BlackBerry maker RIM to re-focus efforts after disappointing results

The firm made the announcement as it revealed another set of disappointing quarterly results which saw the firm record a loss of $125 million (£78 million) and revenue slide 25% to $4.2 billion (£2.6 billion) from $5.6 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, who took over in January, said: “We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment.”

Reports that RIM intend to abandon the consumer market have been strongly denied by the company saying that their comments have been incorrectly interpreted. “While we announced plans to re-focus our efforts on our core strengths, and on our enterprise customer base, we were very explicit that we will continue to build on our strengths to go after targeted consumer segments. We listed BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform, among these strengths.” said Patrick Spence, RIM’s managing director of Global Sales & Regional Marketing.

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Vodafone and Visa form mPayments partnership

Vodafone and Visa have announced a worldwide partnership to enable consumers to pay for goods and services using their mobile phones, instead of with coins and banknotes.

Vodafone will work with Visa to develop a Vodafone-branded service, enabled by Visa’s prepay services. The service will initially be launched in Germany with an anticipated launch in the UK in the coming financial year.

Aside from its ‘member’ bank agreements this is the largest commercial partnership Visa has ever signed. Announcing the new partnership at Mobile World Congress , Vodafone’s Chief Executive, Vittorio Colao said: “The Vodafone mobile wallet represents the next stage of the smartphone revolution. It offers our customers the speed, simplicity and convenience of managing their everyday transactions with a single wave or tap of their smartphone.”

The customer’s mobile device will hold a Vodafone-branded ‘stored value’ account, with Visa’s systems managing payment processing. The platform will be open to a full range of industries, allowing financial institutions, retailers, transport, utility companies and more to offer payment services within an innovative new Vodafone mobile wallet.

In developed countries across Europe, North America and Australia, with a mature infrastructure for electronic payments, users of the Vodafone stored value account will be able to make purchases at the-point-of sale using Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled smartphones equipped with Visa’s ‘payWave’ service. By simply waving their NFC-equipped smartphone in front of a payment terminal, consumers will be able to make simple, every day purchases such as bus and train tickets, newspapers, magazines or a morning coffee. Consumers will also be able to make high value purchases securely using a passcode.

The service will offer comprehensive security, with NFC encryption and secure SIM card and payments industry technology. In addition to stored value accounts the ‘wallet’ will also hold loyalty scheme points and gift voucher credits, complementing and sometimes replacing a number of plastic cards in the customer’s wallet or purse.

The new relationship with Visa is part of Vodafone’s strategic mCommerce programme, which aims to deliver mPayments, mAdvertising, mCouponing and NFC mWallet in a consistent way across local markets.

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Mobile World Congress 2012

Last week the big names in telecoms gathered in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2012, which is like a ‘Cannes Film Festival’ equivalent for phones. Over 60,000 people attended across the five day event, to see the unveiling of many new devices, technologies and services. So what grabbed the headlines this year?

A key theme from last week was the continued focus on smartphones. With Apple choosing not to attend, HTC announced its ‘supercharged’ OneX , OneS and OneV models. Chinese manufacturer Huawei caused a stir with its impressive Ascend line-up, while Nokia unveiled a 41 megapixel camera phone! Samsung’s success in the mobile space got a further lift with the Galaxy S2 beating the iPhone to win Best Smartphone prize at the Global Mobile Awards. The hardware buzz at this year’s event was around larger touchscreens, with 4.3” – 4.7” screens becoming the norm and a move towards ultra-slim mobiles. Quad core processors also made their debut in devices, boosting battery life and supporting faster web browsing.

Looking further ahead, NFC (Near Field Communication) and LTE (Long Term Evolution 4G) are ones to watch. The Vodafone Visa worldwide partnership which was announced at Mobile World Congress is paving the way to consumers being able to pay for goods and services with a simple wave of their mobiles. LTE, on the other hand, is all about the network and promises improved speeds and a far richer data experience.

Coming out of this year’s event we expect Android, particularly with Samsung and HTC, to dominate high-end devices alongside Apple, with RIM pushing hard in the consumer space. Microsoft will become more of a driving force in mobile with Windows 8, while smartphones and 3G devices will filter through to all levels of the PAYG market.

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RIM launch their new Mobile Conferencing App

RIM have announced the launch of their new Mobile Conferencing App now available through Appworld. The BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing App searches to discover conference call information from BlackBerry® emails and calendar invites dialling you in and automatically entering the required passcode so you don’t have to. All conferencing numbers and passcodes are auto-replaced with a “Join Now” icon.

