Orange and Vodafone cripple Nokia's flagship
N95 comes with VoIP disabled
Nokia N95 handsets supplied by Orange and Vodafone, in the UK, have had their VoIP capability removed in what looks like a desperate move by the network operators to defend their voice revenue.
Each operator has their own variant of the software pre-installed on a phone handset to allow them to pre-load branding or particular applications they want to promote. But Orange and Vodafone have both taken this one step further with the N95 and actually removed the VoIP capability built in to the handset.
What this means is that nicely integrated applications such as Truphone won't work at all, even though the client appears to install OK the menus and configuration needed to make VoIP calls just aren't there.
Truphone have put together a nice comparison video, showing what's missing. Stand-alone VoIP applications, such as Fring, still work as they don't require integration, though because of that they don't offer such a compelling user experience.
In some ways this is entirely unsurprising: the network operator is subsidising the handset, and so limits the handset to their voice network. Customers have got used to subsidised handsets being locked to one network, so this could be seen as a simple extension of that policy, and there is nothing to stop a customer buying an unlocked (and unsubsidised) handset.
It is, as James Tagg from Truphone puts it "a removal of customer choice", and it's hard not to see a parallel with the way network operators tried to limit WAP browsing to their own walled gardens - back when the industry thought WAP was going to make money.
Vodafone is saying nothing beyond confirming that the functionality has been removed.
Orange told us that this was not a policy decision and that future handsets might, or might not, have VoIP enabled.
Neither company attempted to justify their decision, beyond some bleating about keeping things simple for customers, so we are left to conclude that this is just a protectionist measure.
The problem here is that Nokia advertise the N95 as being VoIP-capable, but the version being sold by Vodafone and Orange isn't, so some customer confusion is only to be expected. Trading Standards tell us that anyone who bought an N95 from Orange or Vodafone, on the understanding that it is VoIP-capable, should talk to Consumer Direct about possible recourse, and keep us updated of course. ®
Contract vs PAYG and that old chesnut subsidys
Why do "pay as you go" recharge cards cost more per minute than a subscriber phone? There is nothing to subsidise in this case, so the extra cost is pure profit!
Although I agree to an extent with your comments Daniel, what you have negleted to mention is that the networks offer great incentives for reguler top ups. i.e. Orange will give you 600 off peak on-net mins and 300 anytime x-net texts for a reg top up of just £10!!! Plus your £10 is still there for those other calls you need to make. Worse case scenario, if you use all your £10 to ring x-net it would equate to approx 30 mins!
Show me a contract which would give you 600 off peak on-net mins, 300 anytime x-net texts and 30 mins anytime x-net for £10 per month!
Debranding your phone
You can flash your phone with generic software by following the instructions on this website: http://thenokiablog.com/2007/04/03/nokia-n95-euro-product-codes-and-language-packs/
Unlocked doesnt mean unbranded..
"Posted Wednesday 18th April 2007 12:16 GMT - It's not surprising really that they did this, I'm sure someone will find a way to unlock the phones soon enough though. I bet a lot of people will be annoyed tho!
I just paid vodafone £20 to get my new N73 unlocked, i wonder if they'd let you do the same with these phones??"
Just because you have the phone sim unlocked, this doesn't remove any Network supplied branding. The VOIP will probably still be disabled.