/* ----------------------------------------------- Comment out annoying Snap... ----------------------------------------------- */

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ridiculous Nokia N95 VOIP Saga

Truphone may think they are being really clever making videos showing how Orange has apparently “crippled” the N95 by disabling the VOIP functionality. It is certainly attracting a lot of noise. Orange is not alone and apparently Vodafone have done the same and no doubt there will be a long list of operators in Europe who will have done similar.

Truphone says the workaround is buying an unlocked phone at Expansys and this is a perfectly true workaround. Unfortunately, it is priced at an unsubsidized level of £630 from Expansys. Direct from the Orange shop, on the stupidly named Orange Dolphin tariff of £35/month for 18 months in which you get 600 cross net minutes and unlimited texts, you can pick up the phone for £90 upfront.

If we look at this another way with Orange you get the phone on 18-month interest free loan. For a £90 upfront payment you also get unlimited texts for the 18-months and over 10,000 mins worth of calls to any phone in the UK - not non-geographic and international numbers. I know which sounds cheaper to me especially as VOIP calls are only free when calling a very limited set of numbers within the range of an WiFi access point that may or may not require payment for service.

I think when you look at these figures – you have to question who is guilty of mis-representation - Truphone or Orange?

I know your average man in the street doesn’t give two hoots for VOIP – they want cheap handsets and cheap calls. Further most of the reviews of the N95 that I've read don't even comment on the TruPhone VOIP client. In fact the specification of the phone by Nokia doesn't even mention VOIP.

Truphone know full well the rules of the mobile application game works are: first you get a manufacturer to load the software on the phone, then operators decide which applications they have for their subsidised versions of handsets. The fact they have decided to windup the operators in this way smells of someone who has nothing to lose – I think they must know the big operators won’t launch phones with the TruPhone VOIP clients bundled. However, it also risks of doing harm to the Truphone relationship with Nokia, because I'd guess that Nokia need the Operators to provide the volume on the phone sales more than they need a two-a-penny VOIP client creating trouble for them.

What is even more interesting is that the big application boys of the internet world has decided to go down another route: Skype have a pseudo-voip client on the X-Series from 3 – they worked together with the operator to get a mutually beneficial solution. This X-Series bundle is now being rolled out to the handset manufacturers. Vodafone will probably take a similar route with different applications this summer when they launch their mobile internet phone.

Only time will tell whose approach is the best – but my money is definitely not on the Truphone approach.