Wednesday, 31 December 2008 - top customer service

One of the great things about having a blog is it gives me the opportunity to write about companies that deliver excellent customer service. Recently I switched all my domain names to Having pre-registered for a .tel domain (because my existing registrar isn't supporting .tel), I thought I'd check out's transfer in process and customer service. Both are excellent! Very efficient transfer process with no charge for transferring in domains. offers the usual control panel functionality which is standard stuff these days and back it up with great customer support by email and phone. I needed to check a couple of points and got much quicker answers than I've had in the past. Plus, the control panel is much more user friendly than the one I was used to, which was a bit of a mess! has picked up a good track record in the launches of new top level domains, having been rated in the top 3 registrars for the .me and .asia launches. Plus they have an expanding search engine consultancy business with the NHS and Axa among their clients. Interestingly, 25% of their domain name registrations are inbound transfers which suggests they're doing something better than others!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Did you get an iPod Touch for Christmas?

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.

The days around Christmas and New Year do tend to be a bit of a blur but I am publishing early this week deliberately!

 Whilst it may no longer be the latest gadget the 2nd Generation iPod Touch is still probably (in my view) the best standalone music player out there. I say this in part because it does so much more than just play music and of course gives you access to the App Store where you can find a wealth of free and inexpensive apps to download to your Touch.

 When Truphone announced recently that they now support the 2nd Generation iPod Touch, it got me thinking about the significance of using WiFi in the Touch to turn the device into a phone. It struck me as a hugely innovative way to take advantage of the App Store and extend Truphone’s reach into the consumer space.

 To start using Truphone on the Touch all you need to buy is a microphone adaptor, as the software is a free download from the App Store. You don’t even need to buy an expensive Apple accessory to get a microphone, as Truphone has produced their own Truphone branded microphone adaptor which will shortly be available in the shops. What is neat about the Truphone microphone adaptor is that you continue to use your existing iPod headphones (or any other headphones you choose) by plugging them into the microphone adaptor and the microphone adaptor into the Touch. Calls to other Truphone users are free which is surely an incentive to get your friends with Truphone compatible devices to also sign up. Plus you can of course make cheap calls to the usual worldwide destinations by adding credit to your account.

 If you’ve got an iPod Touch, the chances are you also have a mobile, so what’s the point of using Truphone on your iPod Touch? Truphone on the Touch is not a replacement for your existing mobile. For a start, you can’t yet receive calls. However, it’s a great way to make cheap international calls which your mobile operator would charge you a fortune for. Plus, it will shortly support instant messaging across Live Messenger, Yahoo and Google Talk. Skype connectivity is also on the way. Suddenly Truphone on the Touch starts to become a complementary communications tool to your existing mobile phone.

 Something else that struck me about this development is that the microphone adaptor is the first piece of Truphone ‘hardware’ to appear instore and this will put the Truphone brand in front of people who might otherwise never have seen it, creating a another route to market for Truphone.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Be Card Smart Online

UK payments organisation APACS has published some good advice for online shoppers at Be Card Smart Online. Although much of this is common sense it's good to see APACS supporting online security education.
A summary of the key points:
  • Check that you computer has a firewall enabled
  • Update your anti-virus software on a regular basis
  • Never open files attached to an email from an unknown source
  • If you use a wireless network, make sure it is encrypted
  • Download the latest security updates automatically
  • Before entering personal details, look for a padlock or a website address that starts with 'https:'
  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails
  • Ensure that you know who you are buying from
  • If an offer looks too good to be true then it probably is
  • Register for Verified by Visa and/or MasterCard SecureCode
  • Use a strong password that will be hard for others to guess – consider using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols
  • When making a purchase using Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode always look for your personal assurance message before entering your password
  • Never share or write down your password
  • If the website you are using has a 'sign out' or 'log out' button then click on it when you have finished shopping
  • If possible avoid entering personal details or sensitive information into a public or shared computer
  • Keep a copy of your order confirmation - it can help you resolve any issues that may arise

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – My Christmas wishes

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.

