Sharp End: N97, iPhone, GC23


Networks keep reporting profits down… I wonder why?

It seems all the networks (except O2) keep reporting that profits are down and revenues are down. Is it any wonder? With their growing retail estates, and a saturated market, they have become prone to a customers-at-any-cost syndrome.

The scope and pricing of deals available in the UK market are simply ridiculous. Networks seem hell bent on attracting customers by offering the latest and greatest handsets (£400-£500 SIM-free) and the biggest inclusive allowance for the lowest monthly rental.

It’s not surprising then there is no profit to be made when there are such huge subsidies given to handset values.

One dealer from the Phone Dealer Forum even reported that Vodafone has offered him to stay with them with 600 cross network minutes, unlimited on-network calls, unlimited text and unlimited internet for less than £10 per month – crazy.

Nokia N97 problems

Looks like the Nokia N97 (pictured) is going the same way as its predecessors, the N96 and N95 – downhill. Many users are complaining of various issues regarding the new Nokia flagship phone.

One dealer reports that as well as various software problems, the N97 has a cleaning cloth under the camera lens cover which scratches the camera lens when dust gets in it.

Yet again a manufacturer has dropped the ball here. The N97 is a top-end premium product supported by a huge advertising campaign.

Yet it comes from the factory with so many problems right from the outset. Manufacturers really need to put more effort into addressing the problems and fully testing products before releasing them to the public as live testers.

iPhone vulnerability

Last week a vulnerability in the Apple iPhone was announced, which suggests any iPhone anywhere in the world can be ‘taken over’ remotely via a simple SMS.

Hackers can apparently send a hostile SMS containing ‘square’ characters in place of text, which when opened gives the hacker access to the device. 

They can use the infected phone to further propagate the vulnerability via SMS to other users in the handset phonebook. The only measure the user can take, apparently, is to simply turn off the iPhone and not use it.

Apple had apparently known about this vulnerability for over a month and released no patch. It was only after the hack was detailed at a Black Hat cybersecurity conference last week that Apple suddenly made an update available via iTunes to address this vulnerability.

For anyone that has not yet updated their software then it is advisable to do so as soon as possible. Don’t worry if you have an unlocked/jail-broken iPhone, you can simply unlock the phone again after the update as this update does not include any measures to thwart unlock attempts.

Are you ready for GC23?

In a move to improve the image of our industry (its views) Ofcom has implemented General Condition 23,  which will mean clearer terms for customers and more confidence in our industry as a whole. The new rules state that all network operators must:

• Not engage in dishonest, misleading or deceptive conduct and to ensure those selling their products (dealers) do not mis-sell.

• Make sure customers get the accurate information they need when they buy the product.

• Make sure the customer is authorised to, and intends to, enter into a contract.

• Ensure the terms and conditions of all sales incentives offered by their retailers are not unduly restrictive.

• Carry out due diligence and a number of checks in respect of their retailers to ensure the soundness of the company and its directors.

Basically, your suppliers will be contacting you over the next few weeks if not already to ensure compliance.

They will require a business utility or bank statement on file as well as a photo of the front of a retail premises that shows the company trading name, proof of insurance, compliance with the Data Protection Registrar.

They also require a copy of Customer Terms & Conditions which must include details of sales incentives. Finally they will need a copy of customer complaints procedure.

If these requirements are not met by September 16, then I (and others) will not be allowed to trade.

Whilst I applaud the intention of “cleaning up our industry” these measures, I believe are totally unnecessary as I don’t believe the industry is any longer tarnished to the degree it was.

These measures will simply make the process of distributors and networks dealing with independents more of a chore and will drive further independent dealers out of business.