SEARCH CLINIC

Search engine online marketers
Subscribe Twitter Facebook Linkedin

End of Orange Wednesdays

February 26, 2015 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Yesterday was the last “Orange Wednesday” when UK cinemas offered 2 for 1 deals.

Yesterday was the last The latest company behind the phone operators EE- announced last year that it was ending the promotion because its customers’ “viewing habits had evolved”.

It promises to have another package to offer soon, but there was speculation that the company couldn’t reach a commercial deal with a cinema chain.

In a statement issued in December, EE said: “Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion.”

“After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers’ viewing habits have also evolved so it’s time to move on.”

2013’s box office attendance was the lowest in 20 years, according to Rentrak.

Cinemas in the UK and Ireland saw box office takings drop 2.9%, or around £34 million, from 2013 – the most significant change since 1991.

Blame, in part, was being directed at a lack of Hollywood blockbusters on screens that year, but it was also put down to the increasing cost of a ticket and people downloading films and box sets at home on a tablet, TV or phone.

But Stephen Fry says it’s not as simple as people being turned off film and brands the decline as “sad”.

“I don’t know whether one can factor in the figures for those who wait in order to watch Netflix, iTunes and other such downloads. Because I think that’s really on the up enormously and the passion for cinema and for movies is the greatest I think that it’s ever been.”

“So the fact that it’s not reflected in box office returns is sad, because I think filmmakers and everyone like to see their movies watched in proper, big, big cinemas. “

“Indeed Imax and funnily enough, you get things like Game of Thrones being shown in Imax cinemas. It’s disappointing but actually that’s bound to happen but over a longer period I think. I think you’ll find that cinema attendance is still pretty good.”

And he’s not wrong. 2014 did mark the fifth consecutive year that the film industry exceeded the £1.1 billion mark.

Which makes Search Clinic conclude that as the brand name has changed since the promotion’s inception, the brand value to EE was no longer cost effective.

Samsung loses market dominance as competition hots up

October 30, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Samsung, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Samsung smartphones are struggling to “wow” consumers with new phones- leading to slowing sales.

Samsung loses market dominance as competition hots up

This week, the world’s largest smartphone maker said its third-quarter operating profit fell 60% from a year earlier to £2.5 billion, marking its weakest quarterly profit since 2011. Sales also tumbled 20% in the same period.

News of Samsung’s worsening condition come even as the tech giant maintains a stronghold on the global smartphone market – accounting for 25% of it in the second quarter of this year, according to technology research firm IDC. But, that’s down from 32% a year earlier.

With the mobile business making up 70% of its operating profit, Samsung has launched several products recently to try to stay ahead of its rivals, such as the latest version of its flagship smartphone Galaxy S5 in April, while being the first to launch the latest tech trend – the smartwatch – last year.

It also rushed the release of the newest editions of its larger screen Galaxy Notes – the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge – ahead of schedule in September to face off against demand for Apple’s larger screen iPhones.

But stiff competition from the likes of Apple in the premium end, and cheaper smartphones from Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi and Lenovo in the lower end, is making it more difficult for Samsung to see growth.

Analysts say Samsung will continue to lose market share unless it can figure out a way to once again “wow” consumers that no longer appear to be impressed by its massive line-up of products.

Fast-growing Chinese budget smartphone maker Xiaomi announced this year that it was planning to double the number of handsets sold in 2014 from a year ago to 60 million, which is the same amount that Samsung sold in China last year.

That has not helped Samsung’s case, especially when added to the delayed launch of Samsung’s long-awaited Tizen operating system, which would have reduced its reliance on Google’s Android system for its phones.

While analysts agree that it is too early to call the end of Samsung’s reign at the top of the market with still such a sizeable gap between it and its closest competitor Apple at 12% market share, they believe that Samsung’s current growth rate is not sustainable.

The double-digit growth last year that propelled Samsung’s mobile phone revenue to overtake its television revenue, will no longer happen in a saturated smartphone market.

But in order to stay on top of the market,  Samsung needs to figure out how to better integrate its devices and add services on top of its phones to add value for consumers.

Samsung needs to narrow its focus from being a mass producer of phones in every segment to concentrate on areas where there is consumer growth, such as the lower end of the market.

Samsung’s future plans to reignite sales growth do seem to be heading in the direction of the lower end of the market.

