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.

Mobile position data present anonymity risk

April 02, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: data security, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Personal Security, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Scientists say it is remarkably easy to identify a mobile phone user from just a few pieces of location positioning information.Mobile position data present anonymity riskWhenever a phone is switched on, its connection to the network means its position and movement can be plotted.

This data is given anonymously to third parties, both to drive services for the user and to target advertisements.

But a study Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility in Scientific Reports warns that human mobility patterns are so predictable it is possible to identify a user from only four data points.

The growing ubiquity of mobile phones and smartphone applications has ushered in an era in which tremendous amounts of user data have become available to the companies that operate and distribute them – sometimes released publicly as “anonymised” or aggregated data sets.

These data are of extraordinary value to advertisers and service providers, but also for example to those who plan shopping centres, allocate emergency services, and a new generation of social scientists.

Yet the spread and development of “location services” has outpaced the development of a clear understanding of how location data impact users’ privacy and anonymity.

For example, sat-nav manufacturers have long been using location data from both mobile phones and sat-navs themselves to improve traffic reporting, by calculating how fast users are moving on a given stretch of road.

The data used in such calculations are “anonymised” – no actual mobile numbers or personal details are associated with the data.

But there are some glaring examples of how nominally anonymous data can be linked back to individuals, the most striking of which occurred with a tranche of data deliberately released by AOL in 2006, outlining 20 million anonymised web searches.

Recent work has increasingly shown that humans’ patterns of movement, however random and unpredictable they seem to be, are actually very limited in scope and can in fact act as a kind of fingerprint for who is doing the moving.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Catholic University of Louvain studied 15 months’ worth of anonymised mobile phone records for 1.5 million individuals.

They found from the “mobility traces” – the evident paths of each mobile phone – that only four locations and times were enough to identify a particular user.

“In the 1980s, it was shown that you need 12 points to uniquely identify and characterise a fingerprint,” said the study’s lead author Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye of MIT.

“What we did here is the exact same thing but with mobility traces. The way we move and the behaviour is so unique that four points are enough to identify 95% of people.”

“We think this data is more available than people think. When you think about, for instance wi-fi or any application you start on your phone, we call up the same kind of mobility data.

“When you share information, you look around you and feel like there are lots of people around – in the shopping centre or a tourist place – so you feel this isn’t sensitive information.”

Sam Smith of Privacy International said: “Our mobile phones report location and contextual data to multiple organisations with varying privacy policies.”

“Any benefits we receive from such services are far outweighed by the threat that these trends pose to our privacy, and although we are told that we have a choice about how much information we give over, in reality individuals have no choice whatsoever.” 

Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launched

March 19, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, mobile phones, Samsung, Search Clinic, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Samsung has launched a new smartphone- Galaxy S4 which allows users to control its 5in screen using only their eyes.Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone launchedThe Galaxy S4 follows on from last year’s S3, a product that sold over 40 million units worldwide.

Analysts widely regard Samsung to be the biggest challenger to Apple’s dominance of mobile products as the Galaxy S4 will be rolled out globally at the end of April.

The company’s head of mobile communications, JK Shin said 327 mobile operators in 155 countries will carry the handset.

In the UK, Vodafone, Three, Orange, T-Mobile and EE have all announced plans to offer the device on their networks.

Through a series of role-playing scenes, the South Korean firm demonstrated the phone’s key features.

Much was made of the device’s ability to be controlled without touching it- using “Smart pause”, the user can pause a video by looking away from the screen.

Additionally, the “Smart Scroll” software analyses the user’s eyes and wrist to scroll through emails and other content.

In another scene, depicting a backpacker in Shanghai, the phone was shown to translate English text into Chinese speech – before translating Chinese speech back into English text.

The dual camera feature makes use of the device’s front and rear cameras simultaneously, blending the pictures together to make sure the picture taker is not “left out”.

The rear has a 13 megapixel camera, while the user-facing camera captures pictures at 2 megapixels.

The phone weighs 130g, and is 7.9mm thick – making it slightly lighter and thinner than the S3.

The device uses Samsung’s HD AMOLED technology, giving the S4’s screen – which is marginally bigger than the S3’s – a resolution of 441 pixels-per-inch.

As predicted by several industry experts before the event, most of the presentation focused on the phone’s software rather than hardware.

As well as the “touchless” technology, the company also introduced the Samsung Hub – a multimedia storage facility that can be shared across multiple Samsung devices.

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.