No it’s not Christmas Day! You’re not dreaming! This week I’m publishing two days early to catch you all before you head off to enjoy the festivities. Christmas is a time for wishes (or so my children tell me) so I thought I’d share my mobile wishes with you (mobile wishes - that sounds a bit sad doesn’t it?). Anyway here goes.

I wish for truly ubiquitous wireless coverage so whatever mobile device I switch on, wherever I switch it on, it will just work. Having no signal will seem as strange as having just one phone in the house fixed to the hall wall.

I wish for simplicity, certainty and predictability from mobile tariffs and bills. Those bills where you bust your text bundle or forgot you were roaming when you decided to download the Friends rerun will seem as anachronistic as booking a call to the USA via the operator and then taking out a second mortgage to pay for it.

I wish for a redefinition of the term ‘customer service’ to mean an organisation that (a) understands the term ‘customer’ and (b) understands the term ‘service’. According to Wikipedia, “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” Some mistake, surely?

Finally, I wish for peace and goodwill to all men; yes, even the mobile operators!

Now – time to wake up – it’ll never happen … Or will it?

Thank you all for reading my Thursday slot on Mobile Industry Review. I’ve enjoyed writing it and hope you’ve found it informative and at times entertaining. I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2009 – a long shot that one, I know, but we can dream …

Depending on Santa’s generosity – i.e. will he be putting something mobile in my stocking; I may or may not be back next week. If not I’ll be back in the New Year. Now shut down your PC and go join your friends and family!

Happy Christmas

I'd just like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Thanks for reading my blog during 2008 and I'm looking forward to sharing more ideas with you in 2009.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Should Nokia stick to making handsets?

Nokia has made much of their move into software this year but so far I've been 'under-whelmed' by what I've seen. It all looks disjointed and I seem to now have more Nokia 'accounts' than I can shake a stick at! Part of the problem is the lack of a decent 'app store' on the handset. The download application seems to be a curious mess of random apps.

I've dipped in and out of various apps but nothing has caught my attention, apart from Nokia Email or Nokia Messaging as it's now called. That worked well on my E51 and gave me a view of my email inbox on my home screen. Unfortunately I made the mistake of assuming that installing the new version, now it's out of beta, would be a good idea. Having installed the software the setup returns the error 'Unable to connect with the information provided. Please try again'. I've been trying for over a week! There's no option for a manual setup so that's that. Disappointment has changed to complete frustration. I guess it's time to consign it to the dustbin of failed software apps.

I hope Nokia can bring some co-ordination to their software in 2009 and if they can help me sort out my email that would be good too. Nokia, if you're listening, do get in touch via jonathan 'at'

Friday, 19 December 2008

The INQ1 from 3 – Normob feedback

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.

I've now had some feedback on 3's INQ1 handset from my tame social networking Normobs! My 'representative' sample included both teenagers and adults and interestingly the verdict has been fairly similar across them all.

My reservations about the handset user interface were maybe a reflection on my love of quality mobile devices because my Normob panel were fairly happy with the design and interface. We moved on to the social networking applications where I was looking for feedback on whether the INQ1 appealed to people who enjoyed using Facebook, Live Messenger and Skype on their PCs.

Facebook was universally criticised for being slow and not particularly easy to read. This mirrored my experience where the application seemed to spend most of its time 'refreshing' and 'loading'. This was a disappointment as it's one of the unique features of the handset but it seems that this key social networking application is a big miss on the INQ1. One comment I received was that updating Facebook once a day is enough so having it on a handset is not particularly important.

It's in the less unique applications that the INQ1 seemed to score. Feedback on Live Messenger was much more positive. This worked well and everyone liked it. Being able to carry on instant messaging when out and about is clearly a popular activity. Teenagers don't seem to be big Skype users so this application didn't engender as much interest, although adults did show some interest in it. I think from a Normob perspective Skype is still seen as a PC based communications tool.

