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.
High Spec phone

Chinese 'Superphone' manufacturer declares war on Apple

Under the moniker of “Superphones”, streaming TV company LeTV has launched a trio of high-end mobes with all the subtlety of a hippo with toothache. As the first devices to have a new reversible USB type C, the specs are impressive. The key application for the device is LeTV’s over-the-top video service, akin to Netflix. As a …
Simon Rockman, 20 Apr 2015
Matt paint looks good

Alfa Romeo MiTo Quadrifoglio Verde: Less fun than it should be

Vulture at the wheel Harsh, uncompromising and not as much fun as it should be, this Alfa Romeo MiTo needs a special kind of driver: one for whom the Alfa brand is special but who can’t stretch to a 4C. It certainly looks good. The matt paint has a very special sheen – especially at dusk – and the carbon fibre effect seat backs and dash are the …
Simon Rockman, 19 Apr 2015
Android icon desktop toys

Android finally shows up for work, app in hand

Google has finally published its BYOD app, Android for Work, adding to the already schizophrenic work-life balance environment for the devices. The software has just popped up on Google Play, where it’s described thus: The Android for Work app provides the ultimate solution to get work done on your Android device and separates …
Simon Rockman, 17 Apr 2015
IBM_Spintronics

Graphene spintronics crowned latest Moore's Law extender contender

Wonder material graphene could provide the basis for the future of circuitry, by using a technique known as spintronics, boffins have mused. Spintronics uses the spin of individual electrons as the encoding method for data. This is significantly smaller than using charge, which requires thousands of electrons. Unfortunately, …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015
Cyanogen

Microsoft set to penetrate Cyanogen, promises app-y ending

Perverse as it might seem for mighty Microsoft to be courting geek-niche Android developer Cyanogen, the inclusion of Microsoft Apps on future distributions of the Cyanogen flavour of Android is an important win for Microsoft. The deal has been a while coming. We reported in March that it was pending despite Microsoft having …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015
Jawbone adds NFC to the up

Jawbone Up4 tapcash wristjob: Get BONKING with the latest sweaty hipster toy

After deciding you deserve a cappuccino — earned following a particularly good workout — you can now use your Jawbone UP4 bracelet to pay for it. Jawbone, which makes cool Bluetooth things, has done a deal with Amex to add a pay-by-bonk account to its exercise-measuring wrist decoration. The $199 UP4 will initially only allow …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015
Navteq vehicle in Oxford

Nokia to take $6bn bath on Navteq following AlcaLuc purchase

When Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft, one question which was asked was “why didn’t the mapping business go at the same time?” That echoes with the confirmation of rumours that a sale was in the offing. The company has issued an announcement stating “Nokia has initiated a review of strategic options for its HERE …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015

Bluetooth SIG launches dev studio to encourage development

A new software tool aimed at promoting Bluetooth development has been launched into Beta by the Bluetooth SIG. It spans a broad range of skill sets, from those people who’ve never used Bluetooth but want to incorporate it into their apps, to experts who want to generate and distribute plug-ins. With The Internet of Things (IoT) …
Simon Rockman, 16 Apr 2015
Segway

Segway bought by former patent spat adversary Ninebot

Ninebot, the company Segway recently tried to sue, has bought Segway thanks to a cash injection from mobile and media company Xiaomi. Beijing-based Ninebot makes a range of one and two-wheeled personal transporters, but in the past has claimed to be different to Segway in that Ninebot products will work for people who fall under …
Simon Rockman, 15 Apr 2015

Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Poll Radio 4 has dipped a toe into Lake Geek with a five part series looking at computer languages. Or more accurately the history and reputation of four computer languages: Fortran, Cobol, Basic and Java. Presented by soi-disant girl geek* Aleks Krotoski Aleks Krotoski, the series ("Codes that Changed the World") emphasises the …
Simon Rockman, 14 Apr 2015
VoLTE compatible: LG Revolution

