Wednesday, 26 January 2011

O2 WiFi launches a free hotspot network for all

O2 has launched O2 WiFi offering free WiFi to anyone, regardless of whether or not they are an O2 customer. Rather than focus on their existing customer base or charge non O2 customers for access, O2 has taken the view that their revenue stream will come from the venue partners. O2's aim is to make life easier for WiFi users and build a network of strategic venue partnerships to benefit the brand. The service will be attractive to venue partners because everyone can use it.

Free WiFi from O2
This quarter O2 is rolling out 450 free hotspots and by 2013 they aim to have approximately 15,000 hotspots (double the number currently offered through existing partnerships). Venues will include shops, restaurants and other indoor and outdoor locations across the UK. To ensure high quality service, O2 will not be using residential connections with limited bandwidth.

O2 aims to deliver a simple, fast and secure user experience with a simple sign-up process. O2 customers with WiFi devices will also benefit from auto-provisioning by the end of the year.

According to O2, only 20% of people who have access to free public WiFi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being WiFi enabled. They believe that customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where WiFi is free and the variable quality of the current experience.

The launch of O2 WiFi looks like great news for WiFi users everywhere. It will be interesting to see how many venues switch from their existing providers because high quality, free WiFi, from a recognised brand, will be very attractive to their customers. Whether you're using a laptop or mobile phone, fast WiFi will often deliver a better experience than 3G and if it's free as well then it's the obvious choice.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Customer service revenge

Some light entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. Very entertaining video and worth watching to the end. Even the hold music is apposite.

With thanks to Pat Phelan.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Now we know - mobile phones are hazardous

With thanks to Bitterwallet.

One of my favourite mobile apps ...

Posted yesterday on the giffgaff blog.

Things - top task manager
This month I've decided to share my thoughts about one of my favourite mobile apps. If you have an iPhone your handset is probably crammed with apps by now, both free and paid for ones. Their usage likely varies from never to often but a few reach that exalted 'couldn't live without it' status. For me one of those apps is Things from Cultured Code. Most people can benefit from being better organised and if you're a mobile user, being able to access your outstanding tasks from anywhere is very handy. Things is a task manager, 'to do' or 'getting things done' app and comes in versions for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Being able to use Things on several devices is key to its importance to me. I store all my personal and business tasks in Things to remind me what I need to do each day and give me a view on 'things' I need to do in the future.

Individual tasks can have a date associated with them or be flagged as 'next' or the vaguer 'someday'. A key feature for me is being able to link tasks to Projects. I've created Projects for all the activities I'm working on and I can very easily review where I am with the tasks associated with any Project. I also use Projects for personal activities so I have a Blogging project where I make a note of anything I might want to blog about. There is even an Inbox to add tasks to when you haven't decided what Project or date to associate them with. All completed tasks are logged with the date of completion so you have a permanent record of activities completed.

Things syncs across all your devices using WiFi. Cloud syncing is coming but Cultured Code has delayed this function to spend more time looking at how it can deliver the optimal experience to users. If you're interested in delving into the challenges of cloud sync have a look at the Cultured Code blog. Things isn't a cheap app, at £44.95 for the Mac version, £11.99 for the iPad and £5.99 for the iPhone; however it's worth every penny. I've tried different apps in the past for task management and Things is easily the best I've found. When cloud syncing arrives it will be unbeatable. I've got lots of great apps on my devices but Things fills a vital slot for me.

You can follow both @culturedcode and @sevendotzero on Twitter.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The future of mobile service bundles?

It's always puzzled me why mobile operators expect you to decide at the start of your contract how many calls and texts you think you'll use each month and then commit to that combination for 18 or 24 months; it's certainly not a customer centric approach to business. My usage fluctuates from month to month and I have no idea what my world will look like in 18 months time! Of course the mobile operators want a long commitment so they can recoup the handset subsidy, although that model looks increasingly dubious - I've bought my handsets unlocked for a long time now to avoid lock-ins. However the consumer is left snow blinded by the mobile operators' contract marketing efforts, with few alternatives to this unimaginative 'take it or leave it' proposition. Regular prepay is flexible but not an option because the per call and text charges are ridiculously high. 

So, has anyone in the market solved this problem yet? Well my friends at giffgaff have made a good start but... It's great that giffgaff lets me choose my calls and texts bundle month by month because that does give me some control, however what I want to do is build my own service bundle...

I want to create a personalised service bundle on a month by month basis, based on the options and components that work for me. As an example, I want:
  • 600 UK minutes
  • 1000 UK SMS
  • Inclusive 0870 calls
  • Free minute of calls for every minute received
  • UK local number to give to a few privileged folk
  • German number because I'm travelling
  • Inclusive international data
  • Inclusive calls to Germany
  • Tethering so I can use my iPhone for data connectivity with my MacBook

The permutations are endless and next month it will be a different combination...

As I select each option the cost of the item and the overall product combination cost would be displayed and I could tweak it so that I end up with the optimal feature/price combination for me. At any time during the month I can tweak the bundle so it changes for the next month. My service bundle can be as simple or as complex as I want. It delivers customer choice and puts me in control of my usage.

And if anyone could do this, I reckon giffgaff could ...

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