The BBC wonders if British mobile operator 3 has "discovered the holy grail of the mobile phone industry", simply by bundling some mobile web services together and making it flat rate pricing. Mobile Web expert Ajit Jaokar is very bullish on this news.
3's new package is called X-Series and here's what's in it:
- Skype internet telephony
- Microsoft Messenger
- Unlimited internet access
- Google search
- Yahoo Go services
- Sling television access
- Orb access to home PC
- Podcast downloads on the move
It's a useful set of apps, but the BBC thinks "the underlying technologies are not particularly new or cutting edge". It notes:
"The special thing about 3's offering is that it provides all these applications bundled, user-friendly and ready to go - even Sling's access to your home TV set and Orb's connection to your own PC."
What's being touted as the best feature though is that customers will pay a flat rate for all their data transfers - subject to "fair usage limits". Ever since I've had a mobile phone, the cost of accessing the Mobile Web has been the single biggest reason I don't surf the Web on my phone. A lot of people feel the same way, so this is indeed a welcome (if long overdue) initiative by 3.
It's not all rosy news. The service is launching in the UK on 1 December, then 3's other markets (Italy, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, Ireland and Sweden) during 2007. So it's a limited release geographically - no New Zealand :-( Also currently it's available on only two handsets - Nokia's N73 and Sony Ericsson's W950. Along with those limitations, there are the usual usability issues with the mobile Web: connectivity, awkwardly small screens, etc. But it's still early days and any progress the industry makes on making the Mobile Web more accessible and easier to use, is good news.