Simon Rockman

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Mobile and Motoring Correspondent. The former editor of Amstrad User, Amiga Computing, Personal Computer World, What Mobile and a number of other blast-from-the-past titles, Simon has worked for Motorola, Sony Ericsson and the GSMA. He has great contacts in the mobile industry, where his specialities are phones for seniors and mobile payments. He also covers Bitcoin and 3D printing. Simon regularly reviews the latest and most interesting cars for The Register as the Vulture behind the wheel.
Funny money from south of the river

BONK for CASH in Brixton and help us EAT the RICH

The Brixton Pound (B£), the private currency for denizens of the slightly more affordable bit of earth next to Clapham, is to adopt near field communications, or NFC, payments. The area – which has become so painfully fashionable the locals are fighting back against poshos buying all the houses – has had its own currency for …
Simon Rockman, 22 Dec 2014
Connected headset

Careful - your helmet might get squashed by a VOLVO

Volvos will soon be capable of squawking their presence to cyclists wearing a helmet from cycling brand POC, letting the Lycra louts get out of the way of the four-wheeled Scandinavian middle lane hoggers. The idea behind the new technology from Ericsson is that both the car and the bicycle can determine when their proximity and …
Simon Rockman, 22 Dec 2014

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde: Fun, but not for all

Vulture at the Wheel The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a car with far too much power. The 240hp from the 1750cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine overwhelms the fat tyres, so it struggles for grip and torque steers. Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde. Pic: Simon Rockman Alfa Romeo Giulietta And I love it. I had a lot of things to do today …
Simon Rockman, 20 Dec 2014

Apple v BBC: Fruity firm hits back over Panorama drama

Apple has refuted claims made by the BBC’s Panorama programme that it is not working hard enough to protect the rights of workers. The programme Apple's Broken Promises claimed that Pegatron - a contractor making the iPhone 6 - was abusing rules on working hours, keeping workers' ID cards, and using underage workers. Employers …
Simon Rockman, 19 Dec 2014
Swiss alps

Iliad owner coughs €2.3bn for Orange Switzerland

Xavier Niel, the owner of French ISP and mobile phone company Iliad, is buying Orange Switzerland for CHF2.8bn (€2.3bn) from VC Apax Partners. Iliad, under its Free Mobile brand, is a 3G and 4G operator but grew its mobile business through a 2G roaming deal with Orange and used aggressive pricing to grow its market share. Niel’ …
Simon Rockman, 19 Dec 2014
The msianthropes card game

30,000 people buy a box of BOVINE EXCREMENT

Would you pay $6 for a box of shit? Fans of the "party game for horrible people", Cards Against Humanity did. On Black Monday, the company offered a special, one-day-only offer of a box which said “bullshit” on it. Nothing more, just Cards Against Humanity Bullshit. Customers ordered them in droves and internet rumours of a …
Simon Rockman, 17 Dec 2014
The only problem with an earing is that it will trigger the NFC app everytime you answer the phone

Unlock your mobe by STROKING it with your PEARL

Jewellery firm Galatea has released an app which plays audio when one of the company's pearls is touched to the back of a phone. That's not a euphemism. It is usually believed that pearls are formed when a bit of grit gets into an oyster. This is, however, not the case. Oysters are filter feeders and quite adept at dealing with …
Simon Rockman, 16 Dec 2014

We are never getting back to... Samsung's baking Apple's 14nm 'A9' chips?

A new generation of smaller, faster Apple processors is now under production by Samsung, including at Sammy's Texan facility, according to reports. While Apple and Samsung have a rather fraught relationship (mainly conducted through lawyers) Samsung’s components division is a major supplier to Cupertino. It’s not known what …
Simon Rockman, 15 Dec 2014
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Vodafone poised to ink chumship pact with T-Mobile and get back into US enterprise

Vodafone is poised to piggyback on T-Mobile US's network to get back into the American business market. The MVNO deal is aimed at offering US enterprises global coverage from Voda: the mobile telco has about 400 America-based multinationals as customers, and 500 companies headquartered outside the States but which have a large …
Simon Rockman, 15 Dec 2014
Bus jam

Vodafone to spend more time hanging out at bus stops

Vodafone has done a deal with poster giant JCDecaux to use posters sites and street furniture as sites for small cells. The project is based upon an experiment in Amsterdam that used 1800MHz and 2600MHz small cells. Unlike the EE rural project, the sites are not meshed. This isn't surprising since the focus of the project is …
Simon Rockman, 12 Dec 2014

