Friday, 12 November 2010

Community Cove and the value of communities to businesses

Recently I attended the first Community Cove event. Community Cove has been started by giffgaff and aims to examine and discuss the value of communities and how they can help businesses.

The first event looked at how to build internal and external communities for start-ups and other businesses.

Some interesting points raised at the event:

  • Technology allows customers to filter out company communication but also allows companies to reach customers on a one to one basis – iPod, RSS, Sky box are all filtering devices and that is their value.
  • Customer community is key to giffgaff. The community answers 50% of customer queries.
  • Staff, member community, external communities; the three key components of a successful community business. As well as creating its own community giffgaff has embraced Twitter and Facebook.
  • giffgaff launched their community before they launched their product. Setting up a community before launching a product helps to frame the product.
  • 10% of customer suggestions have been implemented by giffgaff.
  • Build trust with your customers via your community.
  • Customers of giffgaff have found a home with a mobile operator they identify with. They've become the community.
  • Building a community team requires individuals with four attributes – digital understanding, analytics, networks and content.
It's great to see businesses starting to embrace community as a way not just of engaging with customers but using community as a fundamental tenet of the business.

With thanks to giffgaff for organising an excellent event.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

iPhone 4 cases from Proporta

The team at Proporta recently sent me some iPhone 4 cases to review. My plan was to dish them out to the iPhone 4 users in the family and see what they made of them. Interesting to see how the different cases appealed to different people.

Soft Feel Silicone Case
Soft Feel Silicone Case
Design - This is a soft case that slots over the back and sides of your iPhone. It's an intriguing design which incorporates an anti microbacterial agent. The case is a snug fit and offers the protection you'd expect from a silicone case, although one comment I received back was it felt a bit slippery in your hand. The case is available in black/pink, black/green and black/grey. Cost is £19.95.

Verdict - My favourite because of its simplicity and ease of putting on and removing.

Impact Protective Crystal Back Shell
Impact Protective Crystal
Back Shell
Design - This is a hard case that feels tough enough to protect the back and sides of your iPhone. A nice feature is that it doesn't make the handset feel a lot bigger. The package also includes a self- adhesive transparent screen protector for additional protection. The case is available in red, blue, black and pink. Cost is £14.95.

Verdict - My daughter's favourite, especially as the review sample is pink! My son who to his chagrin doesn't yet have an iPhone 4 also picked this case as his favourite but in a different colour.

Shine Case
Shine Case
Design - The case is made from high gloss patent leather and inside the front flap the case has a mirror surrounded by a flowery design - so it's definitely one for the girls! When the iPhone is in the case all the ports are easily accessible and the iPhone can also be removed very easily.  The case is quite bulky but offers good protection, especially as the flap protects the screen. The case is available in red, blue and black. Cost is £24.95.

Verdict - My wife's favourite beacause of the striking design and the protection it provides to the screen in a handbag.

Monday, 8 November 2010

giffgaff & the iPhone 4 - my experience

Originally posted on the giffgaff blog.

Since switching my main personal number to giffgaff I've used it in Nokia handsets, most recently the E72. However last week my iPhone 4 arrived and is now running on giffgaff. Having compared the various operator options with subsidised handsets against a SIM free purchase from Apple and finding the tariff you actually need, it's clear that there's little financial difference and when the giffgaff cost savings are factored in, SIM free and giffgaff seemed the logical solution for me.

Although the iPhone 4 isn't officially supported by giffgaff, i.e. no micro SIM and no carrier profile, it's a simple business to giffgaff the iPhone 4. Rather than risk hacking up my giffgaff SIM with a knife I asked a friend with a SIM cutter to cut down my SIM. A SIM cutter makes it a very simple process and I used the micro SIM in a mini SIM sized holder in my Nokia until the iPhone arrived. Activating the iPhone 4 via iTunes follows the usual process. Once the iPhone is activated, it's a simple process to use WiFi to download Dan Lane's giffgaff profile from to create the handset giffgaff profile and set up the correct data settings.

As you'd expect, the giffgaff community contains lots of information on switching to the iPhone 4. In particular, a great resource is the giffgaffer's guide to the iPhone 4 from essexmate.

Despite the lack of official support I haven't experienced any problems with giffgaff and the iPhone. It's a case of combining my favourite handset with my favourite mobile provider! Checking through the community forums at a number of people have experienced setup issues but for me it's been very smooth.

There are a few points that refugees from the big mobile operators should be aware of.

  • giffgaff doesn't support visual voicemail but I use a third party voicemail service so not a problem for me.
  • You don't get any bundled WiFi access although again not a problem for me as I have a separate WiFi account and giffgaff offers unlimited cellular data anyway (unlike the big guys).
  • The iPhone 4 displays O2 rather than giffgaff - an observation, not a problem.
  • If you accept new carrier settings via iTunes the giffgaff settings will be replaced with O2 settings so you need to manually reinstall the giffgaff carrier profile. I believe this can happen when the iPhone's firmware is upgraded via iTunes, although I've yet to experience an upgrade (4.2 is imminent). This issue seems to be linked to using a handset locked to O2.
And that's it! A few minor points but nothing to stop you going ahead.

Current rumours that Apple plans to integrate SIM card functionality into future devices so that Apple can control the end-to-end sales process and remove the need for handsets to have an operator branded SIM inserted could have profound implications for small MVNOs like giffgaff. Presumably anyone who doesn't link up with Apple would be unable to provide service via a future device. Interesting times!

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