Korean telco LG Uplus launches first ever 4G voice roaming service

Comment More than two decades after the first digital roamed voice calls, 4G has caught up with what GSM was invented for. You can now speak to someone using 4G when you are not in your home country. There are some limitations: you can only make a call if you are a subscriber to LG Uplus – the number-three operator in Korea – and the …
Simon Rockman, 13 Apr 2015
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

Xiaomi's birthday present to itself: Flogging 2m phones in 12 hours

Cult phone maker Xiaomi has demonstrated just how dedicated its fans are, with an Asian flash sale seeing it shift over two million devices ... and 39,000 tellies. The Chinese upstart has built upon its Indian deal with online retailer Flipkart by adding Amazon India and online retailer Snapdeal to its digital strategy to access …
Simon Rockman, 10 Apr 2015

Intel and LG: Our new mobe cams COULDN'T CARE LESS about pixels

LG and Intel have announced new mobe camera tech which - for once - concentrates on something other than how many little dots you can squeeze into a photo. Intel showed a mobe-friendly version of its Realsense technology at the Intel Developers Forum in Shenzhen. This uses a combination of three cameras to give depth sensing. …
Simon Rockman, 09 Apr 2015

Bonking with Apple is no fun 'cos it's too hard to pay, say punters

Apple Pay users find bonking unsatisfying, and once they've tried it many don’t want to do it again, according to a new study. The overall trends appear promising for the fruity firm's foray into personal finance, with 66 per cent of iPhone 6 users having signed up for the service since it launched less than six months ago, and …
Simon Rockman, 08 Apr 2015

Samsung and HTC: Gaze upon our EMBIGGENED numbers, pesky analysts

Cost-cutting and better-than-expected mobile shipments helped Samsung Electronics and HTC trash analysts' profit forecasts, according to both firms' unaudited Q1 data. Results from the Korean chaebol took a turn for the worse in 2014 as demand for its smartphones and tabs crashed, causing an inventory pile-up that proved costly …
Simon Rockman, 07 Apr 2015
Google car

UK.gov: We want Britannia's mobe-enabled cars to rule the roads

Whatever Apple and Google might be doing with smart cars, the UK government wants Britain to be involved in the industry and so announced its support for the emerging industry at a conference last week. Yet the government – and more importantly, the car industry – has a huge amount to learn before their shared vision of the UK …
Simon Rockman, 07 Apr 2015
Big wheels, big performance

Volvo V60 Polestar: Speak softly, carry a big stick, dress like a Smurf

Vulture at the Wheel If it weren’t for the colour it would be something of a Q-car – a pragmatic small estate with lots of toys and a badge that says “I like quality, but I don’t want a German car”. But the colour, best described by Sniffpetrol as “Smurf Blue”, is the giveaway. Volvo call it “Rebel Blue” and my son thinks it's Manga Blue, but I …
Simon Rockman, 05 Apr 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

France will flog off 700MHz to boost mobe broadband while UK dithers. Thanks, Ofcom

Updated British mobile phone coverage will lag further behind the rest of Europe this year: now the French are auctioning off valuable spectrum space, at 700MHz, to high-speed mobile networks. Ofcom, in its recent strategy review, said it’s targeting 2022 for a similar allocation (although possibly sooner). However, its French …
Simon Rockman, 02 Apr 2015

BT thinks EE customers will FLEE from enlarged four-play mobe biz

BT has warned its shareholders that a tumble in mobile prices is a factor that has to be considered ahead of voting to agree the £12.5bn purchase of EE. In a 104-page circular of legalese (PDF) sent to BT shareholders, the telecoms behemoth recommends that shareholders vote to agree the deal. The company says that this is part …
Simon Rockman, 02 Apr 2015
Vodafone adds payment cards to mobile wallet

Vodafone wants to bonk you… wait, wants you to bonk

NFC payment tech for phones, aka bonking, is coming to an Android Vodamobe near you. Not put off by the failure of the O2 wallet and Orange CityZi payment systems, Voda has teamed up with payments processing tech company Carta Worldwide to add bonking to its mobile wallet. In the internal war of NFC technologies the new service …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Ofcom's to-do list: Number porting, sell spectrum, buy milk

Ofcom has set out its objectives for 2015/16, and they're broadly as outlined in the draft report. There is increased interest in consumer number portability to improve the switching providers process, clearer pricing on the previously announced spectrum auctions, as well as the hotly anticipated Strategic Review of Digital …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
David Cameron, Prime Minister, meets Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies, in Downing Street, 11th September, 2012.