G.fast is HERE: Sckipio slurps funding to cook up SPAWN of VDSL tech

Having sold his company Coppergate to Sigma Designs in 2009 for around $190m, Sckipio boss David (Dudi) Baum has got the band together to build a fixed broadband chip to take advantage of the 1Gbps-over-copper VDSL successor G.fast, which was ratified as an ITU standard this week. Sckipio has raised $17m in a series of second- …
Simon Rockman, 10 Dec 2014
By Luke Ford  http://www.lukeford.net/Images/photos4/071209/214.htm  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/deed.en

BACK OFF, KIM KARDASHIAN. BlackBerry CEO is NOT into SENSATIONALISM

There are no plans for a takeover at Blackberry, says John Chen, CEO of the mobile firm, who recently took to LinkedIn to explain his Kim Kardashian-free global strategy. And it’s sensible, all about business and not about glitz. The company will not repeat the mistake it made with former brand ambassador Alicia Keys and will …
Simon Rockman, 09 Dec 2014
Two mobiles man

Buy Your Own Device: No more shiny-shiny work mobe for you

A new service piggybacks a company number on the back of the employee's personal number to save money for both and make Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) easier. Youtube Video The idea of people wanting to use their own mobile but have work pay for calls opens a can of worms. The spectre of BYOD brings with it the issue of who pays …
Simon Rockman, 09 Dec 2014
NFC tag with Bluetooth connectivity

18 million iPHONE USERS HAVE NEVER BONKED to ApplePay

+Comment Oh, what a surprise. NFC has failed to ignite the imagination of iPhone users, with 90 per cent of them shunning the payment method of the future. This is among the findings of stats-loving website InfoScout, which reports that of the approximately 20 million or so iPhone 6s which have been sold, 18 million have never been used …
Simon Rockman, 08 Dec 2014
VW Scirocco logo

VW's Scirocco diesel: A sheep in Wolfsburg’s clothing

Vulture at the Wheel Car buffs of a certain age will remember how the great motoring writer L. J. K Setright loved the Scirocco Mk I Storm. To those who loved engineering prowess, the Scirocco was something special. Even if the brakes were a bit shoddy. But the Scirocco Diesel here is a very different beast; this is a car for my friend Michael. …
Simon Rockman, 07 Dec 2014
1.2 GHz dual-core, MIPS32-based Ingenic JZ4780 SoC, 32kB L1 I- and D-cache, 512kB L2 cache

Violet, you're turning violet! Imagination unveils graphics-tastic hobbyist board

Imagination Technologies, the MIPS chipper firm behind PowerVR, has a new hobbyist board. For fifty quid you can do some techie tinkering. If you've called your company "Imagination", there is an irony in making some hardware where the declared aim is to have developers do the imagining, but that's by the by. The idea is to …
Simon Rockman, 04 Dec 2014

IDC revises mobe sales forecasts. New crystal ball, anyone?

Comment Analyst outfit IDC says that the rate of increase in smartphone sales is going to fall – but not as fast as it had previously predicted. The company, which in February this year predicted that global sales of smartphones would be 1.2 billion units, has taken note of that figure being much closer to 1.3bn, the company had …
Simon Rockman, 03 Dec 2014
Paul Graham installs a Parallel Networks cell for EE in Cumbria

EE's not-spot-busting small cell trial delights Cumbrian villagers

If EE was being its normal hype-filled self, it would call its latest mobile trial in Cumbria 5G. Its restraint is admirable – and the technology even more so. Putting up cell sites is one way of solving rural mobile not-spots, but getting data from those sites back to the network is an increasingly thorny problem. Building …
Simon Rockman, 03 Dec 2014
 The Sinclair Spectrum Vega design.

