News & Current Affairs

August 28, 2008

August 14, 2008

Spending on communications falls

Spending on communications falls

Person using mobile phone, PA

Mobile use has doubled in five years, Ofcom says

Britons are spending more time using communications services but paying less for them, says an Ofcom report.

Every day in 2007, the average consumer spent 7 hours and 9 minutes watching TV, on the phone, using the internet or using other services, it says.

Since 2002, mobile use has doubled and PC and laptop use has grown fourfold, says the watchdog’s annual review.

But the average UK household spend on communications in 2007 was £93.63 a month – a fall of £1.53 on 2006.

TV remains the most popular pastime, with the average person watching for 3 hours and 38 minutes a day last year.

In 2007 the average person in the UK spent 24 minutes per day on their computer and 10 minutes using their mobile.

Graph showing household spend on communications services between 2002and 2007

Ofcom’s annual communications market review notes that monthly spend on communications has fallen for three years in a row.

Ofcom says consumers are getting increasingly canny about the way they buy services, switching providers or paying one fee for a bundle of services.

COMMUNICATIONS FACTS
Communications industry revenue topped £51.2bn in 2007
Average households spend £93.63 per month on communications services
87.2% have digital television
80% of new TV sales are high-definition sets
40% buy communications services in a bundled package
44% of adults use text messaging every day
36% of adults use the net every day
Source: Ofcom market review

Lower prices for broadband are one factor, with the average household spending £9.45 for an internet connection in 2007 compared with £9.87 in 2006.

Fierce competition between broadband providers is causing some concern that it may be difficult for the industry to raise the investment needed for faster networks.

But the report shows that broadband take-up is continuing to grow both at home and on the move.

By the end of 2007, Ofcom found, 58% of homes had broadband, compared with 52% a year earlier.

Dongle surge

The real surge, though, came in the use of mobile broadband after a big marketing push by mobile phone companies selling so-called “dongles”.

Between February and June this year, monthly sales of these devices, which give internet access to laptop users, rose from 69,000 to 133,000 a month.

According to Ofcom figures, two million people say they have used mobile broadband via a dongle or similar device and three-quarters of them say they use it at home as well as on the move – evidence that the mobile operators are beginning to compete with fixed-line businesses for broadband customers.

Children watching TV, BBC

TV retains its popularity despite booming net, mobile and computer use

British consumers are also spending more time on the phone than ever before, with a 21% increase in minutes spent on mobile calls.

Even fixed-line calls are holding up with Ofcom seeing just a 2% fall in minutes spent calling.

The Ofcom report paints a picture of a country where consumers are making more and more use of modern media services – from YouTube to personal video recorders – while still retaining an interest in the traditional services.

Digital television is now in use in 87% of British homes, with many having hundreds of channels to choose from. Despite the variety, 57% of viewing in these multi-channel homes is of the five main channels.

Ofcom also noted that while the amount of TV viewing is up on 2006, the longer term trend shows a slight decline in viewing.

August 13, 2008

Digital nomad drives laptop sales

Digital nomad drives laptop sales

Courtesy BBC

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

Dell poster

One of the demands of the new digital nomad is constant connectivity

The demands of the digital nomad are expected to drive laptop sales to over one billion in the next five years.

The prediction by Dell came as it unveiled 10 new laptop models aimed at this emerging working class.

The new Latitude line boasts as much as 19 hours of battery life for the always connected 21st century worker.

“There is no business as usual in the connected era,” said Andy Lark, Dell’s vice president of global marketing.

“Boundaries for businesses are virtual. This is a new class of worker who maybe doesn’t have an office and who maybe visits 10 offices in a day and visits several different customers.”

Andy Lark of Dell

Andy Lark says Dell has shipped 53 million Latitude laptops since 1994

Mr Lark told BBC News that the ranks of the digital nomad were swelling as were expectations about the functions their laptops and notebooks could perform.

“The majority of people coming online and buying their first computer today are doing it in emerging countries like China, India and Brazil.

“If you look at India, about 67% or more of their workforce is going to be entirely mobile and that is driving the demand for new features in the laptop like all day connectivity, long battery life, high-level security and uncompromising design and durability.”

‘Performance leaders’

At a press launch in San Francisco, Jeff Clarke, senior vice president of Dell’s business group, showed off the new line to reporters and analysts.

The laptops include seven Latitude business laptops and three Dell Precision workstation laptops which Mr Clarke described as “performance leaders and something the tech community will absolutely die for”.

The computers have just under 10 hours of battery life which can be extended with a so called “battery slice” to total 19 hours.

Mr Clarke said the company spent more than one million man hours and two years designing the updated Latitude line which range in price from $800 (£400) to around $1,400.

The company also consulted more than 4,000 customers to find out what they wanted in their laptop. As well as battery life being a priority, security was the other big concern.

Dell's Jeff Clarke

Dell’s Jeff Clarke shows off some of the new ultra mobile laptop colours

Mr Clarke told reporters: “With 17,000 notebooks being lost, left unattended or reported missing at airports around the world, many with important information on them, our customers asked for the notion of a vault to secure their information.”

Dell said it had done that by including the ability to track down or disable the device if it was stolen.

The machines also have a fingerprint reader and a “control vault” processor that stores an owner’s identity and credentials on protected hardware.

‘Tiniest of differences’

Dell may have declared “freedom from business as usual”, but is it enough to regain market share and compete with devices made by rivals such as Apple and HP?

Mr Clarke certainly seemed to think so.

“We have defined mobility for the business computer. We are at that forefront of being different.”

Dell launch

In discussions with customers, security emerged as a major issue

Charles King of technology industry analysis firm Pund-IT told the BBC Dell had produced a product for today’s workforce.

“I think what it comes down to is that for most of those customers, highly mobile, highly robust and highly secure systems are critical for large organizations’ ease of management and administration.

“I think what Dell has done here is really very much focused on meeting the needs and wishes of this different class.”

Dean Takahashi of VentureBeat.com said he wasn’t totally convinced.

“I am not sure this is going to do it for Dell. The differentiation in this space is based on the tiniest of differences. Still it gives Apple, HP, Toshiba and Lenovo a target to strike at.”

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