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Mobile & Wireless News

Vodafone Installs Phone Chargers In 500 London Cabs

Vodafone taxis will offer mobile charging and allow text payments as part of a giant ad campaign in London

Londoners will be able to charge their mobile phones in the back of more than 500 black cabs from today, thanks to a new advertising campaign from Vodafone.

The company will begin installing the chargers this week, with the whole fleet due to be kitted out by August. The chargers reportedly support all makes of mobile phone.

Vodafone customers will also be able to pay for their journeys using their phone at no extra charge. Registered customers can simply text the word ‘Taxi’, followed by their taxi’s number and the amount they want to pay, to 31255.

Wrapping ad campaign

For those hoping to flag down a Vodafone taxi, they should be hard to miss. Each cab will feature a colourful Union Jack design, made up of over 2000 London street names.

The £1 million ‘wrapping’ ad campaign is one biggest ever seen in the capital, and is designed to tout the improvements Vodafone has made to its mobile coverage in London. It will be followed next week by the first of a fleet of Vodafone-branded Heathrow Express trains.

“We are committed to offering London the best possible network. We have already made hundreds of improvements to increase coverage, capacity and reliability to ensure Londoners can always stay in touch with friends and family,” said Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence.

“Now with our fantastic fleet of Union Jack cabs and their on-board chargers which anyone can use, all Londoners will be able to see our continuing commitment to the capital.”

Supporting the royal wedding

Vodafone has a good reputation for providing fast and consistent coverage, coming out top in a survey of the UK’s mobile operators commissioned by O2 last year. However, the company’s network was crippled by a break-in at one of its technical facilities in February, which affected millions of customers’ voice, data and text services.

Perhaps in an attempt to repair some of the reputational damage caused by the outage, Vodafone made a cencerted effort to boost network capacity on the day of the royal wedding, both at key sites in central London and in Kate Middleton’s home village of Bucklebury.

The company reportedly erected portable 3G base stations near the village, to allow “at least double” the number of users to call, text, tweet and update their social networks simultaneously. Temporary mobile masts were also installed in St James’ Park and Hyde Park, as well as Clapham Common, where thousands watched the ceremony in front of big screens.

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News Open Source

Vodafone To Sell £80 Android Phone

The 858 Smart will sell for 90 euros, and will feature Android ‘Froyo’ and access to social networking services

Vodafone is to launch a low-cost Android handset in the UK and other European markets this summer – the 858 Smart, which is expected to sell for 90 euros (£80) without a contract.

The device will launch in the UK, Germany and Italy and will run Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’, with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Talk and other standard features, as well as integrated access to social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter and Prepay Manager for topping up prepaid accounts.

Specifications

Weighing 100 grams, the Huawei-manufactured device will use a 2.8-inch touchscreen with 320×240 resolution, a 2MP zoom camera, 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It will use a 528MHz Qualcomm processor and comes with 130 MB of memory and a SD card slot supporting up to 32GB memory.

The handset will initially be available in black or white with other colours to come. Vodafone said it plans to offer an online customisation feature allowing users to choose their own colour and add an image to the back cover.

Last month Vodafone announced plans to launch its first own-brand Android smartphone, known as the Vodafone 845.

The device has a 2.8-inch screen and offers Wi-Fi connectivity, a 3 megapixel camera and 500MB of built-in memory. It also provides access to the Android app store and, where available, Vodafone 360 – a suite of services that gathers all of a user’s friends, communities, entertainment and media in one place. the device is not as customised as some users might have feared however.

Android is continuing to take market share away from alternatives such as Apple’s iPhone, in part due to the availability of many different options including low-cost devices. It is shipping many devices including the HTC Sensation.

Android rose to 37 percent US market share, compared with 27 percent for the iPhone through March, according to data gathered by US market researcher Nielsen. That is up eight percent from Nielsen’s 3 March report, accounting for January sales, when the researcher said Android notched 29 percent, breaking a statistical tie with Apple’s iOS and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry platforms.

Nielsen also detected a shift in user perceptions, reflected in Android’s position, which has happened rapidly in the last six months. When Nielsen surveyed mobile consumers from July to September 2010, one-third of the respondents said they wanted an iPhone, compared with 26 percent who said a handset running Android was on their shopping list.

However, when Nielsen conducted the same survey from January through March 2011, 31 percent of consumers who plan to acquire a new smartphone said they were looking to buy an Android device. This gave it a marginal lead over the iPhone which dipped to 30 percent.

Another index of the popularity of Android is the massive increase in the amount of malware circulating for the devices.