In its earnings release on Thursday, the tech giant said it expects demand to grow for its new “middle-end smartphone models” but that may “require a potential increase in marketing expenses associated with year-end promotion” to keep up with the competition.

But Samsung’s earnings may also take a hit in the long term from this move- once you move to the mid-range segment, you look at the profit margin, and you probably have to sell two or three phones to equal the flagship model revenue that you can get.

Black market for stolen smartphones grows

April 22, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A black market of shops and traders willing to deal in stolen smartphones has been exposed.

Black market for stolen smartphones growsMore than 30,000 phones have been stolen in London alone in 2014.

They were then all blocked or reported stolen to the networks

All the phones used had ‘find-my-phone’ style blocks activated, and in theory their IMEI numbers mean they are not useable once reported stolen.

But it is simple it was to get around such features – using only a laptop.

By giving a device a new IMEI number – effectively changing the phone’s fingerprint – it means that the phone could be used as normal again.

And restoring the phone’s default software removes “find-my-phone” protection.

In just a few mouse clicks and the phone is turned from a paperweight back to a useable device again.

Over the past 12 months:

  • 30,430 phones taken in thefts – down 12% on previous year
  • 13,724 phones taken in robberies
  • Equivalent to 80 phones a day being taken
  • More than half of all the thefts on the Tube are of mobile phones

Source: Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police

A phone stolen this morning could be back on the streets by this afternoon, packaged up as a second hand legitimate phone.

A fundamental redesign of smartphones to place the IMEI number on a ‘read-only’ part of the device would prevent this. But Mr Roughley said manufacturers have been reluctant to do this.

So beware you so called smart phone- isn’t that clever if it is lost or stolen.

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone apps

March 28, 2014 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Cyber Security, data security, Hackers, mobile phones, Personal Security, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

The dangers of constantly keeping your smartphone’s always on has been revealed.

Dangers of constantly on wifi smartphone appsMany smartphone users leave the wireless option constantly turned on on their smartphone. That means the phones are constantly looking for a network to join – including previously used networks.

Once the user has joined a disguised wifi network, the rogue operator can then steal any information that the user enters while on that network – including email passwords, Facebook account information, and even banking details.

This is also why smartphones and other devices that use wireless technology – such as Oyster cards using RFID (radio frequency identification) or bank cards with chips – can betray their users.

Mr Wilkinson – who began developing the Snoopy software three years ago as a side-project – gave the BBC a preview of the technology ahead of its release.

Pulling out a laptop from his bag, Mr Wilkinson opened the Snoopy programme – and immediately pulled up the smartphone information of hundreds of Black Hat conference attendees.

With just a few keystrokes, he showed that an attendee sitting in the back right corner of the keynote speech probably lived in a specific neighbourhood in Singapore. The software even provided a streetview photo of the smartphone user’s presumed address.
DJI phantom SensePost has used the Snoopy software attached to cheap commercial drones like DJI’s Phantom

Drones- not just flying cameras:

  •     Drones are controlled either autonomously by on-board computers, or by remote control
  •     They are used in situations where manned flight is considered too dangerous or difficult
  •     Also increasingly used for policing and fire-fighting, security work, and for filming

For instance, the Snoopy software has been ground-based until now, operating primarily on computers, smartphones with Linux installed on them, and on open-source small computers like the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black.

But when attached to a drone, it can quickly cover large areas.

“You can also fly out of audio-visual range – so you can’t see or hear it, meaning you can bypass physical security – men with guns, that sort of thing,” he says.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which an authoritarian regime could fly the drone over an anti-government protest and collect the smartphone data of every protester and use the data to figure out the identities of everyone in attendance.

Mr Wilkinson says that this is why he has become fascinated with our “digital terrestrial footprint” – and the way our devices can betray us.

He says he wants to “talk about this to bring awareness” of the security risks posed by such simple technologies to users.

His advice? Turn off the wireless network on your phone until you absolutely need to use it.

Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbers

March 12, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

A record number of complaints are being made about mobile phone insurance.Mobile phone insurance complaints hit record numbersThe Financial Ombudsman Service says it dealt with around 600 between April 2011 and 2012 and upheld 69%.

But it is expecting a 25% increase on that figure when the numbers for the current financial year are gathered at the end of this month.

However, it says those complaints are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people unhappy with their insurance provider.

