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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Last week at The Fonecast: 21st November 2011

Mark Bridge writes:

Having read some of last week’s headlines, you might think the UK’s Communication Ombudsman has told mobile phone networks not to describe their data tariffs as ‘unlimited’ unless they really are. However, what’s actually happened is that one of the UK’s communication ombudsmen (ombudspeople?) has asked mobile operators to be clear about any limits, to stop unexpectedly high bills from building up and to tell customers before they exceed any limit. Better than nothing but hardly earth-shattering.

Perhaps I’m suffering from the Monday blues but it seems to me that many of the other mobile news stories from the last seven days were equally unexciting for the UK. Damp squib, anyone?

We had O2 switching on the UK’s largest 4G LTE network trial (or ‘the UK’s second 4G LTE trial’, as Everything Everywhere is more likely to call it). It’ll be running a 4G network in London for the next 9 months.

Google followed up its US-based beta Google Music service with a public version of the service. However, music licensing terms mean it’s not available in the UK yet.

But it’s not all completely bad news for UK music lovers. Now available in the UK is BlackBerry’s BBM Music, an app that makes you hope your friends have a similar taste in music but don’t like the same songs. Hmmm. And music discovery service Shazam is rolling out its LyricPlay feature across all its apps for iOS and Android devices, offering karaoke-style lyrics that are displayed in time with the music.

When it comes to mobile money, there’s plenty of news with potential for the UK... but nothing definite.

iZettle launched its ‘chip and PIN’ mobile payment service in Sweden, with some of the funding coming from Charles Dunstone. Intel and MasterCard announced a partnership that could well see NFC credit card readers built into laptops. Plus there was a digital wallet rival to PayPal called V.me, created by Visa and just available as a beta service in the USA and Canada at the moment.

All that was left to cheer me was the preview of next year’s International CES consumer electronics show… and after a couple of hours in the presence of the US Consumer Electronics Association I was reassured that the mobile industry was a good place to be. With mobile businesses - from augmented reality wizards Blippar to gaming accessory designers Fructel - touting their products and services, January’s CES show in Las Vegas promises to be an exciting event. All I need now is some kind of gambling success to finance my trip.

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