Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Nokia unveils the 3G Nokia N97

Nokia unveiled the Nokia N97, the world's most advanced mobile computer, which will transform the way people connect to the Internet and to each other. Designed for the needs of Internet-savvy consumers, the Nokia N97 combines a large 3.5" touch display with a full QWERTY keyboard, providing an 'always open' window to favorite social networking sites and Internet destinations. Nokia's flagship Nseries device introduces leading technology - including multiple sensors, memory, processing power and connection speeds - for people to create a personal Internet and share their 'social location'.

The Nokia N97 introduces the concept of 'social location'. With integrated A-GPS sensors and an electronic compass, the Nokia N97 mobile computer intuitively understands where it is. The Nokia N97 makes it easy to update social networks automatically with real-time information, giving approved friends the ability to update their 'status' and share their 'social location' as well as related pictures or videos.

The Nokia N97 supports up to 48 GB of storage, including 32 GB of on-board memory, expandable with a 16 GB microSD card for music, media and more. This is complemented by excellent music capabilities, full support for the Nokia Music Store and continuous playback time of up to 1.5 days. The Nokia N97 also has a 5-Megapixel camera with high-quality Carl Zeiss optics, 16:9 and DVD quality video capture, and support for services like Share on Ovi for immediate sharing over HSDPA and WLAN.

The Nokia N97 is expected to begin shipping in the first half of 2009 at an estimated retail price of EUR 550 before taxes or subsidies.

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Laptop-inclusive deals only for the credit-worthy

Mobile broadband has seen exponential growth in 2008, yet in the face of the credit crunch mobile providers and retailers are turning away 50% of their business due to very stringent credit checks. During October and November UK based broadband comparison site Broadband Expert has witnessed that on average half of the sales sent to retailers offering a mobile broadband and free laptop deal were rejected after running a credit check.

Broadband Expert Commercial Director Rob Webber believes certain retailers and mobile providers are being overly cautious, "companies are spending huge amounts on advertising campaigns promoting these offers yet when the consumer comes to sign up, there is a strong chance they will be refused based on a credit check".

Webber sees a certain irony in the high rejection rates of these contracts since the offer of spreading the cost of a laptop over an extended period is "particularly popular with students and those on lower incomes who cannot afford the upfront costs of a new laptop, yet these are the people most likely to be excluded from these offers."

Most mobile broadband and laptop deals have contract periods of between 18 and 24 months with a typical monthly cost of £25 to £40. Since these contracts carry no upfront charge for with the laptop or the dongle, there is a significant level of risk for the retailer. Webber believes the "stringency of credit checks is an interesting barometer of the confidence retailers have in consumers meeting repayments with many only unwilling to extend these deals to those without a very good credit rating".

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Mobile Broadband data allowances double in 12 months

Mobile Broadband user allowances have doubled over the last 12 month period, to reach an average of 3.9GB, up from 1.8GB a year ago.

A new report published by Tariff Consultancy Ltd called Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009 highlights the growing importance of Mobile Broadband services in Europe.

Mobile Broadband Pricing 2009 – an analysis of current Mobile Broadband* pricing in 33 countries across Eastern and Western Europe - details the continued overall decline in price levels over the past year together with the spread of larger user allowance packages with flat rate pricing that is transforming the growth prospects for a number of mobile operators.

The main findings from the report include:

  • Mobile Broadband flat rate bundles are now the norm across Europe and are the most common form of price package

  • The average flat rate package bundle provided has doubled over the last 12 months to almost 4GB (based on the analysis of 100 mobile operators)

  • The most common monthly user allowance price point on offer across Europe is now 5GB and 10GB, closely followed by 1GB and 500MB allowances

  • There are at least 20 mobile operators across all countries which are now offering an 'unlimited' user allowance for their Mobile Broadband service

  • Pricing in 2008 has fallen by an average of 4% across all countries when compared with the previous year – even though average user allowances have more than doubled

  • 80 per cent of Mobile Broadband operators in Europe charge a Per MB out of monthly allowance – for national traffic - with charges ranging up to 3.27 euro per MB although typical rates are between 10 and 20 euro cents.

  • Average Mobile Broadband prices have fallen by as much as 53%, 43% and 35% in Latvia, Austria and the UK respectively over the past year.

  • In Ireland, Germany, Sweden and Spain average Mobile Broadband prices are now significantly lower than the most popular fixed line DSL Broadband service, which is driving customers to the mobile Broadband offer.

  • New offerings include: Prepaid; Per day, Per week, monthly with an 'off-peak' or time-limited tariff.

Commenting on the research findings, Tariff Consultancy Ltd Managing Director Margrit Sessions said, "Although Mobile Broadband pricing has continued to decline overall, the most striking feature has been the continued increase in monthly user allowances which have more than doubled in the course of a year."

With more mobile operators deploying HSDPA networks – capable of supporting downloads of up to 7.2MB – the increase in flat rate packages is likely to continue.

"Mobile operators have to ensure that they provision the network capacity to meet the demand that flat rate pricing will create and also safeguard against over-selling their service," continued Margrit Sessions.

Although subscriber number growth is driven by larger flat rate Mobile Broadband packages, it is clear that mobile operators will face a number of challenges if they are to translate user growth to profitability.

"The key to long-term success is for the Mobile Broadband operator to develop a segmented approach to its offer with the emphasis on improving its network coverage (for example by offering a Wi-Fi bundle as well) together with a more transparent pricing scheme," concludes Margrit Sessions.

*(defined as being download access speeds in excess of 384KB)

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