Huawei networking kit gets the green light from Blighty's spooks

A board put together to double-check the work of a British government team set up to investigate Huawei has given the Chinese giant a clean bill of health. The Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board was established in early 2014 on the recommendation of the UK National Security Adviser. The board is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Mar 2015
Jeroen Hoencamp is the boss of Vodafone UK

Voda UK CEO says one thing about not-spots, Minister of Fun says another

Don’t hold your breath for better mobile phone coverage. While Vodafone UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp is hopeful that the government will do its bit as part of the not-spots agreement, Minister of Fun Ed Vaziey claims he’s already done it. We asked Hoencamp how he felt about having signed up to the not-spots deal when all the …
Simon Rockman, 27 Mar 2015
BT Openreach van

Vodafone: So what exactly is 'ludicrous' about the Frontier report?

Vodafone has struck back at BT’s claim that the Frontier Economics report on Openreach’s apparent profiteering is “ludicrous”, with Matthew Braovac, Vodafone's head of competition and regulatory affairs, writing to his BT opposite number asking for a justification of the claims. “Far from being ludicrous, the report is based …
Simon Rockman, 27 Mar 2015
Derisive laugh

BT slams ‘ludicrous’ Openreach report as Vodafone smirks

BT has labelled a report into its apparently inflated return on broadband investment as "ludicrous", as Vodafone calls on the government to tighten the regulations surrounding Openreach. A confidential November 2014 report from Frontier Economics (seen by El Reg) has claimed that while the historic return on investment, which …
Simon Rockman, 26 Mar 2015
Not as much fun as an angle-grinder to a gatso but a lot more legal

Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Ford has announced a new intelligent speed limiter system which reads traffic signs and reduces fuel flow to keep your vehicle within the speed limit. As much as the petrolhead lobby decries the direct correlation the road safety brigade makes between speed and safety, current legislation means that if you're driving too fast, …
Simon Rockman, 25 Mar 2015
Android 5.0 "Lollipop"

Cyanogen finds $80m in collecting tin after busking session

Bloatware-free Android version Cyanogen has some powerful friends. The company has passed around the investors' collecting tin and come up with $80m. Those friends are Twitter Ventures, Qualcomm, Telefónica Ventures, Indonesian telco Smartfren Telecom, Index Ventures, Access Industries (the US-based industrial group headed by …
Simon Rockman, 24 Mar 2015
Mobile phone no service

Treat us like the utilities we believe ourselves to be, say UK operators

Rents on mobile phone masts should drop dramatically, with a pricing model loosely based on that used for utilities, states a report from Deloitte, commissioned by several mobile network operators. The professional services firm says that where a mobile network pays £7,500 yearly in rent for sites in rural areas, and £9,200 in …
Simon Rockman, 24 Mar 2015
Ship in trouble

Standard General bids to save RadioShack from oblivion

Historic retailer RadioShack, currently under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, will learn its fate today, as its assets go up for auction, although its options for survival look distinctly limited. A $145.5m bid from Standard General LP, a hedge fund which is also one of RadioShack’s lenders, could save 9,000 jobs and 1,723 out …
Simon Rockman, 23 Mar 2015
BT Home Hub 3

Complaints against ISPs and mobe firms are up by a fifth — reports

BT Broadband is one of the most complained about ISPs, according to UK consumer body Which?, scoring particularly poorly in technical support and value for money. Moreover, complaints in general about ISPs and mobile companies are up 20 per cent on the year, according to numbers released by the Ombudsman Services. Consumers …
Simon Rockman, 23 Mar 2015
£1.92bn buys a lot of dog food

