Archive | November, 2007

The National Do Not Call Registry in numbers

28 Nov

The National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) was initiated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India in June this year and it became operational in October. Let’s see the story so far in figures.

Registered subscribers:
 6.7 million
Telemarketer applications: 20,900
Registered telemarketers: 10,700
Rejected telemarketers: 7,100
Phone numbers uploaded for scrubbing by telemarketers: 380 million (many numbers overlap between multiple telemarketers) 
Complaints against telemarketers from registered subscribers: 3,685
So what do these figures reveal about the NDNC? Out of the 217 million mobile subscribers in the country, only three percent of the subscribers have registered themselves. This could be due to two reasons. Either the carriers are not publicising the NDNC or the registration process is tedious. In this case, both the scenarios hold true.
While I get all sorts of text messages from my carrier about various schemes, services or new ring tones, I’m yet to receive one that talks about the NDNC. When I tried getting my number registered in the registry, I was clueless where to go. On calling the customer care service, I was given a verbal assurance that my number is being added to the registry and it will take 45 days to process my request. It has been over 45 days now and I haven’t received any sort of confirmation. In the meanwhile, I am being constantly harassed by telemarketing calls. I don’t know whom to approach to complain about these calls. If you have ever tried calling a customer care centre, you would very well know how difficult it is to get through.
There are a couple of things I’d like to ask TRAI as well as all the carriers. Who likes getting telemarketing calls? In the TRAI meeting held on November 21, “telecom service providers were asked to give wide publicity regarding NDNC and their various methods for registration of subscribers and their complaint handling mechanism.” Why is it not made compulsory for these service providers to get in touch with each and every subscriber and ask whether they would like to register themselves in the NDNC? After all, most of us do get calls from the same service providers asking us if we’d like to shift from prepaid to postpaid or change our tariff plan, don’t we?
With due respects to the initiative taken by TRAI, I feel this is not enough. If the regulator is serious about the telemarketing menace, it needs to take some more concrete steps.

Tata Indicom brings mobile Internet to the masses

28 Nov

Tata Indicom today announced its partnership with Opera Software and launched the Huawei C2900i handset with the Opera Mini browser. The phone, which is priced at Rs 1,999, can now be used to browse any website on the Internet thanks to the Opera Mini browser. The browser can be downloaded from Tata Zone in the phone’s menu. The Opera Mini browser on the C2900i handset is also compatible with Hindi and Urdu, while more Indian languages like Bengali and Tamil will be added soon.
The CDMA carrier also offers a tempting data package that ranges from Rs 10 for one day of unlimited Internet browsing to Rs 99 for 30 days. On the other hand, GSM carriers charge as high as 10 paise per 10 KB of data transfer. At the moment, value added services account for 9.4 percent of Tata Indicom’s overall revenues and the carrier expects this to increase with the introduction of mobile Internet even on the cheapest of handsets.

Exclusive: Vertu uses cow-hide leather in its phones

27 Nov

Luxury cellphone manufacturer, Vertu, might find itself in a fix for selling cellphones in India with cow-hide leather. The latest edition of Vertu Ascent, called Ti, uses tanned cow-hide leather on its back, which according to the company press release, is of the highest possible specification and hand assembled by expertly trained craftsmen. The fact that the phone uses leather made from cow-hide doesn’t go well with Hindus, who consider cows sacred and worship them.

The Ascent Ti is by far the most technically advanced Vertu handset at the moment with 3G connectivity, 4 GB of internal memory and a 3 megapixel camera. It is available in India for Rs 3,26,000. Every Vertu handset is hand crafted in England.
Vertu was established in 1998 and launched its first product in 2002. Bollywood icon, Karan Johar, is known to be a Vertu user. When contacted, Nokia officials pointed out that the brand was no longer a part of Nokia and had been hived off as a separate business a few years back.

Fly poised to launch Windows Mobile based multimedia phone

27 Nov

At the launch of the Hummer branded Fly phone today, Rajiv Khanna, CEO Meridian Mobile, revealed that the brand is working on Windows Mobile based multimedia phones that will be launched in the next couple of months. “We will introduce Windows Mobile based multimedia phones with excellent acoustics. These might also have high internal memory and at least a 2 megapixel camera,” Khanna said.
Currently, Windows Mobile devices are quintessentially enterprise devices with greater emphasis on services like Push Mail and Office applications. What many brands don’t leverage is the presence of Windows Media Player that happens to be the media player of choice in the desktop environment. Hopefully, more brands will follow the Fly example and get working on Windows Mobile based music phones. Amen!

Ringing in the bling!

27 Nov

Can’t afford a Hummvee, no problemo? Don’t even have the dosh to buy a Tag Heuer, no problem at all!  Your wish list can still come true, thanks to cellphones. No, we are not talking about lucky draws or scratch coupons you get after buying a handset, we are talking about the real deal.
After the likes of Prada and Armani, lifestyle brands like Hummer, Tag Heuer and Levi’s have set their eyes on the cellphone biz and are crafting special edition phones that carry their branding. These brands have commissioned France-based ModeLabs, a mobile-on-demand design house to design cellphones for the respective brands.
While the Levi’s phone was introduced in Hong Kong earlier this month, a Hummer branded phone was launched today in India. The latest entrant is Tag Heuer, which is expected to unveil its phone early next year.
Fly, a popular cellphone brand in India and Eastern Europe has the exclusive rights for the Hummer branding for the next three years. The Hummer phone by Fly phone based on the Hummer HT1 and will retail at Rs 11,999 (USD 300) in the Indian market. “This is the first product in the Hummer series. We will release more products based on other Hummer variants, which will be rugged just like the Hummvees,” said Sougat Chatterjee, head – marketing for Meridian Mobile, which is the parent company for Fly.
Lifestyle brands are conscious of the fact that cellphones are aspiration products and it helps them to introduce their brand to an audience that can’t afford the brand’s flagship product. So let’s raise a toast in the hope to see a Jimmy Choos Bluetooth headset, a Maybach music phone and Cessna PDA!

Does the Nokia patent point towards the Nokia 888?

26 Nov

After writing about the new Nokia patent that figures a clamshell with touchscreens as its inner surfaces, I was reminded of the Nokia 888 concept by Istanbul-based industrial designer, Tamer Nakisci. The concept, which would now be close to two years old, features a formless, strap-like device powered by liquid batteries and has a flexible touchscreen. You might like to argue that it doesn’t even remotely sound like the clamshell in the Nokia patent, but if you see the picture below, you will instantly agree.

From this picture, it does look like a clamshell with two screens for the inner surfaces. However, I won’t bet that the one in the patent will be as slim as the Nokia 888. We’ll have to wait for an year or two before we see the product, but don’t be surprised if it looks like an obese version of the Nokia 888.

Nokia gets high on touchscreen, shows off another device!

23 Nov

After years of dismissing touchscreen user interface (probably after their experience with the 7710), Nokia is finally getting to terms with the technology, thanks to the roaring success of the Apple iPhone. Barely two days after Unwired View unearthed one such concept, they are back with another one.

This time a clamshell, the patent illustrates a device with two internal touchscreens. While one touchscreen will mostly work as a display, the other one will multi-task between an input screen and a display, depending on the angle between the two displays! Sounds pretty complicated to us, but that also means new functionalities and features. Though we don’t expect it to be manufactured in the coming couple of months, but it would certainly give the Moto Rokr E8 with its morphing keypad a run for its money. Who are you putting your money on?