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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.
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

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

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

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

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?

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

EE launches 150Mbps '4G+' in the heart of London

Mobile operator EE has announced that higher speed LTE-A is now available in select areas. This will give speeds of up to 150Mbps. While EE has had “double speed” LTE for some while and Vodafone has recently launched a similar service, the new LTE-A uses a lot more spectrum and so gives much higher speeds. Specifically it is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Oct 2014
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Amazon sells Fire Phone in UK ... on CONTRACT

Hasn’t Amazon sold mobile phones before? Wasn’t the first third party deal Amazon did in Europe with Carphone Warehouse back in 2001? The answers are no... and yes. Amazon UK has been selling mobile phones for more than a decade and there are lots of resellers who will sell you anything from a Samsung Alpha to a Sony Z3, but …
Simon Rockman, 28 Oct 2014
Seventh Heven

Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring

When I took my seatbelt off, the Caterham 160 didn’t beep at me. I didn’t get electronically reprimanded when I got out and left the headlights on and I didn’t have any problems bluetoothing my phone to the radio because it doesn’t have Bluetooth. Or a radio. An interactive photo of the Caterham. Click on a spot and the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Oct 2014

Win a year’s supply of chocolate (no tech knowledge required)

There is no techie angle to this competition, so we're not going to pretend there is. Everyone loves chocolate, though, so who cares? One of the makes of chocolate Cocoa Runners sells is Pump Street, which is made in Orford The prize is a one-year subscription to Cocoa Runners chocolate service. Each month you get a box of …
Simon Rockman, 18 Oct 2014
TomTom Top Gear satnav

Auntie hires API firm to manage new online BBC Store

API company Apigee has been brought in to pull together all the suppliers of BBC Worldwide’s "direct-to-consumer retail platform". The software will be used as a traffic manager. In the world of inclined playing fields, little beats your TV licence fee going towards setting up an online store to compete with online stores that …
Simon Rockman, 16 Oct 2014

Vodafone does it in two places at once: Carrier aggregation to boost 4G

Vodafone has to followed EE’s lead and launched carrier aggregation – which potentially doubles data bandwidth. One of the clever things about 4G is that it can combine the bandwidth from different bits of spectrum and use them as a single pipe. EE has been selling this for some time and in our testing we found that it made a …
Simon Rockman, 15 Oct 2014
Drissa-Coulibaly,-GWS-Opera

Coughing for 4G, getting 2G... Networks' penny-pinching SECRETS REVEALED

Top 4G? Shockingly, the team that completed the London commuter train connectivity study we covered yesterday has reported the use of half-rate codecs among UK mobile providers. Half-rate codecs were developed as an economy measure and their use shows penny-pinching on the part of the networks. According to the study, O2 used …
Simon Rockman, 15 Oct 2014
You'd need to be a wizard to make a call

Mobile coverage on trains really is pants

Mobile survey coverage company GWS, the company behind The Reg's awesome Monopoly test, has numbers to back up what we’ve always suspected: mobile coverage on trains is pants. In what it claims is the most rigorous train connectivity study ever conducted, GWS has dubbed Three best for voice, Vodafone best for 3G and predictably …
Simon Rockman, 14 Oct 2014
Don't Panic towel

GSMA places operators' towel on Internet of Things deckchair

The Internet of Things is coming and the GSMA wants all the things to play nicely on the networks. A set of guidelines (PDF) has been published by the association, which represents the interests of mobile operators, in a bid to prevent the massive congestion issues which were caused by smartphones. In the report, the GSMA says …
Simon Rockman, 13 Oct 2014

Vanmoof Electrified Bike: Crouching cyclist, hidden power

The Vanmoof electric bike is the future of cycling; OK, maybe not of all cycling, but certainly of my cycling. Vanmoof is a utilitarian city bike designed for getting Dutch people from home to work and back again. I use a Ridgeback mountain bike to cycle into Vulture central and it’s not a particularly appropriate bike, so the …
Simon Rockman, 13 Oct 2014
Jaguar Sportsbrake

Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars

I had a rationale behind reviewing the Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Imagine you are an IT consultant. Now imagine you’ve done pretty well for yourself. Still with me? Good. Narrow that down to being the type of consultant who still does real things with hardware. Not just org charts, “strategy” and managing resources. Jaguar …
Simon Rockman, 11 Oct 2014

WIN a CHANCE to RECORD your WORLD in 3D

Youtube Video There are lots of devices which allow you to turn your mobile phone into a 21st century Viewmaster, but the Poppy is special. While the Google Cardboard, Durovis Dive and VRase all let you experience side-by-side video in 3D, only the Poppy will also let you record it. Available from Firebox, it’s a device where …
Simon Rockman, 11 Oct 2014

Beardie Branson backs Blockchain's Bitcoin bandwagon

British business beardie Richard Branson has invested in Blockchain. Not the Bitcoin ledger, but a custom Bitcoin wallet that functions through an iOS app. The blockchain, in Bitcoin terms, is the master ledger of all Bitcoin transactions. For all the brouhaha about Bitcoin being anonymous, the blockchain is downloaded – and …
Simon Rockman, 10 Oct 2014