Once you’ve installed the free BlackBerry® Mobile Conferencing app on your BlackBerry smartphone, you’ll appreciate how it helps make joining conference calls easier than ever. Now available for the first time in the UK, it includes powerful features that make scheduling conference calls simple. In fact, it’s designed to be so intuitive that even if you forget that it’s there, it’s sure to become an essential tool that you’ll rely on to manage your day.

Here are the key features in this release:

App icon – The BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing icon on your home screen takes you to video demos of key features, lets you share the app with friends or colleagues and allows you to provide feedback about the app directly to Research In Motion®.

Join Now – the BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing app adds a button to calendar reminders on your BlackBerry smartphone that can dial you in to a call automatically. If the invite includes multiple dial-in numbers for different locations, the app can choose the most appropriate one for you (within North America and the United Kingdom only).

Email to Meeting Conversion – Help put an end to long email threads by scheduling a conference call using the “Schedule Conference” menu item on any email. The sender and recipients of the email are included as meeting attendees, the email subject becomes your meeting subject and part of the email message is copied into your invite automatically. Just add your conference call details from a stored profile, click send and you’re set.

Conference Profiles – Add conference call details to almost any meeting you schedule from your BlackBerry smartphone with a single click using conference call details from up to 10 profiles stored on your device.

Private Moderator Codes – You can keep your moderator codes private. For meeting invitations you created, the app can use your conference profiles to dial you in as the moderator. That means you can leave your moderator code out of invites sent from your computer for added privacy without sacrificing convenience.

You can download the app from your BlackBerry or view it here

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Barclays launches mobile transfer service

Barclays has launched allowing its customers to send money to any UK bank account using a mobile phone number.The free service links a customer’s mobile phone number with their bank account allowing payments to be sent without a bank account number being disclosed. To send money, customers must download the free Barclays Pingit app which is available for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.In order to receive payments, customers must register their details online via the Pingit website.

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Highlights of CES 2012

The annual Consumer Electronics Show took place this month in Las Vegas and although we didn’t see any major new handset announcements from the leading manufacturers, we were treated to some fascinating developments. Unfortunately many of the innovations have been announced for specific countries but at least we are getting a taste of things to come. In February 3GSM takes place in Barcelona and hopefully we will see more devices for the European market.
Intel finally debuted a phone incorporating one of their processors – the Atom Z2460. The chip was running in a fully operational smartphone but unfortunately the handset was not for production rather a hint of things to come.
If you are interested in the Intel processor then the handset to look out for is the Lenovo K800. This is an Android 2.3 device which will be upgradable to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. One of the intriguing features is the inclusion of Wi-Di. This is a wireless display technology which is being incorporated by a major TV manufacturers and is a form of Wireless HDMI.
Toshiba showed off a new Windows Mango handset (for the Japanese market) which featured a 13.2MP camera and 32GB of on board memory. They also announced an Android handset (again for Japan) running 2.3 Gingerbread on a 1.2GHz processor again inlcuding a 13.2 megapixel camera.
Motorola announced the 4G LTE Droid 4, although not as slim as the RAZR Droids is still pretty thin considering it has a slideout keyboard. The device has a water repellant coating and includes software called “Business Ready” which offers government standard encryption for email, calander and contacts. The device is designed for the US market and we hope to see a variant for the UK!
As fitness is always a theme of the New Year, Moto also showed off an Android powered fitness trainer / watch. This wearable device is worn like a watch and has inbuilt GPS and custom software designed to keep track of your training regime. The device is rain and sweat resistant and has 8GB in-built memory for your workout music.

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Vodafone Guardian – Vodafone’s new child protection app

Do you have kids or younger brothers and sisters with mobiles? If so, how well protected are they?

Today Vodafone has launched Vodafone Guardian, a free-to-download Android app which puts protecting young people from unwanted calls and texts, or misuse of the internet, firmly in the hands of parents and carers.

More sophisticated than standard content barring, the new app can be set up by choosing a specific age range, or features can be set individually. Children and parents can discuss specific preferences and program the mobile to control who can call or text, or to bar internet access at certain times of day. There is even a secure ‘vault’ facility for texts from unknown or blocked numbers.

Vodafone Guardian is password protected and any unauthorised change to the settings sends a text alert to the parent or carer. It also has features that allow older teenagers and adults to control who contacts them, without the need for a password.

Latest Ofcom research suggests 18% of 5 to 11 year olds now own a smartphone. Among 12 to 15 year olds, this rises to over one third. Social networking, emailing, sharing photos and watching videos via mobile brings clear benefits but isn’t without its risks. Vodafone’s new app gives people a way to manage these concerns, it’s easy to use and set up, and can be downloaded to most popular Android devices.

Customers can download Vodafone Guardian onto their kids’ phones from Android Market. Vodafone also have a  Digital Parenting app with useful info and tips about your child’s digital world.

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