Another area where the INQ1 seems to fail is in the area of delivering predictability of costs to users. Feedback suggested it's not clear when the user is generating additional data costs and the prepay balance seemed to disappear remarkably quickly even with fairly limited use. 3 needs to be much clearer about what's included and what isn't, to avoid 'bill shock'.

The Messages application was popular because of the way it displays inboxes for SMS, Facebook (mail, pokes and messages), Live Messenger, Skype and email on a single screen. This is a reasonable attempt at integrating all received messages in one place which users seem to like and plays to the social networking theme.

The rebooting problem I experienced initially seems to have settled down – maybe I'm a bit hard on my handsets!

So, overall a more positive verdict than I was expecting. The INQ1 does have some rough edges and the disappointment with the Facebook application reduces its credibility as a social networking device. However the handset does appeal to users who want to be able to add instant messaging to calling and texting on the move and it achieves this at a reasonable price.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Mobile aspirations of a 14 year old

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.
With the year drawing to a close I thought I'd check in with my 14 year old son, George and ask him what he's looking for from the mobile industry in 2009. George is more than a Normob and takes a keen interest in technology and what it can do for him. His contract with 3 (well, my contract!) is due to expire early in the New Year so he'll be in the market for something new and shiny.
George currently has a Nokia 6120 which has served him well but his next phone needs to do more. If money was no object it would be an iPhone but on a cheapish contract that's a non-starter. So it will be the best phone he can find on a £15(ish) a month contract with a bundle of 200(ish) minutes and 600(ish) SMS. His next handset will need to deliver improved usability; maybe a touch screen user interface and a slider form factor. It will also need to be robust because his handsets take a bit of a battering; his 6120 has done well to survive the last 15 months! He's also looking for a better camera because the 2MP camera on the 6120 is a bit limited for videoing his skateboarding antics. Windows Live Messenger is a must because it's a key part of a teenager's contact strategy. I was interested to know how important brand is and George is certainly not driven by a desire to have a handset from a particular manufacturer. So, next time Nokia will be competing with Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and the rest!
George's current music device of choice is his iPod Touch. He's intrigued by the ability to use it as a phone via Truphone; however, ever practical, he pointed out that if he already has a mobile with a decent minutes bundle, does it really add much value and if he's at home he can just use the home phone!
I was also interested to understand if George felt a particular loyalty to 3 but in fact it's quite the contrary. 3's flaky in-building coverage here means that there's a high probability he will switch networks. My advice to him will be that if he can get a good deal on price then Vodafone is his best choice for coverage here.
So come February, George will be out there checking the market and looking for a deal. Having witnessed him hunting down the right BMX bike, the best skateboard, a deal on an Xbox 360 and many others; he will be giving every operator a very thorough analysis!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The INQ1 from 3 - first impressions as a social networking device

Previously posted on Mobile Industry Review.

When you take the INQ1 out of the box it feels like a quality device with its solid metal and plastic construction. However that illusion was shattered when I switched it on, as the display looks like a low end device and the icons and menus have a basic appearance. Instead of a user guide in the box there are a series of 'flash' cards which explain the principle applications. Although I thought the info was a bit thin it probably reflects the fact that non geeks rarely read user guides and just dive straight in! The full user guide is on the CD along with the PC Suite software for copying contacts, photos etc to your PC. Overall the handset's performance is sluggish and the software seems fairly buggy as the it rebooted several times when I was trying out applications. Not a good start and may mean it has to go back.

Now to move on to the INQ1 as a social networking device.

