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Too dim to set up your phone? Pay someone else to do it

Get your phone settings here, only a quid

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A new service from WDSGlobal will send your mobile all the configuration settings it needs, and the company reckons you'll pay a quid for it too, despite network operators offering the same thing for free.

Configuremyphone is a website where UK punters can select their mobile phone and network to receive settings for browsing, e-mail, MMS and Java, charged at £1 each. Of course, you could just get them from your network operator for nothing, but people seem surprisingly reluctant to do that.

The service is really aimed at companies selling mobile applications, who think they're losing a fortune 'cos punters can't download their applications or use them once downloaded (if the application needs connectivity). Configuremyphone offers APIs for those content providers so they can tie into the service from within their application. WDSGlobal reckons that only 20 per cent of customers will try the official support lines when they have problems, the rest of them will just (figuratively) walk away.

WDSGlobal certainly knows the business; it runs the configuration services used by many mobile operators and reckons it configures around 250 million handsets a year.

In the UK around 30 per cent of handsets are operator variants: they've been pre-loaded with all the right settings and often some branding applications and bits of paper in the box. The remaining 70 per cent are 'vanilla' handsets provided direct from the manufacturer and come without settings.

Operators try to get shop staff to help configure the phone, but once they've made the sale they tend to lose interest in the customer and need bribing to spend more time making it work. O2 has an interesting SIM application that requests the settings be sent by SMS to the handset, but it's all a bit hit-and-miss.

Ideally the settings would be stored on the SIM, as (for example) the address of the SMSC server already is. That's the approach adopted by the R-UIM (the CDMA SIM-equivalent) which now includes both MMS and data-connection settings as well as a host of other useful things. Unfortunately the GSM-SIM standard is too busy working on high-speed connections and NFC integration to be bothered with finding space for server information.

So even today there are millions of handsets that can't see the mobile revolution because they're not configured to do so. WDSGlobal isn't expecting a huge number of people to pay a quid to retrieve their settings, but they do expect content providers to be willing to pay the same to expand their potential customer base. ®

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