Qualcomm, Ericsson, SingTel hit 260Mbps in live FDD/TDD demo

Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Singtel have demonstrated the first carrier aggregation of FDD and TDD to achieve speeds of up to 260Mbps, meaning networks have more choice over which 4G standards to employ, as several can be used at the same time. Standards are great, everyone should have one. And 4G has loads, so it’s sometimes tough …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Fraud image

BIG trouble in Big China: Samsung cops it RIGHT in the wallet

Competition from Chinese smartphone makers has mashed Samsung's China sales, resulting in a warning from the Korean company that its third quarter earnings would drop by 60 per cent when compared with the previous year. We’ve seen how Xiaomi, whose CEO fashions himself on Steve Jobs, is more of a threat to Samsung than Apple. …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Cleeve Hill aerial masts - Arqiva site 36223

£150m, three years... TWO base stations. Gov.uk? You guessed it

A government project funded with £150m of taxpayers money to improve rural broadband with mobile coverage has managed to erect just two base stations in three years. The project needed EU approval to ensure that it wasn’t the UK government unfairly subsidising the mobile networks. The plan was to provide basic voice and data – …
Simon Rockman, 07 Oct 2014
Sprint WiMax Coverage map

Sprint will KILL OFF WiMax in 2015 – report

Third-ranked US mobile network Sprint appears to be poised to kill off its implementation of its less-regarded 4G technology, WiMax. According to a newsletter from the wireless provider leaked to Android Central, the date for the closure of the service is 6 November 2015. The spectrum it frees up – along with the spectrum …
Simon Rockman, 06 Oct 2014
BellSouth IBM Simon

‘This is 2LO calling’: Marconi transmitter, IBM Simon and more at the Science Museum

The BBC's flagship tech programme, Click, will host a lecture on the history of communications technology at the new Information Age gallery, which opens at the end of the month at the Science Museum. The gallery is divided into six zones, each representing a different information and communication technology network: The Cable …
Simon Rockman, 06 Oct 2014
Fiat 500S

Fiat 500S: So pleasingly sporty we didn't want to give it back

As I wound the 900cc turbo up to 5,000 rpm, my teenage son noted that while it didn't have the look of a powerful car, “it’s got balls”, in a line describing the Fiat 500S to an absolute T. One of the reasons for his surprise was the colour. Fiat call it “Electronica blue” and it’s only available on the 500S. It's a convertible …
Simon Rockman, 05 Oct 2014

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier to switch mobe networks

TalkTalk and Three want to make it easier for mobile customers to switch networks – but they're going about it in a very odd way. TalkTalk boss Dido Harding and Dave Dyson of Three, along with Chris Pateman, chief executive of the Federation of Communications Services and Sarah Willingham, founder of LetsSaveMoney.com, have not …
Simon Rockman, 02 Oct 2014

One million people have bonked on London public transport

It seems that travellers on the London Underground are much more likely to pay by bonk with their contactless credit card than those on the buses. On the first day of accepting contactless credit cards on the tube, TfL saw 128,000 journeys from over 600 of the 652 stations which take Oyster cards. That number has now reached …
Simon Rockman, 01 Oct 2014
BlackBerry Passport

Vodafone to stock BlackBerry Passport – on sale tomorrow

The new, interesting and really rather good Blackberry Passport will soon be available to Brits on Vodafone. That is to say “will” rather than “is” as Vodafone isn’t taking pre-orders for the device, which will go on sale tomorrow, and there is currently no pricing information. Two attempts to order an upgrade – online and over …
Simon Rockman, 30 Sep 2014

You like jumping out of planes? Try the new GoPro 4. Short walks? There's a Hero instead

GoPro, the maker of video cameras for those who like to mix danger with their hobbies, has added two new models to its range: the GoPro 4 and and the GoPro Hero. The GoPro 4 follows the GoPro 3, and is available in black and silver editions. Like a posh credit card, the black version is better than the silver one. The black …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014
Ben Heck's Spectrum Hack

Reg hands portable Sinclair ZX Spectrum to lucky compo winner

The lucky winner of the unique portable Spectrum is Martin Ryan. He gets the device built by elite hardware hacker Ben Heck, a Sinclair ZX Spectrum that has been taken apart, modified and put back together again in a way that none of the original designers could have prophesied*. This means Martin will be able to play Manic …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014
Beautiful landscape picture of Kenya, with a man cycling past an acacia tree against a yellow sandy background

Kenyan court case could sound death knell for mobile money

Kenya is pretty much the only place where mobile money works. Now, it seems, the banks want to wreck it. Vodafone-owned mobe operator Safaricom runs M-Pesa, the poster child for mobile payments. It has revolutionised the lives of people who were so poor that the banks were not interested in serving them. However, having become …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2014