Martyn James form the Financial Ombudsman Service said: “We uphold more complaints about mobile phone insurance than virtually any other product we look at.”

“It’s round about three-quarters of all the cases we see.”

The Association of British Insurers says the complaints only represent a tiny percentage of people who have mobile phone insurance and that it’s working hard to bring that number down.

Facebook reports sharp drop in profits

February 06, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Facebook, internet, Mobile Marketing, Pay Per Click Advertising, Search Clinic, Social Media, Social Networking, Uncategorized

Facebook has reported a sharp drop in profits- partly due to increased spending on research and development.Facebook reports sharp drop in profitsThe social network site made a profit of £41 million in the final three months of 2012, compared with £133 million a year earlier.

Revenue was up 40% at £1.02 billion, largely due to a big jump in advertising revenue, a quarter of which came from mobile platforms.

Shares in Facebook fell by almost 6% in after-hours trading in New York.

The shares launched on the Nasdaq stock exchange in May at $38, and had halved in value by September.

They have since recovered to stand at $31 at the close of trading. The drop in after-hours trading suggests the shares will fall back again when full trading resumes on Thursday.

Revenue from advertising was £833 million, 41% up on a year earlier.

Mobile revenue, an important indicator of the company’s ability to capitalise on the growing move towards mobile platforms, accounted for 23% of overall revenue.

“In 2012, we connected over a billion people and became a mobile company,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive.

“We enter 2013 with good momentum and will continue to invest to achieve our mission and become a stronger, more valuable company.”

Spam text message senders are fined £440,000

December 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: data security, Email, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Two people who sent millions of spam text messages have been fined £440,000 as the authorities crack down against the spammers.Spam text message senders are fined £440,000Christopher Niebel and Gary McNeish were part of a growing industry that sends texts to promote compensation claims for personal injury or payment protection mis-selling.

The information commissioner is trying to stop spammers and blaggers. It is the first time the watchdog has used its powers to levy fines for this sort of case.

The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said: “The public have told us that they are distressed and annoyed by the constant bombardment of illegal texts and calls and we are currently cracking down on the companies responsible, using the full force of the law.

“The two individuals we have served penalties made a substantial profit from the sale of personal information. They knew they were breaking the law and the trail of evidence uncovered by my office highlights the scale of their operations.”

The case centres on Tetrus Telecoms, based in Greater Manchester, which offered to send out more than 800,000 texts a day on behalf of its clients, who are claims management companies looking for compensation cases to pass on to lawyers.

The messages, or variations of them, will be familiar to mobile phone users across Britain: “CLAIM TODAY, you may be entitled to £3500 for the accident you had. To CLAIM free reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP”.

The information commissioner’s office (ICO) says handwritten notes found in one of the company’s offices suggested Tetrus had been using 70 mobile phone sim cards a day.

These would be inserted in a card reader connected to a computer, and SMS messages would be sent until each card’s text message limit had been reached.

The company’s directors, Mr Niebel and Mr Neish, have been fined £440,000 between them for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

These require that marketing companies sending SMS messages must identify themselves and offer a way for recipients to opt out.

Records seized by the ICO suggest the company was making sales of more than £7,000 a day and its directors were earning tens of thousands of pounds.

The case has thrown a rare spotlight on the trade in potential clients for compensation claims, and the private data that enables them to be contacted.

Spammers sometimes send out messages to random numbers in the hope that they link to active mobile phones. They also buy black market lists of numbers on the internet.

For those receiving unwanted messages, replying can lead to the number being marked as active, making it more valuable to so-called ‘list brokers’. Each proven number can be worth £5. The ICO recommends the messages are deleted.

However should a phone-user respond positively to a message offering compensation for a road accident or mis-sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) they will be passed to a claims management company which can then sell their case to a solicitor for a commission of around £500.

Mr Graham said: “Our message to the public is, if you don’t know who sent you a text message then do not respond, otherwise your details may be used to generate profits for these unscrupulous individuals.”

Vodafone’s Italy and Spain businesses written off

November 21, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, mobile phones, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Vodafone has written down the value of its units in Spain and Italy by £5.9 billion which the firm has blamed on the tough market conditions in the two countries.Vodafone's Italy and Spain businesses written offThe news came as the mobile phone firm reported a pre-tax loss of £492 million for the six months to 30 September, against an £8 billion profit a year earlier.

