3'S X Series Live Launch

Mobile phones

So here we are live at what 3 is billing as the most important press conference given by an mobile phone network this year. Big talk. But the network has flown in a series of big names to entertain the awaiting mix of journos and analysts.

They will hopefully be going into greater depth on the stories that 3 anounced earlier today that it was partnering with Skype, eBay and Slingbox to offer a range of new mobile services – all for one flat free. You can read the basics here.

Ok, we now have Hutch’s CEO, Canning Fok, talking about how successful 3 has been in 3G – not withstanding those early phones which were ‘fat and had poor batteries.’

Now we are getting 3’s vision for what it calls Mobile Broadband. It says it has been driven to this move by choice – ‘going naked into the big world outside.’

Now we are getting the lowdown on the X Series. They launch in December in the UK, in other countries early next year. There will also be a second X series with new apps coming in 2007.

Here we go with the apps

1 Free Skype calls plus IM which is also free (available via Skype, Yahoo, Windows Live etc_

2 Free Internet browsing – including accessing eBay.

3 Orb – so you can access what is on your PC anywhere via your mobile

4 Sling – so you can watch whatever is on your TV anywhere on your mobile.

We are now getting the ‘leaving the walled garden behind. speech.’ The big difference between X-Series and other networks is that with 3 it will be on a new charging model. ‘Hope to lay the foundations for the mobile charging model of the future.’ Mobile broadband will now ape broadand in that there will be more free stuff with an overall tarrif. The pay per minute model is on its way out. Much of the move has been enabled by increased bandwidth thanks to 3G, HSDPA etc – no more rationing.

X-Series customers get charged a flat fee – they are going to try to follow the ‘ what is free on the internet should be free on mobiles’ model. But there will be charges for higher bandwidth stuff (video basically).

So to wrap up the big story is free Skype calls, free IM and free browsing.

Over now to Skype – co-founder Nikolas Zennstrom is talking about how excited he is about this being the first time Skype has been available on mobile phone via a mobile phone operator – the boy has entered the lion’s den here. He says the move is a response to request from users who want Skype via mobile. Naturally he is predicting big demand.

The first offering on a phone. You put your Skype contacts on mobile – see whether they are online and then make a voice call. Next year Skype chat and IM and Skype in and Skype out. He hasn’t practised his speech much – not that slick – but nicely informal.

Way to go Nikolas – the first mention of Estonia (Skype’s home). Now talking about handset makers. Happy that 3 has driven Skype to mobile and worked with manufacturers. He is now expressing his dissappointment with 3G so far – Skype (and other mobile broadband stuff) will change all that.

He loves 3 as they are not afraid of disrupting the market. Bets they will get lots of new subscribers.

The software is apparently much easier to use than the Pocket PC version. Also Skype will be pre-loaded on the phone – that sounds good. It is all about partnerships, apparently.

The baton is now picked up by Yahoo’s Dominique Vidal, Regional VP Europe. Getting a lot of internet marketing jargon now – harping on about how his site is one click away from his competitors. Also talking about Yahoo Answers – eight million users (per month? so far? doesn’t sound that much).

He sees future as been driven by users – more engagement and more services for users – this needs more innovation to benefit users. Hurrah he has gone.

Sharon Baylay from Microsoft now is going to tell us about 3 and IM. We now have another slightly cheesy talking heads video from 3 – IM is apparently like having all your mates in your pocket.
(hmm must have big pockets).

Heavily focussed on bringing new apps to mobile. She thinks it is all about one device (presumably one using a Windwos Mobile OS). The key story for her is IM which is used by 11 million people in the UK. Very happy with the 3 platform 100 million IM messages sent since August.

Google next. Blimey, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo in the same room. Maybe 3 should help run the UN too.

Here’s David Thevenon, head of wireless partnerships EMEA. ‘3 apparently helps Google achieve its mission and take Google mobile. Whoops the mic just exploded – half of the nation’s tech journos are now half deaf. He’ll have to speak up.

David likes the transparent approach to free intenet from 3 – same acces to info on PC and phone. Doesn’t really say much – the deal wth Google was announced yesterday.

eBay next – more cheesy videos – they really are cringey. Here’s Matt Whitman, CEO of eBay on the video screen. We are now getting an internet history lesson. She says X-Series is the moment that consumers finally get the chance to see their fave sites on mobiles. Saying that eBay is doing well in both Austria and the UK. Wonder what tie-ups there wil be between Skype, eBay and 3 – interesting?

Now on to the makers. Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Nokia first, Kai Oistano. ‘True arrival of mobile broadband is very welcome – expects X-Series to have a major impact in offering rich media experiences to comsumers. Says he thinks internet is the killer app for 3G. Nokia N73 will be the company’s first X-Series phone – sorry multimedia computer Nokia don’t call them phones any more. Getting specs on N73 now. Don’t expect we’ll get any more handset announcements. Apparently Nokia has sold 10 million N series devices – 250 million multimedia computers will be sold in two year he says.

Now it is Miles Flint, pres of Sony Ericsson. Very excited by 3 apparently making the first move to offer internet to consumers with competitive rates etc. First to say words web 2.0. Now giving us the the SE story. We are now getting some fairly dry strategy stuff. One phone will be available with X-Series – it is the SE W950i. Very excited (me as well as him) as this is a corker of a phone – four gigs of memory, cracking screen etc. Funnily enough hasn’t mentioned that is has no camera. This is a very covetable phone and the X-Series features are going to tempt gadget fan boys to think about 3 for the first time.

Orb now – Joe Costello. He has sent a video message by video phone – very cool. He says mobile wireless web hasn’t delivered. The more that’s needed is opening up the wireless web. He says 3 is taking the lid off the wireless web. He’s gone to get his plane now. Scott Monson of Orb Europe takes over now. He says Broadcast is dead, now it is MyCast (a new one on me). Of course this isn’t reflected in mobiles until now. There is going to be a custom user Orb interface on both the handset and the web – the idea being it is very easy to access the content on their PC while using their mobile. Internet videos are now mobile – eg you can now watch YouTube on your mobile (hurrah). That’s what we have been waiting for – bet it kills your battery though. Can’t wait to try this.

Makes you think though – why would you pay to watch 3 videos when you can watch YouTube vids on your mobile for nowt.

Sling now. Blake Krikorian, CEO. He is the only speaker today to wear a tie – he says it is very web 3.0 to wear ties – loudest guffaws of the day. Says the 3 deal is huge for us – wants 3 to buy a US network so he can offer the app in the US. Company history time…

Basically, as you probably know, Sling enables users to watch what is on their TV on their mobile. The reason I suspect that he is so excited is that the tricky part of using Sling is that you pay huge bandwidth connection fees to your mobile provider. Not any more with 3…

He is saying what 3 is desperate to communicate and what the partners are very keen to say that by making the internet free they hope that 3 is setting a precedent that other networks around the world will follow.

It seems the whole web loves 3 today. They are having a big love in on stage now – Skype, Nokia, Microsft, Yahoo and Google, oh and George W Bush and Osama Bin Laden too. [Ashley Norris]

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