Sinclair is back with the Spectrum Vega ... just as rubbish as the ZX

Comment The Spectrum fanbois at Retro Computers have enlisted the help of Sir Clive to launch a new crowd-funded Spectrum clone. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is a console that plays games from the '80s – complete with piezo speaker-generated sound and attribute clash. The Vega is being marketed by Retro Computers Ltd, a Luton-based …
Simon Rockman, 02 Dec 2014
Brown greets Obama at Downing Street

UK national mobile roaming: A stupid idea that'll never work

It might be a cunning plan. Culture minister Sajid Javid’s really stupid idea of national roaming seems to have got the mobile phone networks to pull their fingers out about "not spots". The government has tried to fund the filling in of not spots, indeed Javid’s own department stumped up £150m three years ago and has managed …
Simon Rockman, 02 Dec 2014

E-cigarettes fingered as source of NASTY VIRUS

E-cigarettes have been fingered as the source of a new computer virus. "IT guy" Jrockilla told the Talesfromtechsupport forum that he suspects the malware was "hard coded" into the USB charger of his boss's electronic toker. In his post, he says: The executive’s system was patched up to date, had anti-virus and up-to-date anti- …
Simon Rockman, 01 Dec 2014
Nuke blast

Ex-GCHQ boss: Hey, UK.gov, have you heard how crap iPhone biometrics are?

Comment If you're an ex-GCHQ spook, it seems the BBC will leap to attention when you've words of wisdom to impart about mobile security. Dear old Auntie Beeb has reported that former GCHQ boss Sir John Adye doesn’t trust the biometric security in the iPhone 6. As a story it’s got everything: top spy chief with a knighthood, mistrust of …
Simon Rockman, 01 Dec 2014

Mmmmffll-CHOMP: I won? Reg reader to have CHOC-TASTIC YEAR

A choc-a-rific cheer for Reg reader Toby Fenton, who won The Register's compo prize of a year’s subscription to creamy confection dispensers Cocoa Runners. Toby got all the answers to the questions right... So what were they? Cocoa beans are known as 20:20 because they grow from 20 degrees north and south of the equator. Many …
Simon Rockman, 01 Dec 2014
Fiat 500X covered in mud

Fiat 500X: A fun-loving Goldilocks who'll get down and dirty

Vulture at the Wheel The 1957 Fiat 500 was a macchinetta small car. It became a macchina car with the launch of the new 500 in 2007, and then with the 500L it became a macchinona; a big car. It has gone from 17hp and under 500kg to 120hp and 1.4 tonnes. The Fiat 500X The Fiat 500X: A Goldilocks car aimed at off-roading families. Well, not quite …
Simon Rockman, 29 Nov 2014
P3 uses dedicated hardware

Yes, UK. REST OF EUROPE has better mobe services than you

UK readers, what you've always suspected has been proven true – even the weakest mobile networks abroad perform better than some of our best. This is according to German mobile network survey company P3, which this week published solid numbers on mobile network coverage. P3 uses dedicated hardware P3's test equipment And it’s …
Simon Rockman, 26 Nov 2014
Motorola StarTac

Lenovo: We'll say HELLO MOTO to profits in 18 months

Lenovo is looking to do for Motorola mobiles what it did for the IBM Thinkpad, kicking life into the products and making the company profitable. The aim is to make the company profitable in the next 18 months. All 3,500 people who had been working for Motorola under Google ownership have transferred to Lenovo, and while the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Nov 2014

Samsung to boot out Shin after Galaxy S5 tanks – report

Sales of the Galaxy S5 have so disappointed Samsung that it is reportedly looking at ousting mobile boss JK Shin and parachuting in appliances and telly tsar BK Yoon – who would oversee mobiles as well as his existing remit. Whichever way you cut it, the S5 has done badly:revenue, margins, year-on-year sales against the S4 or …
Simon Rockman, 25 Nov 2014
Cellular basestation antenna

IBM and Ericsson plot to deploy 5G. Never mind that it doesn't exist

Ericsson and IBM have announced a collaboration to jointly research phased-array antenna designs for 5G, which might prove interesting as nothing has yet been agreed on what 5G might involve. Crucially for this work, nobody's yet decided what frequencies 5G will operate on – although Ericsson has previously said it’s looking for …
Simon Rockman, 24 Nov 2014
Ease of access is the BMAX's main party trick

Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK

Vulture at the Wheel This is the most sensible car you can buy. That's not necessarily a good thing. The Ford B-Max takes all the things you’d look for in practicality and turns them up to 11. However, in doing so it turns emotion down to zero. Look familiar? The Ford B-MAX is based on its Fiesta Look familiar? The Ford B-MAX is based on its Fiesta …
Simon Rockman, 22 Nov 2014

Windows Phone will snatch biz No 2 spot from Android – analyst

Android for business is under threat from Microsoft, claims CCS Insight. The Chocolate company’s mobile OS will fall out of favour as the top alternative to Apple, says VP of Enterprise research Nick McQuire. He sees Windows Phone, or Windows 10, as overtaking Android and BlackBerry as the second most popular OS for businesses …
Simon Rockman, 21 Nov 2014
How to track her indoors

In a mall at the weekend? WORSE STILL, are you LOST?