But there was better news from Verizon Wireless, a US business of which Vodafone owns 45% as it said on Monday that it would pay an $8.5 billion (£5.4 billion) dividend.

The dividend is due to be paid to its owners – Verizon Communications and Vodafone – by the end of the year.

It is the second dividend that Verizon Wireless has paid this year-  following a $10 billion one in January.

For several years before that, Verizon Wireless had been using its spare cash to pay off it’s debts instead of paying dividends.

Vodafone said it expected to receive £2.4 billion of the Verizon dividend and plans to use part of it to start a £1.5 billion share buyback programme.

Under such a programme a company buys its own shares and cancels them which increases the value of the remaining shares.

Announcing its latest results, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “Our results reflect tougher market conditions, mainly in southern Europe.”

But he added that he was positive about longer term opportunities, partly as a result of the group’s “attractive and growing exposure to emerging markets”, such as India and Turkey.

Revenue in southern Europe fell 17.5%, including an 8.2% decline due to the euro weakening against the pound.

Vodafone said the pressure from price competition and continuing economic problems in the eurozone had been partially offset by improved revenue from data services, as more people had smartphones.

It said customers in Italy and Spain had been reducing their spending on mobile phone tariffs because of economic weakness in those countries.

Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profits

November 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apple, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Google, internet, mobile phones, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

As more people around the world are using smartphones and downloading apps, bank, and conduct business, there’s more and more of an incentive for criminals to attack phones- as they used to attack PCs in the past.Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profitsCrimeware kits, which let novice cyber thieves create their own viruses with a few mouse clicks, have been behind the huge rise in the number of malicious programs that plague PCs.

Now, such kits are starting to be made for mobile malware.

What criminals like about mobiles is their intrinsic connection to a payment plan. This made it far easier to siphon off cash than with PC viruses.

All phones that have access to SMS are able to charge money to their phone bill via premium rate SMS processes.

Almost 70% of the millions of scams try to steal cash by surreptitiously racking up premium-rate charges.

Malicious apps made it hard for people to realise they were being scammed, because they could work surreptitiously while phone owners used a different application.

Alongside the growth in mobile malware is a rise in junk or spam text messages being sent to phones – many involving fake offers in an attempt to sucker the recipient into revealing their credit card number.

The ways to keep your mobile phone safe are:

  • Stick to official marketplaces and app stores
  • Be suspicious of offers that look too good to be true
  • Check your bill for rogue charges
  • Be wary of sites offering for free apps that cost money elsewhere
  • Be extra wary of Android apps as Google’s vetting is not as strict as Apple’s.

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 outsells Apple’s iPhone 4S

November 07, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, mobile phones, Samsung, Search Clinic, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 is outselling Apple’s iPhone 4S for the first time- becoming the world’s best selling smartphone.Samsung's Galaxy S3 outsells Apple's iPhone 4SSamsung sold 18 million models, compared with Apple’s 16.2 million sales, in the third quarter of 2012.

The Galaxy S3 “has proven wildly popular with consumers and operators,” said Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston.

However, Apple’s new iPhone 5 is widely expected to reclaim the top sales spot.

Strong Galaxy smartphone sales helped Samsung report record profits in the three months to September. Net profit was 6.5 trillion won (£3.7 billion), up 91% from a year earlier.

But analysts say that one reason Samsung’s phone was able to wrest the top sales spot from Apple’s iPhone 4 was because many customers were waiting for the iPhone 5, which was launched during the third quarter.

The Apple iPhone 5 has already got off to a solid start and “we expect the new iPhone 5 to out-ship Samsung’s Galaxy S3 in the coming fourth quarter”, said Neil Mawston.

“Apple should soon reclaim the title of the world’s most popular smartphone model,” he added.

Samsung and its rival Apple have been locked in a series of ongoing legal battles over patent infringement claims in various countries around the world.

In October, sales bans in the US on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone and its Galaxy 10.1 tablet computer were lifted, in a blow to Apple.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, a US court awarded Apple $1.05 billion (£652 million) in damages, after ruling several of its software and design technologies had been infringed by Samsung.

Samsung has challenged that verdict and called for a retrial.

Analysts say that given the tremendous growth potential of the sector, the two firms’ legal battle is likely to continue.