The Facebook application looks good when you load it and has icons at the top for the key Facebook features - Profile, Inbox, Friends, Photos. The rest of the screen shows your News Feed. Reading and updating Facebook from the application is very easy, although you have to wait a while when you refresh to get your latest Facebook info or select an item to read. Not surprisingly, this is much slower than on a PC. I've also noticed that even when refreshed, the News Feed lags behind my PC. So, Facebook on the INQ1 versus Facebook via my E51 browser? I definitely prefer the browser version - it's more responsive, up to date and I think easier to read. However, from a usability perspective, as an application that is easily available from the home screen, then Facebook on the INQ1 probably works better for Normobs.

The Skype application is very simple to use and incorporates Skype Out for calling 'real' phone numbers. Several times when I tried to use Skype, the handset rebooted. Live Messenger works well, with the long and frequently bizarre user names that some people use fully displayed!

In theory the browser provides web access but more often than not it returns an 'unable to contact the website' message! When it does work it's horribly slow to load pages. I wouldn't have the patience to use it on a regular basis.

Unfortunately there's no Twitter application. For me that's a big miss but as Twitter is still niche compared to Facebook I guess that forgivable!

Next I'll be letting some Normobs in the family have a play with the INQ1 to see whether easy access to Facebook, Skype and Live Messenger holds appeal or whether they'd prefer to stick with their PC.

One very neat feature is the way Facebook, Live Messenger and Skype contacts are imported into the Contacts application on the handset so you can contact people directly from their and view their status. Effectively the INQ1 has presence enabled the Contacts application - something every handset should have.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The INQ1 from 3 - a Normob social networking device?

Previously posted on Mobile Industry Review.

This morning I ordered the INQ1 handset from 3. Why, you may ask? Surely it’s just a 3 branded handset from an unknown manufacturer that doesn’t allow you to download extra applications because it isn’t running any of the usual operating systems - S60, Apple, Android etc. And you’d be right. But …
3 claims the INQ1 is optimised for social networking. It comes configured for out-of-the-box access to Facebook, Skype and Windows Live Messenger. Plus, the contacts application shows you which of your contacts are online. I want to understand what this means for social networking Normobs. All these applications are available on many other handsets via downloads or web browsers and in some cases ready-to-go on high end smartphones. But the INQ1 delivers this functionality in a low cost device. My experience of many Normobs is that they aren’t interested in looking for and downloading extra apps or paying more for data tariffs to support web browsing. But they use Facebook, Skype, Live Messenger on their laptops and I think would use it on their mobile if it was there and just worked, with no additional charges.
Ewan mentioned yesterday how poor (he used slightly more colourful language!) the S60 download experience is & he’s right. For mobile geeks it’s great fun hunting down cool apps but Normobs just want to use their handsets. The iPhone delivers a simple user experience plus the ability to download new stuff for those that want it but at a price point that is out of reach of many Normobs. I think the INQ1 could be making a reasonable stab at filling this gap. I’ll be testing it out with a selection of Normobs and reporting back shortly. 
Meanwhile I’ll get back to my E51 and see what new apps I can find to download to it!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – What I’m looking for from my favourite mobile companies in the New Year

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.