GoDaddy float values puppy-bothering hosting company at £1.9bn

Domain name, registration, web and mail hosting company GoDaddy is expected to be valued at $2.87bn (£1.92bn) when it floats to become a PLC with the stock ticker GDDY. The US company manages about 20 per cent of the world’s internet domains and has grown through use of attractive women in its advertising, not least Indy racing …
Simon Rockman, 20 Mar 2015
shutterstock_209016412-faclon

Nesting falcons interrupt £200m Vodafone 4G mast upgrades

Five pairs of nesting falcons have disrupted Vodafone customers' mobile phone signals in London and the south east – because the birds have set up shop on the carrier's masts. The Daily Telegraph reported that Vodafone engineers spotted the birds of prey nesting on and around base stations on a church, a hospital and an office …
Simon Rockman, 20 Mar 2015
Samsung watch uses the bezel as part of the user interface

Samsung puts eight-core processor IN A WATCH

The chip which powers the Galaxy S6 is finding its way into Samsung’s next watch. It’s an eight-core beastie, with four cores running at 2.1GHz and four at 1.5GHz, with an ARM Mali T760 GPU. The Exynos 7420 is a high-performance processor and it seems a little bit over-the-top for a device which has telling the time as its main …
Simon Rockman, 18 Mar 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Motorola Mobility up before the beak over alleged IP infringment

It’s usually Motorola Mobility which takes companies to court over IP infringements, but the tables were turned this week at the Delaware federal court with Intellectual Ventures flexing its muscles. Intellectual Ventures is a patent portfolio company founded by former Microsoft CTO and occasional chef Nathan Myhrvold, author of …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Starfox

MARIO MOBES: Nintendo hooks up with DeNA, births NX gaming system

Nintendo and DeNA have joined forces in “a business and capital alliance” to bring the Japanese gaming firm's beloved characters to smart gadgetry. There will also be a new hardware system which Nintendo brands as “NX”. Although details of this are sketchy, it’s aimed at the mobile phone space. While Nintendo has previously …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Spam

Aged 18-24? Don't care about voting? Got a phone? Oh dear...

The Electoral Commission has spotted two things: 18-24 year olds don’t vote and 18-24 year olds have smartphones. You'll never guess what's coming next. The commission, which is charged with getting the UK population out to vote, has employed Weve to peddle mobile voter registration to the youth market. Young adults will be …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Clip Art cartoon of smiling sun

Ericsson buys Sunrise Technology

Ericsson, which has just laid off 2,200 people Sweden and which plans more cost cutting around the world has already started spending the savings by buying the IT business services part of Chinese outfit Sunrise Technology. The transaction means Ericsson will take on 1,000 employees at the Guangzhou-based IT services provider, …
Simon Rockman, 17 Mar 2015
Moments of perspiration

Tell us, do you enjoy the thought of BT-EE's sweaty fourplay?

The Competition and Markets Authority has written to telcos and media groups asking for their thoughts as it weighs up the implications of BT swallowing EE. Rivals, notably Vodafone, have already highlighted how much more radio spectrum the combined organisation will have than any of the other mobile phone networks. The telcos …
Simon Rockman, 16 Mar 2015
BBC Testcard

Vodafone Pay TV launch rumoured for November

Vodafone is gearing up to offer a pay TV service, the latest global telco to move into the four-play arena, and the scuttlebutt is that consumer offerings will go on sale in November. Vodafone has offered broadband before but sold the business to BT’s Plusnet in 2007. The mobile phone giant announced that it would re-enter the …
Simon Rockman, 16 Mar 2015

Ofcom: We're going to shake up the digi comms market

UK regulator Ofcom has announced a wide-ranging review of digital communications, looking at infrastructure and competition. The review will examine incentives for efficient investment and effective competition drive good outcomes: coverage, choice, price and quality of service for consumers, citizens and businesses. It will …
Simon Rockman, 13 Mar 2015
GreenPeak senior lifestyle app