A new indoor positioning system has been unveiled by Bluetooth grandees Cambridge Silicon Radio. The system consists of Android middleware which gives access to a database of indoor positions. While GPS works pretty well when it has a good view of the sky, indoor positioning is more of a challenge. The new SiRFusion library …
Simon Rockman, 21 Nov 2014

Mozilla SELLS FIREFOX MOBILES ... in Greece

Phones based on the Mozilla Firefox platform have been targeted at far flung places such as Bangladesh and Brazil, but now a major European network has them for sale. Cosmote is the biggest mobile network in Greece, is 40 per cent owned by Deutsche Telekom, and has just started selling the 3.5-inch Alcatel One Touch C, and the 4 …
Simon Rockman, 19 Nov 2014
Fuel Cell Car

Toyota to launch hydrogen (ie, NATURAL GAS) powered fuel cell hybrid

Toyota will launch its all-new Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in Japan on 15 December before introducing it in the UK and other selected European markets in September 2015, with that date dictated by getting a refuelling infrastructure rolled out. Fuel cells, which produce electricity directly as they combine fuel with oxygen …
Simon Rockman, 19 Nov 2014
Nokia_atom_powered_android_tablet

Nokia's N1 fondleslab's HIDDEN BRILLIANCE: The 'Z Launcher'

The Nokia Z launcher is what makes its new N1 tablet special. Youtube Video The UI has shades of iPad in its appearance but claims to be a whole lot cleverer. The basic appearance is minimalist, with only a few apps, contacts and website links displayed. The “Zee” launcher is a little like (boy, people are going to hate this …
Simon Rockman, 18 Nov 2014
Google Wallet 'vision' illustration

Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table

If you sell digital goods on a website using Google Wallet to take payment, you have a little over three months to find an alternative. The service is being “retired” on 2 March 2015 and will not be replaced. Google argues that there are enough alternative solutions, which might translate to mean “no one was using it”. The …
Simon Rockman, 17 Nov 2014

TalkTalk wants more FOURPLAY, jumps into bed with Telefónica

Carphone Warehouse’s former pet telco TalkTalk has jumped ship from Vodafone to do an MVNO deal with Telefonica, signalling a move that will see it take on other quad-play telcos. The model of selling the four services of TV, broadband, fixed and mobile phones all as part of a single package is much more developed in other parts …
Simon Rockman, 17 Nov 2014
Nokia 7650

Could YOU identify these 10 cool vintage mobile phones?

The winner of the competition for a Poppy 3D viewer from Firebox is Martin Harding from Great Yarmouth. Martin is a self-confessed geek who twitches at Matrixis, but even he could not identify all the mobes. He did, however, correctly identify nine of the 10 mystery phones. Indeed none of the entrants got the 10th phone right …
Simon Rockman, 14 Nov 2014
Fawlty Towers

4G is quicker than 3G, says Ofcom. Can't we get you on Mastermind, Sybil?

Mobile broadband speeds in Blighty are pretty good, according to a new report from Ofcom, although concerns remain over the methodology used. The average mobile broadband download speed on 4G (15.1Mbps) was more than twice as fast as 3G (6.1Mbps) across all the networks. Predictably, EE’s lead in launching 4G showed EE and O2 …
Simon Rockman, 14 Nov 2014
Plugs

Why can't a mobile be more like a cordless kettle?