As we head towards the end of the year I’ve been thinking about some of the mobile companies and applications I’ve looked at this year and what’s missing from their line up. So, I’ve highlighted the key service enhancement I’d like to see from each of them in 2009.
The mobile VoIP space is a particular favourite of mine because it offers low cost calling, service innovation and improved coverage (for me, anyway). 2008 has been an exciting year for new services - I’ve used a few of them and been very impressed with what each has to offer. However, no one out there has got the whole package for me yet. Truphone has added more platform support with iPhone, BlackBerry and now iPod Touch joining Nokia S60, plus Truphone Anywhere to deliver Truphone service outside WiFi coverage. I’m a big Truphone fan but the primary enhancement I’d like to see is flat rate tariffing to deliver simplicity and predictability. Ideally a range of tariffs offering the choice of in-country calling or international would be good. Another favourite at the moment, DeFi Mobile, launched this year with superb call quality and an all-inclusive international flat rate tariff. DeFi’s initial service line‑up includes almost everything I need, with some neat features like simultaneous ring and call forwarding included in the standard tariff. What’s missing? Inbound and outbound SMS on my UK 020 DeFi number is a must to give me a single mobile number across both voice and SMS.
Niche providers in the mobile space continue to challenge the rates charged by the big operators for international calling and roaming. Swap your SIM card over to MAXroam and get great rates when roaming, especially outside the EU. Now that the EU has mandated lower roaming voice rates and is looking at data, I’d like to see MAXroam come back with finer pricing for EU roaming. Rebtel delivers great pricing for international calls and it’s big plus is that it just works from any mobile handset – no software, no SIM card swapping. Local in‑country phone numbers are becoming more and more useful with a number of service providers starting to offer them for a small monthly fee. The ability to add an inbound number to my Rebtel account that delivers calls to one or more of my registered numbers would be a nice addition and another revenue stream for Rebtel.
SpinVox has shown us what the future of voice mail looks like with it’s speech to text product. I’m surprised that none of the big UK mobile operators has yet embedded SpinVox in their propositions, so I hope 2009 will be the year that one of the operators decides to differentiate their voice mail from their competitors. Inevitably pricing will be pivotal here so I hope everyone’s sharpening their pencils!
Lastly I’m going to mention Evernote. Evernote is now my preferred repository for notes and anything I want to remember in the future. I’d like to see Evernote implement greater consistency in functionality and the user interface across the various versions.
So guys, a few ideas and now it’s over to you!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Jonathan Jensen on Thursday – Mobile in Budapest

Today's post from Mobile Industry Review.

My recent trip to Budapest gave me the opportunity to try out a couple of mobile services that would dramatically reduce the cost of roaming compared to using my regular UK SIM card – MAXroam and DeFi Mobile. Why two services? MAXroam is SIM based so provides worldwide coverage wherever there’s a mobile network and DeFi, being WiFi based, provides worldwide coverage across its network of hotspots.
For the trip I put a MAXroam SIM in one of my handsets, so instead of paying 25p to send a SMS, MAXroam’s rate was about 17p (MAXroam’s tariff is priced in Euros). Now that the EU has pushed down the cost of voice calls, the MAXroam rate for voice is similar to regular roaming rates but I’m guessing there will be some changes there soon. However outside the EU where roaming rates are (apparently!) subject to market forces, MAXroam is much cheaper, 42p per minute to call a UK landline from the USA compared to 120p roaming via my UK operator.
DeFi Mobile is very cost effective for roaming because its flat rate tariff covers all your calls wherever you are worldwide. A single monthly fee of £23 covers all outbound and inbound calls worldwide, so the additional cost of using DeFi in Budapest was zero. The hotel where the conference was held had excellent DeFi coverage so I was able to use DeFi for almost all my calls. With my regular mobile number forwarded to my DeFi London 020 number I also avoided charges for receiving calls. Working on the basis that I made about 3 hours of calls back to the UK; if I’d used my UK SIM the cost would have been £45. Using DeFi, the additional cost was zero (included in my existing monthly service charge). And that’s not including the saving on calls I received.
What I like about new operators like MAXroam and DeFi is their ability to innovate and offer additional services that add real value to their proposition. Both MAXroam and DeFi offer the ability to add local in-country virtual numbers to your account. As my trip was only for a few days I hadn’t added a Budapest number to either account, however while I was in Budapest I mentioned on Twitter that I was using MAXroam and received a message from Pat Phelan, CEO at MAXroam, asking if I’d like a local number to give out while I was there. Within five minutes it was working (probably less, actually!). Very powerful to be able to simply and easily create a local presence in the locations you’re travelling to for your contacts there to reach you on. MAXroam offers up to 50 additional numbers per SIM card covering 52 different countries so there’s plenty of scope there! Plus, Pat is clearly a top man who goes out of his way to help his customers. This episode also shows the power of Twitter as a medium for communicating with customers and contacts.

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