ1’s candybar, adding a full QWERTY keyboard to support a host of social messaging capabilities, including ‘push’ email (via Gmail), Facebook access, Instant Messaging through Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and a Twitter client that provides ‘always-on’ connectivity to the micro-messaging social network so that updates are pushed ’straight to the homescreen’.

That’s a lot of functionality for a fairly low-cost device – it retails for £99 on a pre-pay (PAYG) tariff on 3UK – leading me to describe the INQ Chat 3G as taking aim at overpriced QWERTY touting smartphones.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, however, that I actually got my hands on the phone. Read on for my thoughts…

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3's CEO talks iPad, the mobile network's 'perception problem', Spotify, and more

3logo3UK’s CEO talks about how the network is planning to address its ‘legacy perception problem’ and why bidding for the iPad would be like trying to sign a premiership footballer

I’ve just got back from a fascinating press briefing with mobile carrier 3UK’s CEO Kevin Russell and CTO Graham Baxter, billed as a discussion of the “themes, trends and challenges that will shape the mobile industry in the UK in 2010.” Although the subtext was something more along the lines of: how is 3 addressing what was described as its legacy perception problem.

People still, wrongly or rightly, often associate the network with poor coverage and/or service. This despite the fact that the network’s coverage and capacity has and is improving and that in my view 3 is one of the most, if not the most, innovative of the UK networks, especially on pricing, data services and positioning.

Here’s what I learnt during two presentations and the very frank Q&A that took place afterwards:

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I'm really liking 3's MiFi, mobile broadband turned WiFi hotspot

mifi-3I’ll admit that when I first heard about 3UK’s MiFi offering and similar devices from other mobile networks, I didn’t really see the appeal.

The tiny gadget – about the size of a typical candy bar phone – uses its own built-in 3G modem to create a mobile broadband-powered WiFi hotspot, which, optionally, several devices can connect to. In my experience, however, mobile broadband isn’t the quickest (not helped by the fact that I sit in front of a fiber-optic connected laptop most of the day), so it’s not something that I’d instinctively want to share. But…

Now that I’ve actually used the MiFi, I totally get it.

It’s not just about sharing a single 3G connection with others – though at times this could be a life saver – but the flexibility the MiFi offers through the ability to add mobile broadband to devices that aren’t compatible with a USB 3G dongle but that do have support for WiFi.

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3 and Spotify point to the future of music purchasing

hero-spotify-3UK carrier 3 has teamed up with Spotify to offer a mobile tariff that includes a premium subscription, no ads and mobile usage, for the popular European (US launch pending) music streaming service. While the offer in itself is news worthy – it’s quite an attractive deal (more below) – perhaps more interesting is that the model may well point to the future of paid-for music.

Prior to 3’s offering, those wanting to utilize Spotify’s service on their handset were required to take out a premium subscription costing £10 per month in the UK. That’s quite high when competing against “free”, such as ad-supported offerings (including Spotify’s own, which prohibits mobile access) or illegal file downloads and the like.

However, by burying the premium subscription within a user’s monthly mobile tariff the service begins to enter the needed “feels like free” territory that self-proclaimed media futurist Gerd Leonhard has been talking about for years.

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How I plan to use my HTC Magic Android phone

Vodafone HTC Magic running on zero SIM on three

Vodafone HTC Magic running on a SIM Zero contract on 3

As my obsession with mobile continues – the new frontier – I’ve made the decision to take out a second mobile phone contract. But with a twist. I don’t plan to make (or receive) a single call on handset number two. Instead, it will be used for data only (Web browsing, third-party Internet-connected apps and email).

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INQ working on a mass market 'Twitter phone'

Hutchison-owned INQ, makers of the Skype phone and INQ1 – dubbed the Facebook phone – is said to be targeting Twitter next, according to a Reuters report. That’s hardly surprising considering the rise in popularity of the ‘micro-blogging’ site and the large amount of media attention the service has garnered here in the UK, one of the primary markets for the INQ1 via mobile network “3”, which is also a subsidiary of Hutchison.

“This can really help open up and drive Twitter use on mobile when usage becomes part of your data package like on the PC”, Frank Meehan chief executive of INQ tells the news service. One again the proposition to carriers is that a low cost ‘Twitter phone’ would help to drive data usage and retention amongst mass consumers not just those who can afford a traditional ‘smart phone’.

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