When Dick Powell, ace designer and co-founder of SeymourPowell, designed the Tefal Freeline, the world’s first cordless kettle, it wasn’t for the likes of you and me. The thinking behind it was that while most people could cope with a power lead, those with restricted mobility could not. The ease of use that it delivered, …
Simon Rockman, 12 Nov 2014
ISO7816 Tattoo

Vodafone: For Pete's sake! Apple’s 'soft' SIM's JUST AN EE SIM

+Comment Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao has dismissed the Apple Soft-SIM as “just an EE SIM” and said that it would not be supported by his company. “To me, a SIM which can switch from one operator to the other [but] ... is locked – I’m not sure how much to support [it],” the charismatic CEO said. He can see the benefits, though. “Is there …
Simon Rockman, 11 Nov 2014
Vodafone UK booster brolly

Vodafone's 4G investment is beginning to pay off

What matters in results isn’t how good or bad they are, but how they compare with what lots of very highly paid people have been calculating they would be. This makes the Vodafone results for the six months to 30 September 2014 good. While the Earnings Before Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) from-day-to-day business …
Simon Rockman, 11 Nov 2014
Downing Street road sign

Reg mobile man: National roaming plan? Oh UK.gov, you've GOT to be joking

Comment It seems the government’s solution to poor mobile phone coverage in the UK is to mandate a system that leads to less mobile phone coverage. They have got this backwards. As my colleague Andrew Orlowski has noted, it’s a typical Ministry of Fun reaction to a problem of the government’s own making. If national roaming is …
Simon Rockman, 10 Nov 2014
Measurement train NETWORK RAIL

This 125mph train is fitted with LASERS. Sadly no sharks, though

+Vid & Pics The men – and woman – in orange explained to me that the Network Rail “New Measurement Train” isn’t new. It’s a converted Intercity High Speed Train which has been in operation for more than ten years in this form, and it is used for running new tests for checking the condition of the track. Measurement train NETWORK RAIL The …
Simon Rockman, 10 Nov 2014

Ericsson boss sticks a pin in Google’s loony Loon bubble

Google is wasting its time with its aptly named Project Loon and drones. So says Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s CEO. Loon is a Google project to provide wireless internet coverage to remote areas of the world without web access – putting the cloud into clouds. It will fly helium balloons, with radio-linked base stations attached, …
Simon Rockman, 06 Nov 2014
Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure

Sprint swings axe: Another 2,000 staffers for the chop

Struggling US mobile network Sprint Corp is swinging the axe further and deeper as another 2,000 jobs are to go on top of the nearly 500 announced last month. The move is part of a $1.5bn cost-cutting plan – of which $400m of the savings will be workforce costs – and following on from results that show a a $765m net loss and a 3 …
Simon Rockman, 04 Nov 2014
Japan Siri manga drawing girl

Japan tells operators: Put a SIM lock in a new mobe? You'd better UNLOCK it for FREE

From May next year, all mobile phones sold in Japan will either arrive unlocked or be able to be unlocked. An edict from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has stipulated that the mobile phone operators will have to unlock phones free of charge if the customer requests it. This is aimed at making the pricing …
Simon Rockman, 03 Nov 2014
let's mock the Greeks

Greeks BEST in WORLD – at, er, breaking their mobile phones

Insurance is dull. Mobile phone insurance is doubly so, to spice it up insurance company SquareTrade has published figures for how good people in different countries are at using their phones without falling over. It transpires that the Poles and Belgians are very good, while the Greeks and Italians are the most likely to have a …
Simon Rockman, 03 Nov 2014
Bitcoins

Coinbase launches in Europe - but who's its mystery bank partner?

Comment Brian Armstrong of Bitcoin wallet and exchange company Coinbase claims banks are not mustering to kill Bitcoin, despite multiple claims from various sources. He says that Coinbase, the largest exchange company of the lot, has 1.7 million accounts – and says he knows of just two instances where customers have had their bank …
Simon Rockman, 03 Nov 2014
Sky Anytime+

Sky ponders 200,000-customer MVNO 'trial'. Soft launch, anyone?

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky is looking to become a mobile network in partnership with Vodafone, which would help tout services to the telly company’s five million customers. 200,000 customers were contacted to see if they would like to take part in a “trial”, which seems like at least 100 times as many people as you’d want on a trial …
Simon Rockman, 31 Oct 2014
Galaxy

Samsung launches 'perfect pair' of skinny mid-range phones

The world’s biggest mobile phone manufacturer has unveiled two new Galaxy devices aimed at halting its falling market share and plummeting profits. The Samsung Galaxy A3 is 130.1 x 65.5 x 6.9mm, and 110g with a 4.5-inch screen, while the A5 is 139.3 x 69.7 x 6.7mm and 123g with a 5-inch screen. For comparison, the flagship …
Simon Rockman, 31 Oct 2014