Consumers beware! Ofcom's seen a scary new mobe nasty: APPS

Telecoms industry regulator Ofcom has just noticed that there are things called “apps” and has decided that people might like to know about them. “Apps are becoming an increasingly important way to communicate and access the internet through our phones, tablets and TVs”, explains the “Using apps safely and securely on your …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Barney Rubble driving with Fred Flinstone

Cambridge Wireless scoops ex-UKTI man as new top dog

One of the most influential organisations in mobile is a non profit organisation. We are not talking about Sony Mobile but Cambridge Wireless. And it has a new boss: Bob Driver. Cambridge Wireless brings together the great and the good from the mobile industry, mainly from the research side. These include companies such as …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Peril Sensitive Sunglasses - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Life, the interview and everything: A chat with Douglas Adams

Interview Today – March 11th – would have been Douglas Adams' 63rd birthday. To mark this occasion, we are reprinting a lost interview with Douglas Adams. It was focused not on Hitchhiker's, but on Starship Titanic, a text adventure and book. The game had just been released to manufacture and Adams had pulled an all-nighter to get it out …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
a coffee cup topped with cappucino foam with a wi-fi symbol sprinkled on top in powdered chocolate

Vodafone: Can't make calls on our network? Use Wi-Fi

Vodafone will launch Wi-Fi Calling and Voice over 4G (VoLTE) this summer. Both services require handsets that support the technologies, and Vodafone is keeping mum as to which ones it will be shipping. Wi-Fi Calling is a UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) service and for certain high-end handsets is an alternative to using the …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
Williams Mercedes FW37

BT inks deal with Williams F1 for go-faster cloudy goodness

The Williams Formula 1 racing team has sealed a cloud services deal with one-time state telco monopoly BT. This will give the racing team fixed and mobile comms in what they have called a “a multi-year strategic technology partnership”. The deal means BT gets its logos on the headrests of this year's Williams Mercedes FW37 car, …
Simon Rockman, 11 Mar 2015
US spectrum map

Ping-pong sueballs: Bankruptcy dogs LightSquared's chances

Stricken US mobe network LightSquared is wriggling for survival in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The idea of Chapter 11 is to provide protection for a company so that it can trade through difficulties and hopefully get back to trading normally. The system was to use a combination of 4G (LTE) and satellite to deliver national high- …
Simon Rockman, 10 Mar 2015
typing while standing

Would YOU touch-type on this chunk-tastic keyboard?

The TREWGrip keyboard is designed for butter-fingered mobile users who are keen to touch type as fluidly on their smartphones as they would on a desktop keyboard. The keys are positioned on the back of the pad, piano accordion style, allowing you to depress them with the outstretched fingers of your hand, which is firmly clamped …
Simon Rockman, 10 Mar 2015
gavel_judgment_channel

Microsoft chucks patent sueball at Kyocera over Android phones

Microsoft has filed for an injunction to ban Japanese mobe-maker Kyocera from selling its Duraforce, Hydro and Brigadier phones in the US, alleging a breach of its Android patents. The Redmond-based software giant asked the US federal court in the Western District of Washington to impose an injunction against Kyocera, based on …
Simon Rockman, 09 Mar 2015
Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec. Pic: Simon Rockman

Filthy – but sadly frothy – five door fun: Ford Focus 1.5 Zetec

Vulture at the Wheel The original Ford Focus was an incredible car. The latest generation has a lot to live up to. The man behind the Focus was Richard Parry-Jones, who, with incredible attention to detail, produced a reasonably priced car that handled well. He also got the designers, who were bright young things, to wear ageing suits, gloves and …
Simon Rockman, 08 Mar 2015
Ubisoft Driver San Francisco

United Nations: For pity's sake don't use your iPhone in your car

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU, the telecoms agency of the United Nations) has published a very short whitelist of mobile phones that are properly compatible with car kits. The phones have been tested to an exacting specification which defines the mechanical mouth used, the mechanical ear and brings scientific …
Simon Rockman, 06 Mar 2015