Apple Inc loses it’s most valuable company crown

January 25, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Customer Service, mobile phones, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Apple Inc has lost its crown as the world’s most valuable publicly traded company after its shares continued to follow the basic law of physics- gravity.Apple Inc loses it's most valuable company crownThe Oil company Exxon Mobil has regained the top slot after Apple shares fell a further 2.4%-  following a 12% drop on Thursday.

Apple, which posted disappointing iPhone sales figures on Wednesday, has seen its shares fall 37% since their record high last September.

Exxon became number one in 2005, traded places with Apple during 2011, and had been number two since early 2012.

At the close on Wall Street, Apple had a market value of £261 billion, against Exxon’s of £264 billion.

The technology company has been hit by fears over its future growth, despite record profits.

Although the firm said on Wednesday that it had sold more iPhones (47.8 million) and iPads (22.9 million) in the final three months of last year than in any previous quarter, investors and analysts had expected yet more.

On Thursday, about £32 billion was wiped off Apple’s value after the biggest daily drop in the firm’s stock in four years.

Apple is also facing fierce competition from rivals like Samsung, which accounted for one in four of all mobile phones shipped worldwide last year, according to Strategy Analytics.

Apple’s share price rose sharply following a revival under Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, which came about first in computers and then the iPod music player, and was then followed by the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s shares were worth as little as $3.19 in 1997 when it faced the possibility of bankruptcy, and reached a record $702.1 on 19 September 2012.

Nokia promotes 3D printing for mobile phone cases

January 14, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Dr Search, mobile phones, Nokia, Search Clinic, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Nokia is releasing design files that will let owners use 3D printers to make their own cases for its Lumia phones.Nokia promotes 3D printing for mobile phone casesFiles containing mechanical drawings, case measurements and recommended materials have already been released by the phone maker.

Those using the files will be able to create a custom designed case for the flagship Lumia 820 handset.

The project makes Nokia one of the first big electronics firms to seriously back 3D printing.

In a blogpost, John Kneeland, one of Nokia’s community managers, revealed the Finnish phone maker’s decision to release the 3D drawings.

Printing in 3D involves sending a design file to a printer that then forms a solid version of that object by slowly building it up in layers of plastic. Early 3D printers could only work in one colour but the latest versions can produce intricate, multicoloured objects.

Mr Kneeland said Nokia was releasing what he called a “3D printing development kit” to help people produce the cases. The files are already available on the site Nokia maintains for its developers.

He said 3D printing was another way that the firm wanted to build links to that vast community of software and hardware engineers. To get the files, users must have registered with Nokia.

He said Nokia already used 3D printing internally to do rapid prototyping, but decided to back it more publicly to help the nascent technology realise its “incredible potential”.

In the future, he said, 3D printing was likely to bring about phones that were “wildly more modular and customisable”.

Nokia might just end up selling a phone template, he said, allowing entrepreneurs to use that to produce handsets that satisfy the particular needs of their locale.

“You want a waterproof, glow-in-the-dark phone with a bottle-opener and a solar charger? Someone can build it for you – or you can print it yourself,” he wrote.

He added that, in his view, 3D printing was a technology that justified its hype and said it was “the sequel to the Industrial Revolution”.

“However, it’s going to take somewhat longer to arrive than some people anticipate, and that may disappoint people,” he said.

Payments by text message services to launch in UK in spring 2014

January 09, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Computers, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, mobile phones, Personal Security, Search Clinic, smart phones, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

UK mobile users will be able to send and receive money by sharing only their phone number by the spring 2014  the Payments Council has announced.Payments by text message services to launch in UK in spring 2014Account owners will be asked by their banks if they want to opt-in to a database that will allow the sending of money by text message.

The scheme is being backed by eight major financial institutions.

Its launch will bring the UK up to speed with technology which has been used for several years in the developing world.

Many African nations use systems such as M-Pesa, which is typically seen as a secure way to transfer funds quickly between individuals and businesses.

Mobiles in the UK are already being used for a variety of online banking tasks, with services such as Barclay’s PingIt simplifying sending money to and from accounts.

But this new set up will be the first to not require users to set-up a separate account with a mobile wallet service.

The scheme will be administered by the Faster Payments service – which processed more than 800 million online and phone banking transactions in 2012 – and the Link network, which processed 3.1 billion cash machine withdrawals last year.

The system will mean people can send and receive money to others by sharing just their mobile number – rather than having to swap other details such as sort code or account number.

However, the Payments Council said a passcode or similar security measure would ensure the system could not be abused.

Also, banks will have the ability to remotely disable accounts suspected of misuse.

Research would be conducted to make sure the limit represented a blend of “convenience and security”, the spokesman added.

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.”